Brunei – A Place Like No Other

It is considered the 5th richest country in the world. However, the daily life of the people of Brunei, is a completely different story. 

First, their houses… Well, to me they looked more like slumps. 

But noone would complain. Fear and to some extent, indoctrination stops the people of Brunei from criticizing the mighty Sultan.

Its power, wealth and grip on the country can be felt everywhere you go. There are pictures of the royal family at the airport, on the streets, in the mosques. There is even a picture of his Majesty private jet on the ceiling of the one and only mall.

And, if you did not have enough, then you can visit the Royal regalia building to learn more about the Sultan’s life and see a collection of royal regalia. The sheer opulence of the place will surely impress. And, if nothing else, will provide some respite from the oppressive heat. 

But, as it’s the case with many rich people, enough is not a word to consider. So, to keep the riches within the family, the Sultan decided to even marry someone within the royal family.

Why share if you can keep it all to yourself?

Good question!

There are two famous mosques in Brunei: The Omar ali saifuddien mosque and the Jame asr hassanul boskia mosque.

The latter, famous for its golden doms, has two entrances: one for the regular people of Brunei and one for the sultan. Trust me you will know which one is which.

The one for us, the regular people of the world, looks more like a back door, while the one for the royal family is imposing and beautiful. Apparently, even in front of God, the Sultan does not believe we are all equal.

Inside, the opulence of the mosque might make you feel uneasy, crushed, sad. You might not perceive the mosque as a gathering place for the prayer, but more as a sign of the Sultan’s powers.

If that’s the case, move on.

The Kampong ayer in Brunei, the worlds largest water village, awaits you.

With 30000 people all living on unique wooden houses on stilts over the Brunei river, it might feel a bit crowded, but also a bit more homey.

Everything is very close in Brunei so, two days will be more than enough if you want to see everything. Just keep in mind that the transport system is almost non-existent and you are lucky if you find a taxi. So, sturdy shoes and a strong desire to walk in the heat is a must carry-on.

A word of caution: you cannot buy any alcohol or cigars in Brunei. So, leave your old sins at the airport and instead, get addicted to Gadong night market. Here, for $1, you can buy small bags of delicious food cooked right on the spot.


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