Bandar Seri Begawan, BRUNEI
Brunei continues to be an undiscovered gem and an exotic vacation. It is one of smallest countries on earth but has natural resources that make its Sultan one of the richest heads of state! Officially known as Negara Brunei Darussalam, it is situated on the northwestern tip of Borneo Island and was once an empire that ruled over all of Borneo. Its neighbors are Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Herein is a local guide to this country’s attractions.
Capital City’s Markets
Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) or simply “Bandar” is the capital city of Brunei and is a bustling place with many appeals. The Hua Ho Supermarket is a shopping center and department store. Public farmers’ markets such as the Tamu Kianggeh, Pasar Gadong, and Pondok Sari Wangi are as unique as Bruneian blended cuisine like barbecued fish, malay sweet cakes, and especially curry that is unlike its Thai or Indian counterpart. For those who would like to experience night market, Pasar Malam Gadong is a good place to venture. Other city attractions include museums, mosques, sandy beaches, street cafes, coffee houses, restaurants of various cuisines, zoos, and central park.
The Lim Ah Siaw Pork Market is one of the rarest finds in the world. Dare yourself to try the owner’s recipes with ingredients like pork knuckles, pork belly, or any part of the pig. This licensed Chinese restaurant started out as a “frowned upon” market that operated similarly to the underground moonshine trade of past decades in America. Even if you’re non-committal, do visit if only for the experience. Typically, pork restaurants and Islamic governments do not co-exist.
Pronounced “Come-Pong-Ah-Year”, this is a must-see and must-experience Water Village. Take the boat rides to see the original structures and the new extensions of Kampong Ayer where locals run businesses, shops and reside. Choose your boat and operator carefully as life jackets or guide services will not be offered. Most will collect your payment, take you across the river, and then back again. Still, this is a one of a kind water tour of the village and a great way to take in the local sea air.
Jerudong Park Playgound
Opened in 1994, this $1 billion amusement park was the only playground of its type in South East Asia. This unique local attraction makes Brunei a fun and spectacular spot for family vacationers. Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston are celebrities who have performed at its concert hall.
Brunei’s location on the equator gives it rich natural resources like underground natural gas and above ground plant life that is lush and beautiful. Listen to the different zoological sounds made by the local wildlife.
The more perceptive visitor will soon realize that English-Malay-Chinese words are sprinkled in conversations: “Hey Tau-Kay, berapa itu apples, ah? Give me the best, sajah, ok!” (Hey “boss/owner”, how much for the apples? Give me the best, only ok?) Brunei residents and citizens co-exist within a multi-religious, -cultural and -lingual environment.
Selamat Jalan! Good Travels.
- Lonely Planet: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/brunei-darussalam/bandar-seri-begawan
- BBC (UK): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12990058
- Brunei (MOFAT): http://www.mofat.gov.bn/