19 July, 2014

Brunei Darussalam in 40-something hours, Part 2

If there's one thing I learned from my trip in Brunei Darussalam, that would be RESPECT. It was my first time to set foot on a country that upholds strong Islamic values. I've read some travel bits about the country, their culture, and laws from a few blogs. After some time, I stopped reading them. Mejo na-praning ako kase sobrang nega talaga nung iba.

Welcome to Brunei Darussalam

I reread some of them after my trip and I was right to not continue reading these blogs. There were a couple of posts that were borderline harsh and skewed. While I was under a lot of stress BEFORE this trip mainly because of what I read and I didn't want to pack something that's not Brunei-friendly, I eventually loosened up as soon as I went past immigration and enjoyed every bit of my time visiting one of the richest countries in the world.


What to expect.
Let go of all preconceived notions and prepare to be wow-ed.

Alcohol-Free
I love to try local drinks when on a trip. Picking up from where I left off in Part 1 of my Brunei Darussalam in 40-Something Hours, I had to pass on this one. Tourists are allowed to import alcohol, have two bottles or 12 cans of beer every two days ( I hope I got that right ), but must be consumed privately. Muslims are not allowed to consume alcohol but their laws are tolerant of non-Muslims.

Pork-Free
P is a Spam- bacon- hotdog person. Imagine how worried stiff he was when I told him that there's a huge chance that he will not have Spam and hotdog during this trip. Muslims don't eat pork because in Islam, pig is considered unclean and are therefore forbidden.


OOTD
Although I saw photos from THE TWO MISS FITS' in shorts while in Brunei, up until the last minute I didn't know what to pack for this trip. Eisa told P to tell me not to show too much skin, with which I didn't grasp how much is too much. My Mom who's very much familiar with Muslim ways reminded me to dress modestly ... and, I did.

Girls will be okay with maxi dresses, maxi skirts, chinos, pants, and decent tops. And, bring a scarf or a shawl. These are really versatile pieces that you can never go wrong with.


Roads are practically spotless on Fridays, between 12:00PM - 2:00PM.

Prayer Time
Bruneians strictly observe their prayer time. I got the chance to witness this when we were going around town on a Friday. You'll find that all businesses will shut down between 12:00PM to 2:00PM to let everyone follow- observe- prayer time.

Going Around
One of the blogs I read said that there were very few cabs in Brunei. Eisa also mentioned that there are cabs, but just to share what I experienced, I don't remember seeing one. There weren't much buses, too. I did see a lot of cars and got the impression that purchasing one in this country is easy. Plus gas here is very cheap at BND0.50 or PHP18.00. Their government seems to provide for everyone.


What to do. What to see.
The few hours that we had were spent going around town. It helped that our friend, Eisa, who's half-Bruneian + half-Filipino and a Muslim, was there to show us around. Oh, he would make an excellent tour guide. He knows his history, went beyond the usuals, and taught us so much a lot about their religion. It was both informative and enlightening. For instance, you won't expect to find skyscrapers like the ones you'll see in Tokyo or New York because their laws don't allow buildings higher than their mosques.


Outside the Sultan's Palace, Istana Nurul Iman



The Water Village, Kampong Ayer


Oldest mosque in the country that's named after their 28th Sultan: Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque


Bruneians love bowling. P and I didn't win when we up against Eisa and his wife, Rhoda.

The boys said they needed to break some sweat.


Where to eat.
P had a bit of a struggle, but he's also such a good boy and found something that he liked. The Empire Hotel and Country Club's Beef Bacon became his new favorite.

There's a variety of dining options in Brunei :)
Brunei has a lot of casual and fine dining restaurants, eateries, hawkers, coffee shops, and fast food joints. I was suprised to see that a local fast food chain here in the Philippines has expanded with several international Jollibee outlets in Brunei. There were more Jollibees here and not much McDonald's. We had late lunch in KFC because P wanted to find out if all KFC chickens tasted the same.

When I was there, Burger King was still being constructed. They also didn't have Starbucks or Seattle's Best but Rhoda told me that the first Starbucks in Brunei opened three or four days after we left. Yay! And, too bad, we had to settle for CBTL and Gloria Jeans during our stay.


