Category Archives: Brunei Darussalam

Placenta Tree

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The organic matter inside those plastic bags or bottles that are hanging in the mangrove are placentas. I suppose these are the placentas of the water village mothers as they cannot bury them (as what normally land people do).

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Sailing Toyota Vios

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Toyota Vios and Proton

Some water taxis (tambangs) in Kampong Ayer are personalized with automobile brand names and logos. In similar fashion, stickers, embellishments, or knickknacks associated with certain automobile brand have adorned some jeepneys in the Philippines.

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Red Ferrari

Tudung Dulang

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How beautiful this creation from dried dyed pandan leaves

It’s not a hat; it’s a dish cover. So colorful that it makes a pretty wall ornament as covering food to protect from flies isn’t a primary concern any longer. In the present times, screened houses render the usage of tudung dulang as somewhat obsolete.

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The making of tudung dulang and other traditional crafts are encouraged (even if used as wall ornaments and bought as souvenirs) just so the tradition won’t disappear and thereby preserving the Bruneian Malay culture.

Ayamku & Jollibee

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Malays attachment to fried chicken (ayam goreng) is so plain to see. Both in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo Malaysia, KFCs are everywhere and more popular than any other imported chains. Apart from fastfood chains, in the warungs, padangs and lesehans of Indonesia for example, ayam goreng is always there for you.

Brunei Darussalam has its own fried chicken chain. Ayamku Restaurant as what I’ve perceived is obviously close to Bruneians heart.

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Ayamku counter

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Fried spring chicken

But you know what, Bruneians have also this imported chain and it looks like the locals are in love with its fried chicken known as Chickenjoy that this particular chain has already 14 branches in their country (proudly claimed by the cashier in the picture below).

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Bruneians love Jollibee too

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She is proud to be a Jollibee crew

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1 piece Chickenjoy receipt

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Another branch of Ayamku in Bandar Seri Begawan, Kiulap address

Kampong Ayer Colors

The motley of house colors in this water village is quite pretty.
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Colorful alley

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A house with container garden

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Even the water taxi waiting shed is colorful

Water Village: Seafood Trap

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Several fish or crab traps are left to dry by the wooden bridges of the water village. How convenient that one can catch food at one’s doorstep.

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Muslim Women Vendors

Muslim women sellers in Tamu Kianggeh, Bandar Seri Begawan.

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Lady selling palm fronds for packaging food such as ketupat

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Lady selling vegetables such as cassava leaves which is the primary ingredient of pucuk ubi, their version of ginataang gulay and it was very savory

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Lady selling an assortment of edibles such as kuih cincin and non-edibles such as barut, a cloth bandage to treat abdominal ailments by wrapping around the abdominal area smeared with herbal medicine

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Lady selling dried fish fry and dried shrimp fry

Water Village: Sepak Takraw Court

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Residents having an evening sepak takraw match over the water

Religiously Clean

As a visitor, it is but natural to see, and acknowledge the structures a particular place is quite proud of because these have also become the collective identity of the place itself. In Brunei Darussalam, most of the visitors’ destinations (no matter what one’s religious affiliation is) are these two great mosques – Omar Ali Saifuddien and Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah.

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Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

As Christian, the idea of cleanliness in a place of worship of other religions such as Islam, is fascinating and admirable. So when I visited the said mosques in Brunei Darussalam, I took few snapshots of shoe racks and ablution facility as concrete Islamic examples of the phrase Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

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Shoes not allowed inside the mosque

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Faucets provided for washing ritual before prayers

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That outdoor corridor leading to the Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is a space for leaving shoes

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Shoe racks in this outdoor corridor

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A closer look of shoe rack number 25

Water Village: Clothes Hanging

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Holy Geometry

Behold this grand holy structure in this sulatanate nation of Brunei Darussalam where one can’t get enough of its stunning sight.

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As for me what I saw first were the numerous but finite number of octagrams (eight-point stars) from the grounds up to its minarets in the said grand structure (aka Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque).

