Just under 50 years ago, there was no connecting road between Tutong and Seria. Seria in the early 1950s was just over 20 years old, it was a completely made up town and existed only to serve the fledgling oil industry which was found in 1929. Brunei in the early 1950s was also struggling to recover soon after the Japanese invasion and was just taking over its administration from the Australian led BMA (British Military Administration). There were only three trunk roads from Brunei Town by very early 1950s - one heading towards Berakas, the other one heading towards Muara and the other one heading towards Tutong. Most other roads are probably newly built in the last 20 years or so. Ask your parents.
So, the only way to get to Seria from Brunei Town was to go to Tutong and go all the way to the end of Tutong at Kuala Tutong (that's the road along Pantai Seri Kenangan), go for a few kilometers and you will reach the end of Jalan Kuala Tutong and there will be a ferry there to take you to Danau. From Danau, you drive along the coast all the way to Seria and Kuala Belait. If there is high tide, on some parts of the coast, you will have to sit out the high tide and venture only once the coast is clear. It wasn't until the two bridges were built crossing the two major rivers in Tutong were we able to drive all the way to Seria and Kuala Belait in 1958. And even then the road to Seria was single lane until some time last year when the double carriageway was introduced even then only up to Sungai Liang so far. By that nature, even though Brunei is an ancient nation, but from the modern infrastructure perspectives, Brunei is still a very young nation.
Yesterday, I took my family for an outing to Tutong and we went all the way to the end of Kuala Tutong just to see the where the former jetty for the ferry was. The jetty was no longer upkept and parts of the jetty had gone into the water. Pretty soon, the whole jetty will surely collapse. I had forgotten that Kampung Penabai, the kampung along the Jalan Kuala Tutong is a fairly old village and many houses were built along the way. Pantai Seri Kenangan had been spruced up nicely and there are now many facilities along the way. Oh yes, they don't sell sotong tutuks at Pantai Seri Kenangan - they sell keropok lekor! The one we tasted was from a Sabah recipe claimed the seller who originated in that area but now lived in Bukit Beruang. And there was also an old lady selling tapai using the old fashioned daun simpur (tasted really really nice). The Istana Pantai is still along the way - it looked really old now - I don't remember it looking that old before.
Before setting out for the 20 odd miles to Tutong (from our house), I checked out two websites - Bahapakitani, a worthwhile blogsite to visit about what's going on in Brunei and another called Brunei Daily Diary and they both suggested to visit the 'People's Festival' at Dewan Kemasyarakatan as well as the Go-Kart Race at the same place. It was definitely a worthwhile visit - the People's Festival had a cookery competition making various Tutong specialities but also included non-Tutong specialities such as making sculptures out of chocolates and sweets, and a table setting competition - you dressed up your table with your finest so that people can judge it. One of the tables looked like a restaurant table complete with tomato and chilli sauce bottles - I am not sure who that person was and what she thinks of table setting standards but I guess standards are fairly opens, anyway I wasn't sure who won - she probably did.
The go-kart race was interesting. I have never really seen one so close up before. Didn't realise there were many colourful words by the drivers especially for their go-karts which decided unilaterally that they did not want to join the race by breaking apart at the word go. The 50 cc mini motorbike race was also very interesting. I am just wondering how painful and cramped it was for grown ups to sit on motorbikes designed for 6 year olds. Hey, some people probably find that fun. Anyway, all in all not a bad Sunday for us.