Traveling to Kampung Ayer, Bandar Seri Begawan.

My curiosity was paid off precisely when my first step down the bus in one of Bandar Seri Begawan Bus Terminal platforms. Unexpectedly, my journey around Southeast Asia took me to Hassanal Bolkiah’s land.

Unique….Terminal is on ground floor of Bumiputera Multi Storey Complex and Carpark.

A step later, I was already in “Afmal Restaurant” near bus terminal to enjoy a portion of “bakso” (Indonesian name of meatballs). Needed something fresh in my mouth to relieve tangling after an overnight stay without bathing in Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2 (KLIA2). Freshness of “bakso” which I ordered became more meaningful when there was a little conversation with restaurant owner who come from Purworejo, Central Java, Indonesia….It means that He is from similar province with me in Indonesia.

After being full, I rushed to get out of terminal area through “Bebatik” alley to main road (the road name is Mc Arthur Street). Right on other side of Mc Arthur Street, you will find Brunei River which is very clean. And right in the middle of Brunei River, standing a famous village throughout Brunei. It’s called Kampung Ayer.

Every direction sign is always accompanied by an Arabic script.
Precisely on edge of Brunei River.

I always observed every motorboat which splitting Brunei River wide. There was no other way to get to Kampung Ayer, I had to ride that motorboats.

Rushing toward Brunei River edge, I waited a motorboat arrival which heading to small port in front of me. After leaning, that motorboat was immediately filled with 2 other tourists. This boat was very fast in moving and never waited long for get passengers in river edge.

A thing that you need to know is every Singapore Dollar can be used as payment tool in Brunei Darussalam with similar value with Brunei Dollar. So, 1 Brunei Dollar is same with 1 Singapore Dollar in value. But in many transactions, Brunei residents only accept payments in Singapore’s paper money and refusing Singapore Dollar coins. But in several transactions also, this coin can function….I hope you are lucky in using Singapore Dollar coins there….hahaha.

With a 1 coin of Singapore Dollar, I finally arrived in Kampung Ayer Cultural And Tourism Gallery. This gallery is located in front of village. Free entrance made me so happy when filling a guest book in reception desk. Warm greeting from a Malay-speaking receptionist made me feel like I was in my home.

That is Kampung Ayer Cultural And Tourism Gallery.
I got a Free Tourism Guiding Book.

Kampung Ayer itself was the center of Brunei’s government until end of 19th century. Therefore, The Brunei Sultan established his palace here. Another role as an important port in Brunei makes Kampung Ayer as the administrative center for commercial activities in Brunei. Every signing of important government agreements with other parties is done here.

The appeal of Kampung Ayer as government centre made 50% of Brunei’s residents live there in the 1900s.

Brunei “Keris” with 9 curves as a symbol of power.

At exit door, I began to be stunned with neat ranks of houses in Kampung Ayer. I didn’t waste my time then visiting the village. Residents friendliness made me reluctant to quickly leave Kampung Ayer.

Come on !….Go into that village !
Very kindly and funny student, they were in Malay school uniforms.
How can the water very clean like that?

But soonly, I realized that I should immediately look for lodging to stay that night. Online searching for lodging that I did was never got a result. It maybe happen because Brunei Darussalam tourism isn’t been famous in Southeast Asia region.

I decided to pull over by waiting for a motorboat in boat shelter. Didn’t wait a long time until a motorboat was picked me up. Together with a man and his son who are Kampung Ayer residents, I headed to edge of river. Looked like that man had an important agenda, it could be seen from his way in a very neat and smooth dressing.

He: “Where are you come from?” He firstly greeted me with a smile.

Me: “I’m from Indonesia, sir”. I gave a smile and I shook his hand.

He: “Which part of Indonesia?”

Me : “Jakarta, Sir”.

He: “What profession are you doing here?”

Me: “Oh I don’t work in Brunei, sir. I am just traveling now”.

He: “Brunei is very quiet. Why do you visit Brunei? “

Me: “Oh, Brunei is very religious, sir. I deliberately go to Brunei because I intend to travel around Southeast Asia. Glad to be in your country “.

He: “Wow, it’s good to go around Southeast Asia. You don’t need to pay the boat. I paid for you”, He gave 3 Brunei Dollars to motorboat driver.

Me: “Thank you, sir, nice to meet you,” I felt shy, even though I was very happy to ride a free boat.

A little conversation with a local before I finally leaned in river edge.

Boat shelter near Pasar Tamu Kianggeh.

Let’s….Looking for dormitory!

Brunei Darussalam without Itinerary 2

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10th May 2015

Back to hostel from Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque would covers 4km and took time about 1 hour.

