I arrived in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei for a few days via Royal Brunei Airlines. Awesome airline! My bag is now 10 kg and they didn’t make me check it or charge me more. Give this airline a try if you have the opportunity.
Immigration was smooth and I didn’t need a Visa as a Canadian. It’s another country with a death to drug traffickers warning on the immigration card. I wonder what the stats are and if it could be reduced if we all had harsher punishments for drug trafficking and violent crimes.
I’ve built up some arm muscles. I can now pick up my bag and sling it on with either hand while holding my phone, passport, boarding pass and kindle in the other. This is how I roll now lol.
My hostel is BWN Bed Station and it’s good. My only concern was that there was only one bathroom for the ladies and one bathroom for the men. It’s small with not a lot of bunks so it seemed to work. I liked this hostel.
Brunei is the “Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace”. It is an oil rich country, Sunni Islam is the main religion and it’s an absolute monarchy with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah ruling.
My first observation was Brunei is a very friendly country. I say hello to everyone I pass walking whether I’m travelling or at home. People just start talking to me here and their first question is where am I from and then there’s always questions about Canada. Wisdom is always imparted my way about what to see, how to get around and to enjoy my stay.
I’ve been walking around in my shorts and tank tops sweating to death. I probably do stand out, but it seems people are just more curious about me.
Alcohol and cigarettes cannot be legally purchased in Brunei. The roads are clean. It is very safe. People are wonderful and it is very HOT ☀️
* Smokers, bring enough cigarettes with you for your stay and confirm where you can smoke before lighting up. Alcohol is available in the hotels for tourists.
I had a conversation with the lady running the hostel and there are no taxes here, education is free and health care is free. If you require further treatment in a city like Singapore for example, you and two family members are sent there and your two family members are covered for 30 days.
On the other side, new laws have come into effect with stoning as the punishment for adultery and gay sex and limb amputation for theft.
I don’t agree with the stoning and fully support equal rights for all regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, age, gender, etc. I also don’t agree with the light sentences (if at all) child molesters, rapists and murderers receive in Canada. There has to be a better way and middle ground for all of us.
I spent my time walking around and seeing the sights. It was nice to slow down a bit and relax.
The Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is considered the most beautiful mosque in Asia. It was completed in 1958 and named after the previous Sultan. There is an artificial lagoon surrounding it and the grounds are beautiful. I walked around the mosque and went inside for a look. I had to take my shoes off and put on a black robe that covered me.
I had a conversation with a gentleman leaving the mosque as I was going in. He was very helpful telling me where I needed to go and what to do. He was interested in where I was from, Canada and what I did for work.
The Royal Regalia Museum contains chariots and costumes of the Sultans. It is impressive! It is also free, you have to take off your shoes and no photos are allowed.
Kampong Ayer is a water village on stilts with about 30,000 residents. It has complete infrastructure and all amenities.
The other national mosque is the Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. It was closed for tourists for a couple hours when I was there so I couldn’t see inside. The outside is beautiful.
I’ve read that a lot of travellers to this region skip Brunei. It is a very small country, but I enjoyed the time I spent here, especially the people I chatted with.