Bandar Seri Begwan

Bandar Seri Begawan Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 23 › view all entries
The mosque in Bandar, The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. It was built in 1958 and is 52m high, meaning you can see it (or bits of it) from most places in BSB.
Early (too early) the next morning we boarded a flight to the capital of Brunei, Bandar Seri Begwan. Now familiar signs threatening death for drug trafficking and other minor misdemeanors faced us, and we got our passport stamped and stepped into the sunshine. Our friend, a teacher in an international school was meeting us at the airport, and on the short drive to her house just across the capital, she gave us a quick tour and showed us the sights. Or, at least that's what I assumed. Brunei, it turns out, only has two sights:

1. The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, fifty-two metres high, gold capped, and visible from almost anywhere in the capital. It's the largest mosque in Brunei, and very impressive.

2. The Empire Hotel, $1.1 billion of marble constructed, gold plated, private beach, cinema and theatre constructing tom-foolery.
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. It's very large, impressive and gold!
It's brilliant!

Brunei, and specifically Bandar did disappoint me slightly. I think it would obviously suffer when compared to the elegance, the attention to detail and the outrageous size of projects in Singapore; but for a country with a the 26th highest GDP per capita, I expected something slightly more impressive. This is partly because of the lack of a Brunei land registry, no planning permission laws, and an informal approach to construction. You could literally have a mansion, or a royal palace next to a shack of sewerage treatment plant. You'd also expect a decent, and paved road system, some reliable form of public transport and a reliable electricity supply. That said, there are a lot of fringe benefits to being a Bruneian. Free healthcare and education, no income tax... Petrol at 15 cents per litre... Definitely food for thought.

One of the main problems, (to a non-Muslim), is that Brunei is dry. Luckily our friend lived very close to the border, so we were able to pop across (getting our third stamp of the day) and get thoroughly tipsy in Linggi's an enterprising bar just a short hop from the passport stampers. We drank, ate well, and took our designated twelve cans back into Brunei. Forward planning and all that...
graceontheroad says:
Nice blog! What can you recommend me to do for seven hours there? :))
Posted on: Mar 07, 2011
andytite says:
I'm not sure it's that helpful - we didn't get to see much. But then again, there wasn't a whole lot there...
Posted on: Aug 02, 2010
andytite says:
We did take the boat when we went to Limbang - but Linggi's served us more than well for a quick sneaky one!
Posted on: Aug 01, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The mosque in Bandar, The Sultan O…
The mosque in Bandar, The Sultan …
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosq…
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mos…
The view from my window in my mate…
The view from my window in my mat…
More shots of downtown Bandar.
More shots of downtown Bandar.
The Brunei/Malaysia border.  Nice.
The Brunei/Malaysia border. Nice.
The bar on the other side of the b…
The bar on the other side of the …
Bandar Seri Begawan
photo by: cimtech