Friday, September 4, 2009

SE Asia Trip, Part 12 - Bandar Seri Begawan

18/03/09 - 19/03/09

After my trip into the jungle it was time for a bit of a rest. One thing I noticed about Brunei was how hot it was! Even though it was probably around the same temperature in Laos I rarely saw the sun there, but in Brunei the sun was baring down and the sky bright blue. I'd gotten used to the Laos haze so it was weird for the day to be so bright.

I decided to go out for an evening stroll again, as I wanted to take some photos of the famous mosque, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. I'd noticed it all lit up the night before and I wanted to capture it's magnificence.

The mosque is surrounded by gardens and a lagoon.

The ceremonial boat in the lagoon - not sure what this is for?

Across the lagoon.

I went back in the daytime to see what the mosque looked like in daylight.

Personally I prefer the night time look, but it is still stunning.

After wandering around for a while in the morning, I eventually found the Royal Regalia Museum. The signposts weren't very helpful! This museum houses many gifts from around the world, given to the Sultan of Brunei. There were some stunning pieces, including the royal chariot. Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed and I had to check my camera in. I did like the mandatory walking around barefoot though - my shoes were killing me!

The Royal Regalia Building.

I also wanted to visit the Brunei Museum - the national museum. For some reason, however, this museum is about 6km outside the city centre. I managed to catch a bus out there, and the locals on the bus were very helpful in getting the driver to stop in the right place for me.

The museum was separated into different halls. I enjoyed the exhibit of Islamic Art, the historical timeline of Brunei, and the natural history hall was quite interesting too.

The only problem with this museum is that it is so far away from town. The buses seemed to be pretty sporadic and after waiting a while I decided to walk back. On the way I stopped at the Tomb of Sultan Bolkiah, the 5th Sultan of Brunei, who ruled during the country's Golden Age. His tomb lies where the original capital city is believed to have been, on the banks of the Brunei River.

The Tomb of Sultan Bolkiah.

The view on the way back to Bandar Seri Begawan.

It was a pretty long and hot walk back. Luckily I didn't have to walk the whole way, as a porshe suddenly pulled up beside me and an English woman offered me a lift back to town. I happily accepted. She had been working in Brunei for a couple of years but was going back to the UK shortly. She dropped me off outside the Handicraft Centre as I wanted to check it out too. That was not hugely exciting though, full of overpriced handicrafts and ornaments.

That was about it for my short time in Brunei. I would recommend it as a stopover destination if you've got plenty of money, are travelling as a couple or family, and don't mind package tours. It really isn't geared up for the independent budget traveller. At least the museums are free!

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