It was Friday evening from a month ago when I had my first flight alone. It’s a solo backpacking trip outside the country — to Brunei. I was supposed to be with my boyfriend but he had a sudden need to apply for a Schengen visa and his passport was still with the embassy. We should’ve rescheduled our flight to another date but guess what — I ended up doing the trip alone. And I would never regret that decision.


Before the Flight

Few hours before my flight, I was feeling this whirlwind inside me. It was like an endless loop of doubts — What will I do if I get lost? Should I talk to strangers? What if they abduct me or something? Can I even make it to my hotel? — It might sound funny but damn, I was really nervous! I even cried before I left TJ. But I wanted this, I told myself. So I mustered up my courage to board the plane with just my backpack and myself.


The Flight

As soon as I sat down my assigned seat, I started feeling anxious again. The plane was expected to arrive in Brunei at 10:45 PM. I haven’t booked a hotel room for that night because I was planning to wait in the airport until Saturday morning to save money. So I was a little worried about how I would spend the night in the airport. I was hoping there would be coffee shops open for 24 hours. I can’t seem to find any information in the internet so I had no way to confirm. As luck would have it, the two Pinays sitting beside me happened to live in Brunei. So when I got the chance to butt in their conversation, first thing I asked was how safe it is to travel in Brunei as a tourist. Their reaction was the same —

Ay oo naman, super safe sa Brunei. Pero hindi siya pang-turista. Wala ka masyado makikita doon.

Hearing the same thing from both of them about how safe it is to travel in Brunei gave me the comfort I needed since I boarded the plane. About having not much to see in the country? Not a problem for me. As long as it’s a place I’ve never been to yet, it doesn’t really matter. Then I finally asked if there are coffee shops or restaurants in the airport open for 24 hours.

Ay naku, wala. Nagsasara ang airport ng mga alas dose. Tsaka papaalisin ka nila doon, hindi ka pwede tumambay.

Telling me outright that the airport will close by 12AM took away the comfort they just gave me. Where the hell would I stay if the airport will close by midnight?! They asked me where I’m supposed to stay and I told them in Brunei Hotel but my reservation was for the next day. They were willing to drop me in my hotel if it wouldn’t be out of their way but it was so I just told them, Okay lang po. Hehe. Bahala na mamaya.” But the truth is, I was really scared. I didn’t know what to do. I knew there were taxis but I’ve researched they’re quite pricey. And I was afraid to ride one because yup — it would already be midnight by then. Even if they said it’s safe in Brunei, I’m still scared to be in the middle of the road with a complete stranger more so in a country I haven’t been yet. Like ever.


The Arrival

When we finally arrived and went through the immigration, I suddenly got excited. You know that feeling when you finally did something you thought you never could? That’s what I felt. I never thought I could ever have done this — traveling in an unknown country with me, myself and I. I know I just arrived but thinking that I was finally there, I felt a spark of fulfillment.

I walked pass through the baggage reclaim area since I only have my backpack with me. Unlike what I have imagined, Brunei Airport is small.

The Arrival and the waiting area are just shoulder to shoulder (if that makes it easier to describe).

Ate Joi, one of the two Pinays I met in the plane, was still with me because she was still waiting for her husband to fetch her. So my anxiety level was still below threshold. She actually tried to offer me a ride again once her husband arrives but I said it’s okay. In as much as I want to solve the question marks I have in my head, I don’t want to be a burden to other people. Besides, my hotel reservation was for the next day so I’m not really sure if it was a better idea to have them drop me there. To Ate Joi, if you happen to read this — thank you for your willingess to help me.

When Ate Joi left with her husband, I was left all by myself. And once again, my rollercoaster anxiety game took its toll. I can’t blame myself. This is something new to me. So before I breakdown and cry, I bought a travel sim card so I could chat TJ. Brunei Airport doesn’t seem to have any free wifi. All the available wifi have passwords. So I went to buy a travel sim. There were two options to choose from — DST and Progresif. The latter was cheaper but I’ve read somewhere that it doesn’t have LTE. I didn’t bother to ask since I don’t wanna risk having a slow connection. So I went straight to the DST counter, bought a travel sim and have them activate my data connection.

