Friday, 30 March 2012

I have an IC!

I got my IC yesterday. Hallelulah! Alhamdalillah! Terima kasih allah! It was a long road.

First of all I heard mention of ICs but didn’t know what they were and as I had 97 other things on the boil, I didn’t worry about it. Then when I had a spare 5 mins I asked someone what it was and why I needed it. Turns out a that an IC is an identity card (in most of the word ‘ID’ would have covered it) and I was told that you hardly ever need it. So I wasn’t in too much of a hurry.

When I followed up a couple of weeks later, I found that to get an IC, you have to go to a government building and queue up. The doors open at 8am and people were recommending going at 5:45 am to queue to be sure of being seen on the day. It sounded horrendous and as an IC didn’t seem to be that necessary, I procrastinated. Someone told me, that the Immigration Office had just started opening on Friday afternoon from 2 – 4 and not many people knew about it yet, so it should be easy to get in.

I turned up at 1pm on Friday afternoon and stood outside the building for an hour. I was 30th in the queue. Then the doors opened, the queue disappeared and there was a mad panic to get to the front. I was in the middle of a crush of 100 or so very nice Pakistani and Indian gentleman. I think I was the only woman. We stood cheek by jowl. If someone at the front moved 6 inches forward, we all moved 6 inches forward like a curled up centipede. After 25 mins of intimate crush and after making perhaps 18 inches headway towards the inner sanctum, we were told ‘habis’ closed for the afternoon. We were all sent home.

So my only option seemed to be to queue at 5:45 am. I have to tell you, I’m not a morning person! So once again I procrastinated; particularly as no-one could tell me what the IC was used for.

Several weeks later, on a whim, I drove by the Immigration office on a Tuesday afternoon, and thought … I wonder. So I drove up, gathered my papers and headed in. Within an hour I’d been photographed, finger-printed, deprived of a small sum of money and sent on my way with instructions to come back in one month to pick up the card.

Yesterday was the day! It took me 20 mins to work out where in the building I needed to go to pick it up (damned Malay signage!), but I’m now the proud owner of a green IC. Turns out that it is an essential item. Without it I can’t get paid, can’t buy a car, can’t do much at all! So Hallelulah!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

driver licence

To buy a car I need a few bits and bobs including a local driver licence. Okay, where to start? I ask around and find that I need to photocopy my passport, visas, identity card and Abu Dhabi licence, then take the copies and originals down to the Post Office. So I set off with all that I've been told - with the full expectation that they'll tell me that I also need a photocopy of X.

However, it's never the snag that I anticipate, it's always something else that gets me. Turns out that it's not the Post Office that I have to go to. I have to go to Land Transport in Gadong. Fair enough I say, where's that? Well, no-one at the PO can explain it to me. Never mind, I'll ask someone else. So after asking several people, I finally figure it out. Next day I head off there and am amazed that it's easy to get a park and there are no queues. I walk in wondering what will go wrong, take a ticket, sit down and am called up within a few minutes. I hand everything over to the woman at the counter who starts making cryptic gestures. Oh, not here? Next room? No, not next room? Next office? Next building? I give up the game of charades as I'm clearly not very good at it and ask at reception.

Turns out I have to go to Land Transport on Jalan Moura. Now that happens to be a very long road so I try to narrow it down. I drag out a map and after pawing over it for 25 minutes, the well-intentioned officer at the counter points to an intersection just before a round-a-bout and tells me it's on the left. So I set off there. It's a 20 minute drive away, but when I get there, there's not a Land Transport office within coo-eee. Next day I ask around at the hotel, but everyone is dumbfounded. They tell me either that I have to go the Post Office or that I have to go to Land Transport in Gadong. So I ask at work and get the same response until I finally find someone who has recently got a licence. She pinpoints it on the map for me. Hallelulah! Turns out it's not on Jalan Moura at all. It's on a different road on the left before a different round-a-bout! Next day I set off.

I find it without much fuss, but there's nowhere to park. Never mind, I've learned by now that an illegal park is just as good as a legal park. So I park illegally, head into Land Transport, ask at reception where they give me a ticket for counter number one. Twenty minutes later my turn rolls around, I march in with my photocopies, hand them over and hey, presto, it's all done. I just need to come back in a couple of days to pick up my shiny new licence.

Another task ticked off my long list of things to do!

Friday, 9 March 2012

well, it's laugh or cry

I want to buy a car in Brunei. I thought it involved checking out the dealers, identifying the cheap / bottom of the range car that called out 'Me, me! Take me home!' and then sorting out whether to pay cash or go with a loan.

Well, that naive notion was stymied at the first opportunity. We headed off to the Toyota dealer to see how much they'd want for a Toyota VIOS, a popular small car here in BSB. They were quite happy to engage in conversation for 30 mins before telling us that the VIOS in the showroom was only an illusion. They didn't actually have any in stock. No, they didn't have Corollas or any other small cars in stock either. Nor any medium cars. It was all the fault of the floods in Thailand apparently because that's where most of the cars are sourced. But, all was well, because the wait was only expected to be 3 - 4 months.

The next thought was, well we had a Ford Focus in Al Ain and it served us well. Let's see what Ford has to say. "Yes, there are many colours. Yes, they are available now. You just put down a deposit. Delivery in three months maybe. Or you can take the Mondeo. We have one Mondeo in stock." There seemed to be at least a bit of equivocation on the meaning of the word 'now.' The story there was that there were so many cars in Brunei that there were restrictions on how many dealers are allowed to bring in. I have to say that 'no cars' is a pretty small number to be allowed to bring in!

Floods in Thailand? Restrictions on numbers?

At Diahatsu they have a few Terioses / Teri-ii / Teriosi, only in black or silver, but they are available now. Yes! Problem is, the warranty is rubbish. One year - and we have to pay parts - and labour depending on the issue. It also seems to be a rather 'chunky' car for a tiny 1.5 engine. So question mark on that one.

Other dealers had 7 million car-seeking customers' cars lined up out the front, we couldn't even get a park. So we set aside the 'which car to choose' issue to follow up finance issues. No joy there either. Amongst other problems, we need to get our local d/l first and a range of other certification.

So I'm imagining a pretty mauve car sitting out front in our parking lot. It's brandless, featureless and existenceless, but I like it.