Published: April 18th 2012April 15th 2012
The acommodations in Brunei were a little on the pricey side for not so nice rooms, so we decided to splurge a little and stay at the Empire Hotel and Country Club. This establishment was apparently built by the sultan of Brunei in the event that royalty visited and needed a place to stay (considering the size of his palace I'm not sure why this was a concern, but anyways). Needless to say it was high class and we looked pretty damn spiffy walking in there with our backpacks. It was so lovely to have a really nice place for a change. It's not that we stay in dives, per se, it's just that the bathrooms aren't typically made of 20mm slabs of marble and have motion sensored lights. We spent the first day eating expensive buffet food (they had cheese and bread...OMG!) and taking walks around the hotel.
Next day we explored the city a little. We started off with a boat ride around the city on stilts where 200,000 people live on houses on stilts in the river. They even have their own police station, fire station and hospital! After that we visited the Royal Rigatta Museum which
houses a replication of the current sultan's coronation as well as shelves of gifts from other country leaders. From these gifts we decided we need to become friends with Vietnam who gave lovely wall hangings including four panels of laquered wood inlayed with mother of pearl, Indonesia who gave various daggers and a model ship made of silver wire in the traditional Indonesian style, and Malaysia who gave a ton of cool gifts. These countries are coming to my next birthday party. Jean Cretian, by the way, gave the sultan a stone walrus...he won't be coming to my party. After that we visited the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and called it a day...and by calling it a day I mean lounged by the pool, ate dinner and watched TV.
Next day we were heading off to Miri back in Malaysia which is the connecting point to various national parks. We started off with a day trip to the Niah caves which had a big huge cave with lots of bats, then flew a half hour to Mulu National Park for two days. The caves at Mulu definitely take the cake and were either small with lots of cave formations,
huge with millions of bats, big with rivers flowing through or moderately big with even more cave formations. The times were weren't exploring caves we were walking through the jungle and taking a tour through the rainforest canopy.
Next stop, Kuching.
There are more photos below