Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekend in Brunei

Brunei Darussalam is one of the countries that is close to home but which I only got to visit recently.  We took the midnight plane and we were in our destination in almost two hours. It was just like flying to Davao City.

The ongoing construction of the airport broke the silence of the night. Going through the immigration was a breeze. Two of the staff of the Le Gallery Suites Hotel (where we were billeted) picked us up at the airport. It was almost three in the morning when we finally settled in our room.

Le Gallery Suites Hotel is located within the Crown Princess Complex along Jalan Tutong. It is near the airport and at the same time a 15-minute walk to the city center of Begawan.

The budget hotel is aptly called Le Gallery because of the many paintings that adorned the lobby and hallway. It was like walking through an art gallery.

The room for three is at BND 60/night. It isn't spanking new. The toilet and bath has seen better days. The television set is old. And I did catch an episode of Mara Clara (of the new generation) as well as the movie My Cactus Heart on RTB2. But the internet connection inside the room is strong. 

We woke up so late that we were the last group to have our breakfast at the adjoining Charcoal BBQ and Grill. It was a choice of Continental (bread, sausage and eggs) or Asian (chicken, egg, and noodles or rice) breakfast. It comes with either a cup of coffee or tea.

The upside of staying at Le Gallery is having Filipino staff at the hotel. They have been very helpful with the directions and in optimizing our stay in the country. The hotel is likewise within a shopping complex so it is close to restaurants,  shopping malls and even a bowling center. If you miss Filipino meals, Jollibee is just a stone's throw away. And the best deal for currency exchange is at a money changer outlet just a few steps from the hotel.

Charcoal BBQ and Grill next to the Le Gallery Suites. It's like being in a movie gallery with film posters splashed in almost every space of the restaurant's walls (including the restrooms).

A good place to have steak, ribs and lamb dishes.

Can't be any prouder! Jollibee is a popular brand in Brunei.

A portion of the Crown Princess Complex
(While we were there, a fire broke out in a building just a few blocks away from the hotel. It torched the top floor of the building.)

Being in Brunei is like being in Philippines. There are so many Filipinos, particularly in the hotel and F and B industries as well as in the health services. Yes, the Pinoys are highly regarded in this side of the world even with the looming localization of jobs. But the clean environ, the seemingly smooth flow of traffic of cars  and the fact that oil is cheaper than water (around BND 0.30 of gas/liter to BND 1 of water/liter) would jolt one back to reality that this isn't the Philippines. 

The country has malls but not as humongous as the ones we have in the Philippines. Their grocery section is well-stocked with imported goodies, including food items from the Philippines. And for souvenirs, you can get them at the museums or as we discovered, we also bought a bunch at the grocery of The Mall in Gadong. They sell keychains, bookmarks, ref magnets and other similar pasalubong items.

Two to three days is enough to explore BSB and the nearby towns. But the country also boasts of beautiful outdoors so the nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts would probably add another day or two to go on a nature trip. 

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Thank you for visiting Traipsing Chronicles. I hope you will continue walking with me as I wander and see the world. Cheers!

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