Before I decided to walk, actually I had got a bus, when I asked to local people, it was heading towards BSB Bus Terminal. I was confidence to got into the bus in front of the mosque and sat behind the bus driver, I just more talked to him and actually he was from Surabaya, Indonesia ….OMG……. I asked to him “Is the bus true towards BSB Bus Terminal?” …..And  the answer was not. He said if I ride it, I would added away from BSB Bus Terminal and he suggested me to rode a taxi. Finally I was dropped at the shelter in front of a hospital.

I was trying to found a taxi …. but after waiting for 30 minutes, I can’t find a taxi. I asked to a man who sate in the parking lot of shopping complex. Actually he was from Brebes, Indonesia….Nice…. he said that taxis in Brunei must order by phone if time was past 17 o’clock…. ulala….I never bought a local SIM Card when travelling (I just rely to compass and a map… it’s free).

Finally I decided to walk …. got ready for stiff. I just walked to southeast. Erza actively asked to everyone who can be asked. Asked to security …. everyone on the way…. everyone were asked …. hahaha.

Streets at Brunei on 6pm were quiet but all were seemed secure …. according to the news that I heard, Sultan guaranteed security of everyone who visiting Brunei …. cool.

We got exhaustion and sat on sidewalk in front of Balai Bomba Bandar Seri Begawan (Bandar Seri Begawan’s Firefighters). Because we sat at t-juntion, so many drivers saw us strangely…. wkwkwk.

Just took a break for 15 minutes …. I continued walk. After walking for 1 hour, I was near from hostel …. at 19:30 a lot of shop have closed….but we found Mc. D that still opened. I came in there for a drink and got WiFi to sent some news to home.

Finally I reached to dormitory.

These were some photos of K. H Soon Resthouse:

KH Soon1

Erza was preparing to explore

KH Soon2

Corridor at K.H Soon Resthouse


I went to Pasar Tamu Kianggeh again because it was near dormitory. I think the food price will be cheap at every traditional market .

breakfast pasar tamu kianggeh

Exactly … 1.5 Brunei dollars was enough for this meal

Nurul Iman Palace

After breakfast, I went to BSB Bus Terminal to found bus no. 42 towards Nurul Iman Palace. Only paid 1 dollar Brunei and took time for 15 minutes to reached it.

Arriving at Nurul Iman Palace, I headed to guard post and dared to asked the guard. He said, we couldn’t get in and finally I asked permission to took some pictures in front of the palace gate. He politely invited.


Failed to Tasek Lama Recreational Park

I took some photo at Nurul Iman Palace for 30 minutes, after it, I intend to went to Tasek Lama Recreational Park …. For that, I must back to BSB bus terminal.

From BSB Bus Terminal, I took bus no 36.

During the trip, I was doubtedly …. between still went to Taman Tasek Lama or directly went to Airport. Considering about waiting time of  bus in Brunei was very long.  I thought after visiting Taman Tasek Lama, I didn’t certainly get bus quickly. Instead of I missed the plane to Jakarta, better I decided to canceled to Taman Tasek Lama and directly went to airport and would killed time there. My boarding time was very close…. at 3pm I must boarding.

I told to bus driver who could speak Javanese fluently to delivered me to airport. I must say it to him, because when firstly I got into bus, I asked him to delivered me at nearest street with Taman Tasek Lama.

Finally I arrived at airport:


Cooling down here……

masjid bandara

Dzuhur …. airport mosque is a separate building from the airport …. adjacent each other.

Towards check-in, Erza went back to dormitory because he has a day more in Brunei and would continue to Philippines.

Okay, the trip was near to the end.


Air Asia plane was full seat … apparently many tourists from Kuala Lumpur came to Brunei for two days, Saturday and Sunday …. maybe abaout distance of them were close.

The things must you needed to knew, checking weight and size of cabin baggages at airport was very strict. Cabin Baggages should be measured and weighed one by one. If any excess or size of baggages was too large for cabin regulation, you must ready for spent more cost to brought your bag in plane’s hull.

So ….. I was flying back to Jakarta and transit at Kuala Lumpur …. tomorrow Monday  must work again ..


Brunei Darussalam without Itinerary (Part 1)

May 9, 2015 – The main principle that I hold to be a continuos traveler is never give up to everything that hinder my plan. If I meet obstacles then I will find another way to achieve the goal.

This was the first incident that almost made me failed to depart. Never give up attitude has changed my planned trip into a trip without a plan.

Trip to Brunei Darussalam was a replacement trip without an itinerary. It was occurred due to unapproved my travel leave ” Jakarta-Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Chiang Mai-Bangkok-Yangon-Jakarta, 8-17 May 2015″.

These were ticket modifications that I made:

ilustrasi tiket

Two useless tickets and three new tickets have to be issued

spending extra budget was sure, but no problem than I canceled my trip.

8-10 May 2015, Brunei Darussalam trip came finally. Without detailed preparation, I went.

