Brunei's National Day parade impresses tourists

Tourists were left with lasting impressions after witnessing Brunei's patriotic atmosphere during its 31st National Day celebrations in the capital yesterday.

Lorna Barker from the United Kingdom told The Brunei Times she was delighted that her trip to the Sultanate coincided with the celebration.

"It is my first time here (in Brunei) and I was not aware that it was a national day celebration," said the project manager who was on her second day trip in the country.

"I am very glad to see many people involved (in the celebration) because in the UK, we do not celebrate our independence day," she said, adding that it is rare for her to see major celebrations back in her home country except for the Queen's birthday.

"People here are so helpful and nice too. When I visited the night market few nights ago, there were two locals (who) came up to help me translate and talk to the vendors," she said.

Nana Okayama, a Japanese visitor said that she had never seen national day parades or processions back in their home country.

"In Japan, it is different… and there were not many people that would come together to celebrate our national day," said Okayama.

She added that she never had the chance to see her country's king in ceremonies unlike in the Sultanate where the people have seen the monarch often.

"It is a nice country… the life is laid back and relaxing. This is my second visit to Brunei and I would love to come back," said Okayama.

Meanwhile, Keith Harper, an American, said that there are similarities on how Brunei celebrates its national day with the United States.

"I think we have a lot in common in terms of accepting other cultures, demographics, treating people with respect regardless of the background and religion and that's what brings us here," he said.

Asked on why he decided to attend Brunei's national day celebration, Harper replied: "The timing is good and I coaxed my friend to come because I was at the armed forces celebration in the past year as well as at the Bridex air show in 2013… so I love the activities and the opportunity to meet the Sultan."

Two German tourists, Herbert Dotzee and Karin Dietrich, said that they were pleased to have witnessed the Sultanate's independence celebration.

"We've only heard about Brunei through the media and now we are so glad to be here. We are happy to tell our friends and family back home about Brunei," said Dotzee.

"It is so nice to see many locals participating in the parade, seeing their bright smiles giving to a positive patriotic atmosphere," Dietrich said.