I have been planning to make a trip to Brunei for quite a while now but last minute circumstances forced me to postpone my trip on two previous occasions. This morning I decided to just make the trip so my wife, my younger son Les and I left Miri for Brunei at about 8.45 am this morning.
It has been quite a few months since my last visit to Brunei. Arriving at the Malaysian side of the Sg Tujoh border, I was surprised to see the many new shophouses under construction. A lot of the existing shophouses there seem to be “white elephants”. Maybe the new shops will boost the economic activity at the border once completed. I would not be surprised to see restaurants, pubs and so-called “foot reflexology and spas” commencing operations there. These “foot reflexology and spas” are all over the places in Miri and have given rise to a lot of complaints especially from housewives whose husbands seem to be coming home late nowadays. The population of “dragon ladies” or ladies from China have shot up quite a lot in tandem with the mushrooming “foot reflexology and spas”.
We went through the Malaysian immigration and custom checkpoints without much delay but it was a different story on the Brunei side of the border. We got through the Brunei immigration checkpoint quite promptly but getting through the Brunei custom checkpoint was a test of your driving guts. They had three immigration checkpoints open but only one custom checkpoint was open. So cars from the three immigration checkpoints all converged on one custom checkpoint. You need a bit of driving guts to manoeuvre your way into the queue. From my past experience, I was able to get my car to the checkpoint quite quickly. I was asked to fill a vehicle registration form so I had to park my car and fill the form. I guess that slowed down our journey a bit.
We arrived in Bandar Seri Begawan at about 10.30 am. We went to Hua Ho Supermarket in Yayasan Complex where I bought some chocolates for my ex-colleagues in Teck Guan Plaza. I went alone to the fifth floor of Teck Guan Plaza intending to give my ex-colleagues there a surprise. But instead I was in for a surprise! The boss had given them the day off today. Luckily my previous assistant Marissa was doing overtime and we had a good chat for over half an hour.
After leaving Teck Guan Plaza, I went to the waterfront to take some photos of Kampong Ayer (Water Village) where people live in houses built on stilts above the river. This is one of the major tourist attractions of Brunei.
Proceeding on to Yayasan Complex to meet up with my family, I took some photos of Yayasan Complex and the famous Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is one of the most spectacular mosques in Asia Pacific and is one of the major tourist attraction. The mosque is constructed on an artificial lagoon near the banks of the Brunei River. There is a marble bridge connecting the mosque to a ceremonial ship-shaped structure. The main dome of the mosque is covered in pure gold! The weather was very hot and I was sweating profusely on my forehead when I finally met up with my family.
We went to Teo Poi Hoon Restaurant in Kiulap for lunch. We opted for the set lunch for three consisting of sweet corn soup, fried broccoli, salad prawn and butter chicken plus iced “cincau” (grass jelly) for dessert. This set lunch was very reasonably priced at B$38……we enjoyed the food.
We popped in to the nearby Hua Ho Supermarket to continue shopping……ended up buying quite a bit of foodstuff and tidbits including a cheese cake and a kahlua cake.
On our way to the Gadong SupaSave, we stopped at NBT to take photos of their impressive Christmas decor. NBT Brunei has always put up very creative Christmas decor every year. And I must add that I have not seen such nice Christmas decor in Sarawak.
At Gadong SupaSave, we bought some foodstuffs and tidbits again before popping in to the Sin You Me Restaurant to have a drink and to wait for my friend Ken. After chatting with Ken for half an hour or so, we began our journey back to Miri. We left Bandar Seri Begawan at about 4.30pm and arrived home in Miri at about 6.00pm. Because it was a day trip and partly due to the hot weather, we were real tired on reaching home.