KFC Meal Brunei Style


KFC Tarts were super good!


Our friend, Tyrone took us to dinner at Restoran Tamu Semerbak. This is beef tendon heaven!


No skyscrapers, no nightlife, no alcohol - is Brunei worth visiting?
Yes, it is. I know it's not one of the more popular tourist destinations, but Brunei has an interesting culture. And, except for Royal Brunei Airlines' FAs and immigration ( yes, they are merely doing their jobs ), Bruneians are very hospitable and are a friendly bunch.

Your OOTDs shouldn't be that big of a deal. Bruneians are permissive up to a certain extent, but this doesn't mean that you can just wear whatever so it's important to show respect for local culture and religious customs. Trust me, it speaks tons about you.


The gang before our flight to Singapore. Notice how white and bright their airport is. Nice.


Will I go back to Brunei? Yes. I've read posts from other bloggers who said otherwise, but here's what I'll tell you —— there's more to traveling than sightseeing. My friends and I have a lot of stuff planned the next time P and I visit them. "I believe that travel is one of the finest methods of self-education, that travel pursued properly expands your horizons. I have always tried to emphasize that goal and to make explicit that the best form of travel is a learning approach."

☮..Peace + _Love + Good Vibes. RUSS.
More about Brunei: Brunei Darussalam in 40-Something Hours, Part 1

50 comments:

Bonnie Gowen said...

Great photos! I love hearing about how different places in the world are different and have different laws. Great post!

Chrissy Mazzocchi said...

Looks like a fantastic trip, beautiful photos as well :)

Rochkirstin Santos said...

Maxi dresses are great to bring when traveling. They're not only comfortable but stylish as well - great for pictures!

Kath Rivera said...

When I hear the name of this country, I always remember the issue about Ruffa Gutierrez before that she was being courted the their prince. Anyhoo, they have rich culture and I want to know how long is the trip? Looks like a very quiet place because no alcohol and night life.

Russ R. said...

ROCH
Maxi dresses are also easy-to-pack. They don't eat a lot of space in your luggage.

P Bishop said...

The mosque is beautiful. I enjoy reading about different cultures so I appreciate your informative and well illustrated article.

Christine Topley said...

Looks like a very nice place to visit. The architecture is amazing! Since not everyone is looking for a place to party but to have a quiet serene getaway from the hustle and bustle and loudness of everyday life, the no alcohol and night life is really inviting.

Hilary @ The RNY Life said...

I think it would actually be a nice place to visit. I love learning about other cultures and religions. I don't drink or engage in the night life so I think this would be a very relaxing trip and chance to learn.

Amanda Kee said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I love when people share their trips and different locations from around the world. It's amazing to see all that is out there!

Elle Hipolito said...

Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience in Brunei. It sounds lovely.

Ben Butler said...

It looks amazing there! The geography is gorgeous and the food looks fantastic. I love learning about new cultures. It's always amazing to me how scary, odd, or just totally foreign to me a culture can appear until I learn about it. Then I realize, the people are really just like me. When you get down to it, we're all the same.

Mama to 5 said...

Looks like a beautiful country and the food looks amazing! Pretty pictures

Joanna Sormunen said...

Sounds like you enjoyed your time in Brunei! I have always thought it is an intriguing country, and still think the same way after reading your post. I would love to visit there!

Metanoia Living said...

What a beautiful mosque! I love the quote at the end. I completely agree with it. There is so much you can learn by visiting another country and immersing yourself in their culture. Loved the post :)

Sweepster said...

How would they know if you are Muslim or not? Couldn't a practicing Muslim lie and say he was not Muslim in order to import alcohol?

Jade Schwartz said...

I always wanted to visit Brunei. I learned that it is a beautiful country through tv shows and magazines. I want to experience it first hand.

Becca Niederkrom said...

Really want to go here in the Fall! Loved this article!

Annemarie Leblanc said...

The mosque looks so beautiful and the food looks absolutely delicious!

Maria Constanza Oller said...

All looks amazing I'm not familiar with the beef tendon but I would love to try

Shirgie said...

