After the trip to the mangroves, I went to see the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque which was built in 1958. This is one of the world’s most beautiful mosques.
There are days and times in day where the Mosque is closed so better to check first the schedule.
Second stop is the Royal Regalia Museum which displays the Silver Jubilee chariot, armory, and collections of gifts to Sultan from different countries. There are parts of the museum where you can take pictures but most parts are prohibited from taking picture. The gallery is the only area where you can take pictures. There is a locker where you have to deposit your bags including phone and camera.
There is a souvenir shop inside where you can all sorts of Brunei memorabilia.
Our first stop is the Istana Nurul Iman – the official residence of Sultanof Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. The palace was designed by a Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsin and constructed by a Filipino firm – Ayala International. The palace is open only during Hari Raya (the festival after the end of the Muslim fasting month). This is the largest residential palace in the world containing 1788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, a banquet hall which can accommodate 5000 guests, a mosque which can accommodate 1500 people, 110 garage, and 5 swimming pools. AMAZING!
Brunei Museum is located in Kota Batu about 3 miles from Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB).
The museum consists of the following galleries:
Islamic art gallery
The history and technology of Brunei Darussalam’s petroleum gallery
Brunei traditional culture gallery
National history gallery
Brunei Darussalam archaeology and history exhibition gallery
Jame’asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is the largest mosque in Brunei and was built to commemorate 25th anniversary of the sultan’s reign. Phone and camera are not allowed inside so you need to deposit it in the locker area. Also women must put on a black robe upon entering the mosque. The staircase behind me consists of 29 steps (the current sultan is the 29th to rein). For every crowned Sultan, a new mosque and palace should be built.
After having breakfast at the hotel, I head to the bus stop just across the place where I was staying. I took Bus No. 55 to Bandar (1 dollar) where I took Bus No. 39 to Muara. At the port in Muara, transfer to Bus No. 33 going to Pantai Muara (Muara bridge).Be very patient in waiting for a bus. It took me 20 minutes to wait for Bus No. 55 in Gadong and it took me an hour to travel to Muara.
It was 11am when I finally arrived at Muara beach. There were a few people mostly students (it’s a school break) because it is a weekday.
The beach has white sand. The waves are wild so it is not advisable to swim during that day.
Rainforest trekking in the Borneo jungle , experience few remaining pristine rainforest in the world before earth turned into a cement city.
Visit an Asean Heritage site, Tasek Merimbun Black Water Lake
Visit the world's biggest water village, biggest residential palace in the world.
Oldest running active Monarchy in the world.
Visit the billionth barrel monument for billionth oil production of Brunei
Brunei or rather Bandar Seri Begawan as a principal town has characteristics very specific and original. In essence this was a vast village on stilts but fortunes changes with the advent of oil. The terra firma ground was developed to accommodate an expanding urban populace. And in these conditions what is more important to glorify then the omnipowerful deity that has brought about this change. It is not Anglo-Dutch Corporation that I have in mind. It is God himself. So let’s build mosques to worship him and thus hope for continuous rosy state of affairs for the centuries to come. The most successful attempt seems to be laid out right downtown with blindingly white mosque surrounded by water in the best traditions of water-hungry traditional Islam. Mind you, it is separated simultaneously from the local tradition of stilt housing which provides one the best pretexts for thinking about the plight of the regular Joe in modern Brunei.
One of the most efficient ways to access the jungle areas of Temburong district of Brunei is to use the services of a tour company. This must sound like a drag but considering that the government of Brunei is taking extremely seriously the preservation of the pristine jungle and turning it into a profitable business this is the way to go. The permit hunt is eliminated and the group package drives the price down of services such as independent hiring of boats upriver. In the end a group package at the time of Ramadan could end up being a private tour because of the low demand.
A trip to the jungle and the treetop bridges of Temburong is a wonderful experience. And this is not the goal that makes it such but the travel itself. The treetop climb except for the views is nothing special because there is practically no wildlife to be seen. Another matter is the James Bond style drive on a regular commuter boat from Bandar to Bangar amongst a maze of jungle rivers and open sea; then follows an educational drive for 12km to the next point of embarkation. This time the mode of transport is a small boat almost the size of dugout canoe. Special crew of local guides the vehicle through the rapids upriver till the main check point and preferred choice of the rich and famous jungle resort, is reached. After a short period of formalities one is whisked up to the planked walkway up the hill and here you go – your last obstacle. The treetop bridge has several towers interconnected at different altitude and angles. My proffered choice was number one for its unimpeded views but number five has the largest scope. After this strenuous trekking one has to recharge and this is perfectly organized at the banks of the river. A prelude to eating to the brim is a foot massage in the foothills of a mini waterfall and then follows a dip in the fast flowing jungle river. Experience of a lifetime!
