An April 2002 trip
to Brunei by shaicoggins
Quote: "Nature is full of infinite causes that have never occurred in experience." - Leonardo Da Vinci
Stiff legs, aching muscles, and a bit of a holiday hangover. I have all these from the trip. But in spite of it all, I enjoyed Brunei more than I expected.
Things To Do:
- Hiking/Trekking through the rainforests
- Picnic by the river near the Sultan's palace
- Meet the Sultan and the Royal household during Hari Raya at the palace
- Spend a day at the theme park
- Play golf near The Empire Hotel
- Sample the local cuisine (Malay/Indonesian style food)
- Get a quick but informative guided tour through the city
- Visit the local museums/galleries
- Brunei may not be a popular destination for most people travelling to Asia. However, it's an interesting place to stop over if you are within the area.
- Brunei is predominantly a Muslim country, so there is not a lot of nightlife. However, some locals can point you to some nearby places to go for drinks.
- Non-Muslims are allowed to bring in a certain amount of alcohol. Check out the latest information on this with the embassy or airport officials before bringing in alcoholic drinks from duty-free shops.
- In the Bruneian culture, it is rude to point with your fingers. It is more acceptable to point with your thumb.
Book a flight through your travel agent and/or national carrier. You can also check if Royal Brunei Airlines fly from and to your local destination.
Since there is very little traffic even in the city centre, driving is one of the best ways to go around. You can rent a car to take you around the city and/or to bring you to a jetty for a boat ride to another nearby part of the country.
If you do not wish to drive, most hotels provide bus/car services for a small fee. They usually have a schedule when the transportation is available.
Within the city centre, walking is a good option, as it is generally safe and easy to go around.
Unfortunately, public transportation is not readily available.
To get there, you will meet all travellers at a place called Gadong (main district) by the water village called Kampung Ayer early in the morning. From there, you will take a 45-minute boat ride through the mangroves to go to the Temburong district. From the jetty, there is a 20 to 30 minute drive to a wooden chalet where you will take a long boat ride through the river to reach Ulu Temburong National Park. There is a small fee to go in to the park, which goes to helping maintain the park. A guide will show you around the park and this entails a lot of walking up hill, climbing stairways (about 1,200 steps!), and crossing a 150-metre suspension bridge. There is no other way back but the same way. Then, there's a hike up a creek and some small hills to go to a waterfall. Lunch is served in-between the hikes.
NOTE/TIPS: Make sure you wear appropriate gear for hiking through land and waterways. Also, if you can put on anti-leech lotions or sprays, do so as there are blood-sucking leeches throughout the rainforest.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2003
Ulu Temburong National Park
Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 23, 2003
Non-Muslims are not allowed to go in to the mosques. However, you can take photos of the mosques from the outside.
Since there really isn't much to see, the tour may feel quick. And, depending on the tour you book and/or the time of day, lunch and/or dinner may be included in the package. Usually, you will be taken to a Bruneian restaurant where you can sample the local dishes.
The best perk of the tour, apart from the food (if you like Malay/Indonesian cuisine), is learning more about the history and culture of Brunei.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 25, 2003
Attraction | "Istana Nurul Iman"
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 24, 2003
Istana Nurul Iman (Palace of Sultan of Brunei)
Banks of Brunei River
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
In fact, during our first full day in Brunei, we managed to tour the city highlights in less than six hours. There were no tall skyscrapers, no huge shopping malls, and no bars or pubs. In fact, by 8 or 9pm, the city seemed to have fallen asleep.
We managed to see the two major landmarks of the city: Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque (a gold-domed [real gold!] structure built in the 1950s) and Istana Nurul Iman (the Sultan's palace). We didn't get to see the interiors, of course, but just looking at the facade was impressive enough.
We also went to see the Jerudong Theme Park and The Empire (a gorgeous luxury hotel).
We had a traditional Malay buffet for dinner. Hubby and I kept giggling to ourselves because we kept forgetting that it is rude to point with your fingers. In the Bruneian culture, you see, it is always best to point with your thumb.
Speaking of Bruneian culture, I was quite taken aback by how slow-paced the life there seemed to be. It was such a contrast from hustle and bustle of cities like Singapore.
People also tend to be quite friendly and helpful. I didn't experience the pointing, staring, and gossiping like I did in Bangkok (being with a Caucasian guy). When I caught people looking at me, they usually just give me a very nice and friendly smile.
Anyway, the next day, hubby and I decided to sign-up for this day tour to Ulu Temburong National Park. We ended up with an Iban guide (Iban is one of the tribes from Brunei who comes from the line of head-hunters), plus three Candadians as tour mates. I've never been on an active tour like this, so I was totally unprepared. First, we had to take a 45-minute boat trip from the water village in Gadong (the main district) to the Temburong district. Then, from the jetty at Temburong, we were met by our Iban guide who was quite a feisty and cheerful young lady. She drove us to this chalet by the river (another 20 to 30 minute trip), where we took a long boat to the national park. The ride was generally smooth and interesting. We were only a bit disappointed not to catch a glimpse of any wildlife.
When we reached the main area of the national park, we registered and began our trek up 1,200 wooden steps, past a suspension bridge (approximately 150 metres). Along the way, we saw different kinds of butterflies (some as big as the size of a big hand), trees, animals, and insects. Our guide and one of our tourmates actually got stung by a bee. And, the same tourmate ended up with a blood-sucking leech on her leg too. Eeeew! Anyway, once we reached this area where we could climb up the treetops using steel ladders, I began to feel sick. I barely reached the top, and it makes me feel bad to realise how unfit I was. After we got our fill of the view from the treetops, we went back the same way. Then we had our lunch by the river. I thought the adventure was over. Wrong.
After lunch, we all went back to our long boat. The boat went up to this rocky area where we stopped for a walk. We then found a creek. We continued walking (past, in, and through) the creek, going up small boulders and logs, as well as hiking up small hills (my slippers were definitely not the right foot gear.), until we reached this gorgeous waterfall. We were all going to start bathing near the waterfall when our guide started screaming: "Get out! Quick! Get out of the water! Hurry!" So we scrambled towards land and saw at least three or four snakes just a metre or so away from us. Our guide was pretty certain those snakes were poisonous. It was a good thing she spotted them. Yikes! Anyway, after the waterfalls, we had a bit of a bumpy long boat ride back to the chalet. And, as soon as we reached the chalet, the rain began to pour.
That was the end of our short adventure in this quiet and interesting country called Brunei.