There were time in our life when we make one crazy decision then ending up in making another one. That happened to me when I booked my ticket to Brunei. I blamed myself after making online payment. How in the world I’ll do this trip? What will I do there? Where will I stay?Am I insane? I wish I could cancel the payment!
To cut the story short, I spent weeks googling everything about Brunei. I copy-pasted relevant information to make my itinerary. I found out that there’s a some kind of guest house right in the heart of the city which is well known among the backpacker. The price is only 10 ringgits/ day. The cheapest in town! Don’t get too excited! The cheapest means you have to be very patient receiving your confirmation. It took me one and a half months to get the reply!
A week before my flight, I was a bit nervous but I gained some confidence. I was sure I could do this. I had to do this!
Let the journey begin…
The most frustrating
Arrived in BSB after all those time consuming preparation and the flight itself then realizing that it was no easy thing to find purple bus in the airport. Reading lots of review about this bus was no help. The reality speaks harder. A nice cleaning service staff suggested me to find it in the roundabout. Meaning, I had to go out of airport area which taking 10 minutes of walking. A big bag on my shoulder, a tired body, the uncertainty of bus schedule, plus the rain dried up my spirit. “What am I doing here….!!!” was my best line to shout out in that not-so-busy road of BSB in that late afternoon.
The most frustrating continued
Finally, I saw a purple bus heading to the airport. My smart brain decided to find that bus back in the airport. Of course, I missed the bus It took me 20 minutes just to find that new terminal. I then repeated the cycle: a big bag on my shoulder, a tired body, the uncertainty of bus schedule, plus the rain. Taxi was the answer! I sacrifice my 25 ringgit for the sake of my sanity!
The most frustrating still continued
Arriving in the guest house didn’t make all-shall-be-well. No staff means no key. No key means no bed. No bed means no rest. No rest means no happy! One backpacker guy and one Bruneian man helped me to call the staff. Another awaiting time and uncertainties definitely lead to frustration!
Unknowingly when the staff returned, a Korean girl offered me to put my bag in her room. Great relief! I managed to get shower and shared stories with her. We were about to go out for a dinner when the staff finally arrived. I got the key! I paid my room! Bye…bye… frustration!
The nicest night in BSB
My Korean friend and I had a nice dinner next to Sungai Kianggeh. Nice meal, no tax for the food, no rain, fast wifi…It’s a nice welcoming from BSB. We were also having a nice walk and talk at Sultan Hasannal Bolkiah mosque.
Feeling super excited to start my adventure to Bangar, again I had to face half of my cycle: the uncertainty of bus schedule, plus the rain. Day 2 is definitely my real class for learning how things work in Brunei. I started with how to stop a bus. You have to get on to nearby bus stop but you can get off almost everywhere. I found my bus stop…check! I found my bus…check…well, after waiting for almost an hour! Muara…here I come! From there, my plan was to transfer into another bus heading to Serasa ferry terminal. Running smoothly…happy!
It was almost a perfect rainy morning before realizing that I was arriving at a wrong terminal. Dang! I supposed taking a boat in Bandar, 5 minutes of walking from my guesthouse! Or just crossing the road from that bus stop where I had waiting the bus for an hour! Double dang!
Learning time continued
I still had my plan B or C or combination of any plan! First, planning to Serasa beach because the terminal officer told me it is within a walk. Full of spirit, I walked as suggested. I never saw that beach anyway. I made my way back to terminal. When you find no sign of beach, you will do what I did. I decided to go back to BSB when I saw an executive purple bus was waiting for the passenger. Executive means the bus charge you more. 2 ringgits to get me out of this mess!
Not knowing exactly what to do, I came into a market next to the river. Secretly taking some photos, buying some heavy snacks helped me to get my energy back. I was eating my snack when a boat coming by. I then asked reluctantly the cost of taking me touring along Sungai Kianggeh. He gave me his price. I gave him my price. We stopped at 10 ringgits for an hour for the water tour. He drove me to some interesting spots and told the story behind.The sun was right on top of my head when I finished my tour. I couldn’t be happier at this moment.
