Dried food sold at the Kianggeh Open Air Market
Mateo arrived by airasia that night around 8.15. His flight was delayed a bit. He didn't come out from the arrival gate till close to 9 - his arrival time clashed with a big group of Chinese tourists (we could tell from the small flags held by group leader). As he came out, we said our hellos and did some introductions (you know, how's the flight, what happened in the immigration post etc) and then we were on our way to help him check in. At first he planned to stay in Riverview Hotel, but I advised him not to as there was a better choice of hotel which was much closer to where I live in Kiulap area. Decision was quickly made and I convinced him to stay at Kiulap Plaza hotel - a very new hotel in town (Mateo was easy and very trusting like me so we quickly became friends! yayy!). For only 98 dollars per night (no discount for airline staff :(( ) the room offers clean, spacious and brand new amenities like beddings, bathroom, and hairdryer (not that he needed it hehe).
Mateo striking a pose
I picked the hotel for him thinking that it is very close to the capital Bandar Seri Begawan
(about 10 minutes walk depending on how fast you go). After he checked in, I showed him the sceneries of Brunei at night. First stop was the Jame Asri Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. We were not allowed to enter as it was already closed for tourists but Mateo was quite contented with the view of the building from the outside. I showed him the world biggest shoerack there. After that, I took him to the Empire Hotel and Country Club, one of the best hotels in the world with amazing location and sceneries. I think Mateo liked that hotel better with the special rate just for him! Soon it was dinner time so I took him to try out some local dishes (as he requested) but unfortunately, as it was already late, most of the restaurants were already closed.
Surrender yet Mateo?
So we went to Gadong
and settled with a western style restaurant called FunBread that served some asian dishes. We ordered some Otak-Otak ikan, nasi goreng and juices for a setback of about 20 brunei dollars. We chatted for a while - I asked him about the countries that he had been to and he asked me back. The conversation was very interesting and Mateo was a fun to talk to as he reserved no judement to anyone - a quality difficult to find nowadays in people. Before sending him back to his hotel, I showed him the view of Bandar Seri Begawan at night. We went to look at the famous water village at night.
For photos of this trip go to http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/62389/Bandar-Seri-Begawan-Brunei-1
The next day, after finishing work half day, I went to pick up Mateo.
What was that???
I let Mateo tour around town on his own so that he could get a closer look of the country. Like a genuine traveller, he managed to find his way using the public bus! I was truly impressed. Mateo was sitting on the side of the road with the 60th anniversary of the Sultan's birthday monument (Tugu Peringatan 60 tahun hari keputeraan) behind him. We went to look for a place to eat but Mateo had already had his lunch so we skipped that plan and went to Kianggeh Open Air Market right in the centre of capital. There he saw different types of stuff that he never seen and smelled before. Then we decided to go to tour the biggest settlement area built on water - Kampong Ayer. We rent a boat that cost us 30 brunei dollars which took us to the Kampong Ayer Gallery right across the Brunei river and then toured the area.
Checking out the fishes
After touring Kampong Ayer, we stopped at the old grand mosque and Mateo took some more pictures there - he took a great shot of the mosque with the lagoon and a bad shot of me in the lagoon! Time ran so fast and soon it was only hours until he leave Brunei for KL. Before sending him to the airport, we went to a satay junction at SML Restaurant in Batu Bersurat and he had some Rabbit and Mutton satay. I wanted him to try Camel and Ostrich Satay but the restaurant ran out of stock. After that, I treated Mateo for a Thai Massage one hour splendour - I'm not sure if he liked that part of the trip cos he was limping coming out of the room. Apparently, the lady was too strong for him hehe.
We went to the airport, and said our goodbyes with new friendship bridged between Brunei and the Netherlands. Before we parted, we gave each other a little souvenir - from him a hillarious dvd of Bruno (yes Mateo I saw it, twice!) and for him a fridge magnet of a prosboscis monkey that he missed to see.
Thank you Mateo and hope that you will come again soon!