Thursday, August 30, 2012


Rich in Oil, a sanctuary of Gold and a peaceful country led by a strong Monarch are few characteristics that best possibly describe Brunei Darussalam, the Abode of Peace. Surprisingly, Little did most people know, etched in the panorama of luscious greens is a bustling city that boasts a gamut of tourist attractions ranging from historic sites, delectable food, on-the-road cultural finds, and architectural Islamic influences.

Last week my highschool bestfriend April and her husband Mark went to Brunei for a three-day holiday. My Dad was also with them on the same flight and he’s to stay for twelve days in the Abode of Peace. Given their excitement to explore Brunei and learn about my life overseas, my “tour guide” self was put to the test. Thanks to past experiences in touring around friends and acquaintances, planning our itinerary was a breeze. The must-visit places, food to try and stories to tell were just plotted out smoothly.

Read on to join us in our adventure.
First Day

Our first stop over on our first day of tour was at the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. Seated like a contented God who overlook the city, the Omar Ali Saifuddien is a sight to behold.  With golden domes, massive white pillars, and marble floors paired with high ceiling, the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosques allures even non-Muslim toward tranquility.

My Dad, April and Mark

me, April and Mark

Unfortunately, we were halfway through the entrance of the Mosque when a local stopped us. Prayer time was on going and non-Muslim visitors were not allowed to enter.

Quick to depart from my itinerary schedule, I tagged along April, Mark and my Dad to take a stroll in the open space of Yayasan Mall. In that space, more photo shoots took place for my guests to capture the grandeur of the Mosque.
After some snapshots we went to the Waterfront. We rode the water taxi and went for a tour in Kampong Ayer or Brunei’s “Water Village.” Most locals told me that Kampong Ayer is one of Brunei’s oldest (and historic) town, which nestles (and preserves) the nation’s centuries of political, trading and cultural heritage.
Ready to conquer Kampong Ayer

At BND10, we rode the wooden and engine-powered water taxi and toured Kampong Ayer. After minutes of viewing the landscape of houses in stilts, we dropped by and got in for free at the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Toursim Gallery. On the other hand, we were delighted to see the new government housing at Kampong Ayer. Modern and sleek houses painted with earth colors wowed our eyes.

As we were touring Kampong Ayer and saw the houses in stilt, we couldn't help to talk about the design direction of future houses in the Philippines. With flooding and global warming in mind, we thought that houses on stilts would be an ideal (although costly) to consider in future residential architecture.
Mark, April and I!

My Dad and I!
New government housing on stilts

The Gallery contains artifacts of the water village’s traditions, architectural developments, rituals, and leadership direction. Actually, you won't even think that the gallery is on stilts when you're inside. The gallery is well lighted, clean, full airconditioned, and has a regal ambiance. 

Too bad, as much as we wanted to stay longer and read the information on the posters, time didn't allow us. The water taxi was waiting for us outside the cultural gallery.

A pathway with character

A place to watch and know more about Kampong Ayer!

After a few minutes we went back to the boat. Since it started to drizzle and eventually the rain poured heavily, our plan of visiting the Royal Regalia Museum was cancelled.Since it was lunchtime already and so we opted to go for our lunch at The Mall.

At the Mall, we had lunch at CheezBox Restaurant. April tried my usual order of the Kolomee Special, which she had been wanting to try.

After lunch we headed to Pelangi De Mutiara. Apart from showcasing and selling original Kipling products and Brunei souvenirs, it’s a usual place where I bring my guests to have their picture taken as they wore traditional Malay wedding outfits. Surprisingly, my friend and Mark were celebrating their anniversary and so the venue was fit to accommodate their “renewal” of vows for each other. April and Mark walked away with a printed souvenir photo, which is neatly placed in a paper frame.


Mark looks happy with the pants!
Mark and April in Traditional Malay Wedding Outfits

Eventually we headed to the Empire Hotel and Country Club, Brunei’s most popular seven-star hotel. Surrounded by pristine beaches, the Empire Hotel and Country Club boasts a wide range of high-end facilities such as spa, restaurants and golf courses.
Fun, fun, fun!

Powerhouse backdrop

Sweetness Overload by April and Mark

After strolling at Empire Hotel, we decided to take a break before proceeding with our Sungkai at Tarindak De Seni. Since I had a reservation at the restaurant, I sent back April and Mark to their hotel in Kiulap and my father and I went back to the staff house. I took a 30-minute nap.

By 6:30 pm, we’re already at Tarindak De Seni. I was quiet excited to bring April, Mark and my Dad at Tarindak because I wanted them to try local food in Brunei. Since it’s Ramadhan, we were able to experience “Sungkai” or eating after a whole day of fasting. What’s more interesting, we’re set for a buffet.
Just finished our Sungkai!

At Tarindak De Seni, apart from reiterating must-try food to my guests, I highly recommended the “Ambuyat,” a Bruneian dish, which looks like a sticky glue and best eaten by dipping it in a sauce, which ranges from salty, sweet and fruit-flavour type like the durian. Surprisingly, April braved the challenge and tried the sticky dish! The verdict, she appreciated it.
April tried the Ambuyat!

After an hour of feasting on a wide selection of Bruneian cuisine, we went for a night tour in Brunei. I tagged them along back to Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque to not miss the mosque’s grand beauty at night. Soon, I brought them at Jame' Ash Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. Based on Brunei’s information on tourism landmarks, the Jame’ Ash Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is Brunei's largest mosque, which has golden domes, four 58 minarets, beautiful gardens, and space for 4,500 worshipers.

Omar Ali Saifuddien mosque at night!
Spectacular Jame Ash Hassanil Bolkia Mosque at night!

Majestic Main entrance!

Our last stop of the day was the Toyota’s Annual Festive Display. A snapshot with bright lights, life-size decors, and massive creative structures capped off our first day of tour in the Abode of Peace.
Colourful Hari Raya Display!

Festive Pillars


Lamp with Islamic Patter

Mark and April

My Dad and I

To be continued...

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