Today on a crazy fast boat, I realized how I love being in the boat. No sea sick, no fear. I guess it’s a love boat
Feeling like home
Having lunch in a simple restaurant was like a home coming. The fact that I ate my own food made me happy. Yet the fact that many Indonesian people work here made me unhappy. Life is pretty hard for them. The working hours are crazy…sometimes without any holiday until they finish their working contract which is like 2 years. Well, I hope they get a better paycheck compare to Indonesia’s. Also, I hope my government can do something to improve the bargaining power of Indonesian workers esp. those working abroad.
Since I’ve no idea what to do next, I was ended up in a bus. I want to learn how to get to Gadong prior to see it for night market. There’s a big mall there I could do window shopping. What I didn’t understand is everything close till 2 pm! It’s Friday prayer time. Everybody should be at the mosque. Well, the boat driver told me that but I just didn’t get that! I returned to exactly my starting point by the same bus!
Stopping at terminal, my feet got me on the purple bus again heading to Jerudong. This time I turned into a realistic person. I made a direct return trip which cost me only 1 ringgit for almost one and a half hours. I made NEWS, every one! North East West South of Brunei Can I still have that applaud?
It was almost 3 pm when I decided to go back to guest house and take a nap. Deep inside, I expected to find an open museum or any place to visit. Of course, I went directly to my guest house!
Venice of the East
The story got more interesting later in the afternoon. One backpacker lady coming after her 2 months adventure and still counting We exchanged stories. As what my Korean friend welcomed me, this time I had privilege to return someone’s kindness to others: food and city orientation. Before that happened both of us ended up in the boat heading to mangrove forest to see monkeys & crocodiles!
Sunset is definitely the best time to go around Kampung Ayer. You can see the orange sky, clouds in different shapes as well as silhouette of buildings. Beautiful! Further to the river, the boat driver started to reduce the speed and turn on the flash light. It’s time for crocodile hunting!
At first it was so hard to spot them! It took me some time before I was able to see baby crocodile moving fast or only seeing their glaring red eyes! It was more than enough for me. I didn’t want to make any encounter with their mamas or papas or grannies. It’s no funny reading your name on a newspaper as a victim of crocodile attack!
Well, crocodile was not the only living creature there. There was a flock of white birds which made a tree as their home and colony of fireflies which turned bushes into Christmas trees. To add more to this stunning view was families of proboscis monkeys lived in a leafless proboscis tree! Since flash light will disturbed them, we rarely used it. Even witnessing their only silhouette was still amazing! There was a moment when my friend and I were giggling for hearing baby monkey coughing! Gosh…that’s the cutest sound ever! I’m not being mean…may be baby monkey sick…still that’s the cutest sound ever! Upon our return to the city, the night was far more beautiful.
That night will be long forgotten one. All those creatures all around, the stars up above, city lights far beyond…stunning! I had no regret for making a second trip to Brunei river that day! Not at all! Not even to be exchanged with the possibility of going around Brunei with an open car and cute Bruneian guys That night, I learned about the perspective of happiness toward one’s life and that second time makes everything betterBollywood night
Once we got off the boat, our stomach was screaming for food. After discussing awhile, we chose Indian food. I’m not of Indian food fan but this time was an exception. It was the nicest Indian meal I ever tried and I could eat it a lot! I don’t mind eating here next time even though I have to first passing the staring eyes of men…looking at me from top to toe…up and down…up and down. All of sudden I felt like a Bollywood actress walking down the red carpet Only without music nor umbrella nor pillars I wondered if they thought the same thing.
Kampung Ayer ladies
Since I had to swap my plan, Bangar was a must place to visit. My plan was to wake up as early as possible then heading to ferry terminal with my Canadian friend. Change of plan. My alarm didn’t work. My friend had her own things to do. Perfect combination
I then hastily walked to find ferry terminal. Luckily, the boat was just arrived while I bought the ticket. I was with a group of Kampung Ayer’s women. It seemed they have formal gathering in Bangar. They dressed up so well with high heel while a guy video shooting them. Nature definitely shapes the lifestyle. In my country those who get on the boat wear descent dress…no make-up…no high heel! These ladies…wow! Two thumbs up for them!
