I Shake Hands with the Sultan!

Month of August is approaching, though it is 5 months away, I have to collect more ideas about Brunei's one of the biggest event celebrated every year which gonna fall within that month. Upon searching and searching and searching... I stumbled upon my last year's Brunei Hari Raya Aidil Fitri experiences. It's a great experienced because for almost 2 years working in Brunei, It was the first time seeing the most important person of their land. And not just simply seeing him but greeted and shaking hands with the Sultan Hadji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darrusalam!

Okay, here's how it happened.

Last year, I shake hands with the Sultan during the final day of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri 2011 celebrations at Istana Nurul Iman.
Sultan of Brunei

The Istana Nurul Iman palace, the Sultan’s official residence, provides visitors a spectacular sight.
It is the biggest palace in the world, much bigger than the Vatican palace. US$ 350 million was spent in erecting the palace. It has 1788 rooms, 257 bathrooms and the total floor area is 2,152,782 sq. feet.
I learned from the local news that day that the overall number of guests over the three days was 94,431 (imagine, ganyan ka dami kakamayan mo?!). And among the 14,766 who paid respects to the royal family during the final session in the afternoon (September 03, 2011), was I and the Cercado family. It's so overwhelming to be part of the celebration, and of course, shaking hands with the very important and highly respected persons in Brunei: His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and members of the royal family who continued from the previous days, meeting and greeting with well-wishers who had begun queuing outside the palace from 7am in the morning.

 hariraya istana nurul iman sultan brune
We arrived at Nurul Iman Palace at exactly 1:00 in the afternoon. And the adventures begin:

 hariraya istana nurul iman sultan brunei
The Arrival: at the car park.

Since Jenny didn't forget to bring her video camera and Tatay worn his fave baseball cap already—then it's a sign we're ready to go in.hariraya istana nurul iman sultan brunei

The lady with curly hair – Sharon was confused on some Malay words upon filling the Registration Form. Luckily, the local lady translated it for her. 

Our journey starts here:  queuing at the entrance door (segregated by gender), followed some guard's instructions, temperature checking, signing up another coupon, etc... 

But before that... picture taking muna... 1.. 2.. 3.. smileeeee!!!
The Cercado Family: Jenny, Sharon, Nanay & Tatay

hariraya istana nurul iman sultan brunei
Like father, like son???? (nangangkon)

And of course, MY BEST FRIEND for life... SHARON.

Since we are all in good condition, we passed the test. ^^

...and the reward? A discount card (Potongan Kad)! 

After receiving the coupon, we proceeded to the meal booth. Choosing the food we want to eat, & take note: Eat All You Can and the good thing was: It's FREE! 
No wonder why t'was too hard finding vacant area for us to dine in.

After 25 minutes, we found one!
hariraya istana nurul iman sultan brunei
They are not worried for foods but where to eat, because all space are fully occupied.

While some are on diet...

...some forgetting they were.

There's still some who are addicted to gadgets than foods.
 (Where am I?)
Okay, enough for the foods... let's continue our odyssey... 

If you're not a Bruneian and don't understand Bahasa Melayu (their language), don't worry my friend. There's still nothing to worry about the signage (for it had English translation)...
 and just ignore someone's facial reaction...for it is natural when you're excited, you know.

See? I told you... there's nothing to worry about. hariraya istana nurul iman sultan brunei

Only one thing for sure you should worry about...
 ...when you're violating the rules. 

A visitor violating the Dress Code

How I really wished to wear that Baju Melayu and Songkok... 

Oh! sad to say... but at this point, cameras and phones are not allowed. 

What do we do in there? 
Well, after staying at the wide room that can accommodates hundreds of visitors, we continue queuing till we reach our destination—the room where we meet the Sultan and the rest of the Royal Family—shaking hands with them. (Greetings! Greetings! Greetings!) 

Do you still remember the Discount Card I'm talking earlier? 
After meeting with the latter, next stop was the Kiosk where guard asked you where's that Discount Card, then you hand it over to him and few steps ahead—the Hari Raya Card and the Gift Box will be given. 

I am overwhelmed meeting them and almost forgot to get tatay's baseball cap at the baggage counter (It's not allowed wearing any caps unless if it is a songkok or kopiah, when you are meeting with the Royal Family).

After 2 hours, we're done.  It's time to leave the area so that they will have more space for the new comers.

Since the family group are segregated by gender, some are waiting for their loveone's  outside. 

Some are exhausted... 

Others are thirsty...

Few are sleepy...

and even this little princess was really, really tired that cannot help herself but cry.hariraya istana nurul iman sultan brunei

But tatay is in good condition. I never saw him so tired that day.

Hmm. Did I say he never get tired???
Okay, you take a rest tatay, while I enjoyed taking pictures...

