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BRUNEI

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Overview

The tiny sultanate of Brunei is just a remnant of a naval empire that once ruled all of Borneo and part of present-day Philippines. Nevertheless, this quiet darussalam (Arabic for ‘abode of peace’) boasts the largest oilfields in Southeast Asia,

Look beneath the surface of this well-ordered and tightly regulated sultanate and you’ll see the underlying warmth of Brunei’s people and the wisely conserved wildness of its natural environment. Thanks to the money generated by the oilfields, Brunei hasn’t turned its rainforests into oil palm plantations. Old-growth, primary forest abounds, especially in verdant Ulu Temburong National Park.

In the charming riverside capital, Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), opulent palaces and magnificent mosques contrast with the haphazard and flimsy-looking water villages. Fringing this city’s modest extents are lush forests and mangroves, home to proboscis monkeys, hornbills and crocs.

Food Must Try

Ayam Penyet

Ayam Penyet is a classic Indonesian dish.  It is fried chicken that is smashed down to give it a softer texture, and marinated with peppers and herbs.  It’s always served spicy, alongside a salad with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and lemon. This dish can be found in any local Bruneian restaurant, as well as other ethnic restaurants around Brunei.  If you like spicy chicken, then you’re in for a real treat!

Ketupat

This is a kind of dumpling that is made of rice.  It’s commonly found in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.  The rice is packed inside a special wooven palm leaf pouch (yes, an actual leaf from a tree) and boiled. When the rice is cooking, the grains expand to fill up the pouch while the rice is compressed tightly.   This unique method of cooking rice has been around this region for centuries, you can almost imagine caveman eating it.  I recommend you to try it because it’s not only cheap and delicious, but it’s a great way to get an authentic taste of Bruneian cuisine!

Curry and Rice

As I am sure that you are all aware, curry is a SouthEast Asian dish that incorporates spices/herbs with fresh (or dried) chillies.  It is usually prepared as a liquid sauce, that you mix with rice and chicken (or another type of meat).  There are many different varieties of curry that you can order, most of them being spicy and golden-yellow in color.  Most curries are actually very healthy and is considered as one of the most flavorful dishes in the world.  The mouth-watering flavor of curry can be enjoyed alongside any meal!

Excursions

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

This magnificent mosque sits at the very heart of the capital city and the country’s Islamic faith. Built in 1958 and named after the 28th Sultan Of Brunei, it is one of the most impressive mosques in South-East Asia. Set amid its own lagoon, the mosque seems to be floating, surrounded by lush greenery and floral gardens, while its glittering dome, covered in real gold, soars above the skyline. Featuring luminous stained glass windows, floors of gleaming Italian marble, walls of Shanghai granite, chandeliers from Britain and Carpets from Saudi Arabia, the mosque brings together the world’s best materials in a tour de force of architectural beauty and spiritual ambience. A marble bridge across the lagoon brings you to a replica of a 16th century Royal Barge, which used to host religious ceremonies, like Quran reading competitions. At night, the mosque is illuminated, making it a vision to be seen. 

Istana Nurul Iman

With 1,788 rooms, a banquet hall that can seat over 4,000 guests, a 1,500 people capacity Mosque, 5 swimming pools and a 110-car garage, the 200,000 m² (2.15 million sq ft) Sultan of Brunei’s lavish Royal Palace, build by the Philippine’s Ayala Corporation in 1984, is the world’s largest residential palace, situated on top of a hill overlooking the capital and the Brunei River. Its golden domes and sweeping rooflines make for an awe-inspiring view, even from a distance and are a glittering example of Brunei’s enduring royal heritage. Though only accessible to those on official business, the Palace, which name means “The Palace of the Light of Faith”, is however open to the public for three days a year, when His Majesty usually holds an “Open House” to greet his subjects and visitors alike on the occasion of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the religious festival following the fasting month of Ramadan. On other days, the sumptuous palace, which is also Brunei’s seat of government, can be viewed through the main entrance gates, from the nearby Damuan promenade or from various angles on the Brunei river.

Kampong Pandan Mosque

Kampong Pandan (may also be spelt as Kampung Pandan), is a suburb of Kuala Belait, the primary town of Belait District in Brunei. Kampong Pandan comprises three kampongs, namely Kampong Pandan ‘A’, Kampong Pandan ‘B’ and Kampong Pandan ‘C’.Kampong Pandan is literally translated as ‘Pandan Village’. It is probably named after pandan or screwpine (pandanus amaryllifolius), a tropical plant which is known for its aromatic leaves.Kampong Pandan borders Kuala Belait proper to the west, Panaga to the east, Mumong to the south and South China Sea to the north.
For census and other administrative purposes, Kampong Pandan is divided into three kampongs or villages, namely Kampong Pandan ‘A’, Kampong Pandan ‘B’; and Kampong Pandan ‘C’, and each kampong has a ketua kampong or village headman. A kampong is the third and lowest administrative division in the country which are below the mukims, and the three kampongs in Kampong Pandan are under Mukim Kuala Belait.

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