Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Journey to Brunei 3 : A Day in Bandar

I woke up the next morning with an uncomfortable stomach.

Tossed and turned and finally got up at 9:30 am. Decided to check out early and head to town to explore and maybe check out another hotel.

SEAMEO VocTech during the day.

The Mall.

Reached town at around 11:00 am and walked around, it was a pretty quiet Sunday morning, however at the bus terminal there were a lot of people. Oh I forgot to mention, there is a sizeable population of foreign workers here, I could hear Filipino and Indonesian accents. They probably had their day off too and were out and about in town shopping and meeting friends.

Remember? In KK we used to have Jollibee as well, many many years ago.

I decided to visit those landmarks which were within walking distance. Armed with a map, I walked towards the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque.

I must say I found it very pretty, its almost white facade gleaming in the bright sun and the golden dome shining. My immediate thought was, oh imagine how Taj Mahal will make you feel.

I entered the mosque compound and found that it was closed due to the preparation for Eid prayers. There were two or three other tourists in the compound as well. An old man gestured to me to go and have a look, and the caretaker called out that although they are closed, I can have a look inside. So I took off my shoes and went towards the main door. Cool and serene. The main area was smaller and more intimate than I expected, long prayer mats already rolled out, a partition for the muslimin was also up. I noticed an escalator inside too! No pictures were allowed.

Town Padang.

After about 10 more minutes I left the mosque and continued to walk around the big town field, not much to photograph. The buildings are mostly from 50s-60s I think, from British administration years. Later, I debated whether I should take a bus to go and see Kampung Air, then decided not too as the mid day heat was stifling. And according to my map, other places of interest (the museums) are closed on Sundays.

Looking for shelter I saw a CBTL outlet on the corner of a building and settled there with a cold Green Tea Matcha. This was when I had to make a decision.

Remember I had booked my return flight on Air Asia? Well, the flight is on Monday 21st September. Either I stay another night, or I take a flight out on the day. I thought hard, and in the end decided I should go back Sunday as it probably will be very quiet on Raya the next day.

Old cinema in town.

Spent some more time around town - Tamu Kianggeh, Chinese Temple, some other no-name buildings - then later took the bus to the airport. Reached the airport, and luckily managed to get myself a one-way ticket on RBA's flight to BKI.

This was my first experience flying RBA, and I like the fact that after all the necessary announcements and just before take off, they announce, let's pray for this flight to be blessed (something to that effect), then the small TV screen slides down and a doa is recited. Just like other short flights, fruit juices and Fox mints were offered. Oh and they had three newspapers, one of which was the Daily Mail UK which I didn't finish reading during the flight and took back home with me.

So another short weekend trip, I can now tick Brunei by road off my list.

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