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Posts Tagged ‘WRO’


The Russian Experience

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News


The Russian Experience 

Things I learnt about Russia during my short visit. I still can’t believe that I made it to Russia despite holding an ICI document (my passport as a PR of Brunei). Knowing that countries like Dubai and Vietnam don’t recognize our ICI document, I was worried if I would trouble in Russia. It’s a great thing that there’s a Brunei Embassy in Moscow which helped us in a lot of ways. My only regret is not staying a few days longer in Moscow after my work duty. I would have stayed longer if it wasn’t for my upcoming Cambodia trip this weekend.

Anyway, below are just some short pointers during my 5 days experience in Sochi and Moscow but more in Sochi, Russia. I shall be updating and editing this content from time to time.

The Brunei delegates representing at the World Robot Olympiad 2014 led by Satinah binti Hj Abang, Student Officer of Science Technology and Environment Partnership (STEP) Centre. This photo was taken at Domodedovo International Airport, Moscow, Russia.


My pointers of Russia

It’s a freaking huge country that you will need to take nine hours to fly from Moscow to Vladivostok (furthest end of Russia) according to His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim, the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the Russian Federation. It has a population of 144 million and it is the largest country in the world though China still holds the biggest population in the world.

Moscow, the capital city of Russia but I spent more of my time in Sochi which is two hours away by flight. Moscow is way more happening than Sochi.

The area we stayed in near Olympic Park is where the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 took place as well as the Russian F1 Grand Prix. However, after the big events, the Olympic Park area is like a ghost town which reminds me of BSB after business working hours.

Not many of them speak the English language so communication can be very difficult. We were lucky that the Brunei Embassy has Natasha/Natalia who is the Embassy’s translator and she does help a lot especially when it comes to checking in the hotel as well as at the airport.

Do watch for fraudulent taxis and we tourists are already being warned with signages at the baggage claim area of the Domodedovo International Airport, Moscow. For instance, the taxi driver will give you a flat rate then upon arrival of your destination (hotel), you will be charged extra because of the number of luggages you bring or the type of taxi you used or the distanced traveled. Just do look out for the official taxi driver tags that they wear.

You are not allowed to sit down on the floor at the airport. That’s understandable. But I was told off even when I was just sitting down on my luggage. The security told me to find a proper seating area to sit down.

It’s encouraged to pay with their local currency, Rubles, and not in Euro or USD. Unless you are at the airport area, they accept both Euro and USD. Apparently, there is an ATM machine that helps to change your Euro or USD notes to Rubles. If you look out for the green coloured machines, that’s the one and it has English instructions.

The drivers are pretty aggressive in terms of speed. I came across a few ones that would simply drive fast in the hotel area and brake promptly at the entrance of the hotel.

Though I didn’t get to venture out at Moscow, the traffic congestion is one of the worst according to Hanafi. The peak hours starts from 7am to ……. 10pm *lol* Apparently, for the Russians, the traffic flow currently is considered a huge improvement from many years. So I can’t imagine how it was like back then.

The magazines and books are all in Russian language. I couldn’t find anything written in English.

Sochi Town is slightly backwards compared to Moscow. I ventured around and most of the shops reminds me of the early 90s era in terms of clothing and infrastructure of the shops. Yes, they are slightly old school stuff. I couldn’t even find an international brand and closest one I came across is the McDonald’s brand.

My train experience was interesting. I caught the train from Olympic Park (Sochi) to Sochi City which was an hour’s ride. The train doesn’t go as fast as SMRT (Singapore). I’m surprised the train is pretty well maintained and clean too surprisingly. In the train, there was this person pushing a drinking trolley where you can buy canned drinks or hot ones. Interesting. Oh, at each stop of the journey, there will have announcements of the particular stop in English which I truly appreciate.

They have many roundabouts at Olympic Park area (Sochi). Apparently, instead of having junctions, they use roundabouts. I remembered, during one of our bus trips, the driver didn’t go across the road to enter our destination but instead making one big round just to go to the other side of the road because that particular road has a double line.

