Tourists attend Istana open house

National 2 minutes, 33 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

TOURISTS are taking advantage of the customary Istana Nurul Iman Aidil Fitri open house to meet and greet the royal family, with many scheduling their visit just to coincide with the opening of the palace to visitors.

Hundreds of tourists were seen standing in line on Thursday and yesterday for an opportunity to meet His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, during the open house at Istana Nurul Iman.

One such tourist was Kenneth Kan from Hong Kong, who said he arrived in the sultanate on the first day of Raya.

Kan said he timed his visit to coincide with Hari Raya celebrations in Brunei as he wanted to meet His Majesty and other royal family members during the Istana open house.

“I’ve been working in Singapore since last year, so I know about the customs of Hari Raya and I know that Brunei celebrates Hari Raya. So I have planned and decided to come to Brunei this year just to experience Raya,” the 28-year-old said.

Kan described the celebrations as a great time for him and his mother to visit Brunei for the first time.

“It is a very cheerful festival and I know it is a time for families to get together. I felt the amazing atmosphere of Raya and saw the local people celebrating,” he said.

He went on to say that the Istana open house is also a great attraction for tourists as it is rare for people to get the opportunity to meet the head of state in other countries.

“This is my first time and I will be seeing His Majesty, not many countries have the same opportunities like Brunei where you get to see His Majesty,” Kan said.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Michelle Martin from Sabah, Malaysia, said she came to the sultanate for a day trip to visit the Istana.

She said she planned the visit with her family specifically to meet and greet members of the royal family.

Even though it is her second time visiting the Istana, Martin said she is still excited to celebrate Hari Raya in Brunei and to meet the monarch.

“The opportunity to see His Majesty in person is great, like anyone can get to see him. It is good and it shows that they (the royal family) are good people who care for the people of the country,” she said.

Martin added that she would recommend other tourists to visit the sultanate, especially during the Raya celebrations.

Sunwannarat from Thailand said his three-day visit to the sultanate is a great experience as he was able to meet the royal family.

“It is an amazing and rare opportunity because the leader of the country gives the opportunity for the people and citizens, and also us as tourists, to visit his grand palace and shake hands with him. It is an amazing experience and opportunity,” said the 32-year-old.

“It shows that His Majesty cares and gives attention to the people in the country,” he said.

The Brunei Times