“A Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures”

2 12 2014

I’ve first heard of Brunei in my 10th grade.  Our Geography professor used to call us in front of the map, tell us names of capitals, ask us to point the country on the map and tell him the name. When he said “Bandar Seri Begawan” my mind went blank. You see, the previous year I had failed geography for one trimester and it was one situation I never wanted to find myself again. I redeemed myself by answering his next two questions and forgot about Brunei until a lovely day this year in June.

I was surfing the Tedoo.ro Facebook page and they shared a super offer for Australia with Royal Air Brunei. I emailed Alex and we decided that day to go to Australia, with a 5 days stop over in Brunei. And the planning began for what transformed in our own very #EpicTrip 🙂

Every time I told friends we are going to Brunei, I got the same chuckle and question: “Why would you go there? Go to Malaysia instead!” Hmmm… I am very glad we went. I am only sorry we didn’t stay the full 5 days and went to Kuala Lumpur for the weekend. We wanted a taste of KL city. Well, it was bitter! Next time I am going to Malaysia, I will skip KL entirely 🙂 I guess I’m not made for city life anymore… huge buildings, noise, dust, pollution, crowds and crowds of people and tourists.

But let me go back to Brunei.

It was lovely, everything was really lovely. I remember thinking that it must be the kindest place on earth. We checked the market, took a boat ride into the sunset, walked the city streets in the evening and for the second time in my life I was impressed by a hotel: The Empire Hotel and Country Club! I learned Sunday while I was doing a bit of research that “it was originally built as the residence of the Sultan’s younger brother, Jefri, who until 1997 was Brunei’s minister of finance.” We did not stay here, we are backpackers after all 🙂 But we spent a few hours walking on the beach and enjoying the sun and the silence. On the day we were supposed to go back, bask in the sun and get a tan it rained and we stayed in.

My favorite part about Bandar Seri Begawan was Kampong Ayer, the water village! 8 kilometers of wood houses built on large pillars along the Brunei river. I’ve read it has around 30 thousands inhabitants and it’s the largest of its kind in the world. Our guide was the boat rider, who showed us around and told us stories about people and his own family. They have two boats and this new house in the water village, where he lives with his wife, two children and his mother-in-law. He showed us the schools and the mosque from afar, the most interesting houses and the best stories about each.

I think these were some of the most peaceful moments I’ve ever had. On this boat, laughing with him and Alex, learning about the river, Brunei’s history, palaces, kingdoms, fishing, the simple life… How random of us to go to Brunei! How random of us to take this specific boat ride and experience this moment of pure perfection. How random and how lucky!

There’s much more to discover about Brunei. And I hope to do it one day 🙂


Paradise was behind these windows…

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Hello Paradise

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If I’d believe in marriage… this place screams HONEYMOON!


Alex and the sea


Have I mentioned how much I love trees?…

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The  Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

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Boats on the Brunei River

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Evening walk…


This place must have a history… maybe it was someone’s home long time ago, perhaps it will be again one day.


The mosque again… and malls on each side 🙂 Ahh, the modern world.


So we went back to the river to search for a boat


We took our time walking, mesmerized by the sunset


The scenery becoming more and more alluring


We watched fishermen, wondered about their stories…


And then, the next day, created a story of our own 🙂


Glimpsed pieces of paradise and wondered what’s inside…


Daydreamed about a river-home of our own, a place to write stories about lovers and fish 😛


Talked with the river and laughed at its spunk…

Said thank you at the end... it was time to go back :(

Said thank you at the end!… it was time to go back 😦




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