I sent a message to my boyfriend that I finally arrived. I told him that I’m afraid the airport will close by midnight. He told me to ask around but there weren’t any security guards or anyone from the information center (I actually forgot to ask the airport staff when I arrived, ugh). So I went to ask the only shop open by then —  Coffee Bean. But my heart sank when the barista said they’ll close by 12AM.


All Alone in Brunei International Airport

When clock striked 12, Coffee Bean really did close but from the looks of it, the airport was still busy. Passengers were still going out the arrival area. Families and friends (from what I guessed they were) were still waiting for their loved ones. So I told myself, okay maybe I could just wait here, hoping that it would still be busy until morning. I let TJ sleep even if he insisted to stay awake until 2AM. I told him it’ll be okay. So he said okay in response and told me to just chat him when something doesn’t seem right. I knew he’s worried too but I assured him I could manage since the airport by then was still full of people. I didn’t think that in just about another hour, the airport would turn out empty. Everyone was gone. I was literally alone.

No one was even there to shoo me away. But the airport didn’t actually close. The lights were still on, just dimmed. I got my travel journal out from my backpack and tried to write about everything that happened since my flight. I tried my best to feel at ease with just myself, writing in my small notebook while listening to upbeat songs to keep me awake. Until someone approached me asking if I have a place to stay. I told him yes while trying to be casual, hiding the nervousness in my voice. Then he left upon hearing me say it twice (because he coudn’t hear me the first time). Once he was gone, I kept my earphones away so I could hear when somebody will approach me again. I got my phone out and messaged TJ immediately. I told him someone approached me to ask if I have a place to stay and I’m not even sure he’s from the airport. I told him that I’m scared. Few minutes after, someone approached me again. This time, he asked if I need a taxi. I said, “No, thanks. I’m good.” Then he left. I saw TJ’s response about looking for a nearby hotel where I could stay. He said he’ll try to look for a room as well. And then the same guy, who asked me just few minutes ago, went back and sat beside me. Damn, sobrang kinakabahan ako. He was muttering something about a nearby hotel but I couldn’t actually understand him clearly. I tried to play it cool and told him — I’m good. I tried to have a conversation with him just so it wouldn’t seem like I’m nervous. I asked him if the airport will close eventually because the lights were dimmed. He said no it will not but he insisted it’s better to go to a hotel. He even insisted that he can offer me a free ride. TRIGGERED NA SI AQOU. I told him, I can just wait here until morning. Then he left again. So I finally asked TJ if he can contact Brunei Hotel and ask if it’s still possible to book a room. He agreed and was actually thinking of the same thing we can do that time. Sobrang kabado na talaga ako kasi ang kulit ni Kuya.And as if God heard me, the airport cleaners suddenly appeared. I didn’t notice them at first because I was busy chatting TJ and doing my research in case Brunei Hotel won’t be available to entertain guests 2 hours past midnight. Then I heard them talking to each other. Guess what — they’re Filipinos. Nakahinga na din ako sa wakas. Iba pa rin talaga kapag kababayan mo. I asked them if the airport will close and was told —no it won’t. I could actually stay. They even told me to transfer to the area near the restaurant because it’s cold where I was sitting. I said it’s okay. I told them about the guy who kept on asking me to go with him. And what surprised me was their response —

Ah. Opo Ma’am, ganyan talaga yang mga taxi driver na yan. Pipilitin ka talaga nilang ihatid sa hotel. Pero safe yan Ma’am. Sobrang safe ka dito sa Brunei kaya wag kang mag-alala.

Hearing it the third time — that it is very safe in Brunei — made me realize that I’ve been paranoid for nothing. I guess I was used to a country where people don’t trust each other because some people kept doing things that make you doubt your safety. Yes, I’m talking about crimes. And it’s a shame.


