Sunday, June 23, 2013

Brunei: A Kingdom of unexpected treasure Day 4

The night on my bed in my room at The Empire Hotel was incredible. Upon hitting the sheets, i immediately felt asleep and soon, it was the last day in Brunei. This whole trip to Brunei was beyond my expectations. I have never imagined myself of all countries, to visit Brunei (i know i didn't pay a single cent for this trip but still!)  Let's complete Day 4 (:
Still lying on my bed, i wanted to see how bright the sky was so i pressed one of the buttons on the remote control at the side of my bed and the curtain were drew. It felt so surreal waking up in a huge room with such a magnificent view.
The morning view from my balcony. I can totally get used to this sort of life
Was to meet everyone for breakfast but i did not have an idea where the place was so i went downstairs and roam around to checkout the lagoon. I was really looking forward to the buffet breakfast and i had really high expectations!
I was not disappointed at all! This was the kind of breakfast i wished i could have everyday and not get bored of it. They had a huge variety of bread and pastries, eggs and pancake stations with all sorts of sauces, nasi lemak corner to customize your own rice set, cooked food, cereals, yogurt and more other food! Very very satisfied! #happyboy89
I just kept going back for more and more food. The above are just some of the food that i tried
Right after breakfast, we had a tour around the hotel so show us what they have to offer!
2 storey villa fully equipped with everything you need including a kitchen! Perfect for families on a vacation
Ambassador suite, which i heard our president, Dr Tony Tan is staying in one of these rooms. Even though they are rooms, they are like apartments which is a few times bigger than my own house! There's even a hall, a meeting table, a few toilets and can you believe this is not already the best room available in the entire hotel? Did i mention Jacuzzi?
Empress Suite.

As you can derive from the name, this is only the 2nd best room in the hotel. Just look at the top left hand photo, that's the living room - with a piano with still lots of space to spare. The empress room is 345 square meters by the way. Just when you think this is good enough, the Emperor room has its own personal private swimming pool and steam sauna, yes right in the room. We did not get the chance to visit the Emperor room though, think it was occupied. Oh wells  :(

The amazing view of the lagoon from one of the rooms. (I forgot which one, LOL)

As much as i'm amazed at the size of the rooms, sometimes i wonder if there's really a need. LOL

Took the opportunity to take more group photos. We might never go into these rooms again ever, unless we get invited back to Brunei again, HAHAHA Please let us stay at The Empire for a few more days so we can enjoy the facilities!
Talking about facilities. As you can derive from their name "The Empire Hotel and Country Club", they have a country club within the hotel which includes a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and as you can see in the above photo, there's even bowling alleys, basketball, badminton, tennis courts, gym facilities, swimming pool etc. Not forgetting SPA!
After the tour inspection was lunch with the Empire Hotel management, at the same place where we had breakfast but this time it's now a lunch buffet! The food was so good that i kept leaving my table to grab more food. Not forgetting there's a whole range of desserts for me to try!!! Different types of cakes, puddings and many more! Goodness me.

Last activity for this Brunei trip was horse riding and it's my first time trying!

This horse behind me has cow prints on it, white with black spots, LOL

First time mounting on a full sized horse, not too bad! Apparently they are very gentle and nice, i heard those in SG like in Pasir Ris park are damn aggressive. Not gonna try to see if it's true a not. Not worth it in Singapore, hahahahaha

Overall it was quite an experience as this is my first time trying horse riding. What's really nice is that it's an relaxing and enjoying ride plus you get to enjoy the sea breeze and scenery! I wish we didn't have to wear the hat though, LOL

The trail was along the beach, very relaxing

Went back to The Empire to wash up and also do our last minute packing before checking out of the hotel. Was told by Tom that we should visit Zest Cafe at the lobby for their desserts and coffee but due to time constraints, i managed to do a takeaway and got some cupcakes and tiramisu to hand carry them back to Singapore! (They survived the journey!)

The one and only group photo with Tom, our guide for the 4 days in Brunei. Really thankful at him for being so patient and helpful. Every time we eat, he has to wait for the 6 of us to finish taking photos of the food before he can start eating (he must be thankful during the buffets, LOL) Other than Rui Long, he is also the other "official" photographer for us and many more. Till we meet again, Tom! It was kinda like mixed feelings when we were at the airport though...

Once again, we took Royal Brunei Airlines back to Singapore.

The sunset reminds me of the view from my room's balcony at the Empire. Thank you Brunei Tourism!

My inflight meal on the return trip! This time my standard meal consist of Chicken with rice, served with salad, bread with butter, distilled water and also cheese cake! Love the combination! I had Karen's portion of cheesecake too! LOL

Thought i would sleep on the 2 hours plus journey back to Singapore but instead of sleeping, everyone of us were chatting throughout the whole journey, talking about everything under the sun (and obviously about blogging) and i remember sharing tips and a impromptu photo editing tutorial on my iPad with everyone! It was really nice to have Malcolm, Karen, Deenise, Tiffany and Ruilong as my companions for this trip. Initially i was wondering if we could get along and such, but we clicked really well! We spent 4 days together and brought back memories with us back to SG

This marks the end of my 4 day travelogue to Brunei. For those who asked me questions before my trip, or were thinking if there's anything to do in Brunei, i guess you have the answer now after reading? I do hope you enjoy reading my blog posts and may there be more opportunities for me to travel and share on this blog with you guys! That's all i have! :D

Thinking of a place for a weekend getaway or a short trip overseas?

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

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