There are really a lot of restrictions when traveling to Islamic countries like Brunei. But oh well, we have to respect them and we can still enjoy the moment even without pork. haha

Rebecca Swenor said...

Looks like a wonder time and food looks amazing. I love your gorgeous pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Leira Pagaspas said...

Brunei is very near the Philippines but I haven't been there. It looks like a very peaceful country.

mail4rosey said...

Gloria Jeans has a toffee coffee I love. I'd have been happy to come across one. :)

Texstar said...

It looks like you had a great trip. I agree, set aside your pre-conceived notions and allow yourself to enjoy the experience of a different culture and way of living.

Thanks for the inspiration!
~ Don Purdum

Paulina @ Color Me Brave said...

Love those views! Stunning area to be in.

Marielle Altenor said...

Must have been quite the experience! Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures with us. The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque looks so breathtaking!

Alysia Casteels said...

I loved this post! I had no idea about the mosques having to be the hightest buildings, or the alcohol laws there (that tourists could bring it in).
Very interesting!
So...tell me...DOES all KFC taste the same? :P

Michelle Rattan said...

Such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing.

MaryJane Tauyan said...

very nice! i haven't been to brunei but my husband did. like here in malaysia they dont eat pork also for muslims but you can buy pork in the mall

Lindsay Jarvis said...

This was a great post. I agree that, while sightseeing is great, there is more to a vacation than just sightseeing. There is so much to learn about the culture of the countries we travel to!

Hannah Green said...

Travel blogs are my favourite kind, this was a great read and very informative x

Shayne said...

Nice post! The food looks inviting! Would love to go visit Brunei too!

Maureen Hitipeuw said...

Looks beautiful there! I love it when traveler actually take their times and doscover what unique from a country but also still respects the cultures and norms :)

Aileen Adalid said...

Wonderful photos! I haven't been to Brunei myself but it's nice to see a 'preview' of it through your blog. :D

Motherrific said...

The place looks serene and relaxing. Is it expensive to travel here?

Fernando Lachica said...

Beef tendon is like "Bulalo" here in the Philippines? I like it! The place's so colorful and romantic...oh, first time to see photos of Brunei Darussalam.

Louise Banta said...

It is a very important note that we have to be careful on what we wear in other countries to show respect. It is something other travelers are forgetting. I've seen a lot while I was in Singapore. They'd visit the Chinese temple with such short dress & skirts and I really find that disrespectful!

Alissa said...

I would love to visit Brunei someday. How lucky for you! I agree that their culture is great!

Katrina Centeno said...

I also visited Brunei last year. Immigration was not friendly but that was part of the experience and memories. I was with good friends so it is easy to forget the stressful experience and turn it to a good joke.

Ace Paragoyo said...

Haven't been to Brunei but hoping someday I can visit this place, your photo of mosque is nice and hopefully our KFC here in my country also sell Tart! looks delicious.

Phylicia Marie Pineda said...

This post is actually very enlightening. I have always been afraid to travel to Brunei because of a lot of other people's stories, but I guess I really don't have to worry too much.

Nanda Reis said...

Thanks for this very detailed post! It looks like to got to be very enriched during your trip. A new place, different culture and lots to learn!

Franc said...

It's nice that you were able to study their cultures even before the trip. You were able to avoid things that would offend them. It's also nice that along the trip you got to know more about Brunei.

eLaNaKcL said...

I wish to visit Brunei someday. It's a very laid back and peaceful country.

Fred Hawson said...

This looks like a very quiet country. No crowds in your pics! I have to read up on what to do there in case we do plan to go someday.

Skinny Brokovich said...

I love the place and the food.. Its always as the same at home!

Eliz Frank said...

What a fascinating trip and a great insider look at Brunei. It does look beautiful and quiet.

Kelly Chin said...

Brunei is a very small and peaceful Islamic town. Many shops are closed on friday especially during the prayer time. Other than that the town is very safe.

Vanessa said...

I love the food pics, all these meals look so tasty, and I like the fact there is prayer time as well. Pork free and alcohol free sounds great for a healthy lifestyle!

Russ R. said...

KELLY.
I totally agree with you that Brunei is very safe. It's a lovely place to visit.