Brunei at Midnight

After a few minutes, a chauffer was looking for me. He had my name printed on a paper under the Brunei Hotel logo. That’s when I realized TJ’s been chatting about it. He did contact Brunei Hotel and luckily, a room was still available. So I followed the guy who fetched me and hopped in the service car. While on the road, I noticed the city was dark and empty. I didn’t see anyone walking in the streets. I only saw one car and nothing else. There were lights that lit the highway and some buildings but aside from those, I could see nothing but complete darkness. It was like a ghost town. I asked the chauffer if Brunei have some kind of curfew where people are not allowed to go out at a certain time and he said there’s none. He just mentioned that most establishments are already closed after sunset. I wonder why was it like that. I just thought it’s something not to be scared about but something to appreciate. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Brunei is seen as a safe country — almost everyone is already inside their households when the sun is out.


Where to Stay: Brunei Hotel

When TJ was looking for a hotel room, he considered looking for a hotel with good & safe location and with good reviews from guests. He didn’t consider the price this time because he’s concerned with my safety and that’s all what matters. So he booked a hotel room in Brunei Hotel.

That midnight I checked-in, I realized the receptionist was a Filipino too. I told him about my airport encounter but then again, I heard another one speaking about how safe it is in Brunei. So I guess it’s really true. I went up to my room, washed my face, had a quick call with TJ and finally slept. It was a really long night. I had to rest.

The next day, I woke up just in time for the breakfast buffet.

Location: 95, Jalan Pemancha, BSB, BS 8811, P.O.Box 50, BSB, BS 8670, Negara Brunei Darussalam

Contact Number: +673 2244 828

E-mail: reservations@thebruneihotel.com


Bandar Seri Begawan: Walking Tour

My plan for this trip was to do a walking tour around the city. I had no detailed directions prepared though so I just relied on the offline map I downloaded prior to this trip. As soon as I got out my hotel, I was greeted by a water taxi driver. He was offering me a BND 20 ride for an hour around the water village. I took my phone out and did a quick conversion and it turned out to be a little expensive than what I expected. That’s around Php 700 for an hour! Since I already spent extra dollars last night for my hotel room, I politely turned him down and preferred to do the trip alone instead.

DAY 1

I started walking towards the Tourist Information Center since it’s just near the hotel. I was hoping I could get more information about the city. My blog posts rely mostly on the information I read from brochures apart from my own experiences. So I would like to grab something to bring home and refer to when the time comes that I need to blog about my trip — which is now.

Art Gallery

On the way to the tourist information center, a guard in a military uniform caught my attention. So I looked up and saw that the door he’d been watching over was actually an art gallery — Abode of Peace & The Lion City: A Brunei-Singapore Exhibition. A lady wearing a hijab suddenly appeared and smiled at me. I smiled back to show respect and then I asked if the entrance is free. She said yes. So I entered and looked around.

The exhibit celebrates this deep-rooted friendship between the two sovereign states of Brunei and Singapore. This friendship has grown over the past five decades. I’m not sure if I’ve read that in history books when I was in high school but it’s quite compelling to know about it as I tried to read the writings inside.

The most interesting one I’ve read was about the Currency Interchangeability Agreement between the two. I didn’t know you can use the Bruneian dollar in Singapore and vice versa! That’s something cool right? I wonder when we’ll ever have one currency in all the countries. Or is that even realistic? Don’t start telling me about bitcoins.

The exhibition will be held in Brunei from November 2017 to April 2018.

Mercu Dirgahayu 60

After I indulged myself with the history of Brunei, I was quite amazed by how the Bruneian government loves its people. I’ve read about the different programs the government have for them. So when I read about this monument they called Mercu Dirgahayu 60 or 60th Year Monument, I was not surprised to know that it’s actually a gift to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on his 60th birthday given by the people.

