CURRENT LOCATION: Bangkok, Thailand
Don't worry folks - this post will be much shorter than the last one. Largely because Brunei was decidedly underwhelming.
We started our time in Bandar Seri Begawan with a quick wander round the city. The reason it was quick was because there is very little see. Far from looking like the wealthiest city in South East Asia, it was shabby, run down, and drab. It was around 6pm on a Saturday, and the city was dead. We were hoping to find somewhere to eat, but the place was a ghost town. Before we left the hotel, we did some research on TripAdvisor for a good place to eat. The number 8 ranked restaurant in BSB was The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (NZ readers: basically Starbucks), and the number 10 ranked was Jolibee, a fried chicken fast food joint much like KFC. Clearly the pickings were slim. Luckily Zev read about the number one rated restaurant, a Japanese place, so we headed there for a delicious dinner.
The next morning we decided to do some exploring, not that there was much to do in BSB. We started at the Royal Regalia Museum, which was basically a giant show house for the Sultan to put all his stuff in and say, "Look at all my stuff!!". Filled with gifts from other VIPs, it was an interesting insight into how the other half live! Another part of the museum detailed Brunei's history. Brunei existed as a British protectorate from 1888-1984, when it gained its independence.
From there we headed to the main mosque. Naturally, as soon as we were outside, the prayer call started, so we weren't able to go inside. Instead, we detoured to Jubilee Park. As we walked in, we saw a sign for a mini reptile show. We paid some guy our $2 each, and he showed us his collection of animals. He had two pythons, and Zev got to hold the albino one while I cowered in the corner, trying to get a photo without getting too close. He had a couple of other snakes, some bearded dragons and other lizards, and inexplicably, a sugar glider in a bird cage. The poor thing was in a room filled with its natural predators, and it looked suitably terrified. It wasn't until after we paid that we could see the animals, so we didn't know at the time that they were all being kept in big plastic tubs. The guy told us they were all his pets, so presumably they didn't live in the tubs full time, but I still felt pretty bad about it - especially after seeing the terrified sugar glider...
We continued wandering through the park, with me taking advantage of a secluded fountain to cool my feet. From there, we decided to go and get some lunch at a nearby mall, and planned to head back to the mosque after that. Sadly, we were foiled by a not-to-scale map. The mall looked about as far away as we'd already walked, so maybe 1km away. 5kms later, we crawled up to the mall, half dead. By the time we got there, we were exhausted from the heat, so decided to flag to afternoon mosque visit and head home. We tried to find a cab, but couldn't (and we only had a $100 note anyway, which we knew a cab driver couldn't break). Naturally, after our 6km walk home, we were pooped. We spent the rest of the afternoon cooling off and relaxing, before returning to the sushi restaurant for another delicious dinner.
Funnily enough, the lack of things to do in BSB kind of robbed us of any enthusiasm to see the few things there were. The next day, we spent quite a bit of time at the hotel, organising accommodation etc for Bangkok, and doing other planning and admin stuff. We ventured out for lunch at the number 8 ranked restaurant in Brunei, and in the early evening, wandered to a park nearby to the hotel. We spent about an hour walking around a path, and we were both really impressed with the number of locals out exercising in the park.
Today saw us heading to Bandar Seri Begawan airport to wave a not-so-sad farewell to Brunei. The day was spent on planes, with a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. Now, we're back in Bangkok, and interested to see the city again with different eyes than the ones we had when we first arrived here 4 months ago!!
Lots of love,
S & Z
(Original post date: 1st June 2015)