Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brunei Trip - Day 1

Well, one of my dreams is to travel the world alone. Many people were saying that traveling alone is so boring. But I can say and I can prove that it wasn't the case. Actually, this trip is my preparation for my 5 countries/9 days trip in September. I have learned a lot on this trip and this widened my experience and exposure on other culture and communication to other people. My flight to Brunei was 10:25 in the morning last 8th of August via Royal Brunei Air. The travel was almost 2 hours from Singapore to the capital Bandar Seri Begawan. On the arrival hall of the Brunei International Airport, I saw a man holding a paper with my name and I knew that it was the hotel airport pickup service. I made a reservation in Jubilee Hotel for two nights and I was amazed that at a low price, the room was really great with complimentary breakfast and airport transfer. One of the receptionists was a Filipina.

After arranging my things inside the hotel room, I took a quick shower and prepared myself to roam the city. I asked for a map on the receptionist and I was amazed that most of the tourist spots were walking distance only. Since I'm used to running and walking long terrains I decided to walk, it was also a nice way to check the city by feet. I started to walk and after twenty minutes, I arrived on my first spot, it was the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. It is classified as one of the most spectacular mosques in the Asia Pacific and a major tourist attraction. It is also considered amongst the people of Brunei as the country's major landmark. I also entered the mosque but taking pictures inside the holy place was prohibited. They provide this black long suite to all women who enters the mosque.

Not that far, but if you are new to the city, it will take you 20 minutes again to walk towards the Royal Regalia and eventually, I discovered that there was a shortcut. Well, Royal Regalia is a place where Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah keeps his expensive and memorable gifts from other dignitaries or other high ranking officials around the world. When I arrived there, I was obliged to remove shoes and fortunately, there was a group of tourists with a tourist guide and I joined them just to hear some explanations or story telling from him. One notable words from him was that the current sultan's first wife was his first cousin. Anyway, the place was full of golden crafts and other things that serves as a gift or "regalo" to the sultan. Yeah, there were plenty of golds there! But we were not allowed to take pictures on it, only on the basement displays were permitted to take shots.

I next visited the Kampong Ayer (Water Village) and it was a 25 minute walk from the Regalia. It is situated in the middle of the Brunei River and there were 39,000 people living in the water village. All houses/structures were linked together by many foot-bridges and can you believe that there are restaurants, mosques, schools, shops and a hospital in the middle of the river? Wow! I was really amazed by that information. It was dubbed as Venice of the East. Private water taxis provide rapid transit and they are resemble long wooden speed boats. When you look at the water village, it looks like a slum but I was told that the village enjoys modern amenities such as air condition, satellite television and even internet access! The view from the portview was refreshing and was really a cool place to rest.

After long walks and hours under the sun, I decided to take a rest and to eat. I was delighted to see a Jollibee in Brunei! Since I miss Joly foods, I ordered spaghetti, chicken with rice and a caramel sundae for dessert. The taste was nearly similar to the original from Manila but the chicken wasn't that good. But still, I enjoyed the food since I was very hungry that time. So I rested for a while then roamed the Yayasan Shopping Complex and I looked for a souvenir shop but I didn't see any stall. So I just stayed on the place and after almost an hour, I got myself way back to the hotel to rest.


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