I’m not overstating the fact that the locals love their government because I happened to actually talk to a fellow Filipina who works for a diplomat. The diplomat works closely with the Sultan for matters concerning foreign affairs. And as someone who gets to work with the sultan, her boss often gets to talk to random people about their leadership and he said he never heard anything negative. She had been working in Brunei for the past 12 years so I don’t think she was making up stories. She also said that most of the locals are really treating the royal family as Gods. She said that in a good way. I think what she meant was the locals have that high respect for the Sultan and his family who are mainly the ones governing the country.

Water Jetty

Just beside the monument, I found the water jetty I asked about in the tourist information center.Water taxis are one mode of transportation in Bandar Seri Begawan. And I didn’t really plan riding one but I did!

It’s what the locals used to ride to get from and to Kampong Ayer and even other parts of Brunei.

The ride costs BND 0.5 (approximately Php 18) to get you across Brunei River. It’s only a 5-minute ride!

Kampong Ayer

I’ve read about this water village when I was searching for the places to visit in Brunei. I was not really planning on going there because I was too afraid to ride anything. Remember my plan was just to walk around Bandar. But when I learned that Kampong Ayer is actually just 5 minutes away from the main land, I had this sudden urge to visit it at least for the first half of the day.

When I stepped down the boat and started walking, the first thing I noticed was how deserted the village looks like. It was Saturday then and I am pretty sure they don’t work on Saturdays. Or do they?

I continued walking, praying that someone might actually appear so I won’t have to be paranoid again. And then I remembered the comments I’ve been receiving from the fellow Filipinos about how safe it is in Brunei. So I reminded myself that I’ll be okay. I just thought they’re all just inside their humble stilt houses.

Then after a while, I started seeing people walking to nearby water jetty to get a taxi ride. So I thought, Oh maybe most of them are in the mainland. I continued walking until I got tired and paused for a while. I noticed the houses around me were more modern compared to the ones I saw earlier. And look at those stilts! It was really an amazing experience to see them firsthand. I only saw them in architectural magazines I happened to browse through when I was still desperate to become an architect (that’s another story).

So anyway, I started to feel hungry and tried to look for a nearby restaurant by looking at my offline map. I only saw “Disini Ada Jual: Eat and Drink” and when I got there, it was still closed. Maybe I’ll just eat in the mainland, I thought to myself. I looked for a nearby water jetty and saw one near the Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery. So I decided to come visit it before I get back to the mainland.

There were artifacts inside that proved that Kampong Ayeralready existed more than a thousand years ago. Traces of settlements were discovered along the banks of the Brunei River during the 14th century. And do you know it’s known as the Venice of the East?But wait, it’s even referred to as the largest water village in the world! It was definitely an amazing experience to have visited it myself.

Sungai Kedayan Eco-Corridor: BSB’s New Park

I was really hungry by the time I finished looking around the gallery in Kampong Ayer. I saw a restaurant just before I went across the river but I thought it would be better to have the water taxi driver drop me in the jetty nearest to my next destination. That way, I wouldn’t have the need to walk an extra mile. I paid BND 2 (approximately Php 70) to get me from the gallery to the port in Bandar Seri Begawan’s New Park which took about 10 minutes.

I looked at my map again to check if there were any restaurants nearby. Then I saw Jollibee across the mosque which will take me a long walk from my current position. I didn’t see any local restaurants nearby and I was really hungry that I didn’t have the energy to further look around. So what I decided to do was to visit the mosque on the way to Jollibee. It was almost 1 o’clock by then and the sun was really making the long walk I had to take, from the jetty to the mosque, more unbearable. But when I finally saw the mosque in front of my dumbfounded self, all those sacrifices were wiped out in no time.

Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque

The Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque was already visible from the water taxi ride I had earlier. But seeing it that near was enchanting. It felt like someone put a magic spell on its golden domes that I can’t help myself look at it with wonder. Are those real gold?

I’m not really sure if it was made of gold but just looking at it can make you believe it really was. Or is it just me? Am I just really hungry? I doubt it. All the tourists I’ve seen in the mosque were looking at the dome with wonder.

The mosque is an oasis of tranquility within the bustle of downtown Bandar. Completed in 1958 and named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, it was built with craftmanship that reflects classical Islamic architecture.

