Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque: You’ve Never Been to Brunei if You’ve Never Been Here

23 Feb 2013

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque (5)

I swear that the picture could have looked more beautiful and realistic and still retain that painting look, had it not been for my shitty point-and-shoot. Make no mistake about it: Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is one of the most beautiful mosques I’ve ever seen. The photos on this post are a toned down version of what you’d see when you actually go there. So go there.

The mosque is located just across Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, a shopping complex, and Taman Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, a public park. This is why Brunei rocks: all sorts of buildings (tourists attractions, malls, food outlets) are located side-by-side, so you don’t waste much time in getting to your destination. This saves the country millions of dollars by not having to spend it on building an efficient transportation system (and using it instead to buy the Sultan’s Ferraris).

Before reaching, I stopped by at the Taman first (it means ‘park’ in Malay). It was one big patch of green with an adjacent waterfall and the Sultan’s face overlooking the entire area. The current Sultan, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has a ubiquitious self-portrait – if you haven’t seen him before, he is that one face you’ll see definitely more than one time in the city. And by that, I don’t mean the usual altar-sized pictures (though every household in Brunei has that), but large, billboard ones plastered on buildings.

In fact, I think I saw his portraits about ten times a day, and that’s just a rough average which actually could be higher. It must be so awesome to be the ruler of Brunei, being the center of attention at all corners of the nation. So awesome that I don’t recall even Jesus having that kind of publicity in a Christian country. And so awesome that millions of dollars are spent on the Sultan’s portraits and Ferraris instead of donating it to the people who obviously need it more, but there are no riots on the streets.

Masjid, mosque and Taman Omar Ali Saifuddin in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Inside the Taman. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is just across. I think what really appeals in this picture is the sky and clouds, not the park and mosque ironically

Brunei flags in Taman Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Flags on National Day

 Taman Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Waterfall

Taman Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Finding all the portraits of the Sultan is kinda like playing Where’s Wally

Taman Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Brunei panorama in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

iPhone panorama app, obviously

Based on the inscription next to the portrait, I found out that this is where they have their National Day Celebration and Parade every year, and that I arrived two hours after the party was over 😦 Damn, after all that talk about the Sultan’s face, I missed the chance to see him in real life!

The tour goes on though, so I went around the big field snapping away. I was trying to take pictures of myself with the surroundings to prove that Ruzhi was here… however, I was travelling solo and didn’t bring a tripod along with me, so shooting self portraits was a real bitch – getting the camera to act on a self-timer, only to get pictures of Ruzhi-less blue skies because the damned camera failed to stand still and slipped back.

Also, running back and forth from the camera was tiring and made me look like an idiot.

Thankfully an old man noticed this lone idiot though (really, it was just all grass, the Sultan’s face and one foreigner) so he came over and asked me what I was doing, and I gladly replied and asked for his help. However, he produced pictures that still fall far from net publicity, and I felt rather embarrassed to ask him to do retakes until I liked what I saw, cos I didn’t know him in person.

The weakness of travelling solo, I guess. But I will still travel solo. Bleah.

Ruzhi in Brunei

This is the best shot that I got, through the iPad’s self-timer. It’s all greyed up probably cos my bag which the iPad was resting on got in the way. Not even the old man’s help could beat this photo, and now I’m wondering if he actually knew how to use a camera in the first place.

After I’d finished taking photos, I then went over to Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. Technically, the opening hours of the mosque (meaning entry into the building, not compound) are from Sunday to Wednesday at 8am – 12pm, 1.30-3pm and 4.30 – 5.30pm, Friday at 4.30-5.30pm, while being closed to non Muslims on Thursdays. I arrived within the operational time, but wasn’t allowed to go in because it was closed on National Day. Bummer.

Going around the compound outside was no problem though as it’s open from 8am – 8.30pm daily. The scenery was simply beautiful! The white wall and golden dome blended very well with the surroundings, especially the sky and clouds, and both structure and sky shone together. It looked like a painting, which felt so surreal since it’s a real-life building. What I was just too beautiful that even my lousy camera failed to fail.

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Till now I haven’t figured out the purpose of the boat-like structure..

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

The clouds, instead of their usual pom pom puff outline, instead look like curtains in the sky

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Main Entrance

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Ruzhi was here – I used my bag instead of my body as proof. Tired of all those failed self-portraits.

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

This is where Muslims wash themselves before prayer, as instructed by the Prophet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Side Entrance

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

iPhone panorama app again. I like this shot! Like a still from those documentary videos with huge clouds moving very fast in the sky..