The roadblocks are carried out at the exit of the roadblocks. The policemen don’t use cones or signs like we do in Brunei. The policemen will use their batons to signal the drivers to pull over. I just find it weird they carry out their duties at the roundabout.

I mentioned before that the drivers are aggressive. Well, that’s one reason why accidents are quite a norm in Moscow and plus they can claim their insurance within a week. This is also another reason why the roads are congested causing long traffic jams.

The immigration does take a long time sometimes. If you are lucky, it won’t have to wait. The immigration officers will check your passport thoroughly. I’m always the worried type since I’m holding an ICI document (like a passport) since I’m a PR of Brunei Darussalam. So if you bumped into a rookie or newbie immigration officer, do have some patience. We are fortunate that we have a Brunei Embassy in Russia and the Russian Federation does recognized our ICI document as means of passport.

The time difference between Moscow/Sochi and Brunei is 5 hours. I would have thought it will be similar to the UK (8 hours). So Moscow is 5 hours behind Brunei.

You can get a simcard for Data which I did – Megafon. It costs about 300 Rubles ($10) which comes together with the sim card and 5 gig of data. The only set back is that when I bought my sim card at Sochi, it doesn’t seem to work universally when I reached Moscow. Maybe it’s the settings. I’m not pretty sure.

 The airports in Moscow and Sochi provide free Wifi unlike the ones in Dubai International Airport unless you go to McDonald’s to get free Wifi.

 The popular souvenirs are the doll known as Matryoshka and also Sochi Winter Olympics merchandises.

I never tried bargaining because 1) the language barrier 2) the Russians have this uninviting presence that you will think twice about bargaining *lol*

Their trademark car is Lada, a local car in Russia which is like their Proton version. I still saw some Japanese and Korean cars too on the road. I even come across a silver Santa Fe, just like mine 😀

The Russians use more iPhones as compared to Samsung.

Though Whatsapp is common everywhere else in the world but not for the Russians. Instead they use Viber to text and they only check Whatsapp once in a while.

In terms of social networking, Russia have two popular local ones – Odnoklassniki and VK (originally known as VKontakte). Facebook is still huge but it’s losing traction against VK as of late. Instagram is also huge in Russia and thanks to the fashion bloggers, and public personalities. The only difficulty for me is understanding the Russian written language on their social network.


Zaitun binti Mohidin, spouse to the Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim, Brunei Ambassador to the Russian Federation, receiving a memento from Sayyidina Umar Al-Khattab Secondary School as a token of appreciation to the Ambassador for the hospitality provided during our stay in Moscow and Sochi, Russia. She’s a former geography teacher in STPRI and also had a short teaching stint in SMJA. She welcomes any Bruneian to pay a visit in Moscow and she will show you all the places of interest too. Thank you for hosting us breakfast and you are down-to-earth person.

I was told off not to sit on the luggage by the airport personnel on duty. Interesting.

This was the furthest I set my foot in Moscow…. outside the Domodedovo International Airport… boohoo.. Maybe on my next trip to Russia.

This is the Burger King in Russia. Too bad they don’t serve taro pie at all.

Their flagship car is Lada. This is the older model and it is still prominent in Russia. Of course, they have much more modern types but still have that classic feel.

The road blocks are conducted at the roundabout area

This is a typical Russian souvenir, a Matryoshka doll



The Sochi Experience

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News


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Brunei made to the Top 10 

Representing the team from Brunei from Sungai Tali Primary School and Sayyidina Umar Al-Khattab Secondary School with their coaches and Satinah binti Hj Abang, Student Officer of Science Technology and Environment Partnership (STEP) Centre.

After entering the competition for the sixth time, Brunei finally made it to the Top 10 of the Open Category for Secondary Level. That team is a group of students from Sayyidina Umar Al-Khattab Secondary School with their team project “Robotlifter”.

Though Brunei went back empty handed, the spirit of the students were not dampened. They really had a great time and all of them didn’t expect to fly all the way to Russia to represent Brunei in the World Robot Olympiad in Sochi, Russia. They braved the cold (of Russia), the jet lag from flying and they did the best they could do with the resources given.

