Bander Seri Begawan the Capital of Brunei, what ? Bandar Seri Begawan, yeah it’s a long name for a Capital City, but I think it’s a cool name when pronouncing it.
One of the few countries in the world I didn’t know the Capital of.
It would be a short stay for me in the Sultanate of Brunei, to chill and relax after my days in Vietnam where quit hectic spending my time in to metropolitan cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh where the constant noise of the traffic and drive, literally drive a man nuts.
The capital city of Brunei is much calmer and as a small capital city it’s really easy to visit everything in a day. I stayed 2 days in Brunei, but only 1 full day and it was enough to see the most interesting place of the Capital City Bandar Seri Begawan.
The country’s full name is Brunei Darussalam and it’s a Muslim state with the main things to visit being mosques. I entered 3 mosques and in 2 of them they asked me to leave since I’m not a muslim. They say you can’t visit if it’s prayer time but in the Ali Saifuddien there was no prayer ceremony going on, it was empty, just one Bangladeshi guy cleaning the carpet and after he asked me if I’m a muslim and my answer was no I’m Christian he asked me to leave.
I got more than once the question “are you muslim ?” and I don’t really think this question is appropriate cause no matter what religion you have you should be welcome to visit a building, even if prayers are going on. I know from visiting mosques in Azerbaijan that it’s not forbidden for a non muslim to enter a mosque when people are praying as long as you don’t disturb anybody. If a muslim would want to visit a church in Europe for example, never would he or she get a question “Are you Christian ?” “No ? then please leave.”
So this is the only small thing that annoyed me about my visit in Brunei.
As I said I did saw the mosques from the inside and outside before being asked to leave so I do can say something about it. The mosques are all really nice inside and well maintained, are they the nicest mosques I have ever seen untill now, not really, that honour I will give to the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque in Turkmenistan.
I visited the Ali Saifuddin mosque, the Jame ‘Asr Hassanal Bolkiah mosque and the Tamoi mosque. The last one is the one I got in without any question being asked.
Where are these mosques situated ?
Ali Saifuddin mosque : Downtown in Bandar Seri Begawan surrounded by a pond with at one side a bridge that leads to the mosque and another bridge that connects the mosque with a ceremonial stone boat in the middle of the pond. At the other side you have the street with close access to the National library.
Jame ‘Asr Hassanal Bolkiah mosque : Outside the City centre, the largest mosque in the country and you can see it when driving from or to the airport. I got there by hitchhiking and got back downtown again by hitchhiking, some friendly muslim girl gave me a ride in her car.
Tamoi mosque : In the neighbourhood of the Kampong Ayer, a settlement of houses on stilts you can get there by taking a 1 dollar boat that can drop you of right at the mosque, that’s how I got there. Every boat ride to cross the river from one side to the other is only 1 dollar.
What else did I do in Brunei ?
The day of my arrival I got picked up at the airport by my host who runs a hostel in the capital, the Hostelite Hostel downtown. He also arranges boat tours on the Brunei River into the Mangroves where you can see wildlife if you are lucky. I did saw some monkeys and crocodiles but couldn’t snap a good picture with my mobile.
It was a nice introduction to Brunei’s capital and I can recommend this boat tour, in the late afternoon when sunset comes it’s nice to see the city by night at the river banks.
You see also the different houses on stilts of the Kampong Ayer. The day after I walked around for about 2 hours or more in Kampong Ayer after taking a 1 dollar boat to drop me of at one of the many piers. Some of the houses are nicely painted in different colors, but some of them are old, with rotten wood and dirty. All these houses are connected by these wooden bridges on stilts, as it’s a stilt village on water, make sure you look where you put your feet, there was cat shit everywhere. There are also some little mosques, a school, police and fireman’s office, shops and a house with a Manchester United logo, must be a Man U fan living there. I’m not a Man U supporter but I did take a picture cause it was nicely painted.
Just want to end this blogpost by saying the people in Brunei that I met were very friendly apart from the few morons that I met at the 2 mosques, especially that Bangladeshi dude, to him I say go fuck yourself and never come visit a church in Europe, but probably you close minded fuck won’t anyway.