Brunei – A 18 hours stopover
It was quite a spontaneous and comparing to traveling the other countries in South East Asia expensive idea to get a glimpse of the Brunei – or to use the official name the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace -. I read before on the website of the Federal Foreign Office and I found out that it is no problem to travel without a vise and if wanted to stay 90 days in the country. I was also told that in 2014 the first level of sharia penal law was established and that it is planned in 2017 to start with level 2 – which means more strict penalties -. For that reason it was highly recommended to wear appropriate clothes (also long trousers for men), never drink alcohol or smoke in public. Violations can cost you the small amount up to 2.500USD or one year in prison. Definitely this was not was I wanted and made me think about what is expecting me in Brunei.
After a bus ride which ended up taking 9.5h instead of the 7 they told me at the bus station, 4 boarder crossings (yes they have a boarder from Sabah to Sarawak where the Malay stamp) and 8 passport stamps later I finally reached the capital of Brunei with the name Bandar Seri Begawan. I don’t know how often I had to check the name because it did not wanted to go in my mind. Maybe other people have the same problem and for that reason its mostly just called BSB. My first encounter with a local was at the first entry of Brunei. The immigration officer was confusing me a bit because he was smiling, friendly, wearing a t-shirt with a comic print and a baseball cap. Never have seen this before and I assume I never will see it again.
BSB itself made a very quite first impression to me. On my way to the hotel I booked I rarely saw other people on the street and also there were not many cars around. And as big surprise these cars I saw were driving very civilized and already stopped 10-20 m before the crosswalk. Very different to traffic in Malaysia and on Philippines and anything I better don’t get used to it. After some hassle with my booking – luckily the people were too friendly to start an argument and did the best to solve the problem soon – and dropping off my stuff it was already dark outside. At least I could accomplish my only mission on the list – to check out if my Mastercard is just to stubborn to work in Malaysia or also in other countries in this area – and on the way to the next bank I just spotted the beautiful lighten up Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque.
I was very happy to have my camera with me because this was too amazing not to take plenty of pictures of. Especially during the night time. A paradise for night photographers 🙂
My dinner I took at a place the people in the hotel told me was good for some local food. Close by and good prices for great portions… Happy to see some locals of BSB.
In the next morning I decided to have a walk around after my nice breakfast. Weather was not that good but at least it was not raining for the whole time. In my long trousers and long sleeve shirts I figured out that I was not that blind the night before and some local ladies were wearing tight trousers just hiding knees and short sleeve shirts. I also missed about the cliches in my mind about ladies wearing burqa and niqab which I have not seen just once. I was told by a guy looking like a 70th rock n roll guy and working for the local bus company that one boarder crossing is very popular for these locals who’d like to have a drink or two. A bit surprising news of a just “normal” country for me after what I read before heading toward Brunei Darussalam. Was this one of the moments showing it is time to rethink the cliches in my mind?