Brunei definitely has potential to break into the Top 3 with more competition and exposure such as participation in WRO. The next event will be hosted in Qatar in 2015 and funnily enough, they didn’t announce the following host for the year 2016.

Brunei’s participation in Qatar 2015 looks promising and I do hope this can spur more schools and students to join the Brunei Robotics Olympiad next year and you can stand a chance to represent your school in Qatar WRO 2015. The idea here is not just to represent Brunei but learn and gain more exposure and with this repeating behaviour, everything will come naturally for Bruneians and a bigger chance to break the Top 3 benchmark.

When I saw the students from Brunei did their presentation and Q&A sessions, I believe we can actually go pretty far with more resources and proper training. I salute the kids for their courage and able to speak to the public while showcasing their project.

It was also my first time experiencing how WRO was bring run and this event was no easy feat. The organisers had mixed feedback with regards to the handling issues and our LO for the Brunei team kept on changing and their English wasn’t that bad.

Hence, it made me realised how much effort the Brunei Embassy to the Russian Federation they offered to the Brunei delegate so everything would be smooth sailing. On behalf of the Brunei delegates, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Brunei Embassy especially His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim, the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Russian Federation, for continuously giving us support in terms of logistics and hospitality. It was also nice of him to drop the Olympic Park every day to give moral support to the kids at their booths.

A big thank you also to the Hanafi, Pg Madihi and Natalia for helping us during our stay in Moscow and especially Sochi in the past few days. It really made our trip less of a burden and I truly appreciate the kindness and dedication from the Brunei Embassy there. Thumbs up!!

As for the students, don’t be disappointed by the result and I’m very proud that all of you made it to Russia and gave your best against 49 countries. I’m pretty sure the Ministry of Education will be pleased with Brunei’s effort for making it to the Top 10 in WRO’s history. I also hope that sponsors will come along as well to help potential students for next year’s WRO in Qatar 2015.


His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim, the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Russian Federation watching the Regular competition at the World Robot Olympiad 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Thank you so much for your support and the hospitality to the Brunei delegates.

The students also managed to get their jacket signed by the Russian volunteers. All of them wore orange sweaters uniform.

Selfies with the Russians

Political move by China as they wanted Taiwan to lower down their flag and the Chinese team withdraw from the competition.

The robot made of orange.

The Gen II Robot finals between Thailand and …. Thailandd

His Excellency attending the closing ceremony which was slightly disorganised in my opinion especially coming from Russia

The Russian in green is bilingual

The Brunei Team waiting for the closing ceremony and the results

I shall see you next time, Rosmanov (Well, that’s not her name but I just feel like calling her that)

The Russian tradition with the weight bars

Host nation Russia didn’t manage to win any category but made the podium on some categories

Team Malaysia, Team Thailand and Team Taiwan dominated the World Robot Olympiad 2014 with a few gold and silver medals



The Century Run


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U at the centre of Baiduri Bank 

Baiduri Bank introduced a new campaign to celebrate with their customers and educate them on how their products and services revolve around them and everything they do at every stage and step of the way – whether it’s getting his or her first car or setting up their own businesses or building their first home or planning their wedding or their first job or first child or even when u are just enjoying everyday life.

It’s U at the centre of Baiduri Bank because U are the centre of everything we do.





Sochi Day 3

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News


Day 3: Sochi, Russia 

His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim, the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the Russian Federation with the delegates from Brunei for the World Robot Olympiad 2014 at the Olympic Park, Sochi, Russia on the 21st November evening.

His Excellency as one of the special guests during the opening ceremony of WRO 2014

The first day of the World Robot Olympiad 2014 was mostly setting up and gearing for the judging day which fell on the second day. The opening ceremony was also held on the evening of the first day at the Sochi Olympic Park.

It was also a privilege that His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim, the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Russian Federation was invited as one of the special guests for the opening ceremony.

I’m pretty amazed with this event and it was my first time witnessing a world wide scale as I was already familiar with Brunei Robotics Olympic competition. This kinda reminds me of the World Cup where you compete among the best and to have Brunei to be part of this event alone is very encouraging and I do hope the students did their best and have fun at the same time.

