Stories from my travels around the world


Brunei, June 2004

Bandar Seri Begawan

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Brunei
Brunei

On the square in the middle of the shopping centre I saw this big fountain. You can clearly see that money is not a real problem in Brunei. The public buildings are well kept and decorated with large features like for example this fountain. Since I just travelled from busy bustling Bangkok; this calm city with lots of space between buildings, wide roads and quiet streets was quite the contrast.

Green, clean and rich

Brunei
Brunei

Big pots full of exotic plants, clean streets, everything so well-kept; that was my first impression of Brunei: clean, very clean and rich. And maybe also a bit boring ;-) But there are some really nice things to visit in the capital city like the Omar Ali Saiffudin Mosque, Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque and the Kampung Ayer (water village).

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

The Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is located in the centre of town. It is very impressive to see from he outside and dominates the city centre of Bandar Seri Begawan. The mosque was built in 1958 and is named after the 28th Sultan, Omar Ali Saifuddien. Its giant golden dome just glitters in the sunlight, giving the mosque an unreal look. I thought it looked so impressive and so beautiful. It is said that it is one of the most magnificent mosques of South-East Asia, and I can believe that. I wish I could have taken a look inside as that must be just as amazing as the outside. The interior is luxurious with Italian marble walls, gold mosaics and English stained glass.

You can visit the mosque on Sunday to Wednesday from 8 am to 12, 2 pm to 3 pm and 5pm to 6pm. The mosque is closed to non-Muslims on Thursdays. It is opened on Saturday, but only if there are no official functions the next day.

Upon entering the mosque you have to take of your shoes. Woman are asked to cover their heads and dress conservatively.

The Royal Regalia Building

 The Royal Regalia Building
The Royal Regalia Building

The Royal Regalia Building, is one of the museums in Brunei. It is located in the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan and it was built in 1992 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Sultans accession to the throne. Not only the inside is worth seeing, also the outside is worth while taking a look at with is gold pattered dome.

Inside the Royal Regalia you can see a collection of priceless Royal items and jewels. The main feature when you enter the building is seeing the amazing and huge Royal Chariot (see picture). Further inside the museum you can see a replica of the throne, gold and silver ceremonial armoury and the traditional jewel-encrusted coronation crowns.

Opening hours:
Saturday to Thursday: 8:30am - 5pm
Friday: 9am - 11:30am & 2:30pm - 5pm

The Royal Chariot
The Royal Chariot

When you enter the Royal Regalia Building you need to take off your shoes before entering. You can take pictures inside, but only in the main hall where the Royal Chariot is (see picture). And the only place to do that from, is from a red carpet surrounding the area. So that limits your possibilities a bit to take pictures :-) Although the options for taking pictures are limited, it was fun to give it a little try anyway. So bring your camera if you can.

One problem while taking pictures is that the Royal Chariot is HUGE! So huge that it is hard to fit into the whole chariot into the lens of the picture, hahaha, but I think I managed to get most of it in :-)

When you enter the rest of the museum you must hand in your camera for the time being. Besides the Royal Chariot you can also see some gold and silver ceremonial armoury in the main hall (see the next few pictures)

The Royal Umbrellas

 The Royal Umbrellas
The Royal Umbrellas

These are the multicoloured umbrellas with a golden top. I just thought they look so cheerful and sunny, but they are probably terribly expensive. They are carried by the Awang-Awang (Aristocrats) who stand on either side of an area below the Peningkah Lapau.

Brass spears and colourfull shields

Brass spears and colourfull shields
Brass spears and colourfull shields

Another colourful item that is carried by the aristocrats during the ceremony. In this picture you can see the brass spears together with the colourful shield. The whole parade much be an amazing thing to watch, huge colourful and made to impress people.

The Royal Swords and shields

The Royal Swords and shields
The Royal Swords and shields

These are the four Pedang Kerajaan (Royal Swords) which are carried by the sons of the Cheterias (Common Nobles). In their left had they hold the Perisai Kerajaan (Royal Shields). Pay attention to the many diamonds in the shield. I don't even want to guess what one of these shields might cost, a fortune for sure!

Read more on page 3 about Brunei....

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