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Two squares where one is placed on top of the other makes an eight-point star (octagram)

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Octagram ornamentation in the mosque gate

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Octagram in this garbage receptacle

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Mathematics is truly beautiful

Travel Sense

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My unassuming duffel for 4 days in this country carrying all of my little girl’s necessities as well as mine. Traveling light means one can easily roam in one’s baggage

Making do with the most essential of personal essentials by abandoning stuff that are part of one’s daily routine for a transient journey is an element of travel itself and this make sense to me. Letting go of material worries means more space in one’s mind for enlightenment.

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One can perceive then that we don’t really need much in life to live in a state of content

Water Village: Primary School

A primary school on stilts in Kampong Ayer where students arrive and depart in motorboats. 

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In Brunei education is free

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The school is connected to the water village by this walkway. While walking here I saw a small crocodile swimming away from under where I stood

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Behind those walls students are being taught to embrace the Melayu Islam Beraja ideology

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It's not everyday one can see a school above the water

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Jetty nearest the school where students arrive and depart

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School entrance near the jetty

Water Village: Sail Thru

How to take out food or drinks, in a restaurant on stilts, in the water village without stepping inside.

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Restaurant in the water village

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The same restaurant with fake flowers as ornament

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Drive thru concept

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Basket tied to the railing by rope is used to lower food and drinks

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Mostly water taxi drivers are the customers

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Here's your keropok and drink mister

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Another customer placing his satu ringgit (1 Brunei Dollar) in exhange for the drink

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Under the Borneo sun, a water taxi driver must hydrate

Ambuyat

Filipino is to rice as Bruneian is to ambuyat.

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This sago paste is also known as ambuyat

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Eaten like rice (except the chewing part as this is swallowed) with several viands as accompaniment

Water Village: Modern Houses

If you have read about Kampong Ayer which is a huge network of water villages in Brunei comprising of about 42 villages and home to about 30,000 Bruneians, then you have also read about its existence for a long time already that it’s considered a heritage of this country. So what I have in this particular post is a village in Kampong Ayer where houses have evolved into modern look. In fact I stayed in one of those.

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The modern look of house in the water

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A network of modern houses in the water village. It's raining almost everyday and it's high tide.

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Below each house is a space to park their own boats

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Bridges have evolved into concrete in this village though majority of bridges (outside of this village) are still made of wood. One can also see the sewer and water pipes

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See the modern village behind the old one

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Low tide. Brunei Darussalam flags are everywhere for their upcoming National Day on February 23

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A modern jetty too for the residents

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Inside the modern house where I stayed. When feasible, I'd rather do homestay for a closer observation of the place and locals. Hotel is corny

Water Village: Shell

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Shell station is closed perhaps because it's a Sunday

Sun Drying Keropok

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Like a giant crabstick and slices of it will be sun dried

This particular eating place, in one of the water villages of Kampong Ayer, makes its own keropok. I asked the all-around lady helper if it was made from udang (shrimp), but she answered crab. So I guess it’s ketam (crab), and it tasted like one.

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Sun drying

This keropok was good that I had about 6 packs of cooked ones in the course of several times I went there for a meal.

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Took a snapshot in this angle to capture the passing water taxi

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A closer look of the keropok in the winnowing basket

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Keropok as an accompaniment to my evening meal

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A pack of cooked keropok cost 1 Brunei Dollar

Ketupat

The puso or hanging rice of Cebu isn’t local in that city as what several have claimed  in their writings (even without basis). I’ve eaten puso in Leyte and Negros provinces and have seen it outside the country in Indonesia. Finally I got snaphots of it in Brunei where I had it with satay and where it’s called ketupat.

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Cooked white rice packaged in weaved palm fronds

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Sliced open by knife, same as how they do it with puso in Cebu

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Satay stall in Bandar Seri Begawan where ketupat is 1 BND for 3 pieces. Paired with satay when eaten, just like how it's paired with skewered barbeque in Cebu

Off to School in a Boat

Around 7 in the morning, primary and secondary students from the water village were off to school located just within the water village (Kampong Ayer) or in schools in the land across in Bandar Seri Begawan. 

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Well behaved school girls

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Lone schoolboy among the group. He's wearing songkok (Brunei's traditional headwear for men)

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Rush hour for students

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I'm not confident when it comes balancing myself in boarding and alighting from the boat, while they all looked so used to it

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School boys

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Commute to school via water taxis or via schoolboat like those two with roof over there

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School girls all covered up

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A schoolboat

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