The lagoon replicated the 16th century mahligai or Royal barge where religious ceremonies such as Holy Qur’an readings were staged during 1960’s and early 1970’s.

The mosque has been regarded as Brunei’s architectural achievement and has over the years established itself to become the country’s most recognizable landmark.

There’s a tourist route for Non-Muslims but when I was there, a praying ritual was being held so non-muslims are not allowed inside.

I met two Filipinas again when I was there. They said they were on leave that day. They were working in Brunei for the past 2-3 years already and when taking a day off, they usually go to Bandar.Seriously, almost all the people I’ve been meeting in the city were Filipinos! Anyway, we had a very quick conversation kasi gutom na talaga ako. Huhu!

Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien (Royal Grandstand)

After eating my long-awaited lunch, I recovered my zest. So I started walking again and went over to my next destination which is just nearby — The Royal Grandstand.

This is a historical site where the proclamation of Brunei’s independence from United Kingdom was made on January 1, 1984. It is still used to held  national events such as National Events such as National Day, His Majesty’s Birthday and Maulidur Rasul celebrations.

Change of Brunei Town’s Monument

The capital of Brunei was previously known as Bandar Brunei or Brunei Town. It was only in 1970 when its name was changed to Bandar Seri Begawan.

Timeplace Monument

I saw the timeplace monument when I was about to cross the street. And right then and there, I was inspired to do a photo walk. And I never expected that I would be able to appreciate the city’s charm despite of the fact that it felt like it was stuck in yesterday. No modern buildings around, no subways — just plain simple life.

I guess it’s just a matter of changing your perception towards some things in this world.

Related Post: A Photo Blog: A Rich Country Stuck in Yesterday — Brunei

So anway, thanks to Mr. Clock for giving me that spark of change.

Memorial Clock Monument built on July 11, 1959 to commemorate the visit of His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Yang Di-Pertuan Agung of Malaysia. This monument is located in the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan to function as a ‘Zero-Mile-Clock’. It is used to indicate the starting point of distances between Bandar Seri Begawan and other places in Brunei.

The Royal Regalia Museum

The last destination for the first day of my walking tour was The Royal Regalia Museum. This time, I got to see that Brunei is really a rich country. Or should I say — the royal family is really freakin‘ rich!

The Royal Regalia Building is located in the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan. It was built to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the Sultan’s accession to the throne in 1992. The museum is home to a collection of Royal Regalia, including the royal chariot, gold and silver ceremonial armory, the jewel encrusted crowns used during the coronation and a replica of the throne which was used by the Sultan on state occasions.

I didn’t get the chance to take pictures inside the gallery itself because cameras are not allowed, even cellphones. But if ever you’re going to visit the country, you should visit this too! Believe me, you’ll be stunned by all you’d see inside — that is if you’re the type pf person to appreciate collections and such.

And just before I went back to the hotel, I met another Filipina. This time, she’s a tourist just like me.

At first, we were talking about the places we’ve visited in Brunei. She said she arrived in the city Thursday that same week, coming from Kota Kinabalu. Yes, you can ride a bus from KK and it will directly take you to Bandar. Anyway, after the rain stopped (it rained pala I forgot to mention), we started walking back to our hotel together. Malapit lang din siya kung saan ako nag-sstay. And then what I didn’t expect was we had a heart-to-heart talk on the way. Who would’ve thought you can meet someone and then be able to hear their stories just like how you would hear it from an old friend?

I guess friendship really can’t be measured by how long you’ve known each other.

DAY 2

The next day, I stayed in my hotel until check-out time. Duh! Sayang ang bayad! Napagastos talaga ako this time but ok lng at least I was safe. And it’s a great feeling to treat yourself from time to time. Tee-hee!

Kianggeh Market

Anyway, after I checked out, I decided to look for a coffee shop where I could stay while waiting for my evening flight. And I happened to see (on the map) Gloria Jean’s nearby so I started walking towards GJ. Before I even see it, I passed by Kianggeh Market.

