Friday, June 7, 2013

Brunei: A Kingdom of unexpected treasure Day 1

Before i left for Brunei, i did a pre-trip post based on the draft itinerary i received from the organizers (Read it HERE if you haven't!) and was already quite excited at the line up of activities planned but this whole 4D3N Brunei trip was so much more enjoyable than i expected it to be! Upon landing back in SG, i felt really motivated to blog about this trip because you all have no idea how much responses i got when i told my friends/colleagues i would be going to Brunei - "Har?, Why of all places you go Brunei?!", "Brunei got things to do there meh?", "You going there for army training ah?"

And the list of questions goes on and on. I'm now back with answers.

In this 5 post travelogue, i will be sharing on the different places i went, the different food that i tried, the different activities i engaged in, the people i met along the way and all these experience was an eye opener for me. Expect lots of photos along the way. As clichés as it may sounds, pictures speaks a thousand words. Hope you enjoy reading my Brunei travelogue and for all you know, you might just decide to visit the country and check out the place yourself (:


Normally when i travel, i like to travel light so that there's space in my luggage for my shopping buys (especially my last BKK trip where i bought an almost empty luggage over!) but for this trip, i was quite surprised that my luggage was almost full by the time i was done packing! Well, mainly because the itinerary states that we will be engaged in outdoor activities such as forest trekking and water sports so i packed the essential stuffs such as my sports shoes and more.
Was packing my luggage at 3am the night before the flight and my dog was in my room accompanying me
Arrived at the airport early the next morning to meet the other 4 bloggers (whom i have not met before) and also Rui Long, the OMY representative who will be accompanying us for the whole trip! Gathered and was welcomed by Guat Wen, Royal Brunei Airlines Country Manager, Singapore who then led us to the Premier Check-In (for first class and business class passengers) to skip the long queue, drop off our luggage and had direct access to the immigration area!
Premier check-in for selected airlines located at Changi Airport Terminal 1 and 2.
First time not having to queue to get my boarding pass and to check in my luggage! #luckyboy89
If you realised, every time i travel, i would definitely take a photo of my boarding pass with my passport at the back!
Taking the Royal Brunei Airlines to Brunei! The flight was about 2 hours.
Lucky me got the window seat, friends who fly with me would know that i love window seats
Mainly because i get to see the aircraft take off/ land and to take photos of the stunning cloud formations!
Even though the flight was just a short 2 hours flight, In flight meals were served on board! I had the standard set since i didn't make any request beforehand and i got Chicken with cheese and potatoes that day. Sides were a serving of salad, bun w/ butter, Mango juice and guess what? A chocolate fudge cake which totally made my day flight!
In a blink of an eye after interacting with the rest of the bloggers, 2 hours past and we were about to land in Brunei!

Took a photo (and a short video) with the crew on board our Royal Brunei Airline flight and before i forget to introduce, in the above photo are the 4 bloggers whom i will be spending my 4 days in Brunei with! From left: Deenise, Karen, Tiffany and Malcolm! (Click on their names to be linked to their blog to read about their Brunei adventure too!)

Was quite surprised to see someone holding a board with our @twitter handles upon exiting the immigration! Turns out the person is Muaz, the Comms officer of Royal Brunei Airlines welcoming us to Brunei, and not only that he prepared 3G sim cards for us knowing that we would love to update our social media on the go throughout the 4 days in Brunei :D

A group photo at the airport before heading to our hotel to check in our luggage!

Received a goodie bag from Tom, from Sunshine Borneo tours who is also our tour guide for the 4 days. In the goodie bag it consist of a Brunei polo tee, useful brochures about Brunei and also this media pass shown in the above photo (:

Rizqun International Hotel
Abdul Razak Complex,Gadong, Sungai Menglait, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

Accommodation for the first day was at Rizqun International Hotel, located just 15 mins away from the airport.

We got a deluxe room (B$320/night) each to ourselves. I did not have an idea how the room would look like beforehand so the moment i opened the door, i was quite taken aback. I wasn't expecting the room to be so huge and with 2 big beds, all to myself! I literally opened up and placed my luggage on one bed, and used the other for sleeping, LOL

We had the afternoon to ourselves to settle down so we decided to head to the mall which is connected to the hotel. The name of the shopping mall is literally - "The Mall", LOL

The one and only McDonald in the country.

I couldn't believe my ears when Tom told us that there is only one McDonald outlet in the whole country. Apparently if you live in Brunei and you have sudden craving for McDonald, this would be the only place to satisfy your craving.

Tom brought us for a seafood steamboat dinner at this place where we had an awesome night view of Kampong Ayer, also known as the water village in Brunei. We were also told that we will be visiting the water village on Day 3!

2 kinds of soup base and there was a HUGE pile of assorted seafood, meat and vegetables arranged neatly for us!

Things bloggers do before they actually eat. #truestory

After a sumptuous dinner, we were brought on an night city tour by Tom to visit a few iconic places that we should visit in Brunei. One thing that we noticed during the night tour is that the street were practically almost empty at about 8pm+ and there were not much cars on the roads at night, unlike busy Singapore. We were told by Tom that since there isn't much of a night life in Brunei, the locals would normally spend time with their families and loved ones at home.

JAME Mosque also known as Jame'asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

SOAS Mosque also known as the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque.

After visiting the mosque, we were also brought to the Night market at Gadong shopping area, it's feels just like our pasar malam in Singapore but majority of the stalls there are selling food that they prepared themselves. In the night market, you are also able to find some of the local delicacies and snacks, which you might spot in the photos below.

Spotted home made cakes and pastries, vegetables and packet rices being sold in the night market.

Being an ultimate foodie, i was on a look out for food that interest me although i just had dinner!

Tom would stop at some stalls and introduced to use some of the local delicacies and snacks.

Couldn't really remember the names of the snack above but one thing i noticed is that their food is more towards the sweet side. For example, the flour cookie in the above photo is coated with sugar flour to make it more tasteful.

Passed by this stall which sells little steam cakes with really cute designs!

Couldn't help it but buy a few to try and also for photo taking purposes! Kill 2 birds with one stone, LOL

Just before we head back to our hotel, Tiffany suggested we visit Fitness Zone which is opened by Wu Zun, a Bruneian and also a member of a Taiwan boy band - 飛輪海 Fahrenheit. Tom told us there are fans who would camp outside his gym hoping to catch a glimpse of their idol! In my mind, I was like, seriously! How often does he comes back to Brunei...
Went back to the hotel, did some packing as we will be checking out the next morning and moving to Ulu ulu National Park Resort to spend our Day 2 there! Honestly, Day 1 was just the tip of the iceberg to get to know a bit of the city life in Brunei, but the real adventure will begin from Day 2 onwards! So stay tuned to the next few posts!

This sponsored trip to Brunei is made possible by Royal Brunei Airlines and Brunei Tourism.

Brunei Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3-1 | Day 3-2 | Day 4