Vet­eran tour guide shares his cul­ture, life ex­pe­ri­ences

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHAO SHENGNAN in Ban­dar Seri Be­gawan, Brunei

When Henry Chan trav­eled abroad in the late 1990s, only a few peo­ple he met knew much about his na­tive coun­try Brunei.

To­day, the vet­eran tour guide in the South­east Asian na­tion says there is a grow­ing num­ber of in­ter­na­tional tourists, es­pe­cially from China, mak­ing the trek to Brunei.

“The whole world is try­ing to lure high-spend­ing Chi­nese tourists, and Brunei is no ex­cep­tion,” Chan, a third-gen­er­a­tion de­scen­dant of Chi­nese im­mi­grants, said in flu­ent Chi­nese. “But I am not do­ing the job for the money, given that liv­ing stan­dards are high. I don’t have a lot of pres­sure here.”

Chan, one of about 20 tour guides in Brunei of Chi­nese her­itage, said the gov­ern­ment takes care of many so­cial wel­fare costs, in­clud­ing hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and health­care.

“I hope to share Brunei’s cul­ture and my life ex­pe­ri­ences with visi­tors as well as to learn from them,” said Chan, who said he has a large home with three house­keep­ers.

Chan first worked as a chef spe­cial­iz­ing in Can­tonese cui­sine af­ter grad­u­at­ing from col­lege, but af­ter Brunei ex­panded its tourism mar­ket in 2000, he no­ticed the growth in for­eign visi­tors. Six years later, he be­came a part-time tour guide, a job that dove­tailed with his main oc­cu­pa­tion then as a pho­tog­ra­pher.

He said most Chi­nese tourists pre­fer group tours in­stead of trav­el­ing in­di­vid­u­ally be­cause of the lan­guage bar­ri­ers and Brunei’s un­de­vel­oped pub­lic trans­port sys­tem. An­nu­ally, Chan re­ceives about 80 tour groups from the Chi­nese main­land, Hong Kong and Tai­wan.

Guid­ing groups from the three re­gions means vary­ing his ap­proaches, he said.

“I try my best to speak Chi­nese with dif­fer­ent ac­cents when deal­ing with peo­ple from dif­fer­ent re­gions,” said the mul­ti­lin­gual Chan.


Bruneian tour guide Henry Chan (center) talks to tourists in Kam­pong Ayer in Oc­to­ber 2011.

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