It’s the cleanest public market I’ve been to!

I bought bornean dilis and some local crackers for pasalubong.

Chinese Temple

Just across Kianggeh Market, I saw this Chinese Temple. I only spent like 5 minutes then I head out immediately to continue looking for a coffee shop.

Yayasan Complex (Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanai Bolkiah Complex)

Gloria Jeans was closed. Poor me. So I ended up going to Yayasan Complex instead.

And I just realized, eto pala yung usually kong nakikita sa pictures! Good thing I ended up going here. It’s actually one of the city’s shopping center. And, dito pala ako galing the day before, when I ate in Jollibee!


Where To Eat

Speaking of where to eat, please don’t expect me to be an expert about that. Because I am not really that kind of foodie who loves to explore something new. So most of the time, I end up eating either in fastfoods or in local restaurants but nearly the same dish as to those I’m already familiar with. But for your reference —

Nasi Katok Mama

If you’re on a budget, your best option is to eat their local dishes in local restaurants. If you’re within downtown Bandar, you can try Nasi Katok in Nasi Katok Mama.

Guess how much? Only BND 1! That’s only approximately Php 37!

De Royalle Cafe

When I was looking for some place to eat dinner, I didn’t expect that most stores were actually already closed. I knew the first night I was in the city, it was like a ghost town but that was already past midnight! It’s just 8PM and almost all the shops were already closed — like Wtf?! San ako kakain nito?! I remembered the chauffer mentioned about having most establishments being closed after sunset but I didn’t think he literally meant that. I thought shops would close by 10PM. Butmost shops really were already closed when I went around to check the nearby buildings.

I panicked. Good thing I walked a little further and saw this cafe. And luckily, they serve dinner too!

I spent the next hour eating dinner. And guess what — everyone serving in the cafe were Filipinos too! So I had conversations with them. They were working for 10 long years in Brunei!

Then after chatting with them, it rained. So I needed some time to wait for it to stop. And while waiting, who would’ve thought I would meet a philosopher?! Like for real! I thought at first he was just a blogger (not that it’s anything less) because I saw him typing in a familiar platform. But when he talked to me, I learned that he was working as a philosopher and was actually writing about society and life. I didn’t get to catch his name when he asked mine but I mentioned that I write a blog too — just not for work. Our conversation was a quick one because I needed to go back to my hotel immediately right after the rain stopped so I could have a good night call with my boyfriend.

Ochado

Few hours before my flight to Manila, I was looking for a coffee shop within the city where I could kill time. I didn’t see anything open aside from Coffee Bean. Then I saw this milk tea shop — Ochado — inside Yayasan Complex. I got curious because there were quite a lot of people lining up to buy their milk tea. So I told myself I could stay there for a while. They have a lot of options and I even forgot the name of my order but I could say it was good. I also tried their buttermilk chicken. Even if it’s filled with buttermilk, I could still taste some ginger! I guess Bruneian love ginger that they put it in almost every dish. This ain’t a Bruneian store though but a Japanese franchised store, at least from what I’ve read in the internet. Tee-hee!

Jollibee

Out of all the countries I’ve been to this year, it was my first time to see Jollibee. And guess what, they have carbonara in their menu! To Jollibee Philippines — can we have this added to ours?


Estimated Breakdown of Expenses

Okay, I have to be honest. This is not what I’ve expected I would spend in Brunei. If only I knew that the airport is usually a deserted place at midnight, I should’ve looked for a cheaper place to stay and booked two nights for a lesser price. But I don’t regret anything. As some people would say — I’ll charge it to experience. But here’s the breakdown of my expenses in case you’re curious. Again, you can spend so much lesser than what I spent in total!

