Travel and Gamble

Brunei: Jendee’s unique travel experience

When we think of holiday abroad, Filipinos normally prefer to go to Hong Kong, Singapore or Thailand.  Brunei, a small, but rich Islamic country, is not a normal choice for holiday destination for Filipinos, with the exception of a few; among them, Jendee, a fellow nomadic friend and work colleague.

On this week’s fellow nomad series, we follow Jendee’s short adventure in Brunei. Read about her tips, what she learned about Brunei during her short visit, the places she explored; her tips and why it’s her most unique travel destination thus far at Eleventy traveler blog.

What made you travel to Brunei? Why was it your choice for holiday destination?

My brother-in-law works there so I went with my sister and niece to visit him. During my stay, I didn’t see a lot of public transport so I think it would be hard to move around. I noticed that houses there have a minimum of two cars. Good thing we have a family sponsor so it’s easy to be on the go.

Isn’t it an expensive destination?

Expensive? Maybe because of the lack of public transport, and only a few hotels to choose from (I only saw Radisson Blu and The Empire). Their fuel (at around Php15 per liter) and electricity (which can be bought prepaid) are sold really cheap. Even the food in typical foodcourts are almost priced the same here in the Philippines.

How long were you there and where did you stay? How did you get there? Airline used?

We were there for 4 days and 3 nights and stayed in my brother’s place in an Executive Housing village. We flew by Cebu Pacific Air, direct flight from Manila and touched down in Bandar Seri Begawan airport.

What sites did you see? What strike you the most and why?

The magnifescent mosques, Embassy of the Philippines, Istana Nurul Iman (House of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah), the malls, the Bandar Waterfront, the Empire Hotel, University of Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Shell Science Discovery Center in Kuala Belait (a town about 2 hours away from Bandar). What I was so amazed about are their mosques which have been designed in detail – the lighting, the wall carvings, the ceiling, the floor, the trash bins and even the gates are intricately made works of art. Their mosques look really beautiful by day. At night, it transforms into a shining gold that are readily seen from afar.

How is Brunei different from most of the other countries you’ve been to? 

I have been to the US, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia before coming to Brunei. These countries have a unique thing of their own but already are too modern. Brunei was different. The rich Muslim culture is very evident here. When I go to their malls, seldom do I see modern clothing for women. Majority are “tudong”, or those that cover the hair and face of the Muslim ladies. No high rise buildings, even downtown where most of the business establishments are found. (I was told this is because Sultan does not want any building to rise above his mosque, not sure if true though.)

Give us top 3 unique things have you learned about this country?

1. The mosques which symbolizes the wealth of Brunei, even though they are a small country.

2. The waterfront , where you can see motorboats transporting passengers to the other side of the river (where the first inhabitants in Brunei lived).

3. Safety to move around, that’s why it’s called Negara Brunei Darussalam which means, State of Brunei Abode of Peace.

How much is a rough estimation overall for costs related to the trip?

The trip cost me around Php10,000 (5k for plane fare and another 5k for pasalubongs) since my food, accommodation and transportation are all free. 🙂

What tips can you give our fellow travelers interested in visiting this destination? DO’s and don’ts?

It’s hard to give one since I was there with a guide who is very familiar with the place. Perhaps, wear light clothing because it is very hot and sunny (I was there middle of May) and do not miss the Teh Tarik (Milk Tea) served at the waterfront café. The country is Islamic, so respect the local traditions, customs and laws at all times, and dress modestly.

Could you tell us about the best part of your experience traveling to Brunei, and why?

The best part would be seeing the Brunei Shell oil fields in Kuala Belait. Since I am an Oil & Gas company employee it was sort of a given for me to check it out and I was not disappointed. The place is a very clean seaside park with a lot of donkeys (machines that extract oil from the earth) and pipeline around the place.

Thank you Jen for gracing our website and sharing your travel to Brunei! More power to you and God bless!