5J409 ETA 0140 hrs on 30 Sep 2012.
5J410 ETD 0225 hrs on 03 Oct 2012.
I’m back! And I am taking this lonely traveller to one of the richest country in Asia – Brunei Darussalam. But first of all I would explain why I chose to go to Brunei ALONE. It was January 2012 when Cebu Pacific had a piso fare promo. I checked almost all the regional flight and no more available seats on my desired date until I check Bandar Seri Begawan. I was able to book a flight at a very cheap price. I asked around my friends if they would like to come with me but no one responded. So okay I’ll be alone, no worries MALAKI na ako (I’m a big girl).
Accommodation and tour to Brunei is kinda hard to find so I asked my friends from Reliable International Services (where we got our Hongkong tour package) if they have promo for the said tour. Unfortunately they don’t offer such but instead they referred me to their partner Fullyrichman International Travel Services with Ms. Sani Pigon as contact. I was able to get an accommodation and tour package for a very reasonable price considering I will be alone.
The day of my first flight ALONE abroad arrived and I was ecstatic and nervous at the same time. I arrived at Brunei International Airport safely. I met my tour guide from Mega Borneo – Mohammad. My hotel – Trader’s Inn Hotel was just a 10-minute drive from the airport.
The first time I saw my room, I said OMG this is huge. The whole room is carpeted, the comfort room is clean. I was really happy J.
I woke up at around 8am and had my breakfast at the hotel. I meet up with Mohammad at the hotel lobby at 10am to start the city tour.
Our first stop is the Istana Nurul Iman – the official residence of Sultanof Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. The palace was designed by a Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsin and constructed by a Filipino firm – Ayala International. The palace is open only during Hari Raya (the festival after the end of the Muslim fasting month). This is the largest residential palace in the world containing 1788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, a banquet hall which can accommodate 5000 guests, a mosque which can accommodate 1500 people, 110 garage, and 5 swimming pools. AMAZING!
Second stop is the Royal Regalia Museum which displays the Silver Jubilee chariot, armory, and collections of gifts to Sultan from different countries.
Next stop is Jame’asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque – the largest mosque in Brunei and was built to commemorate 25th anniversary of the sultan’s reign.
Phone and camera are not allowed inside so you need to deposit it in the locker area. Also women must put on a black robe upon entering the mosque.
The staircase behind me consists of 29 steps (the current sultan is the 29th to rein). For every crowned Sultan, a new mosque and palace should be built.
Next stop is Brunei Museum. This is located in Kota Batu about 3 miles from Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB).
There are lockers inside as you can not bring bags, camera and phones.
The museum consists of the following galleries:
- Islamic art gallery
- The history and technology of Brunei Darussalam’s petroleum gallery
- Brunei traditional culture gallery
- National history gallery
- Brunei Darussalam archaeology and history exhibition gallery
We stopped at a local resident’s house who offered local refreshments.
I just slept the whole afternoon hahaha.
At around 8pm, Ms. Sani and his husband Jojo (a pianist at the Empire Hotel) picked me up at the hotel for a dinner. We dropped at Gadong Night Market where everything is just one dollar.
We had dinner at The Mall in Gadong.
Water and other foodies 2.25 dollars
Souvenirs 20 dollars
Lunch at hotel 7 dollars
TOTAL EXPENSES FOR DAY 1: 29.25
It’s Monday and I am finally on my own. After having breakfast at the hotel, I head to the bus stop just across the place where I was staying. I took Bus No. 55 to Bandar (1 dollar) where I took Bus No. 39 to Muara. At the port in Muara, transfer to Bus No. 33 going to Pantai Muara (Muara bridge).Be very patient in waiting for a bus. It took me 20 minutes to wait for Bus No. 55 in Gadong and it took me an hour to travel to Muara.
It was 11am when I finally arrived at Muara beach. There were a few people mostly students (it’s a school break) because it is a weekday.
The beach has white sand. The waves are wild so it is not advisable to swim during that day.
I met an Indian national named Mahe who was kind enough to take picture of me at the beach.
Mahe offered me a ride to port and have lunch there. I refused the offer and instead ate lunch at the resto in the beach and waited for a bus.