Awesome garden, flag pole and fountains  

Decorated street lamps

Marching soldiers

Buses, Visitors & Traffic Enforcer

Hey.. what's up there?

Okay, guys.. what's really up there you're looking at?

Oh, it's the Flag! 

Lucky this guy.. He got two souvenirs down there.

Wait mafla, I'm not ready yet.  
Where's my souvenir boxes?? 

Say, "Cheese!" 

"Focus... focus... focus..."

It's not hard for them to find their siblings because of their dress codes. And of course, they have cellphones too.hariraya istana nurul iman sultan brunei

"I need to use macro on this." 

Just like them, I was so eager to know what's inside the gift box. So, when we arrived home we open it and this is what we've got.

The Hari Raya Card's details
That's all kawan! Looking forward to visit the palace again this year. 

Terima Kasih for viewing!


  1. Lucky you! Oh I like your blow by blow account, I feel like I was just there with you.

  2. great pictures looks you enjoy that event

  3. Haha I love reading this post.. Thanks for the humor! I have stayed in Malaysia for almost 6 yrs and the locals there are almost the as there in Brunei, thanks for this post, now I miss my Malay friends...

  4. I also wish that someday, I will be able to meet a Royal FAmily in front of the media, hahaha... You've just inspired me with this.

  5. This is what my friends were telling me about that I should coincide my visit to Brunei on this day! I should ask her again when is the celebration for this year, do you happen to know it?

    1. It depends on their schedule Cha. They are following their calendar regarding that also. But open house always happen after the celebration of Hari Raya. Last year was September 01-03.

  6. definitely loving the last photo =)

  7. looks like you enjoyed this one.. ;)

  8. you are lucky to shaked hands with Sultan.His country is one of the richest in the world.

  9. It is an honor to be with the sultan, congrats!

  10. Nice! Lucky you that you were we're given a chance to share hands with a Sultan.

  11. must be a once in a life time experience :D

  12. This is indeed a very memorable experience! You shook hands with one of the richest man on earth! :P

  13. Wow, lucky you! I consider the Brunei Sultan as one of the most dashing royales today. Unfortunately, his son is not at par with him.

  14. Great adventure you've had there! Very detailed story telling of your trip! and yes, awesome shots!

  15. Nice you visited other cultures as well. It's nice to explore and know more and different cultures! :)

  16. You must've a lot of fun there! Nice experience for you too!

    Check out my latest post: http://abetoy.blogspot.com/2012/03/earth-hour-2012-philippines-to-lead.html

  17. this is a great experience, nag-enjoy ang whole family. you took nice shots... thanks for sharing. Yahweh bless.

  18. Life time experience!! I wish, I get to experience this too, soon. Haha!

  19. This is something really blog worthy! I wonder if I ever get to have this experience.

  20. It is really an honor to be with the sultan!

  21. Wow! What an experience. I'd definitely keep the boxes :)

  22. I love the way you tell story and your pictures it made me smile while reading this blog. Great adventure ah,. Lately I also took photo of people taking a snap :)

  23. That's a great experience! Love the photos!

  24. Wow, nice story, be proud as you can share it to your "next" generation families. :)

  25. A royal best experience by personally shaking with the highest family and a Sultan in Brunei. It's I think the most unforgettable experience you and your parents have.

  26. You are so lucky! I believe you won't forget it for the rest of your life. Great that you put it into writting or blogging ^_^

  27. Its really an honor to meet someone with high stature like The Sultan. Though I felt a bit sad on restricting photography on some places.

  28. well, that's so cool. how many can say that they've shaken the hand of the sultan...

  29. I was exclaiming when I was reading this post. Seriously!

    Gosh...I can't believe you survived that long queuing just to have a shake hands with the Sultan?

    Maybe I would have surrendered right outside the door upon knowing how many people are inside.... but it was good thing that there is a free food...I am kinda curious on how was the taste of the food being served inside...

    While slowly reading and was looking at the photo...I was like "what is that yellow box"? later did I know that the Sultan is somehow very philanthropist to even handing one souvenir to every visitor...

    I hope I can do this too...

  30. This was such a fun post to read! :) I giggled a lot following the odyssey of your day through your pictures and humorous way of recounting it.

    I have a very good friend from Malaysia here in the Netherlands, who I spend time with whenever I have time to go to Amsterdam because he is a very good company. Previously, while still living in Germany, I met very congenial Malaysians from my language school. You are very lucky to be where you are!

    The Sultan of Brunei and his royal family is very famous for his kindness and generosity here in Europe. I am very pleased to read a personal account supporting this as fact. :)

    Looking forward to this year's post about your visit of the palace

  31. asalamu alaykum, this people are amazing, i love our muslim brothers!


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