As I had limited time in Brunei I got myself up and forced myself to walk around. It wasn’t actually too bad on flat floors (thankfully Bandar Seri Begawan is mostly flat). I did struggle with stairs though, thanks a lot Mount Kinabalu!. I didn’t really have a plan, just looked up, saw the top of a mosque and headed in that direction. I got a map from the rest house I stayed at. There is several mosques about and a few shopping places, so I just went via them (my usual tactic in a hot countries is to go via malls/department stores/supermarkets as they are air conditioned which really help keep up momentum). I first passed through a empty, closed but very clean shopping area.
I couldn’t go in the mosques as I am not muslim so have no internal photos. I made it across the city in about 2 hours, considering I was walking slowly, it shows how small this place is, I stopped on route at a small park. There was an indonesia exhibition in the main mall of Brunei. A local man spoke to me about Indonesia and said it is nice and he is looking to go back so got some brouchers. After a little chat about where I was from, and him giving me a tip to just use the bus (for BN$1) we both went our separate ways to eat. I went to pizza hut, I don’t know why, they make disgusting pizzas, I was just drawn to the Brunei only ‘honey and garlic chicken’ pizza, which I couldn’t finish due to the small appetite I’ve recently developed, so got the rest in a box.
After that I went outside the mall and found a bus stop, The buses here are just like Malaysia, you just don’t have a clue where they are going, they have some destinations written in small text on the front, usually covered by an advert. I just got on one and paid my $1 and hoped for the best. Luckily the bus terminated at the main bus station, which is a 2 minute walk from where I was staying.
As my rest house/lodge had no internet I stayed outside near a bigger hotel to upload some bits to this blog. The plan worked for a while but for some reason a password request came on eventually, maybe they caught on someone was outside using it. Anyway, I began packing up to head back to the rest house, and a friendly face smiled and waved at me. It was the man from the mall.
He joined me for another chat, his name is Issan. When we got to work he told me he is on holiday at the moment and works in reflexology. Doesn’t get many customers during April-May, most are December-January hence the time off work. He said 80% of his work comes from Brits, Australians and New Zealanders who have recently climbed Mount Kinabalu and come to Brunei after and find themselves completely tired and unable to walk properly…
Needless to say we found something in common, and arranged to meet up after he had some dinner as I had my cold pizza leftovers for dinner.
Then we went back to his place where I got the reflexology treatment, funny how things can just work out like that, he is lacking money due to the down season (half of wage is fixed, half commission), and there is me needing muscles relaxed. Over 2 hours later (he also gave me a lot of info about Brunei and Royal Family history) and he took me back to the rest house. He told me there is a hostel a lot cheaper round the corner with a pool, and I could have got the bus rather then taxi or at least negociated the price down a bit on my arrival to Brunei. Live and learn I suppose. I should give taxi drivers the same attitude I give when I know where I’m going even when I don’t (at least my place required no effort to find thanks to taxi driver). Issan also informed me that a few nights ago a Chinese prostitute was found by police at the back of my rest house. Right on queue, a man drove down the back alley in search. About a minute later on queue another did too, and another… It certainly amused me anyway.