Published: July 7th 2012July 4th 2012
An early start for the 7am bus to Miri 4 and 1/2 hrs away. We left on time with a total of 4 passengers and drove very slowly out of town and along the dual carriageway and to the border. We are guessing there is a speed limit for buses here if so it must be 50, but the slow pace meant we got to take a lot in and we turned off at Seria which is home to Shell Brunei's major installation. The town has low bungalows for the workers and the gurkha troops based there to protect the installations. The oil rigs are quite visible.
We swapped buses at Kuala Belait after a 5 minute wait with by now with a total of 10 passengers. The we stopped at a petrol station. The border was a short ride away and a very quick affair. We didnt need to take our bags off the bus and do customs at all, we figure it is because Brunei is a dry country and when we'd originally entered Malaysia the only thing customs were looking for was alcohol.
Immediately after entering Malaysia the dense jungle was replaced with a stark flattened land with a bit of grass and a few ferms growing - probable pre or post palm oil plantation. The bus didnt go much quicker the other side of the border but it was'nt long before we arrived on the outslirts off Miri. WE waited for a bus into the city which our mis-guidebook told us would cost 1 RM and forgot to mention you need exact change so Emma spent the first 5 minutes of th journey sweet talking other passengers to swop her note for change which someone finally did. The journeyonly took 15 minutes and after a quick orientation we headed for tourist info assisted by a nice old man who was telling us they are all cheap you have no problem here. The information centre has a good map and pointed us in the direction of the bus timetable for buses to the airport for the next day. Off we went on our accommodation hunt - doing the usual of leaving Marie on a street somewhere whilst Emma did the rounds looking for a cheap but decent room.
The guidebook warns that some of the cheap accommodation in Miri are used as borthels and charge by the hour. This proved to be correct as we'd headed for the area the shortest distance walk from the bus station where the tourist info map showed lots of hotels. There are but Emma ended up doing a round of the brothels before finally dropping on a good cheap hotel that charged by the night.
We dumped the bags and headed to the restaurant downstairs for a very late lunch. They had deep fried chicken or deep fried tofu in a whole range of sauces. Hmm looks like we're having deep fried then!
We explored some of Miri - the guidebook says it has a bordertown vibe but we didnt find this was the case. There's not many tourist sights so we wandered around a few airconditioned malls and Emma managed to score a haircut much to Marie's amusement because he didnt do it as good as her and left a nice tuft around the crown which was later dealt with in the hotel toom with a pair of scissors.
By 7pm and after some rain it has gone quiet and dark so we headed straight back. The day ended with the first proper shower we had seen for a long time.