Why Brunei

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I doubted our very impulsive move to book for a weekend trip to Bandar Seri Begawan, but one of my friends who visited Brunei assured me that I would definitely love the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures. Whoa. Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures. I smiled, as I find the tagline very grand, deep and formal. I just can't...because it's simply more fun in the Philippines. Haha. Now, I smile ear-to-ear as I write this for the unspeakable kilig about the experience, realizing how it takes genuine experience to nullify ignorance...
It was 2 am already, so I took all excitement aside until our airport transfer driver drove us to the Golden Mosque even before taking us to our hotel. He must have heard our wows at the backseat, who wouldn't? The roads that resembled the express ways back in Manila could not be quieter (not only during wee hours of the morning, but all throughout the day!).
Our hotel breakfast was in a fitness center's restaurant and they were just very truthful to the healthy package. While the food looked instagrammable, heaven knows what the ingredients were as I wished the taste of celery-beetroot-ginger juice did not linger on my mouth all day long.
We headed downtown, following all the places our map highlighted, and feeling awkward for being the only ones walking along the streets. We marked every visited place. Royal Regalla was very interesting, we learned about His Majesty the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, his hobbies,  his wives, his family and his evident commitment to maintain peace and prosperity for Brunei...
Then, we went to experience the water taxi down to the largest water village in the world, the mangroves, the proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and the fascinating wildlife all within the city's reach. The water village, known as Kampong Ayer, has a lot of amazing things to tell. It sat on the bay for more than a thousand years and was even deemed as Venice of the East. Closer, these little homes looked lovely with potted plants, pastel-colored windows with parked water taxis or penambang beneath it. The water did not smell at all, there were schools, restaurants, mosques and other establishments.
I did not mind the burning sun as I was so excited to see the monkeys. I seriously thought these cute creatures were caged and I could stand next to them for a picture. "What are we doing here?", I asked after the water taxi driver parked in a remote corner among the mangroves. He told me that we're waiting for the monkeys! It took a while for us to see them, but I was glad they didn't show up the way I expected! We also went for more at the Ulu ulu Temburong Park on our second day (on another blog post! Hee!).
Finally, one of the best parts of our trip to Brunei was to be warmly welcomed by instant friends. I have never met these people before as they were only introduced to me by a good friend back in Manila, but they were very kind to bring us around the city and let us see a glimpse of local life -- ambuyat for dinner, no traffic on "expressways" (I just can't emphasize this more), prayers by the dusk, simpler malls, and the sight of the wonderful mosques. I am forever grateful despite the very short time spent with them.
This was my first South East Asian country, and prior to the trip I had a notion that I should better go to a more popular or "safer" destination, where you already know what to expect. I am thankful to God that we were unexpectedly led to Brunei, it suited all of my preference -- nature and adventure, history and culture, warmth and hospitality, the authenticity of every experience... the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures couldn't be more aptly named. Why Brunei? Why not! Once in a while, you do not need to choose the things in life, you let life choose it for you... 


Visual Diary: Brunei Weekend from Angel de la Flor on Vimeo.

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2 comments

  1. Angel this city is beautiful... wow... It's great that you were led to go there ♡

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Launna! I'm very glad I was able to go there! :)

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