Brunei Darussalam

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Jul 15, 2008

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Flag of Brunei  ,
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007
Negara Brunei Darussalam

The ferry from Jesselton docks [GPS 05 59.442N 116 04.657E] to Labuan costs RM78 for the two of us. KK used to be called Jesselton back when it was run by the North Borneo Charter Company. The ferry actually didn't leave until 8AM and took about 2 hours to reach Labuan. [GPS 05 16.633N 115 14.495E] When we reach the docks we immediately buy tickets on the next ferry to Muara. That ferry is supposed to leave at 11:30 AM but doesn't arrive until 12:30 PM because of engine trouble. This gives us time to check out the duty free shops by the dock. It his turns out that buying wine in KK was not to be a good investment. Not that the wine was bad but because Labuan is a duty free island; we could have gotten wine here at half the KK price. We're telling you this so you won't make the same mistake. The ferry crossing takes one and a half hours.

Because the ferry is late getting to Maura we miss the last bus to Kuala Belait. So we hire a taxi to take us to Kuala Belait. [GPS 04 35.051N 114 11.487E] The driver drives like a bat of out of the Batu Caves, and we barely escape having a major accident by inches. No exaggeration. But it is all for naught. The bus to the boarder has long gone. In fact even if the ferry had been on time and we had caught the Maura bus to Kuala Belait the schedule is such that it arrives after the last bus to Miri has departed at 3 PM. People here in Brunei have a high standard of income and most have their own cars so the buses are not considered important. Even though it is still only 5 PM there are no buses running to the boarder for the rest of the day. We either have to continue on with the taxi to Miri in Sarawak, which our driver is willing to do for another $100 US, or spend the night here. We've already paid him 150 Brunei dollars which have an exchange rate of B$1.42 to the US dollar. It turns out we made a costly mistake trying to get through Brunei in one day. We could have flown from KK to Miri for less than what we'll end up paying by going by surface transport. But then we'd never have seen Brunei or gotten the Darussalam stamp in our passports. Anyway we're not throwing good money after bad so we will just get a room here and catch the bus tomorrow. If we do this over again we'd probably stay overnight on the island of Labuan. There are cheap accommodations there and it looks like an interesting place. So if you're following this route, that's our advice.

We end up staying at the Seaview Hotel a few kilometers outside of town. The cost is B$106 including breakfast which turns out to be a cold beef hot dog with American style canned baked beans and eggs. Hotels are very expensive in Brunei which is one good reason not to overnight in the country if you can avoid it. But the Seaview is on the beach and does have a sea view. We can see the oil or natural gas platforms on the South China Sea from our window. We walk the beach and see families netting fish and krill. And, there is a beautiful sunset on our walk back. These are the things that help us forget the frustrations of a hard day of travel. Life is good after all.
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