Sunday, September 26, 2010

borneo weekend getaway p2

It was decided that we'd make a day trip to Brunei on Saturday and we'd drive there. After all, Miri is just a couple of hours from the oil rich kingdom. Being native East Malaysians, the rest passed through as Brunei was a neighbouring state, but I had to show my passport and the little slip I was given at the airport that said I was from the Peninsular. =.="

waiting at the customs

The queue at the customs was long from the opposite side, must be the Bruneians out to play. First stop, fill up the gas tank. I just had to take a picture of the petrol station, apparently price of petrol has not gone up in years here!

we're an oil-producing country too, but look at the price!

Although obviously very wealthy, it doesn't show; it seemed like we had stepped into a city smaller than Miri. Vast expanses of land dotted with simple-looking houses greeted us. I was half-expecting streets of gold lined with chandeliers for lamp posts, gilded pavements and manicured lawns.

houses for oil & gas workers

After breakfast we drove to Jerudong to visit the King's stables >.<

Just a little detour before admiring the very opulent 6-star Empire Hotel & Country Club which is rated as one of the world's most luxurious.

I liked the fact that it was surrounded by lotsa greens in an almost natural setting unlike some hotels which look too pretty to be real. The high ceilings, ample space and a lobby which overlooks the South China Sea made it all very grand.

theme of white & gold

Tall columns and furniture accented in gold and polished marble floor were balanced with windows which shower the interior with plenty of sunlight.

I think that's a refreshing touch because sometimes too much bling can be overly stuffy.

they keep you plenty occupied here

Apparently Bruneians get discounts for rooms here. How nice, on top of already cheap petrol.

Nevermind the fine touches that went into making this a majestic hotel worthy of its name, I would have been very much contented just lazing at the poolside admiring the sea. But of course if I were to stay here, I'd be out at the beach instead!

had to refrain from jumping into the pool~

Seeing so much gold, I almost forgot that I have yet to visit the 2 tourist attractions mentioned in Lonely Planet.

But first, some lunch - Kolo Mee. Tasted somewhat like our Wan Tan Mee, but served with chicken wings & boiled egg in sauce and tofu soup. This can only be tasted in a quaint little shop in a block of flats, only locals will know!

I've heard a lot about Kampung Ayer and thought a village on water would make good photography fodder, until I saw these speedboats at the pier waiting with anticipation. According to our Bruneian friend, they charge cutthroat prices for a ride to the village.

sky seems clearer, clouds puffier

Since they said it wasn't worth it, we decided to walk over to the Omar, Ali & Saifuddien Mosque which is said to be one of the most spectacular in Asia Pacific. Its main dome is covered in pure gold.

the mosque that sits on an artificial lagoon

Just as we were ready to go back, we made a brief stop at this Billionth Barrel Monument that commemerated, what else, the 1 billionth barrel of crude oil that was pumped from the Seria field in 1991. It was here that led to the successful drilling which made Brunei what it is today.

Of course those are not the only things we did in Brunei. As you can see, it's not true there's "nothing in Brunei". It's just that, a day trip is just about nice :)

passing by one of the many oil rigs

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