As they say, good things comes in small packages, and Brunei city was a great little package of surprise for me. It’s a tiny nation located on the island of Borneo, a very serene Islamic country with about 450,000 inhabitants. We visited the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, which is home to the magnificent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and home to Brunei’s ruling Sultan. It is a great place to detox and relax as it is all about beautiful beaches, sea activities and city sights. Besides the mosque and museum, we visited the water village, essentially a cluster of traditional stilt villages built on the Brunei River, accessible from the main city by a short boat ride. While we were there, we witnessed a local Brunei wedding and happily observed their traditions and local music. The friendly wedding-party gave us a ritual pack of rice as a gift as we were leaving. Our tourist guide had also organized some local tea and snacks at a small house which was a very simple, quaint and unique experience and coupled with the wedding, made it a fun afternoon. Later, we visited the Alter Ego Fusion restaurant for lunch. The food was healthy yet delicious, especially the fresh desserts. They happened to know it was my birthday and surprised me a cake with a candle, a very sweet gesture that left me pleasantly surprised. For those who crave parties and night-life, do note that Brunei does not have these, nor is alcohol available in the city.
Regarding a good accommodation, I recommend The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Brunei. It’s a stunning and massive property with a private beach, a fantastic place to spend a few days detoxing and soaking in the sun.
For sea activities, Poni Divers is the place to go. They have a wide range of activities including snorkeling and adrenaline-inducing water sports. I enjoyed the banana boat ride, lazy kayaking and spent an hour or so jets-skiing. It was an awesome day by the sea. I have fond memories of mediating right in the middle of the waves while relaxing on the jetski.
There is a direct flight from Dubai to Brunei via Royal Brunei Airlines. The Dream Liner is an amazing flight, very comfortable with great leg space, LED lighting, excellent service, good food and larger than usual windows. Speaking of which, the window shades are electrochromatic and are adjustable to the ambient lighting so that you always have the perfect view without any glare. It was so remarkable that at first thought I was dreaming! I soon explored all the modes and figured that it filters the outside light and helps one see the clouds, for instance, from different perspectives. If you are looking to rest up on the day flight, you would be completely sorted as one of the features blocks the lights and lets you have a restful sleep.
In sum, it was a short and sweet trip and a clean/serene place to visit and as mentioned, definitely great for a detox trip.