After the trying experience of securing accommodations, plane tickets, and permits for a trek in Gunung Mulu National Park which basically took a full day to accomplish we were off on the ferry to Palau Lubuan then on to Brunei for two nights. From Kota Kinabalu Palau Lubuan was 3.5 hours by ferry. We spent the night on the island before catching another ferry to Brunei. Our plan was to stay in the capital for two nights before making our way down to Miri in the state of Sarawak and autonomous region of Malaysia were we would overnight once again before catching a thirty minute flight to Mulu NP. The ferry from Lubuan to Brunei was only about 1.5 hours then we took a bus to the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. On the bus ride from the port to the capital it was obvious to the oil wealth Brunei possesses. Homes, roads, buildings, etc, were more modern, more expensively constructed, larger and the city and roads were cleaner. We arrived just after noon on 16 July. After securing accommodations, we set out for lunch. Our breakfast consisted of toast with peanut butter and coffee at 0730 wore off hours earlier. It was 1430, but the time we went to the mall and had the local dishes at the food court. Our group was split between two hostels of which one was next to a pool. It was really hot and humid so after lunch we spent the afternoon swimming to get some relief from the afternoon heat and humidity. We met a solo French traveler who suggested we visit the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque during the visiting half our so we bugged out to the mosque. The interior was very tasteful but the outside was very extravagant. Some of the best Italian marble was brought in for the floors, stain glass imported from England, and luxurious carpets were flown in from Saudi Arabia. The interior was appointed with 24kt gold. Later that night after dinner we took the city bus to the mall to take in a movie. On the way to the mall we saw the bright lights of the Jame’Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, the largest mosque in Brunei. It was beautiful and looked like something out of Las Vegas. We were informed that the mosque cost 13billion to construct in 1992. That is a load of coin. We wandered around taking photos for an hour before walking back to the mall for our movie.
The next day our plan in the morning was to visit Kampung Ayer a collection of several traditional and modern stilted villages on either side of the Sungai Brunei River. We spent several hours wandering around taking photos. The water city is composed of numerous villages with total residence of 32,000. They have their own police, fire and schools. Many of residents are employed by the Brunei government. In the afternoon after a nap, we rented two water taxis for a tour. We took an hour ride up river to look for Proboscis monkeys. After about 20 minutes we spotted a dozen hanging out in a tree. Just as we were finishing up our photos it began to rain and by the time we returned it was pouring. My umbrella has been a real savior this trip. Later that evening after dinner I went back to the hostel to read and relax. I was tired from the day’s events. Around 2100, I went out to take some night shots of the Omar Ali mosque before turning in for the night. In the morning, we were on a bus to Miri back in Malaysia in the state of Sarawak. We have a short 30min flight to Gunung Mulu NP on the morning of the19th which will start the final adventures of our time in Malaysian Borneo.