When planning for my visit to Southeast Asia, I had originally planned for four days around the Kuala Lumpur area. But then as my friends Rick and Keith did a shorter but similar trip to mine, they had a destination that was not in my original plans, and that was to Brunei. When they made their plans for their visit, they arranged a tour with a driver to see some of the main sights in the city of Bandar Seri Begawan with a stop to their one amusement park. After some research, I decided to go ahead and add it to my plans, but would do a bit more self-exploration. The plan was to flying over in the morning, visit a few places on my list, then head back to the airport to return to Kuala Lumpur.
As the day of this trip came, I made the early morning drive to KLIA for the flight over to Brunei on AirAsia. While on the previous flight I had with them I reserved a seat, this one I didn’t bother to pay to do so, and I ended up with a middle seat. Unfortunately after going through security, there wasn’t a customer service desk to request a different seat, and because of the odd procedure for boarding at the airport where you scan in and enter a waiting room before going onto the plane, I missed the agent scanning boarding passes to ask if I could make a seat swap. Once I sat down, the lack of space for my legs and being stuck in the middle gave me a feeling that this would be a pretty awful two-and-a-half hour flight, so I asked a flight attendant if there was an empty aisle seat, which luckily there was one left. The flight itself was smooth, and I managed to snooze for most of it.
Before I knew it, we were landing, coming to the gate, and then heading in to go through customs. After that, I was able to add Brunei to my list of countries visited. The airport of the small country was pretty easy to navigate, including when I found a cab for getting into the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan.
When I got into the heart of the city, I began with a visit to the Royal Regalia Museum. This museum was essentially a look at the life of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, with sections of the museum that focused on his life leading up to his coronation as Sultan with a variety of artifacts on display, along with another one that features a collection of gifts he had received from various groups and other countries. The main hall of the museum features a wide variety of items that were part of the coronation of the sultan.
The museum does require that you place items such as bags and cameras in lockers when you go into the main exhibits, but welcome you to take pictures inside of the main hall where to coronation items are on display. Another requirement of the museum is that you leave your shoes outside when you go into the museum.
From there, I went for a walk toward the Brunei River, and along the way I would find one of the highlights of the city, Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. This place of worship was absolutely majestic! Especially with it’s setting surrounded by the pond. While they do allow options for visitors to see inside, I did not want to inadvertently do anything disrespectful as this was the first time I ever been to a mosque and was not familiar with the proper etiquette, so I enjoyed the building from the outside, but it is possible to see the interior as well.
From the mosque, I went ahead over to the waterfront so that I could see the water village known as Kampong Ayer. Like other parts of Asia, these were homes built on stilts above water, and many of the residents make their living from the waters as many of them are involved with fishing, and others specialize in transportation with their boats.
One such gentleman who provided such transportation offered a tour of the village with his boat for about $20 Brunei Dollars. While it may have been possible to talk the price down, I felt like it was a relatively reasonable price for a ride around the village on what was essentially a private tour. He did offer to head over to the forest which featured a type of monkey that is fairly exclusive to the Island of Borneo for an extra cost, but I declined as I didn’t have a lot of time as I had another destination to get to before going back to the airport for my flight back to Kuala Lumpur. So we went for a loop around the village, getting an up close look to these homes on the water.
We also had the opportunity to see other things of interest including another one of the nation's mosques, a small glimpse of the sultan's palace, and the fairly new RIPAS Bridge.
When trying to get to my next stop, I was worried about finding a taxi as they were not as well marked as they are in other places, and it seemed there were not many of them. So when I looked for help to get a cab, I was told of the app called Dash which worked much like the Grab app in Malaysia. This would be really handy for getting a cab later to get to the airport.
The next stop was to Jerudong Park Playground, an amusement park that felt like a really nice city park with open fields and scenic fountains, offering a variety of rides. The one that was the reason for this visit was their roller coaster from L&T Systems called Junior Coaster. It offers a pretty fun layout with a small pop of airtime here and there.
After riding the lone roller coaster in Brunei, it was time to head back to the airport to catch the afternoon flight back to Kuala Lumpur. Unlike the morning flight, I spoke with an agent who was able to switch my assigned middle seat to an aisle seat.
Upon returning to KL, and after the drive back to the hotel, I would take care of a few things on the laptop before going to bed for the night to prepare for the flight in the morning to the next destination, Hong Kong. In doing so, that would bring an end to my first experience in Southeast Asia. It was a great time exploring this part of the world from the bus tours of Singapore, to the exploring of the Batu Caves in Malaysia, to enjoying the beauty of Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Brunei. This is a region that I would love to be able to see more of, and those thinking of doing so certainly should as it really will provide you with some fabulous experiences.
Thank you for checking out this visit to Southeast Asia, I hope you’ll be back for more on Coasting with Culture.
-Take Care and Safe Travels.
See More of the 2019 Southeast Asia Trip:
1: Going East by West / 2: Exploring Singapore / 3: Universal Studios Singapore / 4: Legoland Malaysia & Danga Bay / 5: Desaru Coast / 6: Bukit Gambang & Genting Highlands / 7: Theme Parks of Ipoh / 8: Batu Caves & Sunway Lagoon /
9: Exploring Kuala Lumpur / 10: A Day in Brunei