10th Stop - Probiscus Monkey & Water Village
Trip Start Oct 08, 2010
22Trip End Oct 11, 2010
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Immediately, without wasting much time, I got onto that boat and I told the boatman that I wanted a tour of the Probiscus Monkey as well, all in about 1 hour of journey and he quoted me BND 15. Agreed with the price, I set off on the boat ride.
FIrstly, we went through the water village. Brunei's famed 'Kampung Ayer' or 'Water Village', is a preserved national heritage site, and the largest of its kind in the world with approximately 30,000 residents.
It is over 1,000 years old and stretches about 8km along the Brunei River. Self contained, it is equipped with schools, police stations, clinics, a fire brigade and mosques, and it is a thriving community functioning with all the comforts and amenities of the modern era.
Kampung Ayer, which existed since the 10th Century A.D. is actually a cluster of villages, each with their own Village Leader ( Head of Village) and the villages are connected by a complex web of walkways and bridges. Kampung Ayers historical importance lies in the fact that Brunei's civilization started here with fishing as the one of the main livelihood of the villagers.
There was a concentration of skilled craftsmen producing handicrafts from brass, silver and wood that were traded within the region, hence granting the water village a status of commercial and social importance.
The skills of these craftsmen have not been lost, and mastery of handicrafts from those eras have survived through time. Many examples of such artistry can be viewed at the Gallery, the Brunei Museum and the Arts and Handicrafts Centre.
Another unique feature here is that despite this is a river, the water is salty. I was briefed by the boatman that there is an old legend to this. Accordingly, a sailor and his ship carrying salt was cursed by the local chieftain and his boat had sunk in this river. The boat had turned into a rock and this half sunk boat is still visible until today. I was surprised to see the rock which actually looked like a half suck boat which pictures I have posted here. The salt from that boat had contaminated the river water and that explains the legend as to why the river water is salty until today.
After we were done with the villages, we headed further in to view the Probiscus Monkeys in their natural habitat. I had always wanted to see these monkeys first hand as I find them to be very unique. This Probiscus Monkeys are only found in the Borneo island which Brunei is part off.
We stopped at two locations and viewed these monkeys in their natural surroundings. The boat man was very accommodating in the sense that he actually spent 90 minutes with me and did not demand for more payment once we were back.
With the boat ride, I headed back to the hotel and I needed to prepare for a short meeting with a prospect that evening. I would strongly recommend this water village tour and probiscus monkey sighting to any tourist heading to Brunei. Do not buy these packages at any tour agents or even at the airport. I was supprised to see the package price at the airport. They charge BND 90 per pax for 1 hour boat ride and if the package includes sighting the monkeys as well, then it is BND 180 . Well, just head directly to the jetty and you coulg negotiate for the entire thing for only BND 20.