November 22nd, 2012 – by: Jollyjetsetter
Omar Ali Mosque in central Bandar Seri Begawan
When it comes to settling on a holiday destination, there are usually a set number of criteria which might influence a destination's choice. Among these factors feature a plurality of shopping options, proximity to a theme park of some description, evening entertainments options a-plenty, a wide variety of beachside settings nearby, relative familiarity with the overall culture, and so on and so forth. In the case of a visit to Brunei, very few of the above might actually apply, which begs the question - why Brunei, and why opt for such a relatively non-tourist-oriented nation? The answer is that, in many respects, a trip to Brunei constitutes real travel, and was expected to score on account of being a travel destination which had intrigued me for quite some time prior to visiting.
Yayasan Shopping complex, by the water's edge
Staying in the Kiulap area, which borders onto the nation's capital city Bandar Seri Begawan's chief commercial district of Gadong
, was a strategy, and the compact nation of the Bruneian capital city ensured that the process of getting from A to B was never too much of an arduous task, and planning a route was rendered relatively painless. Bandar's chief tourist sight, as it were, is the Omar Ali Mosque, which looks a rare treat when you set eyes upon it, and its reflection in the neighbouring body of water. The nearby Yayasan shopping complex is by no means a great commercial complex (look to Gadong for that), but the town's layout befits the tranquil nature of the way in which Bruneian lifestyle ambles along without dragging any great stresses or strains alongside it.
Local market in the small Bruneian town of Bangar
The must-see Royal Regalia Museum is well worth a look in, if only to see the numerous ways in which this Sultanate's riches manifest themselves through the flaunting of its material wealth, in particular, those pertaining to the affluent Sultan of Brunei. One peculiarity about Brunei which becomes apparent on anyone's visit, is that the capital city contains the world's largest still-inhabited water village, which makes for an excellent boat trip excursion, especially when combined with the prospect of going further downriver to see Brunei's habitats for its population of proboscis monkeys, a 'living zoo' of a spectacle if ever there was one. It has to be noted that Bandar is Brunei's only town of any great size / note, so the justification of visiting Bangar town downriver is to enjoy the delights of a zippy speedboat ride, which thrills and delights without its motions providing too many bumps and shakes. On the whole, Brunei largely lives up to its label of an 'Abode of Peace', and those who visit should not expect elements which have graced their visits to other more vibrant destinations. If you seek something relatively culturally-skewed, with a tranquil air, and can live without alcohol during your visit (Brunei is dry), then this tiny nation located on the apex of the island of Borneo could well be one worthy of a few points of consideration.