Sungai Kianggeh

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    • Day 161

      Muara, Brunei

      May 21 in Brunei ⋅ ☁️ 90 °F

      Under different circumstances, today would have been the first of two days in Bangkok. Instead we had a short day in Brunei. All because of the big switcheroo to this segment due to China being closed to cruise ships when we set out on this voyage. No worries … we will get to Bangkok … just a little later than initially planned.

      We visited Brunei, one of the three countries that share the Island of Borneo, on RTW2017. Having seen the highlights already, it really didn’t matter to us that this time we’d be arriving at 11:00a and departing at 4:30p.

      Because it was a short day, we almost decided to make today a “sea day” and stay on the ship. But then Mui read that the mosque we had been unable to enter in 2017 because our visit fell on a Friday would be open today.

      So, we took advantage of the “On Your Own” ship’s tour that was put into play at the last minute after our sister ship, Nautica, had problems with the complimentary shuttle that was supposed to transfer DIY explorers from the port in Muara to Bandar Seri Begawan [BSB], the capital city … some 17+ miles away.

      Our “tour” was the last one scheduled to leave. We collected our bus assignments at 11:45a and it was about noon by the time we were finally moving. The bus had definitely seen better days … the A/C was barely working; seats were ripped up. Not what we would have expected from a country that is one of the richest in the world. The guide could do little more than apologize and explain that public transportation is practically non-existent here. After all, with gas cheaper than water, people prefer to drive themselves.

      The bus followed the old road into BSB. Not sure why since we returned to Muara by the faster highway. In any event, it was about 12:45p when we arrived at the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex — a shopping center. With instructions to be back at 3:00p for a 3:15p departure, we did not dally in the mall.

      The Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, named for the 28th Sultan of Brunei (father of the current sultan), was right across the street from the Yayasan complex and easy to walk to. We expected to wait until the 1:30p opening for visitation, but the guy at the door let us in early when we told him we were from Türkiye.

      A man who identified himself as a “Friday Teacher” — not sure what he meant by that — gave us a few tidbits of information while we looked around and took photos.

      The construction of the mosque was completed in 1958. It is in the Mughal style and has a dome covered in gold. He explained that the minaret-style chandeliers came from London; the marble from Italy; the handmade carpets from Belgium and Saudi Arabia; the heavy bronze doors from Hong Kong.

      I found the interior to be surprisingly simply decorated … not as opulent as I thought it would be … especially for a state mosque. That said, the building has a “presence” and sits on beautifully manicured grounds. The pre-prayer bathing area is quite distinctive with its white column surround and a central pool that reflects the mosque. There is a manmade lagoon on the grounds with a concrete “artificial barge” that is said to be a replica of a 16th century mahligai — aka, royal barge. At one time, Quran reading contests were held on it.

      We had not walked out on to the “barge” in 2017, so we did so this time. Good thing we did as we would likely have not run into Thomas otherwise. We first met Thomas on our 2015 Antarctic expedition to the Ross Sea. It really is such a small world.

      Despite the ever increasing heat — 91F … with a feels-like of 100F — we continued our stroll around the city. First we stopped at the big mural of Dewan Bahasa. It is on an exterior wall of the public library. What I remember from 2017 is that it is dedicated to education and the people of the country. We later found a new mural on the side of a tall building. This one was more “touristy” in scope with representations of some of the iconic sights.

      Our meandering walk next took us to the Tiang Yun Dian Chinese Temple. This place of worship, the name of which translates as the Temple of Flying Clouds, is the oldest of its kind in BSB. It was originally built on the waterfront, facing Kampong Ayer, the water village on stilts across the river. It was moved to its present location when the land it was sitting on was acquired by the government.

      The temple is as colorful as the other Chinese temples we’ve visited. The incense and smoke from the joss sticks were a little stronger. I later read that the faith of the worshippers at this temple is given credit for the temple surviving a WWII bomb that did not detonate when it hit the building.

      It was getting on towards 2:30p when we finally walked along the waterfront and made our way to the frame in Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas Park. Over 30 feet high, you can use it to get a framed photo of the Saifuddien Mosque. From the reverse, you can frame Kampong Ayer, but with the buildings small and distant, I’m not sure that works well.

      The return trip to Muara was a lot faster since the driver took the highway back. We arrived at the port around 3:45p. The A/C on the ship felt like heaven.
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    • Day 204

      Water Village

      March 24, 2017 in Brunei ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

      Seit über 1.300 Jahren gibt es am Brunei River ein Wasserdorf. Heute leben hier über 30.000 Menschen in tausenden von Holzbauten unterschiedlicher Art. Es ist eine Ansammlung von Wohnhäusern, Restaurants, Shops, Schulen, Moscheen, Krankenhaus ..., eine richtige Stadt. Miteinander verbunden sind alle Gebäude durch einfachste Holzstege ohne Geländer, Straßen gibt es nicht.
      Leider haben wir auch hier wenig Zeit und können nur ein Mini-Bruchteil anschauen! Wir besuchen eine Familie in ihrem Langhaus und werden freundlich mit Tee und Gebäck bewirtet. Wir dürfen uns umschauen und bestaunen den riesigen Wohnraum (passen zwei Busladungen rein) und die wieder mal einfachste Küche.
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    • Day 27

      Kota Kinabalu - Bandar Seri Begawan

      July 27, 2018 in Brunei ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

      Wir verlassen Malaysia und reisen mit der Fähre nach Brunei, einem eigenen Staat welcher auch auf Borneo liegt. In dessen Hauptstadt Bandar Seri Begawan haben wir unser Hotel. Wir sind jedoch sichtlich enttäuscht über die Stadt. Es wirkt wie eine Geisterstadt und dämpft unsere Euphorie einen neuen Staat zu erkunden arg. Neben der Moschee bleibt in diesem winzigen Städtchen wohl nicht viel anderes übrig. Mal schauen was der morgige Tag bringt, bevor wir nach Bali reisen.Read more

    • Day 133

      Arrived in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

      October 14, 2018 in Brunei ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

      I just got off the bus from Miri at the waterfront in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capitol of Brunei. This is the first bus stop I've been to that wasn't surrounded by taxi drivers. I guess I'm walking to the hotel. (Only 10 minutes away.)

      I had a great time with the Miri Hash yesterday. Trail was in primary jungle. When we popped out in a clearing with grass well taller than my head, I felt like I was in Jurassic Park and that Velociraptors were going to hunt me if I went into it. Lol. We went to a parkside restaurant afterwards for circle and dinner. One of the hashers runs or owns the place, so lots of beer was provided, naturally. Dinner was a feast of deliciously tender wild boar (better than what I had in Germany), freshly caught snapper, some green chunks that tasted kind of like green beans, and white rice. Yummy!!

      So long [for now] and thanks for all the fish. ✌️
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    • Day 43

      Rumah Berwarna-Warna

      February 12, 2019 in Brunei ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

      And this is a masterpiece of Kampong Ayer, awe! Having spotted it I thought it's either a shop or a cafe or something dedicated to tourism (which is still quite rudimentary here) but no - it's just a normal house where a family livesRead more

    • Day 45

      BSB Port

      February 14, 2019 in Brunei ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

      Bandar Seri Begawan = A Blessed Port: a particularly nice place to be for a few days, very compact and with somehow particular charm.

      Although, my time here is over - flying to KL in a few hours where I'm gonna meet a travel buddy with whom we gonna have a "cruise" around Spice Islands of Indonesia. Molukku and Raja Ampat - we're coming🤧Read more

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