Longhouses are a hallmark of Borneo life as they have been for thousands of years. Nowadays the balance has shifted to more urban life style with easy access to jobs in oil enterprises or towns but the idea is still there. The houses being expanded with the newlywed arrivals who procreate and thus expand the need for more room and hence elongating the original house. While the houses themselves might be the primary goal, there are parks along the way that are worth the stop despite the terrible humidity. One of them on the way to the town of Labi is a marsh habitat brilliantly approached by planked walkways and shaded gazebos. Another stop is a park smack in the middle of virgin jungle nicely equipped with marking and even railings for the most challenging areas. Again, the major obstacle to glory is the humidity that almost paralyzes the will to continue and see more of the same greenery that with the foggy eye glasses turns into undistinguishable mass.
There are a couple of options for a boat trip in and about Bandar that can be organized absolutely spontaneously at the river front. One of them is a ride to the proboscis monkeys’ hideouts. Compared to what the agencies offer for similar excitement this version is a huge deal. Meanwhile depending on your good luck you get to now a local person, who in the process of becoming a budding naturalist guide, not only informs you about the monkeys but keenly asks for feedback from your part of the world. The monkey joint is not very far and includes a close glimpse of the sultan’s palace roofs. The animals are occupying a mangrove forest which in itself is an “attraction”. Eventually the monkeys show up on their way to devour the most delicious leaves in their path. Unfortunately, these are wild animals with a healthy dose of fear from humans, so the distance that they keep is considerable especially in this leafy environment. This is rather important because what one comes for is to see the weird nose of the adult males that hangs about as an overripe pear on their faces. To enjoy the full view from very close range one might consider a visit to a zoo, Singapore one being the closest at hand, to supplement the safari action if it did not live up to the expectation.
We took a ride on a tourist pontoon boat up the Brunei River to see proboscis monkeys. The boat would nose right into the edge of the jungle and we would stay silently for about 15 minutes. The guide would point them out. We saw about four or five, but others saw many more. I didn't get any on film. We did see a monitor lizard and the nostrils and eyes of a crocodile.
On the way out and back, the boat took us by the "floating village", where all the houses are built up on stilts over the water and people travel by boat. Even though this is the poorer part of the city, this being Brunei, all the houses have electricity, modern plumbing, and cable TV.
This was booked by the hotel concierge and run by Sunshine Borneo Tours & Travel, otherwise known as Explore Borneo. We had a problem at the end of the tour. We were left stranded at the pier for about an hour after the boat dropped us off. A van was supposed to take us back to the hotel. We got a lot of excuses, but finally found out the true reason of the guide/driver showing some Very Import tour agents from Tokyo an extended tour on the water. After a bit of shouting on my part, they arranged another car to pick us up.
I also tried to use these guys direct from the Internet. I phoned them once, got a few answers, and was told to e-mail the detailed questions. I never ever got an e-mail back from them, after repeated enquiries. It was only the coincidence that the hotel happens to use this agency that we used them at all.
I'm not happy with the tour company, but the tour itself was good, and worth the price.
There is an ancient outdoor localmarket on one end of town .We came here hopping to find handicrafts but it was mostly a food market for locals. There were many exotic spices ,fruit ,honey and loads of smelly dried fish!!
The museum is an elaborate and richly design building. It houses the King's chariot and all the gifts given to him my heads of countries at his coronation. Admission is free and its a worthwhile vist .We spent abut an hour here roaming around.We saw the stone walrus given by our country Canada.
Built in 1958 the 171 foot high mosque with its pure gold dome can be seen from virtually anywhere in Bandar Seri Begawan. Named after Omar Ali Saifuddien III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei, the mosque as a symbol of the Islamic faith in Brunei . The call for prayer rings out twice a day for all to hear.
More Regions in Brunei