Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Last month, I went to Brunei, the Abode of Peace, to visit my friend. I did not expect that it would be very relaxing and refreshing there. All of my anxieties (and “emo”-ness) were forgotten all throughout the week. Brunei is a beautiful and peaceful country.
The airport was under renovation, but there were several stores and restaurants which were in operation. I had breakfast in Jollibee and used their free WiFi to contact my friend. Airport Mall, a mall and hotel “outside” the airport, was a short driving distance away. I did not dare to go there because there would not be any means of transportation going back to the airport where I promised to meet my friend. Also, it would be good to note that there were no escalators, and plenty of stairs in the airport, so travel light.
For the next few days, my friend toured me around the city. (I hope that this post can help those who are planning their itineraries.^^)
1) We went Yayasan Shopping Complex, located in Bandar Seri Begawan, to meet up with my friend’s dad. The supermarket was at the basement and a good Japanese restaurant was right outside the shopping center.
2) Across the shopping complex was the historical Kampong Ayer. The village was built on top of the river and the residents stay and live there to preserve history.
3) A Chinese temple, a wet market, and Brunei History Center were all walking distance from there.
4) Another nearby tourist attraction was the Masjid Omar ‘Ali Saiffudien. The dome of the mosque was made with pure gold. (And, this was the spot where Wu Chun posed with his Lamborghini. LOL. I thought that Wu Chun was Taiwanese, until my friend and I saw a Lamborghini and he shared that Wu Chun is actually a Bruneian.)
5) “Have you seen a reaallly big diamond?” my friend asked me. I asked why. “Look over there,” he said while laughing. Jerudong Park‘s diamond looked prettier at night with green light. My friend said, “Everyday, Sultan will pass by this area in the afternoon coming from his first wife’s istana (palace).” Indeed, what he said was true. Around 6:30 in the evening, we saw the Sultan in his jeep with his security convoy. The vehicles stopped and gave way as the Sultan passed.
6) Then, we went to The Empire Hotel and Country Club to watch the sunset and play music by the beach. 🙂
I would always avoid playing music in front of other people due of lack of skill and confidence. However, I did not hesitate this time. My friend and I used to play piano together back in high school. Those were good and happy days!
7) Before my Brunei trip, another Bruneian friend from church told me to go to The Mall when I reach Brunei. I asked, “Which mall?” “The Mall,” he repeated for me and laughed. And then, I found out that the mall’s name is The Mall. *toinkz* Across The Mall is a restaurant that serves very yummy seafood tom yam called WeCan Restaurant.
8) The interesting thing about Bruneian royalties was their modesty and generosity. My friend pointed out that some of the palaces has commoners as neighbors so that they could blend in well in the community. The Sultan would drive his own car, and, on ordinary days, he would drive a jeepney. In some days, the Sultan would wear a simple shirt. In some national holidays, anyone wearing complete national clothes would be welcome to shake hands with the Sultan and his queen. Also, the Sultan would take care of every citizen by making sure that they live comfortably. Commodities were cheap and net income were higher due to the absence of tax. I was amazed by how my friend praised their Sultan, “If the Sultan lives a luxurious life or drives an expensive car, no one will say anything against it because he is generous to the people. He deserves it.”
This picture was taken in front of the gates of Istana Nurul Iman where the Sultan lives. Like the mosque earlier, the Istana’s dome was also made with pure gold.
9) This mosque, Masjid Jame ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah, is the biggest mosque in the country.
10) Lastly, we went to Church of our Lady of the Assumption on Sunday. In this Muslim country, the place that struck me the most was the Catholic Church. I found out that the whole country has only 1 bishop and 4 priests. May God bless the faithful abundantly. The picture below has the address of one of the few churches in Brunei.
In conclusion, I enjoyed my stay there and would recommend those who like to go to relaxing places to go and visit this beautiful country.
Kristine G. Veneracion
P.S. Please like and/or comment if you find this post useful.
P.S.#2 I was surprised at the petrol’s price. Diesel was 31 cents per liter. Premium unleaded was 53 cents per liter. The prices were cheaper than water!! ..As expected from an oil and gas country.