Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Brunei, Cruise Port Call (Legend of the Seas), Water Village

Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan)

Brunei is a very small but very rich independent country located on the northeastern coast of Borneo. Brunei is rich due to her oil reserves.  The head of state is a Sultan, an absolute monarch.  The country's official religion is Islam.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't think of bringing my family to Brunei, even though as Singaporeans we know and have read about Brunei.  Well, let's just say that there isn't much to do in Brunei.  But, hey, this is the only country in the world where we can use our Singapore Dollars without converting!

Anyway, here we are, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.  We decided to go with a ship organized tour, to the Water Village (Kampong Ayer in Malay) as well as the Brunei city.  It was a cloudy day.

This picture taken from the 40-seater coach.  You can see a crew member leading another group of tourists, on a ship-organized excursion.

And we depart the port on schedule.  That is the Legend of the Seas.  The port is a container port which didn't look very busy at all.

On the way into port, some of the houses.  Brunei doesn't have a big population, slightly more than 400,000.

Not sure how much property costs in Brunei.

Taken while on the coach.  The tour guide was a local, ethnic Chinese origin.

The coach passing by the Parliament House.  Note that Brunei has an absolute Monarchy.  This article by the Telegraph is an interesting read.  Remember, when you Brunei, you cannot say negative things about the Sultan, the monarchy and the politics.  Otherwise, you will have to bear the consequences.

These like like decent apartments.

Our tour coach stopped outside the Sultan's Palace.  We would be going in to take a look from the outside. This was the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque.

The main Dome is covered in pure gold.

From a distance, it looks very nice.

We were following our guide.  He was the chap holding the big small placard with a number.  That number was our tour excursion number.

Yes, I remember now, we were on tour number 5.

This was the entrance to the mosque and there was an escalator.  But we were not allowed to enter.

The guide telling us more information.

After a brief visit, we headed back to our tour coach.  There were at least 3 coaches there, all from the cruise ship.

From the Mosque, it was a 15 minute ride to the Water Village (Kampong Ayer).

See those boats?  We would be boarding them very soon.

We have just alighted from our coach.  We will be boarding our boat from this jetty.

The long boat has pulled up to the steps.  Thankfully the river was not choppy, otherwise boarding the boat would be very dangerous.

I wondered whether we could all fit into the boat.

Good, they had life jackets.   Better safe than sorry.

The boarding process was relatively quick.

The boatman was patiently waiting.  Notice another boat behind.

We had boarded.  They had life jackets for kids too.  The boat could take the entire coach, more than 40 pax.  That made things logistically easier.  One boat for one coach.

Our guide, seated at the front of the boat.  I did wonder think of asking him to sit inside the boat.  If there was a collision, he would fall off!

The guide was talking to the cruise passengers.

We are on our way.

We were all enjoying the views.

There was another jetty with passengers getting into the long boat.

This was another mosque.

There was a yellow boat in the distance.  Wonder what that boat was for.

That's the Sultan's Palace.  It was not opened to public.  So this was the closest we could get to.

Waters were calm and the sun was shining.


That looked like a water pipe.

Bridges were built across the river.

We have finally arrived at a river house.  All of us got off the boat and were invited into the house.

They had proper toilets and sanitation.  Looks like they have built the sewerage system out to these river houses.

In the house, we got to sit down and enjoy some home-made snacks.

We were also served with some tea.  It was a cool respite from the heat.

Many ceiling fans and standing fans.

Some of the 'kuehs'.  These were not unique to us as we have similar cakes and tarts in Singapore.

I got a bit restless and decided to go outside the boathouse for a walk.

All our shoes lining the entrance to the hall.

I stepped outside.

I had a look around.

A closer look at the cakes.

Looked like cookies.

Some photos of the family.

There was this bridge just outside the house. Tempted to cross.

I went on the bridge.  This is the view of the boat house from the bridge.  I just realised that there were two long-boats visiting the house today.

While on the bridge, I saw this boat speeding towards us.  It looked to be going very fast.

The boat zoomed right under the bridge.

My kid and her Grandpa, coming to join me on the bridge.

After about 30 minutes, we were off again.  It was time to head back to the coach.

As we approached the jetty, I saw these 3 coaches waiting.  All from the cruise ship, I think.

After the water village, we visited a museum.  I didn't take many photos of that as we were not allowed to take photos once we went inside.  It was an interesting place to visit though.

This was a half day tour.  It was time to head back to the ship.  The coach ride back took about 40 minutes and we were back very quickly.

The Brunei port wasn't a dedicated cruise port.  It was a container port.

Oh, all aboard time was 3:30PM.  Anyway, since we were on a ship's tour, there would be no issue with coming back late.

A photo of the port from the ship.

Oh yes, we headed to the Windjammer to get some ice-cream!  A cool respite from the very hot weather.

Note the Ice Cream machine opening hours.

Very bright sun!  Glad we were back on the ship.

This shot was taken from the Diamond Lounge.

 This was the view from our aft cabin.

Thanks for reading!

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