Published: May 29th 2011May 29th 2011
Today started like yesterday, breakfast by the pool and more conversation with the kiwi couple we'd met yesterday. Then we walked to the bus station to get a bus to the Brunei Museum and Brunei Technology Museum, one situated behind the other and easy to reach. The bus station has very clear signage and info so you can't go wrong really.
I saw a lady looking at the route map for our bus and asked if she needed help - it turned out she lived here and was seeking out info for when friends arrive to visit. We had a bit of a chat and whilst doing so our bus pulled out of the station, however it circled it twice and when we waved it stopped for us outside the station, so less than 10 mins later we were at the Brunei Museum.
We couldn't take any photos inside so just wandered - it was OK, exhibitions on natural history, Islamic art, Bruneian culture and independence, etc - the oil and gas gallery was closed.
We then walked down over 200 steps to reach the Technology Museum at the back, much better in my opinion - 3 galleries
Part of the dome
of replica Kampong homes, tribal homes and ways of life in Brunei e.g. crafts, fishing equipment, food preparation, etc, mostly lifesize and the whole thing was set up as if you were walking across the stilted footpath of a water village. Also a very cool temperature in there.
But then we had to climb 200+ steps back up to the road - yes, in the heat again! Not so good.
Just as we reached the road the lady I'd met at the bus station appeared from the first museum - she had gone home, got her car and driven to the museum to find us and invite us for dinner that evening, with some other guests. How lovely. I explained that we'd made plans to visit Jerudong that evening and it was our only chance to do so, otherwise we would have accepted willingly. We got talking (as you do), her name was Deborah and she was an American who'd lived in Britain for a while and was out here working for the university for 3 years. We must have talked for about an hour, in the meantime Peter and Gillian arrived too (the Aussies we'd bumped into
Replica royal carriage (the actual one is also in the museum)
twice previously) so it turned into introductions all round and a very pleasant way to pass the time. Deborah gave us a lift back to the city, where we sussed out where to get the bus to Miri on Tuesday (with good info from Peter and Gillian).
Just as we got out of the car the heavens opened but this time the umbrella was at hand! We had some lunch at Papa something, looked a bit fast foodish but good choices of local cuisine, very clean and western toilet too! I had laksa curry and Mac had a roti John (!!), a sort of sandwich, both very nice.
We made our way to the Royal Regalia Museum (all museums are free here), close to our hotel. We had to go in barefoot but the marble floor was very cooling. This was an excellent museum, everything to do with the sultan, his coronation, and gifts from around the world - we didn't see the beer mug that is supposed to be the gift from the queen (if it's true, strange choice of gift?), but there were some wierd and wonderful ones such as statues of horses heads from Pakistan
We were allowed to take photos in the lobby only on exiting, the domed ceiling was striking. It was still wet outside and by now about 3pm, so now we're back in the hotel and it looks like the weather is not going to improve enough to get out to Jerudong. This is where the 7 star Empire Hotel (originally built as accommodation for friends of the royal family) is and also Jerudong Park, a billion dollar amusement park also originally built for the royal family - two extravagent indulgences built by a royal family member some years ago and complete follies according to the literature. The park is now meant to be incomplete, with several rides having been sold to other countries, so it just sounded like a wierd place to visit, a must-see out of BSB. But the park opens at 5 pm and the last bus back is about 5.30 pm, and as it's abot 18 km away not so straightforward to get back from on a budget. I believe that turning the Empire into a hotel has recouped some of the costs, but nowhere near enough!
But it looks like we're not
Clocktower, central city
From where all distances in Brunei are measured
going to get there and tomorrow the park is closed, our last evening here. We should have accepted the dinner invite! Ah well, mostly the time in Brunei has gone to plan, easy enough to get around but as usual we've done a lot of walking, plus Mac still has a cold, so I think some down time is required. More tomorrow on our last full day here.
There are more photos below