Water Village is More Than Just Water

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Asia » Brunei
August 4th 2016
Published: June 23rd 2017
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I didn't sleep well - by the time I got to the hotel, spoke to Melissa and messaged Peter and mum to say I was here safe, I didn't turn light out until 2am then didn't sleep for ages. Having the alarm go off at 7am was not appreciated. Made it to breakfast with twenty minutes to spare. So much nice food and no time to indulge. So upset. Had an omelette but no pancakes or waffles or Asian food as tour was booked for 8am. Went and excitedly waiting in foyer. And waited and waited. Lady never turned up. I fb messengered her, emailed her , emailed the company, fb messages the company. Nothing. So at 9.30 I headed out myself but had no maps and no plans and no ideas. Well - I did get a map from the hotel but it was an artists impression so not many street names and basically useless.
I walked around town trying to look like I knew where I was going (as I had told Melissa never to look lost as that is when people will prey on you) which is actually extremely hard!! I headed for the water, found it but then didn't know what to do. I crossed a bridge, looked at the map then went to retrace my steps when a water taxi called me. Did I want to see the water village $50 Brunei dollars. No. Way too much. Suddenly price is $20!!!
I ended up paying $30 and we went to see if we could find the monkeys. He said he saw two or three but I didn't. Whether he actually did I will never know. He was apologetic that there were no monkeys.
The Water Village was a lot more than I thought. I expected some slums above the water and in some respects I was right. Some looked like they shouldn't have people living in them, some had plants on their decking, they were in all states. But what surprised me was when we went passed a big building and the taxi man said it was a school. Then later on we passed the police station and the fire station. It is its own little town. We weaved through the houses - some of the bridges so low we had to duck down. A piece of wire was hanging down at one place - could have done a lot of damage if not seen!!! A few bridges I didn't think we would be going under - was sure we wouldn't fit!! He dropped me back near where he collected me from.
I looked at map, walked, map and walked some more. Finally made it to the Royal Regalia Museum. It was big with little rooms taking you off all over the place and stairs up and down. A few times I wasn't sure if I was going somewhere I was allowed to but all worked out. Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of explanation in the first half - not a great deal of English and the TV"s they had to explain things didn't work - I must have walked passed twenty of them not working. Very disappointing. The second half had more explanations but by that time I was starting to be over it. It contained gifts given to the royal family as well as life size copy's of ceremonial processions for special Royal occasions - all the soldiers in their uniforms and the float that the sultan travel in. The umbrellas used in the procession in different colours that represented different things. (The “payung berwarna” are 40 (8 yellow, 8 green, 8 red, 8 white and 8 black) multi-colored umbrellas with golden tops borne by 40 “awang-awang” (aristocrats) who stand on either side of the area below the “peningkah lapau”😉. No photos allowed unfortunately and you couldn't take your handbag or phone with you.
I headed back to a coffee shop I had seen earlier and had a pasta and bol sauce meal and a chocolate frappe. I walked passed the mosques with their gold roofs and gold gates - there is so much gold here. The doorman had mentioned that the mosques may be closed today in preparation for tomorrow when the town stops for two hours to pray. With no signs anywhere I didn't even feel comfortable walking in the gates to get closer or to see if they were open. I was quite disappointed.
After a short break in my room (well - maybe a break with eyes shut) and talking to mum I headed to the pool. It was beautiful. Mostly in shade when I got in which was good. They had some lovely sun bed cocoons next to the pool - I wish I had time to just lie there. Swimming quietly away I heard a rustle in the trees behind the pool - and there was a monkey watching me. After my swim I went onto the roof above the pool - the smoking area - and did some monkey watching. I did finally find one but he was happy to hide in the leaves and drop them down on the pool area - maybe have a bite from every second or third one. I finally headed back to room, got organised and headed out again. I debated either taxi for 5 minutes or walk for 45 minutes to get to the market. I thought of how Melissa has been in Europe and figured I could do the same so walked. Not the best decision of the year. All started off fine. No one else was walking and the sun was hot even though it was about 6pm. Then suddenly my footpath disappeared and I was walking in grass - with lots of grass seeds that decided to stick to my dress and rub against my legs and cause them to itch terribly. I crossed the river so knew I was on the right path but the roundabout took ages to find. When I finally found it I didn't know how to cross it - some spots had pedestrian lights others didn't. Made it to the street I wanted I thought and headed up. By this time it was getting quite dark and I was getting worried. I asked someone where the market was but he pointed to the mall. Found McDonald's so got an apple pie and sprite so I could use their internet - but had no luck getting on. I wondered some more - into the mall and out again. I asked someone else where the market was and he pointed over the bridge. I finally made it. I have never been so disappointed in all my life (exaggeration but you get my drift...). It was mostly empty - just a big shed with maybe 40 stalls. I bought a lamb kebab and ate that then headed off to find a taxi. Couldn't find one anywhere. I asked someone but only got a 'no taxi'. I thought the mall might have a taxi rank but couldn't find one. I went back in the mall and ended up walking through it to a hotel lobby. I asked the door boy and he pointed me to a lady behind a desk who ordered me a taxi. I was asked to take a seat and wait - then told it would be a 15 minute wait. Really!!! For a taxi!!! At 8.30 pm???

I sat and waited and waited for this taxi to appear. As I sat there I heard loud sirens getting closer and closer. Two police bikes pulled up outside the hotel followed by a car. Two people got out of the car and headed into the hotel. The doorman bowed so low and kissed the mans hand. I guess this isn't just an ordinary guest!!! The doorman kept his head bowed extremely low while he escorted the people to a room off the side of the lobby. They waited there until more sirens went and another car pulled up. Out got a few more people and the same process happened - the hand kissing and low bowing and heading for the room. The people in the room then came out and headed passed little old me sitting quietly there - I assume going out for dinner. I tried to subtly take a few photos as they walked passed but they were quite blurry. As they walked passed, all the hotel staff stood up and a few females dressed in white quickly joined the back of the procession. I just sat there - no idea if I should have stood!!!
Finally the taxi arrived and told me that it was the royal family and when they go out the whole city/traffic stops which is why he took so long to get to me. I don't know if this man was a normal taxi driver or one that just drove for the hotel but the poor man had had to get out of bed to come and pick me up. He had rung a friend to see if he would do it as he needed to be up at 5am but the friend said no. How guilty did I feel. But does the whole city stop when it gets dark? I thought there would be taxis everywhere!! Back to the hotel and spoke to Mel before heading to bed

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