Brunei, Asia Unexpected

Brunei, Asia Unexpected

It’s that way, I said with an air of confidence reserved for those moments where you’re so sure you can’t wait to say “I told you so” later.  thinkCHUA grabbed the map, turned it right side up and insisted that the bus we needed surely was the opposite direction, I insisted it wasn’t. In the midst of our heated debate a lovely French woman walked up and asked where we were trying to go.  We answered simultaneously, our tongue’s tripping over the unfamiliar words and she immediately knew the mosque we were talking about and offered us a ride.

The most well known mosque in Brunei The Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque reflecting the moat, accentuating the glittering dome, covered in real gold.

Debate aside we happily accepted her offer and as we started heading towards her car she said “there’s a catch…” There always is I thought to myself, but found she simply wanted our feedback on a tourist brochure she was doing some work on.  We ended up chatting with her about Brunei and how she ended up there.  Like most expats her husband is in the lucrative oil industry that makes Brunei one of the richest countries in the world.

The stained glass detail of Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque an example of Brunei's opulence

She filled us in on the slow pace of doing business, or anything for that matter, in Brunei as well as how quiet and relaxing it is.  I imagine, especially in contrast to war-torn Libya, the country her family had just fled from.  She dropped us at Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, the whole way regaling us with stories of her time abroad.  She was so excited for our trip and how she hopes her boys will travel the world and expand their horizons.

The beautiful Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Not knowing what to expect during our time in Brunei we were pleasantly surprised to find helpful expats, quiet streets, delicious food and welcoming locals.  Brunei totes itself as an undiscovered oasis in the sea of over-populated Asia.  The tourist brochure encourages visitors to slow down and take a break from the mass tourism of nearby cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.  Let me assure you even with all the money Brunei’s tourism board has, I’m not getting a penny to tell you that they are right.

A doorway to the less visited mosques of the less-crowded country of Brunei

Brunei is a beautiful little country tucked in the northern part of Borneo wedged between the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. While we only spent a couple days in the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan we hope to do more exploring in the future not only in the hopes of meeting more amazing French women, but due to it’s virgin rain forests and stunning mosques.  If you are looking for a luxurious respite from home in Asia, I would highly recommend looking into the benefits of a holiday in Brunei.

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Comments

» Amer :
Feb 26, 2012

haven’t been to Brunei yet, but your post makes me a bit more fascinated about the country. will check them out!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Amer, Brunei is definitely an interesting stop if you are in Borneo anyway. I wish we had more time to check out the virgin rainforests and travel further afield than just the capital city.

» Holly Em :
Feb 29, 2012

You just inspired me to put Brunei on our list!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Holly, glad to hear that you are planning a trip to Brunei. Make sure you plan enough time to travel further afield and see the virgin rainforests. Also, make sure you budget for the slightly higher prices in comparison to Borneo and the rest of Asia. Although the museums are free so make sure you take advantage! Enjoy and report back.

» shruti :
Mar 6, 2012

I am enjoying the glimpse into the actual mechanics of your travel, i.e. arguing about maps =)
Read shruti’s awesome post Masha’Allah: Der Tanz der Dervishes

LOCAVORista Reply:

Shruti, oh arguing about maps is just the beginning…even though I have no sense of direction I insist on leading. Next we head to India where our travel mechanics will really be put to the test!

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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