Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

IMG_38425 intriguing facts about Negara Brunei Darussalam (to give it its full name…)

1) It’s a completely dry state. No beer, no clubs, no smoking!

2) It’s home to the world’s largest water village (30,000 inhabitants)

3) There’s no entry with Israeli stamp/ passport

4) It’s currency is usable in Singapore and vice-verse

5) The brother of the ruling Sultan blew 14.8 Billion Dollars of the country’s cash reserves!

The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) is reminiscent of neighboring Malaysian Kota kinabalu or small town Sandakan. It’s time-warped, tiny, yet it’s still a likable little oddity .The kind of SEA where kids still wave and strangers stop to chat.

IMG_3823We arrive at 9am, sleep at 9pm (Did you read fact #1!) and have enough time to explore the capital 10 times over, with room for an afternoon nap too.It’s a 1 street, 5 alley, 2 mosque, 10 mall town. Highlights include some decent street markets and a boat tour of Kampong Ayer water village. $30 for an hour (for the whole boat) buys you a moment of monkey spotting 15mins downstream of the lagoon, plus a tour of the community which houses it’s own floating fire station!

wpid-IMG_20130929_154316.jpgExcept for the very creative, after 12h in BSB you might want to pursue a rental car :)  We headed 25k to beach-side Maura; a windy driftwood filled gem with restless surf and manicured gardens. Since the highways are so good, we also reached Tutong in less than 50 mins, stopping at Judong on route, home of a local fish market – and bizarrely an animal fair in the nearby beach car park. Sadly $300 buys you a bird of pray here. Finally hot on Trip Advisor’s list is the Empire Hotel and Country Club – part of the Brunei’s penchant for obese extravagant palaces. They let non-guests lounge around the 17 swimming pools for free or sun workshop on the private beach. Well if it’s good enough for a Sultan….

Where to Stay: The Brunei Hotel
Get ting There: AirAsia – $120 returns from Kuala Lumpur
Rental Car: $70 SGD dayBus to the Empire / Airport; $1.00 SGD

 

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Gili Air, Indonesia

Back to everyone’s favorite set of islands. Gili Air is just gorgeous. Maybe it’s the psychedelic disco fish, maybe the cute horse & carts, maybe the Bob Marley vibe. But there’s no finer beanbag cushions to sink in and sip your Bintang, anywhere else in the world. Except maybe sama sama Gili T or Meno!

Getting there: Bluewater Express, 2h fast boat from Padangbai. $54 USD. They let you sun worship on the roof deck,until the big waves start to hit half way though the crossing!

Where we stayed:
Manta Dive Hotel $65 SGD for Garden Rooms with veranda and outdoor bathrooms!

Senggigi, Lombok, Indonesia

A little dog-eared and past it’s hey-day Senggigi is still a charmer. It’s forced to compete with those chic little upstarts (the Gili Islands) and Bali’s big daddy of debauchery (Kuta) so sadly Senggigi’s tourist dollars have gravitated elsewhere. 60,000R and 24h buys you a scooter and a lovely 100k road trip North to Tiu Pupas Waterfall. 30,000R buys you BBQ fish by the roadside. 90,000R a full body massage on the grass by the beach with a harem of local toddlers to make eyes at. Buck the trend. Come. Spend. Enjoy.

wpid-IMG_20130915_172708.jpgGetting there: 10,000R Public Boat from Gili, plus an 80,000R taxi from Bangsal to Senggigi (40 mins.)

Getting away: $30 SGD / 25 min flight with Lion Air from Mataram to Denpasar. Warning, there’s no airport bar!

Where we stayed: Kebun Villa Sengigi $65 SGD and #1 on Trip Advisor for a reason; the 70 metre pool!

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50 Greatest Photos: National Geographic

 

 

50 Greatest Photography of National Geographic
17th August to 27th October 2013
ArtScience Museum
$15 SGD or $13 with a Singapore EP

This showcase of Nat Geo’s stunning 125 year history has to be THE definition of inspiration. Their ‘Behind the photograph’ placards tell the incredible tales that you’d never normally get to hear… A journalists who camped out in the African wilderness for days (with his 4 yr old daughter!) to get that one glimpse of a Tanzanian lioness. Another who drove miles to rescue the stranded Iranian lady (above in blue) from childbirth in the desert.  There are stories of good fortune, spectacular timing, fluke, gut feeling or sometimes pure passion; like the team who returned to Afghanistan 30 years later to re-shoot their iconic green eyed beauty.

“Photography helps people to see” Berenice Abbott, Photographer.

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

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