Greetings from one of the worlds smallest and also wealthiest countries, tucked away on the north coast of Borneo – Brunei!
This seldom-often-traveled nation is famous for its Sultan and head of state, General Haji Sir Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah. Although anyone would consider the entire island of Borneo to be rich with natural resources and abounding with fresh fruits of this earth, Brunei received an even more world-wide valuable practical resource: crude oil and natural gas.
It was just yesterday when I’ve decided to take the ferry to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu. I was surprised as soon as I exited the ferry terminal by how quiet this country is – far away from the typical Asian country with loads of people and touts hustling to sell a ride in their cab. Instead there were a few taxi around and you could seldom find people walking in their streets.
So few that while we’re doing our DIY walking tour around the city – I sometimes thought that the roads are all mine. Haha! Or just maybe we’re that poor since everyone here got their own ride while we don’t.
The city was quite the opposite of characteristic Asian cities, lacking all roaring traffic, masses of humanity, and clouds of pollution. Instead it was marked by pleasant greenery and quiet neighborhoods. Drivers even halted out of nowhere to let humans cross the street (opposite to what we have in the Philippines). Though Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital and largest city of Brunei, it had such a unique feeling – possibly the quietest and most peaceful capital in Asia.
So off we went with our walking tour.
Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
Considered as one of the grandest monuments to Islam in the whole region built in 1992 to celebrate the 25th year of the current sultan’s reign, the magnificent Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is the brainchild of His Majesty the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah
The fine artistry of the structure’s basic design as well as the interiors shows the meticulous attention to details and reveals the depth of the love that inspired the vision to build this splendid symbol of devotion to Islam.
The stunning edifice with its artfully landscaped gardens and fountains that add to the serene ambience, is a memorable place to visit and certainly a must for visitors
Sunday to Wednesday: 8am to 12noon, 2pm to 3pm & 5pm to 6pm
The mosque is closed to non-Muslims on Thursdays. It is open on Saturday provided that there is no official function the following day.
Royal Regalia Museum
The Royal Regalia Museum which was built in 1992 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty’s the Sultan of Brunei accession to the throne in 1967. The museum houses a collection of royal paraphernalia and also an exhibition on the constitution of the nation.
Witness its central feature, a spectacular new circular gallery topped with a mosaic-tiled dome sitting in the cup of the original crescent-shaped building.
When called upon to present a gift to the sultan of Brunei, you must inevitably confront the question: what do you give a man who has everything? Here you’ll see how various heads of state and royalty have solved this conundrum. (Sadly, picture taking’s not allowed where the royal presents sit)
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
Considered as one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia Pacific, it is a place of worship for the Muslim community, a major landmark and a tourist attraction of Brunei.
One of the most iconic symbols of the city is the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, a truly spectacular structure covered in an Islamic dome of gold.
Named after Omar Ali Saifuddien III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei who also initiated its construction, the mosque serves as a symbol of the Islamic faith in Brunei and dominates the skyline of Bandar Seri Begawan. The building was completed in 1958 and is an example of modern Islamic architecture.
Built in an artificial lagoon on the banks of the Brunei River at Kampong Ayer- the “village in the water”, the mosque has marble minarets and golden domes, a courtyard and is surrounded by a large number of trees and floral gardens.
Though I was only in Brunei for a single day, I had a luxurious time wandering around and seeing a few of the famous existing sights. The incredible views from Brunei in such a brief time and the uniquely peaceful culture they have is something that will truly be memorable, something that made me felt like I was Royalty of some exotic fairy tale.
This travelogue is part of a travel series for my birthday trip to Kota Kinabalu & Brunie, if you haven’t read the previous posts, here’s the link http://bit.ly/KKBruneiDay2 & http://bit.ly/KKBruneiTrip