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 : 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…

September 2013

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