Discovering the island of Barambang, Brunei Darussalam
Barambang Island Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
5 minutes later we were already in the jetty and headed home with sunburn on our skin and unforgettable memories in our heads.