Discovering the island of Barambang, Brunei Darussalam

Barambang Island Travel Blog

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My student suggested this place during our last Tourism club. He descibed the island as "very unusual" and that alone intrigued my curiosity. So we set to tour that island that weekend.

We left the jetty around 8.30am by the water taxi. It costed about 2 dollars to get across and the journey only took around 10 minutes. The sceneries from the jetty to the island was simply beautiful, and passed some small islands, the most interesting one is the Lumut Lunting island.

Lumut Lunting:

Legend has it that Lumut Lunting was originated from a cock that belonged to the legendary mythical Brunei hero called Awang Semaun. The story was that he had a cockfight game with an aristocrat from Java. His cock's name was Mutiara while the one from Java was called Asmara.

At the jetty at the end of the road
His cock won and the aristocrat's cock was injured badly, flew to the sea and turned into an island called Pilong Pilongan. The aristocrat was very ashamed of his lose and cursed Mutiara into an island called Lumut Lunting. According to the locals, Lumut Lunting is never submerged underwater even during high tide.

Lumut Lunting was a very tiny island, 50 people could easily cover the whole surface of the island. We only passed the tiny island and went straight to our real destination, Barambang island. There was a new settlement area with houses look the same everywhere and built on stilts on the river bank. There were not many cars around as the island is separated from the mainland and the only way to get cars on the island is by renting a ferry and that would cost 100 dollars.

Most of the cars that we see there were either very old or not working anymore. People prefer to travel by motorbikes and bicycles on the island. There was only one van there that serves like a public bus and it cost 50 cent per ride. We decided to just walk as the weather was not that bad. There was only one road, made of concrete so it is easy to get around without getting lost.

Along the journey I managed to take some amazing shots of the island's beauty. Nature pretty much have control of the island, and I could see that it is trying to reclaim its place on the island by coiling around the lamp and electric posts. Our first stop was a small grocery shop. The sun was getting stronger but that didnt deter our spirit to explore the island. Our main destination on the island was the Bujang Pahang hill, rich with its mysteries and history.

fish cage

On the way to the hill, we stopped by at the house of the head of the village. His name was Yusof and he lives with his wife and children right in the middle of the island at the village called Menunggol Tengah. We learn more about the island from him. According to him, the island can be divided into five parts, Barambangan (the place we landed first), Buang Piai, Menunggul Tengah, Menunggol Laut and Rigong. He said that they did not receive so many visitors from other countries but most of the visitors are from the local university students going there for some research. I also asked about the Bujang Pahang hill and he explained the history of the name came from a man called Bujang who climbed up the hill and found a lot of Pengalaban trees (local tree bearing fruits that is quite fatty, sour and sweet).

fishermen's nets
He tasted the fruit but they were all tasted "pahang" which means bitterly sour. He also told us about other things that we need to see on the hill such as the natural spring water, the Telaga Puteri (princess' well), Batu Berpangkat (Tiered Rocks) and Gua Kelawar (Bat cave). We asked more about the well, he told us that somewhere on the hill there is a rock with water on it. The water never dries up eventhough you scoop the water from it. We did try to look for the well when we got on the hill but we could not find it, we should've asked about the directions. His wife also added that the hill has a few caves that have never been explored, that one too we couldn't find, I didn't really dare to venture beyond the trail on the hill afraid of getting lost.
We left the head of the village's house half an hour later and continued on. Before we leave, we photocopied the map of the island that he had with him and that had helped us a lot with our journey. We even added a few things on the map for future travellers there to find their ways.

We reached the hill after walking for an hour or so. On the foot hill lies a natural spring water. The sight of the spring water was not very impressive but the view of the water flowing out from earth was amazing. Not far from the spring water was an amazing water spout, made of bamboo joint together. It is where the local can get their fresh water. But people stop doing that now as the government already supply water there using water pipe. I tasted the water and it was so fresh.

We tried to look for the source of the water but couldn't. The bamboo spout goes a very long way from the top of hill and ended at the foot of the hill.