Roundtrip Flight from/to Manila = BND 102 (approx. Php 3,776)

Hotel Accomodation (Brunei Hotel*) = BND 131 (approx. Php 4,865) / night > BND 262 (approx. Php 9,730)

Airport Transfer* (to Hotel) = BND 20 (approx. Php 740) > BND 25* (approx. Php 925 at midnight onwards)

Bus Fare to Airport (from Bandar Seri Begawan) = BND 1 (approx. Php 37)

Food = BND 30 (approx. Php 1,110)

DST Tourist Sim Card LTE (with 1 Gb data / 30 days) = BND 25 (approx. Php 925)

TOTAL ESTIMATED EXPENSES: BND 445 (approx. Php 16,000+) excluding Travel Tax and Souvenirs


Things to Keep in Mind

  • Tourist Visa for Filipino Citizens traveling to Brunei is not required provided that the intended stay in the country will not exceed 14 days.
  • Recommended schedule of flight to Brunei should either be morning or afternoon. You may have saved a few hundreds booking an evening flight but you might not want to experience the dilemma I had that I actually ended up booking a room at midnight for the same overnight cost.
  • Brunei is safe for tourists but it’s never wrong to keep your guard up at all times.
  • Brunei is a muslim country. Please do consider that when planning your #OOTDs.
  • Brunei International Airport does not close at midnight BUT all stores are already closed after all the passengers alight the last midnight flight. It’s not recommended to stay in the airport overnight. In case your expected arrival will be at night, I would recommend that you book a room to stay instead of waiting in the airport. Also, the last bus scheduled to leave from the airport to the city of Bandar Seri Begawan is at 6PM. After the bus leaves for its last trip, your only option would be to take a taxi. So if you can arrange to have your hotel fetch you, that would be a lot more convenient.
  • The currency in Brunei is Bruneian Dollar (BND). There are foreign exchange counters in NAIA Terminal 3 but I didn’t see any in Brunei International Airport (not sure though if I just missed it). So I would recommend for you to have your money exchanged prior to your flight. In case of emergencies, yes there are ATMs in Brunei International Airport. Just go up the Departure Area.
  • You can buy a travel sim card with data as low as BND 10 (approx. Php 370) in Progresif but I’ve read somewhere that it doesn’t have LTE. If you don’t mind that then it will be a lot cheaper than BND 25 (approx. Php 925) offered by DST.
  • I personally use maps.me as my offline map for the travels I’ve had since our Kota Kinabalu trip. They’re reliable! I already used them in Hong Kong too — and the streets, tourist spots and establishments are 95% accurate. So if you’re not going to register for a data connection, an offline map is something that you need. Even if you do have data, you might want to save it for your IG stories. So better yet, download the app and the map itself. Tee-hee!


The Experience In Summary

I know this was a very long post but in summary, my experience in Brunei is something I would treasure as I live the days of my life.

  • It was my very first solo backpacking trip. I never thought I could’ve done this at all but I did! I actually wanted more backpacking trips alone but let’s see! I love that I felt free doing things on my own but when I thought about it, I felt a bit sad that I didn’t get to experience them with TJ. At least now, even if I won’t be able to do it again, I could say that I already did it at least once in my life!
  • I’ve had unexpected encounters in Brunei International Airport that taught me not to doubt everyone around me. It’s hard but I guess everyone deserves to be trusted in one way or another.
  • I met a lot of fellow Filipinos and got to hear their stories about their lives that I found interesting to hear because I love stories. Period.
  • I got to meet a philosopher about the same age as I am! That’s something I don’t usually experience in my everyday life and I won’t forget about what he said that the world needs someone to study about society and life because no matter how we see it, most people forget that we’re here for a higher purpose — and I’ll help them realize it. That is when I asked him about what made him decide to study philosophy. Not really sure with the exact words he said but that’s how I remembered them. Now I wanted to become like him! New mission: To be a philosopher. But can I skip the studying part? Tee-hee!
  • I got to observe and appreciate how the locals live a simple life despite being the 4th (or 5th) richest country in the world. It taught me that living simple is enough. Or rather — simply living is enough.

Thank you for reading.

I hope to have inspired you to travel solo at least once in your lives.

P.S. Leave no trace but memories.

With Love,

Danica

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