The main question for the passenger of a cruise ship is how to spend a day at port? Since we will be moored for a while, how can get to the main attractions and not to be late back? Is it better to take a tour or walk on our own?
Since we knew the European seaports almost thoroughly, as avid travelers, we had the explore the unknown of this distant country.
, the State of Brunei Darussalam.
What shall we do?
I was confounded by an ad in the program of the day, that there would be a free shuttle-bass running from the ship to the city center. Usually, it is the best/free choice to get to the right place. So I decided not to take a tour (the cheapest 4-hour was offered for $55) and to look at the site by myself.
It turned out that the shuttle-bass drove the tourists to the square of the port village Muara, i.e. there was less than 1640 feet (500 meters) away from the ship to the final stop.
We got out and looked around. We could see our ship behind the bushes. There were few broken taxi cars, and several ugly mini-buses, surrounded by rather sad-looking shops. There was one ATM-machine, but it did not look inviting or safe.
We asked a taxi driver the price to get to the capital. It cost $40 one way.
We were amazed. I immediately calculated that it would have been cheaper to take a guided tour. In addition, it was raining heavily. I looked at the ship, wondering whether it would be better to return and go to the library.
But something called me back to reality – we were in the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam for the first time and we had to see the country. We decided to go to the
on a regular bus. We exchanged money, found the right bus number and hit the road.
Of course, I was expecting to see a population rich from the oil, however, everything was very modest and ordinary.
Red Box is a ticket machine.
The first thing we did upon arrival at the bus station of the capital, was get to know our schedule and the number of buses that ran. The worst thing on a cruise is to fall behind the ship. Here is our bus, we will always remember it.
The town is very small, and one can walk along it from one end to the other by foot. Everything is nearby. The tallest building is a minaret of the
; it is 144 feet (44 meters) tall. It is forbidden to construct taller buildings, so there are no skyscrapers eclipsing the light.
The Mosque of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin is a Royal Mosque in the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan, located on the shores of an artificial lagoon.
In the center of the lagoon, there was a concrete replica of the royal ceremonial barge.
There were dwelling-houses around the mosque.
And it’s close to the village on the water, where numerous barkers offer to take you by boat.
We were walking for a couple of hours, and hurried to the ship. First, it was very hot. Second, it took an hour to get from the port to the capital. Third, the route is long, and ahead there are a lot of impressions. Time spent in Brunei was enough for a brief acquaintance.
Having come back to the square of the port village of Muara, we spent all of our remaining local money. My son was trying to find a beer, looking at everything in the shop, but locals waived him away fearfully. It turned out that there was a ban on alcohol in the country.
Our compatriots, who had an 8-hour tour "The best of Brunei" for $200, said that they were taken to the market, the floating village on a big boat, and made a stop near the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque.