If there is only one place you have time to visit in Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), it must be Kampung Ayer (loosely translated as a village on water). People live, work and travel on the water, which is actually a river, a huge river leading to South China Sea. There are houses, schools, grocery stores, offices, police station, mosques, gas station and everything else a society needs to lead a common life. Yes their daily activities and transaction are done on the water. They travel from houses to house and other place in the motorized boats. Kampung Ayer reminds me of my trips to Venezia, Italy (2006) and also Inle Lake in Myanmar (2009). Unlike Inle Lake, they don’t grow vegetables and fruits on the water — they must have bought it at the supermarkets along the river banks. I was told that the number of families making Kampung Ayer their home are getting smaller and smaller as many move to the river banks. But it is really a refreshing experience for big city boys and girls to cruise around the Kampung Ayer on water taxi with nominal fees. Bring along the camera to shoot at waving kids. Water taxis available at the jettty at negotiable rate. We paid only B$10 per boat to the young boatman for a 20-minute boat ride. He had no passengers at that time and he just obliged. Beware that safety jackets may not be available on all boats. Have fun at own risk, so I said. Some photos below.
How to get here?
Kampung Ayer is right in the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. You will never miss it. It is right across the road from Yayasan piazza and shopping center. Water taxis can be found and hailed from the jetty and fares are negotiable. As a caution, safety jackets may not be available on private boats. How to get into Brunei? Royal Brunei Airlines flies to major cities in Asia Pacific and Middle East and other places. Catch one of their return flight to Brunei from your nearest airport. So easy ha! From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines fly directly daily to BSB. If you are already in Miri, Sarawak, just like yours truly, just catch the express bus Miri-Brunei. You need a valid passport of course, and if you are not Malaysians, you may need a valid visa. Check with your embassy, before getting on the bus or the aircraft. Read my other posting here for crossing land border Malaysia-Brunei from Miri side.