What’s on in Bangar
Arriving in Bangar, I tried to find by cycle rent but to no succeed. Never trust the review 100%, that’s my lesson so far. Without by cycle I wouldn’t go anywhere not even to Bukit Patoi, which is one of my wish list. A guy came in the canteen where I was eating my breakfast. He offered me a ride to Bukit Patoi. Not knowing how to get there, I made a deal with him. But I told him I need to roam around the ferry terminal first, hoping I’d find a bike. Of course there was nothing there. Tourists head to Bangar only to continue their trip to Ulu Temburong National Park or to Bukit Patoi. I had to go to Bukit Patoi or else I wasted my time and energy in vain.
Bukit Patoi orientation
Only then I learned that Bukit Patoi can be reached only by land! It took around 20 minutes to get there. The deal was 15 ringgits for return trip. Of course, I paid him after he picked me up. I’m smart, y’know…but my driver is a nice guy . The driver reminded me I had to do sign-in and sign-out in the guest book.
Once I arrived, a man gave me that book. He showed the map and explained a bit that I was allowed only to visit Bukit Patoi. Without asking in detail I went directly to the stairways heading to the forest.
Leaving the stairways then facing those big trees all around me gave a slight of anxiety. It wasn’t a scared because I didn’t really know what to expect. 1602 m was just number in my head, so it was fine. I did some hiking and I have trained my body regularly at jogging and biking tracks also at the pool. I kept on saying that everything should be okay. If I’m not returning to the base camp within certain time, I’m sure the forest guard will search for me.
Getting deep in the forest could drain your spirit, esp. when you realize that you are the only visitor on that day and you don’t have phone number of the forest guard. To add more, you only bring less than 600 ml of water, 200 ml of sweet tea tarik, and a bite of local snack. No medicine, no mosquito repellent, no bandage! I was lucky I’m still alive to tell you this story!
To balance the story, actually this forest is well arranged. Let me say that way. Trails have been made to make it less dangerous. When there’s no steps, rope is ready to lift you up. Sign system and resting huts are well provided. May be they also have CCTV I’m kidding! It’s definitely a good place for a family to spend their quality time in a healthy way.
Yet combining all those facts with reality is no easy thing, esp. when you are on your own. There was a moment when I stepped on a soft soil. Luckily, I put my balance on other foot. Nothing serious happened except I could feel my heart leapt for a split second.
Besides trees I found some little creature such as ants and ants Of course I didn’t expect any wild animal more than this. The sound of birds from somewhere up there added a tense of a nature. This is my moment of no return! I had to reassure myself over and over again while still focusing on the tracks. Wrong move could lead me into dangerous situation!
My greatest achievement
It was around 12 o’clock when I reached the top of Bukit Patoi. I made it! This is my greatest achievement so far! This thing doesn’t occur to you daily. I celebrated this moment all by myself by taking close-up photos of me smiling This superb feeling was able to ease my slight of disappointment over seeing the view from Bukit Patoi. When you hike 1602 m uphill you must expect some extraordinary view. This view of green trees and some hills far away was less than my expectation. It’s nothing compare with the natural beauty of my country, Indonesia. In my opinion, Tanjung Layar, Ujung Kulon National Park, has grandeur and variety of the views. Anyway, one should have a greatest achievement…now, I have it!
Heading downhill, I was trying to walk as fast as I could. I wasn’t only thirsty but also it was time to have lunch. I wasn’t even taking photos on my way back. I was in great relief when I saw stairways that led into a base camp. I made it, baby! I made it! I overcome myself! It was a good feeling. 3204 m in total, everybody…I deserve a standing ovation from you…forget it…your biggest smile will do
That feeling was quick to disappear once I realized that no forest guard waiting for me there. No guard means no one to keep eye on what I was just doing up there. I was so naïve thinking someone will save me if I encounter with…let say…a snake. Luckily, I prayed almost along the way! Thank God! Amen!
On my way back to BSB, I tried to enjoy the ride. The boat felt like flying on top of water. Yet, the driver will slow down the machine once he spots a fisherman catching the fish. In my country, don’t expect that happening whenever you try to cross the road even when you’re at zebra-cross. I guarantee, you’ll end up at hospital Each country for sure has its own culture, beauty and rules. Studying the do’s and don’t prior to your visit will give you benefit esp. to get along with the people.
