In the middle of Malaysian Borneo, sandwiched between Sabah and Sarawak is the small, oil-rich nation of Brunei Darussalam. Being that we were so close, we just couldn't pass up the opportunity to check out its riches for ourselves (not to mention another stamp in the passport and a new country to add to the list). We took the 3-hour ferry from Kota Kinabalu to the island of Labuan where we transferred to another ferry which took an additional hour and a half to reach Brunei. We can't say that it was the most comfortable ferry as we were breathing diesel fumes the whole way and the en-route entertainment consisted of cheezy karaoke music or gory films.
Brunei is kind of a quirky place but outside of a few extravagant sites it's actually quite ordinary. We first visited the Royal regalia museum which is really a tribute/biography of the sultan's coronation and a collection of gifts that he has received from various heads of state. Among all the gold and jewels we were keen to see some of Canada's contributions to these gifts which included a nice Inuit soap-stone carving from Jean Cretien.
The highlight of Bandar Seri Begawan
has to be the beautiful Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, and we were lucky enough to catch a gorgeous sunset as the lights came on and the call to prayer sounded out.
The other major attraction in Brunei is the Empire Hotel & Country Club which is basically constructed of marble and gold and is about as extravagent as it gets. We splurged and spent two nights here for a nice treat. What else is there to do in Brunei?
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