Seeing the Sites in Bandar Seri Begawan

posted Feb 8, 2011, 9:13 PM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Feb 12, 2011, 2:17 PM ]

The architecture here in this country is rather different.  I cannot compare it to anything else that I have ever seen.  The roof lines sometimes look Japanese and then sometimes you will see an Arab influence.  In the Empire Hotel Lobby it is reminiscent of Egypt.  Whatever the style is I find it quite interesting to look at.  We had a map of the city and the 11 attractions to see so we started with the Arts and Handicraft Centre.  Upon entering the front doors, they automatically were opened by two door women.  I thought that was a nice touch.  We proceeded upstairs where you can view and purchase the crafts.  Predominantly fabrics and silver were the two crafts on display.  I was rather infatuated with these solid silver napkin rings at 52 Brunei dollars each.  Actually that was a bit of a steal for all the grams of silver used but also they were all engraved and hammered into a solid design.  They were beautiful.  I am not from the kind of wealth that entertains 52 dollars napkin rings.  I also have a table that seats 10.  I thought about buying a set of 4 but when I entertain it is usually a group of 6 at minimum.  It was not meant to be and I kept walking.  They were stunning though.  There were fabrics for scarves for the Muslim women and black hats for Muslim men etc.  There were brass objects and other things.  If I was the manager of this place then I would beef up the display area and get more jewellery pieces in and other things that would sell.  Overall if it would not have been for the napkin rings, I would say that this place is a bust.

From this centre you can view the water or town built on stilts which reside on the river.  It is quite a complicated little network of homes and streets and you can take a boat over there to tour around.  We took some pictures and thought about a boat ride but it did look like it was going to rain so we jumped in the car instead.
I plugged in another site into our GPS and changed my mind and asked Darren just to drive down the river and I am glad that we did.  We drove right by the prettiest site the Mosque. 
The sun was beginning to set and the colors coming off of the large gold domes was quite pretty and very camera ready.  We parked our car and jumped out and proceeded to snap away.  We have been in all sorts of mosques so far on this journey but some countries do not allow women into Mosques, we did not see any women going in or out so decided not to try.  There is a large boat outside the Mosque sitting on this moat like pond.
It looks like the Royal barge of Thailand and I really did not know what it was.  I would have to do my research first.  We wondered back and went through the two small malls that sit across from the Mosque and jumped back into the car to soothe our hunger pains and my insatiable desire for green curry.

Whoever is in charge of the grounds of this country and the road meridians and the parks and lawns should pat themselves on the back.  Keep up the good work.  All of the above are so nice to look at that I found myself taking many pictures of the meridians because they were that pretty.  You just don’t want to take pictures of plants in the middle of roadways but asking you’re 7 year old to run out to have his picture taken in between traffic is not very prudent either.  Anyways I am trying to get the idea across of how pretty they actually are.  There are ornamental trees in abundance and flowers and greenery done in beautiful designs. 
We decided to stop for a drink to satisfy our thirst first.  We walked into the Coffee Bean and walked out immediately due to the iced coffees being $5.50, the prices were a bit too tourist trap for me.  We walked two doors down and had drinks for a fraction of the cost in some local joint with free internet.  I had a great iced coffee for $1.50 and Daxtin had a Milo milkshake which is big in this country.  Darren got to catch up with emails on his IPOD and suck back his addiction (diet coke) and I ran across the street to a few fabric places to check on silk prices.  I would love to purchase a piece of silk in a plain pattern but the women here like big bold and bright bordering on garish prints.  But who am I to say such things, I am rather boring and like to stick to blacks and turquoises of the plainer nature.
We made our way back to Gadong which we have made our holiday hang out place.  Gadong has the only McDonald’s in Brunei and this is not why we were hanging out there but it was for The Mall and all of the shops that are clustered around The Mall. 
Now, normally a mall food court is the least likely place that I would gravitate towards for supper but we found this place that prepares your food fresh and they have a bunch of traditional Asian dishes to die for.  Think of it like a restaurant out of a window and it is called Pondak Sedap Salai & Bakar.  .  Plus it was fairly cheap.  Our nasi goring was 4 dollars and this to die for roasted chicken was only 6 dollars.  My green curry which left me salivating for more the whole next day was a measly 5 dollars.  We ate like kings and queens and kept going back night after night for more.  I would challenge any restaurant to compare their green curry to this restaurant.  It is simply to die for.  If you don’t like spice to your dish then stay away from this one but oh the heat is wonderful.  We ordered some unusual drinks that they said our special drinks.  Dax had a freshly squeezed green apple drink that was really good and Darren had a mixed fruit juice, also good and I ordered the layered drink that I think had soya milk, tea and coconut in it, but I really don’t know?  It was really good and I would like to figure out exactly what was in it to recreate at home.
On the way home we made one wrong turn and that was a good thing because we came across the second large Mosque which is also beautiful and it has the 4 large minarets flanking the four corners of the Mosque.  It is let up very well and is beautiful to take pictures of. 
It looks to be completely tiled on the outside and the design is striking.  The drive back to the Empire Hotel is only a short 10-12 minutes away on very good highways.  This gave my stomach the time necessary to digest the delicious green curry.