I waited for an hour for a bus going to the port. It took me another 30 minutes to wait for a bus going to Bandar.
I arrived at Bandar bus station at around 4pm. I waited another 20 minutes to wait for Bus No. 57 going to the Empire Hotel.
The driver was a Filipino named Jov! He’s so pogi (handsome) hahaha! It took an hour to get to the Empire Hotel. Kuya Jov was kind enough to offer me a ride going back to Hotel (he would borrow a car to fetch me) but I told him I will just take the cab at the hotel J.
It was almost 6pm when I arrived at the Empire Hotel which is a perfect for a view of sunset at the beach.
Oh I was truly amazed by this 6-star Hotel! I wish I could have booked a night or two here!
I left at around 7 pm. I asked the Transport counter at the lobby for a cab going back to Gadong. It cost me 30 dollars.
Well the cab doesn’t look like a cab at all! It could be a black Mercedes (this costs more) or a in my case a Toyota with leather seats with an English speaking driver. Again, I was amazed!
I had my dinner at a nearby local restaurant.
I had a short stop at Supahsave to buy tea and mixed nuts.
Fare to Bandar 1 dollar
Fare to Muara Port 1 dollar
Fare to Pantai Muara 1 dollar
Lunch at Muara beach 3 dollars
Fare to Muara Port 1 dollar
Fare to Jerudong 1 dollar
Taxi fare to Hotel 30 dollars
Dinner 5 dollars
Foodies 7.6 dollars
TOTAL EXPENSES DAY 2: 51.6 dollars
MY THIRD AND LAST DAY! I left my hotel at around 9am after having breakfast. I took bus going to Bandar. I haggled with a water taxi driver to take me to the mangroves and observe the proboscis monkeys. We agreed at 20 dollars.
We finished the tour for an hour.
After the trip to the mangroves, I went to see the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque which was built in 1958. This is one of the world’s most beautiful mosques.
I also did a short shopping at a nearby grocery store.
I rode a bus going back to Gadong. I was supposed to check out at 12nn but the Filipino staff told me I can stay at my room for free but just until 4pm. So I did stay and rest for awhile.
I checked out at 3:45 pm. I left my bags at the hotel so I can roam around Gadong for few hours (so I could shop for pasalubongs). I took a bus going to Gadong and walk going to The Mall. The Mall is the biggest shopping mall in Brunei. Not a lot to see, though. I went shopping at Utama super market and Jaya Supermart. I had my dinner at Pasta Mania where almost all of the staffs are Filipinos.
Ms. Sani and Sir Jojo picked me up at 9pm. We had a short stop at a Catholic Church and Omar Ali Saiffudien Mosque which looks exquisite at night.
We went back to the hotel to pick up my bags and then went to the aiport at around 10pm. The Cebu Pacific counter opened at 11pm. After checking in and paying the terminal fee I ate another meal at Jolibee.
My first trip alone abroad was a blast! Not only I met a lot of new friends, saw a lot of beautiful places, I also proved a lot about myself: that I can travel by myself in a foreign place where I do not know anyone, that I can decide based on my own guts and instincts. This trip opened my eye how other people live in a very rich country and how our country differs. In Brunei, there are no taxes and almost everything is free from the government. Almost all the people have his own car and yet the place is not polluted. It is very rich yet the people live simply. Simple, quiet, rich and beautiful…BRUNEI DARUSSALAM.
Fare to Bandar 1 dollar
Trip to the mangroves 20 dollars
Lunch at Bandar 4.5 dollars
Fare to Gadong 1 dollar
Fare to The Mall 1 dollar
Pasalubong 70 dollars
Dinner at Pasta Mania 7.9 dollars
Terminal fee 12 dollars
Dinner at the airport 4.5 dollars
TOTAL EXPENSES DAY 3: 121.9 dollars
TOTAL EXPENSES FOR 3 DAYS: 202.75 dollars/ PHP 7096.25
Roundtrip Airfare –PHP 2500
Accommodation and Tour – PHP 12000
TOTAL EXPENSES FOR THE 3-DAY BRUNEI TRIP: PHP 21596.25/approx. $500