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

The viewing doesn’t just stop for the day; I returned at night! Places of worship have the privilege of being all lit up when it’s dark, heightening their beauty and divinity all the more, and Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque was no exception. Bathed in yellow and green light, the mosque shone, literally and metaphorically.

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque at night in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

The beautiful look of the mosque and the tranquil setting of the city make a VERY good combination. Trust me, I was feeling really happy and relaxed in Brunei

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque at night (8) Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque at night in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque at night in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei  Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque at night in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

 Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque at night in Bandar Seri Begawan, BruneiMasjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque at night in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

I felt and still feel extremely satisfied with my pictures of the mosque, though my pictures certainly aren’t the best out there. Apart from camera quality, there is also the question of water pollution. You see, things were a lot more beautiful and heavenly many years ago. Take a look at these – I vouch that there was no Photoshop-ing:

Sultan-Omar-Ali-Saifuddin-Mosque-BruneiMasjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque at night

Just look at how nearly immaculate that reflection is, which is perfect for both the pilgrim and traveller. Unfortunately, development causes pollution which destroys the Earth’s natural beauty, so the lesson is: travel now!

Visiting the mosque and Kampong Ayer made for a very good itinerary combination, especially on the first day. Touring them extensively was awesome and paved the way for the upcoming days with anticipation, and the places I went to on those days gave a very good impression as well.

It wasn’t just about the attraction within these places of interest; as I’ve said so many times on this blog, the relaxed pace of life is what gives all these places their ‘kick’. You could throw in just about anything into Brunei, from a mosque to a museum or mall, and it’d blend perfectly well with the happy, carefree mood of the country. The only exception would be adrenaline-high outlets like bars and nightclubs…they don’t go too well with the conservative and quiet setting.

So I’d like to think of Brunei as an urban countryside; its country theme makes you feel the joy of slow living, while on the other hand it’s urban enough to give you the facilities and goods that are usually lacking in a typical countryside.

I still have one more entry about my first day in Brunei though, which continues from Part 3, explaining how to get to Kampong Ayer by foot without having to pay for a speedboat. Typing and mashing away to publish the post asap. Ciao for now!

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12 comments on “Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque: You’ve Never Been to Brunei if You’ve Never Been Here

  1. Pingback: Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque: the Second Most Beautiful Mosque in Brunei | Ruzhi was Here

  2. Hi there!

    I was wondering how you got photos of this mosque from across the river/body of water with the ceremonial barge seen in front of the mosque?

    Thanks!

    PS. Great review of the mosque.

    • Hey Keith,

      Thanks, it’s quite easy actually – from the main entrance walk left all the way till you see village houses and a road leading into a village. Walk further in till the view of ceremonial barge aligns itself directly in front of the mosque. If the directions are a little too wordy, check out the photo I uploaded in a post called ‘Kampong Ayer by foot’

      Hope that helped 🙂
      Ruzhi

  3. Pingback: Brunei | 5 Reasons why you may opt to skip Brunei as a travel destination | The Confessions of a Travel Addict

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  5. Hi, i read i like what u wrote here of the mosque. Just a suggestion, next time u visit brunei, y dont u ask the citizen y theres no riot when His Majesty’s posters are everywhere. On buildings. Billboards. Oh check out borneo bulletin too. And His Majesty’s is very caring. Every friday HM will go to any mosque and have mass prayer with everyone.

    • I don’t really know too much about the Sultan but I think he’s very capable of many duties based on what I read on the news. He piloted his own plane to the US and stopped his car once to direct traffic – this is very impressive stuff actually. Of course as an outsider I do have some thoughts on how things can be improved in Brunei but I don’t deny – the current system is working well and the people are happy.

  6. U mention also abt millions of money goes to posters n billboards but not donating to people who are in need? Mm.. Here we have ‘Warga Emas’. People who are 60 and above will automatically get allowance. People who really need support always get support. Just go to the right department. Housing? Just apply. Everyone will get a house with minimal monthly payment. Lol just go and ask. Oh maybe you can come back in July. HM’s birthday. 🙂 free scholarship too man

    • Thanks, yes I understand that Brunei is abundant in benefits and the citizens don’t have to pay any taxes which is really awesome. My point is why not give the people or nation more? I believe this is related to the values of the people, correct me if I’m wrong, perhaps the Bruneian people are more willing to comply with the King’s orders and status and it’d be considered treacherous and immoral to question them. For most of us secular, non-monarchy people, we see it as a disproportionate allocation of wealth; a ruler shouldn’t take so much of the assets and more should be distributed.

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