Yup, the place is awash with cash, although it’s not in your face, you just know it. The good thing is it’s not that expensive a place to live in for a day or so. Museums are free, and you just haggle with the boatmen before you go for a tour.
I had an early start this morning in Labuan, up at 0645 to get the ferry at 0800. It’s just I turned up and the first one was at 0900…oh well. Before I knew it I was handing in my Malaysian landing card (despite now having a visa for here until mid December), and getting the Brunei stamp on my passport in some shack.
I have to say a sorry to Alex though – I’m afraid I’ve let you down…you see I had a reservation at one of the few cheap places, then read reviews of chinese hookers etc hanging out there and it generally being a seedy place. As I knew there wouldn’t be much to do here, I move to a 23 quid hotel instead, even before I left Labuan. Sorry, my days of real adventure have yet to come….
After a wee snooze (knowing a day would be a long time to kill) I wandered around Brunei. I went to the hawker stalls at the market looking for the peanut pancake things I knew you’d get there, however, probably due to Ramadan, there only seemed to be fruit and veg there. A little old lady sent me on my way asking no money for the bananas I went to buy from her… I then went for a walk around Kampung Ayer which is a stilted village in the middle of the town, one of the things I wanted to see. Unfortunately it was a bit of a let down with not as much character as expected, but a few ramshackle shacks on the way in with deserted typewriters etc. There were a few kids hanging around outside a house so I asked to take a picture then got into a wee conversation – a really cute wee girl speaking perfect English, lining up her brothers and sisters for me while welcoming me to Brunei. I ended up on a half hour boat tour on one of the hundreds of boat taxis buzzing around the river. The commentary went something like this, with a lot of pointing :
“School, school, school, fishing………school, school, school, fishing…Brunei have many schools….school, school, firestation, boat school, Brunei have many schools, school school, police…musum (I soon worked out this was museum)… etc” Still, he was a very nice man, told me he loved me and any other english he could say while I handed him my $10BD note. I left with a distinct lack of photos I expected.
I decided to chill out again as there was hardly anyone around town, so I find myself just after a 4 quid nice meal, surrounded by young Brunians (is that correct) online gaming shouting “Fuck…Fuck…biiiiiiitch….I’m dead….Fuck….then the occasional game update in their local lingo”.
On the whole – nice people, boring place. Pretty much as expected. But hey, country number 32.