Holidaying in Brunei Darussalam

I finally managed to get a few days off starting Thursday until today. If you think that I have not been working very hard, let me tell you that this is only my second leave (3 days) since last January (5 days) and before that my last holiday was in October 2004. So in the space of 20 months, I have only taken 8 days off (and yet I am entitled to have 60 days off in a year). Do I hear any sympathy out there?

Me, the wife and my 6 year old decided to spend the precious 3 days as a local holiday. This is one of the irony of life - previously we can't really afford to go out the country much even though it was easier taking holidays but nowadays when we can afford it, we can't take the holidays! But we are grateful. It allowed us to discover a few more places for our local holidays right here in Brunei. Even better right here in the District of Brunei-Muara all within driving range. I am really sorry for KBians (but I was born there) or Tutongians (I went to my first school here) and even the Temburongians (my prep school) but I will get to write the more interesting places in these other districts eventually.

So, local holiday. At 6 am - went off to Bukit Merkuching at Jalan Subok. I saw the Home Affairs Minister officially opening the trek up this hill about a couple of months back and thought why not have a look. You have to drive a fair bit into Jalan Subok until you hit Kampung Belimbing (there is a sign) and slow down until you can see a sign on your left hand side. There are two signs (one is a round sign saying something like Selamat Mendaki Bukit Merkuching), ignore this one - if you go through here, you will find yourself in someone's backyard in order to get to the Bukit. Instead, go on about five simpangs further, then you will see a bigger rectangular sign. Go in, passing through a housing estate but at least this one has a proper car parking place. Then you go up the hill passing through someone's pineapples and other local fruits gardens. You get up to the hill and you get to see a fantastic view of ...... (drum rolls) ...... Kampung Belimbing. That's it. I mean that's it. There's nothing there up on the hill. I am trying to figure out why the Minister officially opened the trek until my missus mentioned that it was the Kampung itself which initiated it. I guess you have to go up there yourself and find out. It's a nice trek up the hill, my 6 year old ran all the way to the top, so it's not that particularly hard. [By the way, BB had this to say about the Bukit "...Additionally, they can also take a closer look at a variety of flora and fauna that are found in this area..." After all that long trek, flora and fauna?]

8.30 - went off to Pantai Serasa. I haven't been there for quite a while. The place has literally grown. I mean grown bigger. Where there used to be sea, now there is land. This is one successful reclamation work that Brunei has done. I remembered a few years ago thinking just how long the Serasa spit will last. I can assure you with the reclamation work, the spit will last for quite sometime yet. We went there not to go to the beach but to the huts selling fishes and crabs and prawns. Yes, the seafood there is the freshest and beats even those in Jerudong. So, fresh food lovers, Pantai Serasa at 8 in the morning is your best bet.

9.30 - went off to Pantai Muara. Just off the entrance to Pantai Muara has become completely fortified now what with the new Marine Base and the expected arrival of our naval battle frigates. Only the entrance to Pantai Muara is the last unguarded place. The area has been completely renovated by the new Environment, Parks and Recreation Department (JASTRE - Jabatan Alam Sekitar, Taman dan Rekreasi). There are better walkways, children play area but no sotong tutuk. Apparently the sotong tutuks only come on Sundays. When we were there, lots of kids came. The playground is free afterall and the kids will be exercising all day - can't buy any snacks! All the stalls are closed and apparently only opened on Sundays other than this one Ma Cik selling mangga wani!

The Louis Mini Zoo in Tutong, the Berakas Forest Recreation Area and the Bukit Shahbandar Recreation Area are next. But I will reserve that for future blogs. The mini zoo is particular interesting - it raises all sorts of issues. But the important lesson of today is that there is enough local happenings to keep a local tourist happy.


Zul-Fadly said…
I've gone up Bukit Markuching a couple of times since being introduce by a friend just a few weeks ago. The view is wonderful. Once I was at the peak at 6 p.m. Simply breath-taking. Would recommend it to anyone.

If I'm not mistaken an environment awarness project or something will take place there soon. A royal patronage will be officiating the event.
Anonymous said…
You can get Sotong Totok usually in Serasa, freshly prepared from 3pm onwards on public holidays (except Friday I think)

Well Serasa Beach or shall I say Serasa Recreational Areas are among the popular place to 'hang out' especially on Sundays and Public Holidays. You will see all sorts of people and cars for that matter on Sundays.There usually have flocks of Subarus, Suzukis, Hondas, Hyundais, Toyotas, Chevrolet occupying different part of the newly renovated and reclaimated beach. Come along are the people from younglings to over-the-hill petronage. There also have TransGenderConfused lot pretending to have a bird nest instead of a bird lining up imagining it to be like one of the streets in Netherland where such activities considered to be legal.

The Beach itself has lost its 'feeling' of a beach since it is covered by walls of rocks. Although the Government has introduced such improvement to the beach, one thing remained the same, it is still littered with rubbish. Lots of rubbish brought to you especially by the whiny public and the ignorant ex-pats (especially the one that works in the factory). Is it attitude that commit them to do such a nuisance? Or gene that we can blame to their ancestors? I mean is it really hard to clean after yourself? That actually make Serasa Beach an eyesore. I think Mr Brunei Resources, you should write about Serasa Beach how it is actually form. I remember that it is not actually a naturally forming spit, but a reclaimation project from the past. True or Not?
p o t a t o said…
I hear a lot of people complaining that Brunei has nothing to offer, Brunei is boring, I wish I was somewhere else, etc. A lot of complaints yet it's the mindset which is the main barrier from them trying to have fun or do something fun. I mean, do they know about the Rock-Climbing happening at Tasek Lama? That could be fun. Bringing your friends and family for Go-Kart games might be good (I have the impression the Go-Kart at JP is sufficiently maintained?).

It only takes a creative and open mind to have fun in Brunei.
Anonymous said…
yea..i second u akatsuki. Tasek lama is just one of the local places that is great for the whole family to go to.
Anonymous said…
I can say this about Brunei, you either get fit or get fat cos it seems those are the two main activities going on here. The rock climbing at Tasek Lama is unmaintained last I went and it's not exactly safe to do it on your own. Best thing for Bruneians is to have hobbies or interests, we have lots of activities going on, clubs to join, classes to participate in. It is just a matter of keeping eyes and ears open and making use of the time we have to enrich our lives either physically, emotionally or mentally.
Anonymous said…
Regarding your recent view on Bkt.Markucing, may i suggest to you back to the place and reach the peak of Markucing,where you can enjoy the view and scenary from atop of the hill, im really upset regarding your comment on my beloved Markucing,when you said that you are able to see Kg.Belimbing, you merely above 50m from the parking space, please do your trip once again,and reply on my comment, after finishing the the trip to the top of Markucing.Good Luck.Try reaching the peak by 6am.
Anonymous said…
hahaha...congrats to your 6-year-old son for making it to the top of Bukit Markucing...Opps..the top of the "first hill" of the Bt Markucing...there are in fact more hills awaiting you all the way up...You've missed lots of Brunei's prominent buildings since you have not reached the top of Bt. must make a point to come back and see for yourself the beautiful scene offered by the natural settings of the Bt Markucing...if you have sighted the DST building, UBD, and MOF, then you have actually reached the top! Otherwise, please come back and appreciate the park which was offically opened by our Minister.
Anonymous said…
yea i second you rozi!
yup, i have to take my words back on the views of Bukit Merkuching. we were wondering why we reached the 'top' so quickly. it was only after i have posted the blog, that i was informed we have only reached one out of several peaks that we have to go through and that we missed out on more fantastic views and not just of kampung belimbing.

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