Unbelievably it took us 5 bus rides and 1 short ferry crossing to do the 200k trip from Miri to Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), the capital of the oil rich state of Brunei. Actually oil rich should read Shell Oil rich as this company owns the rights to the oil fields off the coast which provide this tiny country with its wealth. The sultan seems popular enough, the citizens we spoke to only had good words to say about him, however his brother was a different story. The sultans playboy brother Prince Jefri is famous for helping himself to a few billion from the coffers and blowing the cash on gambling, booze, a 6 star hotel, prostitutes and goodness knows what else.
The citizens of this country pay no taxes, power is free and fuel is ultra-cheap, so you would think they all drive around in their Mercedes and Porsches? Well the reality is they don't, although Brunei certainly isn't a poor country it isn't overtly wealthy either.
We booked ourselves into the only hostel in BSB which happened to have a good size swimming pool as well, so I made sure I made use of this facility at least daily!
I started my sightseeing at the stilt village on the riverfront of BSB which houses the mostly Indonesian and Philippino immigrants, and then followed that up with a look around the new gold and marble Omar Ali Saifuddein mosque which impressed us all. Next up was a visit to the Royal Regalia Museum where the sultan houses all those pointless gifts that these dignatories exchange when they have one of their 'official' visits. There's all sorts of rubbish in there including some beads from the President of Swaziland and a cowboy bearing a gun whilst riding a horse, no doubt made with the then US president as an inspiration.
The next day the three of us, that me, Glynn and South African Josh who was staying in the same room, went for a visit to the Jabatan Museum which is one of Asia's best contemporary museum's with impressive collections of Islamic art, wares and korans. You wouldn't think it though viewing the museum from the outside, now doubt about it it is an ugly building. We lucked out with the science and technology museum, this was being renovated however they didn't have the technology to put a sign outside saying so.
We spent our evenings eating at the outdoor food markets which they seem to specialize in here, the food was very good and surprisingly cheap. This being an Islamic state that actually enforces its beliefs alcohol wasn't available, thats no problem however as we head back into the Islamic state of Malaysia next where alcohol is everywhere.