Traditional Lifestyles and Malay Culture Ensure the Good Life in Brunei

May 21, 2019 11:36 pm34 commentsViews: 183

Brunei Darussalam (meaning Abode of Peace) located on the north-west coast of Borneo, is one of the few countries in S.E. Asia to have looked at the environmental destruction and frenzied commercial congestion that afflicts its neighbours and decided to modernize more slowly. The result is a unique blend of modern facilities and services backed by tranquil lifestyles, Islamic values, and Malay culture and a land still mostly covered by rich tropical rainforest.

Economics of Brunei

Brunei gained full independence from Great Britain in 1984 and today the Sultan serves as Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Finance Minister. The family monarchy has assured Brunei of political stability over almost 700 years, backed up by the financial security of oil and gas resources.

Health & Well-Being:

Malaria was eliminated 20 years ago from this modern state, and medical facilities are well established, alongside housing and other community services. All of this means that crime rates are among the lowest in the region and you can enjoy a walk around town in the evenings, exploring night markets and sampling the cuisine, without fear of being mugged.

What to do in the City: Museums and Mosques.

In the city, the Brunei Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts dating back to the 9th and 10th centuries as has The Natural history Museum of Brunei. Two mosques should be mentioned, the Sir Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in the centre of the city, and the largest mosque in Borneo, the Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque in Kampong Kiarong, set in beautiful gardens.

The capital also has the largest water village in the world. It accommodates up to 40,000 people, in stilt houses linked by walkways. Some of the houses are styled in traditional timber, others are modern structures with up to date conveniences and sophisticated electronics hidden behind the simple facades. The village includes schools, clinics, mosques, fire stations, police and corner stores.

A Mangrove Safari upstream from the capital, along the deep channels that flow among the mangrove islands. It is well worth the early start as this is the best time to find the natural inhabitants active and visible. Cut the engine and drift with the current, or paddle slowly, watching out for wildlife.

Outside the capital.

From the centre of the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, it takes only one hour to reach primary rainforest, parklands, lakes, and even wreck diving. Once in the jungle you can raft down rapids listening to jungle sounds or sit by a quiet stream.

The Rainforest at Temburong.

Probably the most popular trip in Brunei is a visit to the Rainforest at Temburong – the most accessible primary rainforest in Borneo – by fast water taxi from Bandar Seri Begawan. With no road access and travel limited to traditional longboat through 12 kms. rapids, it can be wet and exciting.

Visitors to this National Park need to bring their sense of adventure as occasionally the longboat needs to be pushed over shallow water, or a river section must be walked around while the boatmen negotiate the rapids.

There are walkways which provide relatively easy passage above the rough terrain, and protect the lightly vegetated ground and fragile soils, following gentle gradients along the Temburong River. Suspension bridges cross rivers and streams.

The Rainforest Canopy Walkway is mind blowing. It rises over 60 metres from ridge top to above the tree tops and the view is magical – especially on a pre-dawn visit to experience the sunrise and the awakening of the jungle.

Brunei has managed to preserve its rainforests, mangroves, flora and fauna. Go visit it now while it is still in pristine condition. Who knows how long it will last.

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