Judging from their props and set up, it was nice to see students and coaches taking this competition very, very seriously. Well, sometimes, overdoing something might not be an ideal formula to win just as long your ideas and prototype do make sense. And yes, I notice the different judges have different opinions and perceptions on things and they can simply ask questions that are too complex for the students to understand.

Yesterday was already the presentation and judging period but the final day will determine who have the higher chances of winning as the shortlisted ones will be asked to carry out another presentation to the judges for the final assessment.

All the best to the Brunei team and I do hope we can bring more teams from Brunei Darussalam because this program is not just educational but also brings out a more positive character from the individual.


It was a full house affair using an open space concept

Students from Sungai Tali holding the Brunei flag on stage

What supposed to be a half an hour opening turned out to be longer but the opening didn’t look that grand but just nice. I kinda expected more coming from Russia.

The lady usher for the VIP that evening and I managed to take a selfie with her #score

This is the following day (2nd day of the event) which is the crucial part of WRO 2014 as the presentation and judging took place and it will determine who will be shortlisted for the finals.

I have to salute to many of the students as they are really full on gear for the presentation of their respective projects

Students from Thailand using their traditional clothes

Team Brunei with its project “Robotlifter” from Sayyidina Umar Al-Khattab Secondary School getting ready for their project

Nina explaining to the judge of their project

I’m proud of the students from Brunei. We do have potential and let’s start working for next year’s WRO in Qatar 2015 😀

Good to see kids taking photos with one another

The Japanese have great vocal for their presentation

Somehow the guy on the right reminds me of Scott Cassell

Interesting chair

These kids are really determined

Brunei didn’t send anyone for this particular category. Hopefully by next year or so.

The huddle from the Philippines. This project must have meant a lot to them.



Sochi is a ghost town

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News


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Free labour charge on repairs for Peugeot



Big Cheesy Box 

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Day 2: Sochi, Russia 

Sochi is pretty quite compared to Moscow, Russia.

His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim, the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Russian Federation with representatives from Sayyidina Umar Al-Khattab Secondary School

His Excellency with representatives from Sungai Tali Primary School

Queueing outside the Sochi Olympic Park

Group photo with the Ambassador who was nice enough to pay the students a visit in the morning

It’s good to see the Brunei flag

Brunei and Hong Kong

Who needs a monopod when you have a human pod?

Costa Rica representatives

Syria and Costa Rica

Qatar representatives

This is also the venue for the recent F1 GP in Russia


Peugeot 508 

So guess what? You can now have a look and feel of the Peugeot 508 at the Peugeot Showroom at Kiarong.

T.C.Y. Motors, which is the sole distributor of Peugeot vehicles, believes that its brand has big potential in the Brunei market. European research and awards such as this were much appreciated and followed up by the locals and as well as the expatriates.

To be competitive, T.C.Y. Motors has modified its pricing on all its models including the 508 to cater to a smart and growing market.

You can drop by or visit Peugeot showroom in Kiarong or call 242 6969. Experience what Peugeot can offer.


Check out the Peugeot 508 at their showroom in Kiarong



Bruhaha hits the spot 

Special guest Siva with other stand-up speakers Jordan Yau, Gary Goh, Zainal Bostaman (founder), Seng Yee and A’aqiil at the Beta Bruhaha Comedy Night

Thank you, Zainal Bostaman, for the opportunity to make this creative outlet into a possibility. Who would have known that stand-up comedy can be another creative avenue to spur the public interest like it had two weeks ago? Though it’s still in its Beta stage, it has received an overwhelming response from the public.

Reuben Chin did the honour of hosting the pilot version of BruHaha Comedy Night and he was such a smoothie in introducing and thanking each stand-up comedian that evening. They were six of them, A’aqiil, Seng Yee, Gary Goh, Jordan Yau, Siva and lastly the crowd puller Mr. Zainal Bostaman himself.

There will be another show slated for mid December and you can follow them on Facebook Page for updates. Images courtesy of Bruhaha Comedy Night Facebook.




















Sochi, baby :D

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News


Ambassador welcomes Brunei delegate 

His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim, the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the Russian Federation (5th from left) with the Brunei delegates who will competing in the World Robot Olympiad 2014 (WRO) at Sochi International Airport, Russia. Click image to enlarge.

