Sunday, June 23, 2013

Brunei: A Kingdom of unexpected treasure Day 3-2

Continued from the previous Day 3 post where i ended off having lunch at Tarindak Restaurant, we took our mini van for our next activity - which is something that all of us were looking forward to! I still remember at the beginning of the van ride, we were still happily chatting (our topics can go on and on!) but slowly you realised everyone was quiet as we all dozed off! I think it was kinda expected because we woke up at 4.30am for the canopy walk, everyone was tired...
Arrived at Poni Divers where we will be heading out to sea for snorkeling! Half awake.
Even though we were tired, everyone was quite excited going out to sea. After all, this is one of the main highlights of this trip! Were given a short brief introduction of Poni Divers where they offers dives over 20 shipwrecks and what to expect for our snorkeling trip. Diving in Brunei is relatively unknown to most people outside the region. The 4500 hectares of coral reef and coastline form oases for rays, hammerhead sharks and many tropical fish and corals.
Specially bought a disposable underwater camera before i left for Brunei, time to put it into good use!
Had to fill in an indemnity form before embarking on our trip! This is like the 2nd form we filled in already i think.

Collected our masks and flippers and we are ready to set off for snorkeling in Brunei waters!
Photo with Karen! I've been to snorkeling a couple of time in SG and Phuket but this is the first time with flippers!
Took the speed boat out (the wind was really strong and i had trouble trying to keep my eyes opened, until someone shouted, "TAKE OUT YOUR SHADES AND WEAR IT!" I was like, Ya hor, what didn't i think of that, FML.) After about 15 mins ride out, the speedboat started to slow down and we arrived at our first stop for snorkeling - Pilong Rocks! :D
A camwhore shot before heading down into the waters!

Someone mentioned that we should apply saliva on our goggles so that it won't fog up. The next thing you know, everyone on the boat started to unglam-ly spit into our goggles. Of course we rinse it off with sea water after that!

I was first to enter the water. Not the first time snorkeling so i knew exactly how to breathe properly *flicks hair*

Upon putting our head into the water, we were able to spots corals in different shapes and sizes, not forgetting fishes too! The water was really choppy and at some point of time, we had to swim against the current which was really really tiring. The flippers did helped though. Everyone was complaining how salty the water is when they accidentally tasted it!

In case you are wondering how come i have the above photo when obviously i'm holding on to my underwater camera, it's because Karen brought a digital water camera along for this trip! Those photos underwater photos you see from the River tubing the day before and in this post are all from her camera. Thanks to her we got these cool shots to blog! (:

Some of the weird shaped corals we encountered while snorkeling. There was one that looks like a brain...

Upon getting up the boat, we had an individual shot by Tom (who stayed on the boat while we battle the currents!) Every shot turned out really nice against the background and everyone had a genuine smile on their face! I would say it was a really nice experience for everyone, especially Tiffany who is trying snorkeling for the very first time (:

As we settled on the boat, we were asked if we would like to head to our next stop for more snorkeling. Everyone looked at each other and was like, "Erm... I think we have experienced enough, let's just skip the next stop and head back to shore." You have no idea how much energy it took to swim against the currents back to where the boat was. LOLOLOL

Let's just stick to what we do best - Take photos. AHAHAHAHA

Went back to shore and had a quick change of clothes before we move on to one of main highlights of the trip and also to where we will be spending our last night in Brunei - The Empire Hotel and Country Club - Also known as the best and finest hotel in the country. But honestly speaking, i have no idea what to expect at that time - A 6 star hotel.

The entrance of the Empire Hotel.

Upon entering the hotel, i was literally staring at every corner of the lobby. If you see us walking in, you would probably wonder what we were doing there because we were carrying our bags with plastic bags (probably containing our wet shoes), all clumsy and untidy and hair still wet from snorkeling. I remember my ulu ulu aluminum water bottle which was hanging from my bag hitting every single furniture i walked past and making a stupid clunk clunk noise. Pai seh max, FML

But nevertheless, the PR manager of the hotel welcomed us to the hotel with warm towels and a cup of refreshing welcome drink (which everyone started asking what was it) and started processing our check in for our rooms.

I was already quite amazed by the whole hotel layout, the design, the high ceilings, an endless view facing the south china sea, the beach lagoon right outside and the list goes on and on, half the time i was wondering if i'm dreaming. If you think our MBS is magnificent (for whatever reasons.), wait till you see the Empire. You will be amazed i tell you.

I was brought to my room and the moment the door was opened, i literally stunned. But i had to be professional and thanked the staff and close the door behind me before i started screaming. Ok, i did not scream. I stood at the door for quite awhile, staring at my room in disbelieve. This is really gonna be my room for the night? All to myself? Really?

 I spent the next 20 mins taking photos of my room.

The photos is doing no justice to the actual room. If i were to compare the size of the room to my room at home, i would say, it's about 6 times the size? I had a HUGE and comfy bed, the toilet was unbelievable. There was a long bathtub, 2 sinks, a corner for 2 bowls, and a shower room that can fit at least 6 people inside. There's also a mini bar fully equipped with drinks, tea bags and snacks (we were quite skeptical whether it's free at first and was told they were!) A big wardrobe which i did not make use of. Big flat screen television. Couch by the side and of course, a balcony which has a magnificent view. (you see later!) I realised i sound quite bimbotic while describing my room, LOL

This was the view from my balcony. I still have the image in my mind right now

A hand written note by the GM of the hotel accompanied by some really nice tasting cakes. Thank you!

Was quite curious at this luxury car with a Singapore flag hanging in front of it and so many officials around. After probing further, we realised our president, Dr.Tony Tan is also in Brunei and is staying in the Empire as well! Coincidence.

Night program was dinner with the Bruneians bloggers at a local house! Just in case if you are wondering what all of us were doing in the above photo, we were posing for photos with the new sleep eye mask which will be launched on Royal Brunei Airlines! The designs are really cute and innovative plus it will definitely make a good souvenir for passengers! :D

Instead of digging into our food straightaway, everyone started whipping out our cameras and phones to take photos of the food! It was quite a sight seeing everyone taking photos of the food in different angles. #SoSingaporean LOL

Dinner was mixed grill on the spot and it was so delicious! Especially the mini beef burgers and prawns!

Had a really good chat with everyone such as Ranoadidas, Marul, Maurina, Reedz, Emma to name a few. It was very interesting when they shared what they liked about Singapore, especially shopping, the food and our standards of living in SG compared to Brunei. Everyone was exchanging name cards and i've got none to offer because i recently got my new domain registered, should have known it better and prepare beforehand. But at least we got each other's IG (:

Was really looking forward to going back to my room in the Empire for a warm bathe and rest. Last night in Brunei.

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