We walked passed  the spring water and the water spout and started our ascend up the hill. There were three separate flights of stairs made of concrete so the climb was made easier and less slippery. Personally, I think the stairs were making your climb very tiring as the height of steps were not uniform. One my students was panting by the time she we were half way to the top. I had to stop and waited for her to recover. Luckily I brought with me a bar of Mars chocolate so I gave it to her to help her gain more energy. We counted the steps and there were roughly around 300 steps.

Somewhere in the middle of the hill, we made an excursion to visit an abandoned coal mine that was built in the 1920s before oil and gas became a major industry in Brunei. It was my first time seeing a coal mine, and I was surprised with the size of the mine. It reminded me of the Cu Chi tunnel in Vietnam. I can't imagine how the people back then worked through that tunnel. Rumour has it that the tunnel went as far as to the other side of the river. I thought to myself that if that was true then Brunei could be the first country to actually build a tunnel under water. I asked the head of the village if that has ever been proven, he told me that somebody tried to check how deep that tunnel go but had to turned back as there was no oxygen deep inside there.

There were still debris of coal scattering on the opening of the mine, so I collected some coals to bring home as souvenir.

We reached the top of hill an hour later. The view was simply breathtaking. I could see Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city of Brunei on my right side and Limbang, Malaysia on my left from the top of the hill. We took our time there and took some photos there to remember our achievement. On top of the hill, there was a very unusual layer of rocks. It was the Batu Berpangkat that the head of village mentioned to us.

Batu Berpangkat:

Legend has it that the rock was actually a Top belonging to the legendary Awang Semaun. I am quite sceptic about that but the history of it was still fascinating. Later on, we learnt that there was another arrow pointing another direction that says Batu Berpangkat so we wondered how many Batu Berpangkat was actually there.

Some 20 minutes later we continued to the other side of the hill to visit the Kelawar cave (Bat cave), and as the name suggested the cave was the home of some bats. Sad to say, some visitors who went there had left their drinking bottles and other things in the cave and this somewhat defected the beautiful cave. I wish people stop doing that. The cave was not that deep, infact it was more like a big rock that look like a doughnut as you can actually walk through it and it was not deep at all. I could see water trickling from the ceiling of the cave, I was not quite sure how the water got there.

We got down the hill and continued our adventure to explore more of the island. We noticed that there were only three shops on that island. One in Buang Piai, one in Menunggol Tengah and one on the deadend of the road called Menunggol Laut.

economy class ahahah
We reached the road deadend somewhere after lunch time. There were a few houses there and a small grocery shop selling basic necessities for the residents of the island. We asked permission from the shopkeeper to stay and rest in her shop as there was a small balcony right outside of her shop. She was a very kind and friendly woman somewhere in her fifties. A few steps away from the shop was a jetty. We went to check it out. There was relaxing breeze on the jetty so we decided to rest there, I could have taken a nap there.

After recovering a little from the climb and walk we left there an hour later and ready to head home. We walked back to where we were dropped off early that morning. Though we were already tired from climbing the hill and the long walk we carried on anyway.

The one and only public transportation on the island
The hot sunny weather was starting to hurt our skin but we had fun. After walking about 30 minutes, we stumbled upon the public bus (the van) and hitched a hike for a mere 50 cent fare. As it was only a small van, two of my kids had to sit at the back of the van without the seats!

5 minutes later we were already in the jetty and headed home with sunburn on our skin and unforgettable memories in our heads.

borneonikieta says:
:) thanks cja17...dont u think its worth featuring here LOL (i need to get over that feature thing)
Posted on: Oct 25, 2009
cja17 says:
This is a really nice mini-blog - the best stuff is off the beaten track!
Posted on: Oct 25, 2009
borneonikieta says:
:P thanks bonnie dearest :) its nice to get compliments like that from another explorer :)
Posted on: Feb 28, 2009
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At the jetty at the end of the road
At the jetty at the end of the road
fish cage
fish cage
fishermens nets
fishermen's nets
economy class ahahah
economy class ahahah
The one and only public transporta…
The one and only public transport…
Barambang Island Sights & Attractions review
The not so typical side of Brunei
The island of Barambang, even though remote is very easily accessed from the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. Take a water taxi that would cost yo… read entire review
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Barambang Island
photo by: borneonikieta