Finally, after 30 hours of traveling and transiting, I managed to check in to my room for the next few nights in Sochi, Russia. I didn’t expect to fly to Europe in 2014 and sometimes life is just amazing especially when you least expected it. I had mixed feelings about flying to Russia because 1) it’s just too far 2) my PR status but once I landed safely and passed the Russian immigration, my mood started to shift and appreciate the moment that I’m actually physically in Russia.

My trip is being sponsored for the coverage of Brunei’s involvement in the World Robot Olympiad 2014 which is being held in Sochi, Russia. Some of you might recall the Sochi Winter Games that took place a few months ago. Initially, the WRO event was supposed to be held at Moscow, Russia but only announced the change of venue a few months ago. Next year Qatar will be the host for WRO 2015 and we are hoping that Brunei, one day, will host this prestigious event.

A big thank you to the Brunei Embassy in Russia for helping us with the logistics especially in Moscow (transiting) and Sochi (upon arrival). It was nice to see the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Russia, His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim who has been serving for the past two years as the Ambassador. He welcomed the Brunei delegates at Sochi International Airport (Международный Аэропорт Сочи) and thank you so much for arranging the transportation and checking in for us last night. The process would have been longer without your assistance.

For those heading to Moscow or parts of Russia, you can contact the embassy at moscow.russia(a)mfa.gov.bn or brunei.moscow(a)gmail.com or call (+7) 495 783 1926/7 and they are quite helpful too. I also realised that Russians don’t speak much English so communication can be an issue unless if it’s in the airport or hotel, then you will be fine. Once you step outside, it’s a different ball game. Even the Ambassador said that there are many steps to understand and learn the Russian language and even the Russians understanding of English is different from ours which can lead to miscommunication. We’ll see how it goes in the next few days but I’m quite excited to be in Russia and perhaps, do a bit of exploring.

The Brunei students will be preparing their respective projects this morning at the Exhibition Media Complex, Sochi which just a walking distance from the hotel we are staying (Azimut Hotel Resort & Spa). For your info, Sochi time zone is only 5 hours behind from Brunei time.

I shall update the progress on my instagram @ranoadidas and that’s a faster way for parents/families and their friends to keep up to date on the happenings of our Brunei representatives in the World Robot Olympiad 2014. I wish the students the best and a big shoutout to one of the students, Nur Amni Amanina binti Hj Narudin, who celebrated her birthday yesterday (by flying for 27 hours huhu).

Thank you once again, His Excellency Haji Haini bin Haji Hashim and his team from the Brunei Embassy in Russia for assisting us and also to our organiser, Hjh Faridah and Satinah Hj Abg for guiding us from Brunei to Sochi.


My first selfie in Russia #priority #chanceofalifetime

Thank you, Hanafi from the Brunei Embassy for assisting us during our 3 hour transit in Moscow Domodedovo Airport. It wasn’t easy to get around due to most of the language written is in Russian.

A tip when you arrive in Moscow. Watch out for the fraudulent taxi drivers. They will give a fixed fee then later on, they will add more charges due to the number of luggage you bring or the size of the taxi and so on. So you might be paying double the amount.

The Malaysian contingent is bring quite a few participants

A tired Nina after 27 hours of flying. Happy belated, Nina 😀 She celebrated her birthday flying here and there and it was nice of the immigration officer at Sochi to greet her before chopping her passport.

Thank Natalia who helped with our checking in at Azimut Hotel Resort & Spa. More pictures of the hotel later.

Faridah and Satinah sorting out the rooms for the Brunei delegate

Azimut Hotel is a full house due to the participants for the WRO event. Awesome!!



Malpyy goes Retro 

Shimmer and shine this weekend with Malppy’s fabulous looking Retro Fashion Ring-Bangled Style Watch featuring the glistening jewels that wears around your wrist to your finger. This ring-wrist watch which is valued originally at B$33.90 is sure to bring out the best look in you. The best part is you can get it this weekend at only B$19.90!

