Different country, same feel

Dec 06

At last, I can tick off Brunei from my list.

After Mulu, I continued my journey from Miri to Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) in Brunei by a van “sapu” (unlicensed van). It costs a little bit more (RM60) but more convenient and faster than bus. The van picked me up from Miri airport and drove me all the way to BSB. I don’t even need to get down from the van. Not even at the immigration. When I reached BSB, I didn’t even felt like I have left Malaysia. Everything just felt the same. The first local I spoke to was in hokkien dialect! Then the signboards are all in Malay language that I am so familiar with and the food taste alike. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Then it began to feel more like Singapore. Everything is 2.4 times more expensive than Malaysia. For example, a simple meal in Malaysia is around RM5. In BSB, it was B$5. After conversion, it became RM12. Their currency is tagged to Singapore Dollar. That means, I can use SG$ to spend in Brunei. Other than that, I don’t see any motorcycle or to be more specific, “kapcai” on the road. All I see was cars or vehicles that has 4 wheels or more. Again, that’s where the similarity ends with Singapore.

Even though the oil-laden country is rich, but somehow I felt it was underdeveloped and lifeless. There is only one proper shopping complex in town. The rest are just either deserted or empty. But that’s OK. I can survive without shopping. But what I cannot accept is everything was pretty much dead at night. The only consolation was a cafe that opens for 24 hours. If there is any reason to visit BSB at all, then it must be the Sultan. Almost every places of interest in BSB has something to do with the Sultan. For example, the 2 most famous mosques are named after the Sultans (one for him and one for his father) and the center of all attractions is the Royal Regalia Museum in which kept all the gifts received by the Sultan from various heads of state from all over the world. It makes all the souvenirs sold in market look like rubbish. However, what impressed me the most are not the mosques nor the museums, but the water village or should I say; water villages. It was so huge that put the Penang’s clan jetties into shame. As I found out later, it consists of many villages with a mosque for each villages. It was so huge that I did not have enough time or energy to discover all.

Overall, BSB is only good for a day or two. However, it is not a place I would like to visit for a second time. With this, I would like to conclude my Borneo adventure which was also the final trip of 2009.

4 comments

  1. Brunei is boring country, but they have very good roads compare to Sarawak.

  2. Jessie /

    I agree! Its freakin boring that you might died of boredom…believe me i wanted get outta here so freakin bad

  3. jajajajajaja /

    Brunei is a quiet and nothing to do much country And WE like it that way!

  4. Eve /

    Hi,
    we are leaving to Borneo next week and would like to know how did you book a van “sapu” to Brunei? That sounds only reasonable option for our trip:)

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