Thursday, July 3, 2014

Brunei, A Kingdom of Unexpected Treasure Day 1

This is another weekend trip I recently had during the month of May-2014.  We had an exciting connecting flight to Bandar Seri Begawan (read here) via KLIA2. 

Inside the aircraft, I was fortunate to seat beside a local Bruneian; and I learn some trivia about the Kingdom of Brunei.  The nation has its own cattle station in Australia that is larger than Brunei itself.  The 5986-sq-km station in Willaroo, in the Northern Territory, which supplies Brunei with beef and other meat products.  The live cattle are brought direct to Brunei from Darwin and slaughtered according to Halal practices. 

While landing, he pointed me the residence of the Sultan of Brunei, its that large compound consisting of white structures, surrounded by the trees.

Upon arriving the capital city of Brunei, it was impressive to see the well develop highways, it felt like we were in Singapore.  

Our hotel provided a free airport pickup, and our driver was so accommodating and told us several stories.

Main product of Brunei is fuel.  Hence, their fuel costs: 0.53 BND per liter of Gasoline, and Diesel costs 0.30 per liter! Which is cheaper than a liter of bottled water (1 BND).

Another interesting fact about this nation - there are only 50 taxis in the entire country, since all families have their own automobile, and with little over 400K population - hence there was literally no traffic jam throughout the city.

Being the most observant Islamic country in Southeast Asia, the sale of alcohol was banned in 1991, stricter dress code were introduce on 1992. 

Our hotel for 2D1N was Jubilee Hotel, it is probably the most convenient and value for money accommodation in Brunei, because they provide complimentary airport pickup / drop off, free city tour and free breakfast, plus the location is walking distance to the famous attractions of the city.

After leaving our backpacks in our hotel room, we started to explore the city by foot.  Few minutes walked to the oldest Mosque in Brunei - Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque,

We were not able to enter the mosque itself since it was closed for a prayer service, so we just took photos from outside.

This mosque serves as a symbol of the Islamic faith in Brunei and dominates the skyline of Bandar Seri Begawan. The building was completed in 1958;  Its most recognizable feature - the main dome, is covered in pure gold. 

The mosque stands 52 m (171 ft) high and can be seen from virtually anywhere in Bandar Seri Begawan. 

The main minaret is the mosque's tallest feature. In a unique way it mixes Renaissance and Italian architectural style.

At around 5pm, the sky started to transform into a colorful hue of lights, which compliments as the backdrop of this beautiful mosque.

Walking along the bridge across the moat, then crossing a small road and there we reach Kampung Ayer (water village).

Ascending the elevated foot bridge to cross the river, this is where we had a vantage view of this great contrast :

The beautiful and elegant Mosque, beside the dilapidated water village,

Yet houses here affords to use air-conditioners,

The view while on top of the bridge,



As the sun started to set, we headed back to the mosque compound to have another photo shoot of this majestic structure:

It was indeed a magical sky,

Felt like we were transported into the set of Aladdin.

After an unforgettable sunset, we hired a private car and went to the night market - Gadong Pasar malam


Here we bought our dinner.  

Almost all dishes here are under 1 BND, this is perhaps the source of best and affordable dishes for the locals - other than home-cook food off course. Yes, they have the Filipino fast-food franchise Jollibee!

from The Mall website
After dinner, we walk to the nearby shopping mall - The Mall, which is considered as the biggest mall in Brunei.

This ends our first day in Brunei, follow the next article to discover more of the unexpected treasures of this kingdom. 

To navigate on location with this article, download from

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