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Into The Water Village

This water village wasn't as deserted as it looks. The kids were largely in school, and the people going about their daily work. Still, it's an interesting layout. With wooden walkways that generally have no railings. I guess it's a good thing alcohol is forbidden so that no one drunkenly falls into the water at night.

Kampong Ayer, located a short boat ride away from mainland Bandar Seri Begawan, was the first time I visited a water village. It's still a bit unique to see an entire village built above the water. It was pretty cool to be walking around but I'm not sure about the tradeoffs. Sure, you avoid cutting down some forest, but the wood is still coming from somewhere, and the water is getting far more polluted due to the increase in boat traffic. A bit of a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation, but perhaps the best solution would be to build-up on land at opposed to all this sprawl.

Blogged: http://www.aisleseatplease.com/blog/2016/5/13/into-the-water-village

#KampongAyer #BandarSeriBegawan #BSB #brunei #borneo #watervillage #travel #photography #asia #canon #house #stilts #VeniceOfTheEast #travelphotography #브루나이 #아시아
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Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

My first trip to a Muslim country was to the Sultanate of Brunei. I wasn't sure what to expect exactly, as the main purpose of the trip was to see the rain forests of Borneo, but why limit yourself, right? Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei has its own extravagant sites to see, none more so than the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque.

Named after the 30th Sultan of Brunei, who ruled directly prior to the current Sultan, it's considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia Pacific region. It's dome is covered in pure gold. Anything less would seem out of place for the extravagant lifestyle of the Sultans.

The bridge leading to the mosque crosses an artificial lagoon. Perhaps you're starting to get the idea - it might be a tiny island nation, but its oil and natural gas reserves have made it one of the wealthiest countries on a per capita basis. I'm happy to report that everyone I encountered on my trip was so friendly and welcoming.
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Sultan Bolkiah Mahligai Barge

This is meant as a replica of a 16th Century Sultan Bolkiah Mahligai Barge. This ceremonial barge was completed in 1967 to mark the 1,400 anniversary of Nuzul Al-Quran, which is a holiday commemorating the day when the words of the Quran were first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. 

All in all, there's no question that the mosque and its royal barge are quite beautiful. Clearly no expense was spared in its design and construction.
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Eco-Friendly (Green) Cars

The Island of Berambang is just a short boatride away from Bandar Seri Begawon. There is literally just one road on the island and I'm not really sure where it goes, but it does take you from the jetty to some of the houses like the ones in the background. Being a small island, it's not easy to get cars onto the island, so most people get around on motorbikes, not that there are a whole lot of places to go (again, mostly to and from the jetty). 

Interestingly, a driver's license isn't really needed on Berambang, so it's not uncommon to see young teens driving motorbikes around. Also, probably not worth shipping the cars off the island when you can instead turn them into plant holders.
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Gadong Night Market Vendor

The popular night market in BSB (Bandar Seri Begawan) is Gadong, which has everything you would expect in an Asian Night Market. You've got your numerous vendors selling all kinds of street foods - foods on a stick, bbq'd foods, thick plumes of smoke occasionally. You've got your random merchandise, refreshing beverages, and the commotion of workers and families just stopping by for a quick bite to eat. Great place to stop by in the evening if you have the chance!
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Ulu Temburong National Park

Deep in the tropical rainforests of Brunei is the Ulu Temburong National Park. It's the first national park in Brunei and is relatively young as it was created in 1991. The vast unspoiled jungle is also known as "The Green Jewel of Brunei."

Looking out at the endless green trees really helps you feel just how remote this place is. I accessed the park by a long, narrow wooden river boat. My guide, navigating the boat on the Temburong river until we reached the base of a path allowing us to hike up to the canopy walkway. There are several other rainforests in the world with canopy walkways, and as long as you're not afraid of heights, the perspective it offers is definitely worth climbing up for.
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Revealing The Rainforest of Borneo

Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. That, and hearing about a friend's visit to the island was enough to motivate me to visit it. Well, realistically I was headed to Seoul for New Year's Eve, and one thing led to another and next thing I knew I had a two week trip hopping through SE Asia.

Brunei has long been a little known sultanate quietly tucked onto Borneo alongside Indonesia and Malaysia. Some people may have heard of it for the Sultan's lavish accommodations (gold bathroom on his airplane, hello!) or more recently for its adoption of sharia law. Whether man made or natural, there is beauty to be found on this island.
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Wading Into The Sungai Temburong River

Do you want to visit one of the oldest rainforests in the world? Like, 140 million years old? Then hitting up the tropical island of Borneo might be for you. You can really feel time slip away from you. I stayed at one of the eco lodges in Brunei's Temburong district.

Probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but it does rain quite a bit in the rainforest. This sort of forced me to take an actual vacation during my vacation, sequestering myself to a hammock to just relax and contemplate life's mysteries.

As the impending rain clouds inched closer, I explored an area on the banks of the Sungai Temburong river filled with rocks. Definitely a bit of trepidation walking into a river with my dSLR just to take some photos, but I think it all worked out in the end.
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Monkey's Tail

The proboscis monkey, better known as the long-nosed monkey is endemic to the island of Borneo. I'm not the greatest at identifying animals, but I believe this is one of the long-nosed monkeys based on my tour itinerary and location, although admittedly this monkey's nose doesn't look that big. Perhaps someone better suited to identifying monkeys will be able to correct me here.

There's only so many different types of monkeys in Brunei, but you can easily see them from a distance when taking a water taxi around Bandar Seri Begawan. In my case, I was transiting to the so called 'Venice of the East', Kampong Ayer which is a short ride away.
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Jame'asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

This is the largest Mosque in Brunei, and was built in 1992 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the current Sultan's reign. As opulent as it is large, the interiors are also quite extravagant, but unfortunately photos can not be taken inside.



I ended up visiting this Mosque twice - once during the day and once at night. This trip was the first time I had ever been inside a Mosque before, so it was quite interesting to see.
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