brunei street sign sultan

Should I Go to Brunei? 8 Points to Ponder

Well folks, this is my final post on Brunei before my blog travels back to Japan. It’s time to close the chapter on a country I thoroughly enjoyed 😦

Now you might be considering a trip to Brunei but perhaps you’d heard quite a bit of negativity and have some doubts. Yes, Brunei isn’t a popular spot to travellers and ironically it doesn’t do much to promote itself either. This happens when you have a lot of oil I guess 😛

So let this farewell post aid you in your decision. I’ll talk about why Brunei is worth going to and also why it isn’t from the viewpoint of others. Hopefully this mix of aye and nay will help you reach a satisfactory conclusion.

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Empire Hotel and Country Club, Jerudong, Brunei Darussalam

Exploring Brunei’s Empire Hotel & Country Club..and the Tourist vs Traveller Debate

25 Feb 2013

I’ve always been a big fan of budget accommodation. It saves us money so we effectively travel longer and feels more adventurous than a ‘prim and proper’ hotel.

Many (though not all) backpackers share this sentiment actually – it’s their ethos that to travel ‘properly’, one must go budget. They condescend the person who stays at a luxury hotel, seeing him as too timid, pampered, stuck in his comfort zone and not really living it like a local.

Yup, it’s the ‘Tourist vs Traveller’ debate I hear you say. It’s strange and anti-Darwinian cos for the first time, relatively ‘cheap’ people who call themselves true ‘travellers’ get to look down on their wealthy resort-loving ‘tourist’ counterparts.

Being a backpacker myself, I sometimes wonder about it. Yes, most of my friends prefer starred hotels and yes, they miss out on a lot of adventure in the process..but are these ‘tourists’ really ‘inferior’ and not travelling ‘properly’?

As I write about my visit to the Empire Hotel & Country Club, I’ll elaborate on the answer from my point of view. Being Brunei’s top-rated and most prominent luxury hotel, it’s surely a tourist haven, from the viewpoint of a ‘traveller’.

Of course me being a budget guy, I didn’t spend a night there – I went sightseeing as a tourist. Or traveller, if you want to be kosher. Whatever.

What I saw upon entering immediately blew me away. It was grand, simply put. I couldn’t have expected less – this hotel has a 6-star rating!

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Review: K.H. Soon Resthouse

 

Question: If you’re a backpacker or budget traveller, what’s the highest price you’re willing to pay for a single private room, if you’re just too tired from all that booze, noise and intercourse in a shared dorm?

If in Southeast Asia, with the exception of expensive Singapore, the most I’d be willing to pay is USD 16-20. And even 20 to me is already on the high end. It’s even possible to get a big room for a lot less – I got mine in Magelang, Indonesia for only USD 4.60! (though I think it’s haunted, more on that in another post)

In Brunei however, I paid 25 USD (BNR 33) per night at K.H. Soon Resthouse, a seemingly budget hotel. Now to me that is a lot. So naturally the question would then be how much more, quality-wise, did I get?

The answer: Nothing more and a lot less actually.

K.H. Soon Resthouse budget accommodation in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

I actually found K.H. Soon Resthouse by chance. Guess what made me think it’s a hotel? (hint: it’s not the signboard)

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Ambuyat is the Blandest Thing I’ve Ever Eaten

25 Feb 2013

You know, there are some foods which totally lack culinary merit but are widely popular because they come under the convenient-yet-attractive label of being a territory’s unique dish. Hakone’s eggs boiled in sulphuric vapours (which ta-dah!, taste like boiled eggs) and pig testicle sashimi (no kidding) are premium examples. Mediocrity is okay as long as it’s one of a kind, it seems.

And now, adding on to this list is Ambuyat, a Bruneian delicacy, which yes, is very authentic and unique – I don’t recall seeing it in neighbouring Malaysia or Indonesia. However, calling Ambuyat mediocre would be extremely flattering and I’m not being biased here because technically, Ambuyat is tasteless

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Brunei Travel Guide

Brunei travel guide

Where’s Brunei??

I’m going to stop blogging about my trip to Japan for a while and write a few pieces on Brunei Darussalam instead. It’s a country sandwiched in the middle of East Malaysia and I went there in February this year. There was some difficulty in planning for the trip cos there aren’t many travel guides online and some of these guides are rather vague, so I decided to do one myself for the benefit of other people who intend to go there.

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