This fashion jewelry is so on-trend that you can go chic and contemporary with it and it is perfect for an evening date night out as well. Both watch and bracelet and a ring as well, this 3 in 1 watch is exactly what you need for any occasion. Perfect for a gift as well, you don’t have to worry about the size and you most certainly need not worry about the shelf life of this gift item as well because everybody wants to know ‘What’s the time?’ and having this 3 in 1 wrist watch for any lady is the best way to do so.

Hurry now and go to Malppy.com now or go directly to http://www.malppy.com/Retro-Fashion-Decorative-Bracelet and take a look at the various designs of this ring-bangle wristwatch they have in store for you this weekend promotion, exclusively for members only! Definitely an eye catcher to draw attention as well.


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To add on, Malppy is having their Movember Month Specials as well. They are offering Free Movember String Bags for transaction above $50. Hurry up and don’t miss out this chance and let’s help to raise awareness on men’s health issues!


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World Robot Olympiad 2014

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News


Brunei participating in WRO 

Sarimah Abu Bakar, Acting Head of STEP (right) with the Brunei delegates who will participate in the World Robot Olympiad 2014 in Sochi, Russia, accompanied by teachers, a judge and an LO at the Brunei International Airport.

This is the 6th time that Brunei is participating in the World Robot Olympiad and this year, Sochi, Russia, will be hosting the competition. Our Brunei contingent will be competing in two categories and they will be represented by Sungai Tali Primary School and Sayyidina Umar Al-Khattab Secondary School.

How they were selected to represent Brunei was when they won this year’s Brunei Robotics Olympiad a few months ago. One of the winners was team SIERRA SIERRA, a group of students ( Naimatul Basirah binti Haji Aliuddin and Nur Amni Amanina binti Hj Narudin) from the Sungai Tali Primary School led by Ronny bin Puasa, their teacher. They developed Agrospace, a portable autonomous space farm that supplies food to astronauts, an alternative solution to costly food for space flights. Interesting!!

Sayyidina Umar Al-Khattab Secondary School will represent the Secondary level and they are represented by team SMSUA TECH-NOBOT. Their project is called Robotlifter. The students presenting are Nor Muthiah binti Esa, Izzah Haziqah binti Hj Chuchu and Ummi Nur Su’aidah binti Sufrain which are led by Radzuan bin Hj Chuchu, their teacher.

The delegation is led by Satinah binti Hj Abang, Student Officer of Science Technology and Environment Partnership (STEP) Centre. Also part of the delegation is Ameliana binti A. Embran (Vokasional Nakhoda Ragam School) who will be a judge in the World Robot Olympiad 2014.

Brunei has been participating in 6 WRO competitions (Singapore 2004, Thailand 2005, China 2006, Malaysia 2012, Indonesia 2013). So it’s pretty good to know that Brunei is participating for this year’s competition. This will give more exposure to Brunei Darussalam especially for the students as well as the opportunity for Brunei to host the WRO in the near future.

Families and friends dropped by the airport to send off the participants. Also sending them off is Sarimah Abu Bakar, Acting Head of STEP.

I’m quite fortunate to be tagged along for the competition as the official social media for their progress in Sochi, Russia. A big thank you to the Ministry of Education, Russian Embassy (for the visa) and of course, Faridah, for this golden opportunity.

I shall be posting more pictures on my instagram and we are currently in Dubai International Hotel (hotel transit) before departing to Moscow. We have an 8 hour wait though. Boohoo. More updates soon. Till then, have a great day!!


Prayers before taking off to the first leg of the trip

It has been a while since I have been on a Dreamliner 😀

Getting our boarding passes for Moscow and Sochi. Yay, we are flying on Emirates

I forgot his name but he was quite helpful and he works for the Brunei Embassy at Abu Dhabi

Our official jacket is green

It’s good to see parents coming down to support

Heading to our transit hotel

Radzuan coordinating with the students

The Dubai International Hotel we are bunking in for the next few hours before flying off

Back in September when team SIERRA SIERRA from Sungai Tali Primary School won in the primary category in the Brunei Robotics Olympiad. Image courtesy of The Brunei Times.




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