Strong will, tired body
Since it was the last day in BSB, I wanted to make it a bit special. Although I was tired, my feet kept on walking around the city. I found a nice food park (a park with lots of food stall) and ate some early dinner there. After eating, I speed up my walk to Taman Tasek Lama because the night was soon to come. I spotted a Cross on my way there. “I should find that church later,” I committed myself.
Mens sana in corpora sano
Taman Tasek Lama is a perfect place for a sporty people. It has many different tracks to accommodate your needs. You can jog uphill then downhill or just walking and sitting next to man-made water fall. Gymnastic bars are available. Reflexology stone is provided there for tired body. See how long you can walk on that stones!
Every big city should have this kind of park for its citizen. It will improve the health and maintain the sanity of the citizen. Isn’t true that a healthy soul lingers in a healthy body?
This time I was so tired but I still had to find that Cross. I prayed I don’t make a wrong turn this time. Sometime later, I was standing in front of school which was quite busy that afternoon. I knew it there’s one here I wish I could join in their mass. Yet I was so sweating that time. Smilingly I left that building.
Then all of sudden, my eyes stuck on that Cross. I found it! There’s two! It was a lovely blue building I’ve ever seen in life. The dusk added another beauty to its color. I couldn’t be happier. I put another cloud checking on my wish list
A night to remember
Using my backup energy, I managed to walk around the city. I found some tourism spots I haven’t visited. I returned to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah mosque and took some shots there. I went to the river again to watch for the boats’ traffic. I’m going to miss this.
Reflecting in what I saw: the boat driver, I said it to myself how lucky they are. The government provides many benefits for its citizen. No fee for public school and if you’re smart you can go to every university you like all over the world for free. If you sick, you only have to pay 1 ringgit every time you enter the hospital. Isn’t cool? My Canadian backpacking friend is right…if the government provides you so well, who mind working as boat driver!
Oh Brunei, how much I learned from you less than a week. As I walked back to the guest house, I enjoyed every step I made. It’s certainly a night to remember.
A good bye
I didn’t directly go to bed once I reached guest house. I had to exchange stories with my amazing girl friends. Also, I had to make a good bye to them. My flight was quite early. I didn’t want to wake them up just to say bye bye.
It was almost midnight when we finished the stories and finally managed to break the locked bag. Well, if you lost key during your trip you’ll do the same That night I had to take a cold shower. I was too smelly and sweaty. I promised this shall be the last midnight-cold-shower for me!
Finally I was ready to leave. The staff who promised me giving a ride to airport for 5 ringgit was ready for me. The airport that morning at 06.58 was so quiet. I had my boarding pass because I could print it within 14 days prior to my departure. I guess I’m all set and still have plenty of time to enjoy the wifi.
When I was about to enter immigration clearance there come a problem. I haven’t paid for airport tax. I should return to my flight counter. It was closed when I arrived. So, I thought I paid it somewhere in immigration counter. Sigh… Waiting for such a long hours without wifi was a tormenting time. I almost gave up and having coffee at a coffee shop. It was too expensive since I have to save my money tightly. So I decided to roam around. I found some interesting things….the fish, an empty counter which offers short tour for visitor in between their transfer flights, another empty counter down stair for visitor to relax or even taking a nap. Of course they will charge you for every of these!
The silliest of the day
I was about to enter last immigration check when the immigration staffs asked me to throw away my drinking bottle. I told them let me empty the bottle in toilet. I found the toilet. I emptied the bottle…well not really empty. I left around 100 ml of water because I think it’s still allowed. Then I had a pee. Opening my toilet cubicle, I faced such fearsome view! I automatically screamed: “Shoot! Wrong toilet!” My move was not as fast as I could expect because I had those big bag in my shoulder. I was still able to see at an old guy in his pee position glancing at me over his shoulder. Another guy was washing his hands. The other was about to enter the toilet cubicle. Oh, I wish I had something to cover my face!
Blushingly, I walked back to immigration check point. They still not allowed me to bring in that 100ml water. But they said I can keep bottle! Hello…I need water not bottle! There was no point to argue with these people. I threw my bottle away. Case closed!
Want to read my reflection for this trip? Please visit: