Sometimes you have the opportunity to visit interesting countries but unable to carry radio equipment with you. In such cases you can look for operating as a guest from a local ham his station or rent a DX-holiday shack. The latter was my option when visiting Brunei. I learned that Ambran V85SS had a chalet (Tungku Lodge) for rent, including antenna’s and radio’s. I contacted Ambran for the details and quickly made a booking for a couple of days in April 2008. During a previous visit to Sabah, I had my first meeting with John, 9M6XRO † and knew he was keen to activate other place so I asked him if he was interested to join me for this operation. John decided quickly to join and made the necessary travel arrangements. John planned to bring his own radio equipment with him as it was easy to do on a short 1-hour air trip from Kota Kinabalu to Bruei.
I arrived from Taipei via Kota Kinabalu on April 18 with about one hour delay but Ambran and his son were still waiting for me. Together we drove to Ambran’s house where I met John who arrived one day earlier. John was already on the air and was in good spirit. After I had settled and prepared my station setup, we were visited already by the local hams who were interested to meet us and having a chat. In the evening I had my first operation and it started with a good pile up on 20 meters.
The next day we had several good openings and pile ups so it was real fun. In the afternoon we were visited by Aman, V8BSD and some other local hams. Aman invited us for a high tea at a restaurant down town. It was an enjoyable occasion with lots of fine local food and spending our time on interesting discussions and exchange of information on amateur radio.
Next to his house, Ambran built his Tungku Lodge, a nice chalet which he makes available for visiting amateurs. It is new (finished in 2007) very comfortable and with air conditioning. It provide a spacious living room which has two tables with the radios, a well equiped kitchen, bathroom and a sleeping room with two beds. Ambram provides all food supplies so we could stay all day operating and make our food (tea, coffee, lunch, breakfast, etc.) at our own convenience. It was possible to have pizza’s or other food home delivered but we went out to town a few time for dinner. This was combined with a little site seeing which is a must if you visit Brunei. Ambran provided us with transportation on these occasions.
Conditions were quite different at times with sometimes running nice pile ups and other moments we were calling long CQ’s with hardly any answer. One day we had a very heavy thunder storm and heavy rain. Somewhat later John called his wife in Kota Kinabalu who told him that the whole of the area of Sabah was without electricity. Initially we thought it was because of the terible weather but later it turned out that it was caused by thiefs who were steeling iron parts from electricity towers. This time it was a part that let the tower come down with a tremendous impact for the whole area.
The Tungku Lodge is fully equiped and has the following equipment available (at the time of my visit):
JRC 245 transceiver and electronic keyer A four-element Moseley TA-53-M beam for 28, 24, 21, 18 and 14 MHz on a 40-foot tower Two vertical antennas for all bands including WARC Full wave dipole for top band
The lodge has a large open garden surrounded by forrest. This gives opportunities for antenna experiments or building alternative antennas. However, due to the short time available we preferred to stay at the radio to make contacts.
A temporary ham licences can easily be arranged in advance and Ambran will assist in this process. The costs for a license is only B$100 per license. The call sign structure for visitors is V8Fxx.
For more information go to the Tungku Lodge web site of Ambran where you can also find his e-mail address.
This short visit and operation from Brunei was a great experience thanks to Ambran, his wife and children for their great support and make our stay so pleasant. It was also a great pleasure to stay together with John 9M6XRO † and share experiences, stories and discuss possible next operations.