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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Green Plaza Shinjuku Capsule Hotel: Prisoners on Vacation

10 Nov 2012

If you haven’t heard of it yet, a capsule hotel is exactly what its name implies – capsules stacked on top one another, and you snug yourself into one. It seems extremely uncomfortable and lab-like, just like cryosleep cells in the movies, yet many want to try it out due to its uniqueness. This is one of Japan’s creative and whacky ideas so when you’re in Japan, do as the Japanese do – get creative, get a capsule. Green Plaza Shinjuku Capsule Hotel in Kabuki-cho, Tokyo

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