The new impression in this flight was It became my first time for flying over the South China Sea …. it sounds pretty good.

Air Asia AK272 landing at 10:05 pm at Brunei International Airport.


As main airport of a country…..I could say that it was quiet Airport. 

While waiting for bus to downtown, I went to KFC …. shocked when I knew that the waiter came from Pacitan, Center Java, Indonesia. He said that many Javanese worked at Brunei Darussalam …… Interesting, I would feel like in my country.

So….I spoke Javanese at KFC

The bus finally came after 1 hour waiting, the bus just stopped a moment, so I must run to catched the bus that slowly left the airport …. BND 1 could deliver me to BSB (Bandar Seri Begawan) Bus Terminal.

Bus interiors … a few passengers.


Small city buses at BSB Bus Terminal

To saved my time, because it was 13:00, I decided for directly went to venues. I skipped about hostel firstly, because I was doing a very short trip now.

1. Kampong Ayer

By walk, I moved from BSB Bus Terminal to Kampong Ayer. To reached the center of Kampong Ayer, you only needed to spend BND 50 cents for payed the boat.
kampong ayer
The settlement is viewed from Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery

The Free Venue at this area was Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery, to got in it, you just needed to fill in guest book at reception. Visitation to the gallery was combined by sightseeing Kampong Ayer settlement was very interesting.
Although these waters were used for settlements, but the cleanness of the water was very well preserved … ..salute …. how did they manage household waste?

2. Pasar Tamu Kianggeh
Satisfy walked around in Kampong Ayer, I immediately pulled over. I wanted to go to the main traditional market at Brunei Darussalam.

This time I was glorified by a father with his son on a boat with me when went to the edge, because He knew that I was tourist, he paid my boat coast. Although only BND 50 cents, it is very touching.

Boats to Pasar Tamu Kianggeh stopped here


Got around Pasar Tamu Kianggeh for souvenirs ….. I didn’t find

Just got around for 30 minutes to saw how their trading.

3. K.H Soon Resthouse

Finally I started to looking for dormitory around the market. Online searching on and someday before departing hasn’t worked, so it needed to spent the time to searched hostel on the spot.

The first Dormitory that I checked was Pusat Belia Youth Hostel. Off course, This was the most popular dormitory at Bandar Seri Begawan.


This popular dormitory fully booked due to the students’ sports week in Brunei

I rushed to the second dormitory -K.H. Soon Resthouse- that no far from the first dormitory. Yess … there were 3 bed slots left …. so I immediately taked it and didn’t need long thinking.


Dormitory belongs to Brunei Chinese…..My roommate were from USA, England and Semarang.

My roommate-Erza- departed from Pontianak after completing his duties as a lecturer (he teached at Semarang). According to him, got in Brunei by land is very tight, he must showing all contents of his bag one by one to checking by immigration officer included his wallet…..hahaha … .nice experience.

He was my first travelmate who I found when backpacking …. and we were still on contact each other or sharing an itinerary sometimes.

4. Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

No long sitting in dormitory, we finally continued Bandar Seri Begawan exploration.

The nearest mosque from dormitory is Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. Before entering for the Asr prayer, I needed to filled in the guest book in front of mosque main door.


Prohibited for taking photos inside and provided prayer clothes in front of the entrance


View of mosque courtyard

5. The Mall Gadong

After knew that Regalia Royal Museum near the mosque closed, I rushed to BSB Bus Terminal for The Mall Gadong.


Bus no. 01 taked us to The Mall Gadong for BND 1

If I compare with common mall in Jakarta, this mall is still small. I just walked around in the mall to see local people activities.

While The Mall Gadong inside, I was self-conscious that I would walk to dormitory when I backed, because the bus only operated until 17:00 ….. just enjoyed it.

6. Gadong Night Market

Gadong Night Market is about 350m from The Mall Gadong. Because of a culinary market, I decided to got dinner here because all prices were cheap. I could eat for BND 2 here.


Arguably this was the most memorable venue because finally I found a crowd that rarely met since morning. This market was much visited by citizens who backed to home from work to bought take away dinner.

I just sit on the asphalt and enjoyed dinner with my travelmate …..hahaha. So surely this night market provided a large parking lot to accommodated the visitors who 90% drove a car …. For 2 days in Brunei I only saw motorcycles 4 times on the streets and those were big cc motor sport. I thought Brunei was rich country.

7. Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Satisfy tried some local culinary, I fininshed my trip for Maghrib prayer at Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque.


This mosque is classified as magnificent because it’s marble is very good.

After Maghrib prayer and admired the beauty of this largest mosque in Brunei, I went to hostel.

Surely, you already knew, guys …. I must walk 4 km for 1 hour to dormitory …. This was a part which I always miss every trip….i.e walking.

Continue to part 2

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