Jerudong Park Playground Reviews
Amusement park - real amuse Feb 05, 2011
Amusement Park which IS Amusement.
Let me start my review from saying that ourselves are coming from post communist country: Poland. This fact should let us take all absurd and paradoxes easily, as we've seen a lot of them back in time in our own home, but to be frank Jerudong Park beats all craziness I've ever come across.
Build in 1994 for $1 Billion. It supposed to be (and I read – it was) main playground in South – East Asia. We've heard that park is bigger than Hong Kong's Disneyland. And as we were living just nearby during our visit to Brunei, and apparently it was Friday, as our hotel-van-man Sam told us – the most popular day, evening in the park – we had to go there.
Sam, Bruneian was really proud of it, as from his point of view: a gift from Sultan to Brunei people. The idea was really impressive – Sultan is ordering to build biggest playground in the World, where all citizens and guests can get some fun for free. Truly cool idea.
Sam told us that on Saturday fun bursts with crowds after sunset, when all attractions starts to be highlighted, but we should get there a bit earlier if we want avoid queues and take our rides on attractions we want. Well, he was local, so we took that seriously. Especially that we've seen crowds in Sentosa in Singapore.
We left hotel about 5.Sort, pleasant walk with 'special effects' from near-by mosque. I am always mesmerized by Muslim prayers. So we reached place. First we thought that its closed. Park seemed to be well kept – all streets clean, trimmed grass, Brunei flags everywhere. We've seen some carousels through fancy fence, but nobody was around. From time to time single cars were passing by. We started to think, that maybe we're too early and they are just about to open, as this did not seemed to be abandoned place. I mean no people, but all seems to be cared. Well, as we had no other plans for the evening – we just stick to the plan. We agreed that it simply must be too early and the party did not begin yet.
Finally we reached the huge fountain which looked as enormous ring stuck into pool, with giant diamond on top. Yup – it must be it. We spot a Hindu family gathered near by entrance. OK, so they start gathering – we thought. Oh, there is a cash desk – lets get our tickets. We knew that is not anymore fully free. And we would have to pay some tickets, but – who cares – lets get some fun!
8 Brunei dollars (Brunei dollar is 1:1 to Singapore dollar) for 5 rides, on any attraction. OK, we took those tickets for both of us. Just quick confirmation when buying – is it all opened? It seems quite empty? “Yes, it is open! Just some of the attractions are under maintenance, but majority works as usual.” Cool, we thought. We've never been on bumpy cars and it seems that they have racing track here – lets go.
And we felt like in kids dream – huge playground, no people – everything what we want – just for us. Like if we were millionairs, and we rent whole thing just for us – especially – it was Agata's name-day!
Race track was about 20 minutes walk from cash desk. I had my ciggy, and from a distance we've seen bolids parked one by one. About 10 of them and 3 yawning guys sitting next to it. And nobody around!
We came closer, asked is it open, as we couldn't believe how spoiled Bruneians are – such a playground and they can't be bothered to come?! Yes, fat guy confirmed struggling with English that it is opened. We showed tickets and we ask for 2 cars. And we've heard – sorry, you cannot ride. Why? (The whole magic disappeared) – “it was raining, and there is a paddle on track and this is not safe to drive.”
The guy pointed with his finger on big (1x1 meter) paddle on track (I believe 300 or more meters long). Is that it? No worries, we will drive here slowly! “Sorry it is not safe. Dry track you can go. Wet – not safe.”
This was the moment when I realized what is going on. Is it not raining here every day? – I asked – or even twice a day? “Yes, usually” And the track is uncovered by any roof – so wouldn't it always be wet? “Yes, sometimes it is wet, so it is not safe to drive. Dry track you can drive. Wet – not safe”
That was it. All become clear. Bruneian logic. From the other hand its hard to not agree with this guy.
We went back.
Carousel. French style with horses on rods, when spinning going up and down. Agata told me that she never been on this kind of carousel. We looked at it – it was not rounding, but all bulbs were on with all colours of the rainbow. Two service guys were sitting next to it on the bench. Seems that it will be fist and only run of it this evening (if there will be no obstacles like rain or something).
Is it open? “Yes” Can we have a ride? “sure” Now? “No, you have to wait 20 minutes” Why? “Until evening prayers will finish”
At this moment we realized – there were all lights on, but no music, no sound. No child's laugh or shouts. Well – about children – there was none around – so hard to hear something, but all music was off. Only sound of prayers from the near-by mosque.
We wait 20 minutes and the guy told us “its OK, we can start now”.
Agata jumped on one of the horses and carousel started to spin. In silence. What a view! Like in the horror movies. All those wooden animals moving up and down, spinning around, with their wry faces, colourfully lightened – all in complete silence. Carousel was well kept, not even a squeak from engine.
Two rides was enough.
We started heading back to the hotel, couldn't stop thinking: how is that possible? From the other hand – there was a lot of attractions, carousels, some fountains, swings for children. All maintained and kept in working order. Every night army of people is coming to the park, to work. They're undusting attractions, turning lights on, some people are taking care of flowers, grass etc. They have job. Sultan is good to his people – build the playground, is giving money to keep it working, paying stuff to open it everyday.
The only thing we thought, Sultan seems to be too proud to claim that whole idea failed and is reach enough to keep it 'alive' – just to deny defeat.
The whole thing is so unbelievable that I have to call it: Brunei MUST SEE.
If you are fun of Monthy Python's sense of humor – you will definitely enjoy the park. Otherwise you may feel a bit depressed. But no worries – Its Brunei and Jerudong Park Playground is only one of pearls in the crown.
There were some bitter words towards Sultan, but to be fair – he is trying. Despite economy and logic, but at least trying. He did that for his people, so possibly intentions were good.
For us – 'to have some fun' gain completely new meaning.
Part of the Brunei Darussalam travel blog
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