An Apathetic Weekend in Brunei

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I visited Brunei a few weeks ago and before I left – everyone was falling over themselves to tell me how boring the country is. “I’ll show you,” was my response as I returned to Borneo for the first time in years. With the goal to prove everyone wrong, by having the best time imaginable in Brunei and shoving it in their big, negative faces!

…It was a very boring weekend.

It wasn’t so bad that I feel the need to slate it. The people were very lovely, the place was clean and it was easy to get around. It was just….ok. It was like being on a date with a ‘nice girl’ who I didn’t really have anything in common with.

Ulu Temburon

Ulu-Temburong-National-Park

The Ula Temburon National Park was ‘nice’ and ‘ok.’ It was the best thing I did there actually. I might even go completely over the top and say it was ‘not so bad.’ I wanted to scuba dive but I caught sunstroke (again in Borneo, like last time – why do I never learn?) So maybe that was the missing piece of the tedious jigsaw.

Proboscis Monkey Spotting

I took a water taxi around the houses on stilts (yawn) and went on the search for the monkeys who have noses that look like willies. They didn’t show up so that was pretty disappointing. I’ve seen them before though so off I went for a brew…

High Tea at the Empire Hotel

The Empire Hotel is a very posh hotel – so posh that the Sultan of Brunei owns it. It’s reportedly running at a major loss, but being kept open to save face. You can go there during the day for ‘high tea’ and drink tea with scones, sandwiches and cakes while overlooking the ocean.

I did other stuff like snap the Sultan’s palace and visit mosques, but I just wasn’t ‘feeling’ the place at all. Feel free to tell me what I missed out on and anything I overlooked.

Song for the moment – ‘Nothing ever happens,’ by Del Amitri

“And nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all
The needle returns to the start of the song
And we all sing along like before.”



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3 comments

  1. wesley Reply

    Great article! I love it.

  2. F.Mogheth Reply

    I decided to visit Brunei simply to add an extra stamp to my passport visiting from neighbouring Malaysia (Kota Kinabalu). I consider myself very well traveled and lucky to have been to more than 89+ countries and counting so I consider myself open minded when seeing other places. I grew up in a Muslim country so know the general train of thought of similar religious countries. I am as well someone who cannot get bored easily even if placed in the middle of the Sahara. So spending 2 nights in Bandar Seri Begawan was indeed an experience and in my book thee most boring place on the face of our blue planet. I tried so hard to figure out the best time when locals come out as I lived in the heart of the city. I failed to see anything that could be called a crowd. Not in the morning, not at noon and definitely none in the evening. Friday (weekend) that should have the main mall packed had 6 people inside at 6pm… Every shop with staff ready but no one buying anything. A couple of fast food outlets and always with no more than 2-3 people inside. The so called main street has a couple of shops with nothing to offer, forget about postcards, a couple of pharmacies, a Burger King and a KFC and The End…

    Nothing really of interest … Let’s say a couple of pointless museums, the mall, the river side, the mosque are all within one square bloc (no more than 500x500m). In a way its almost possible to photograph the whole place holding the cam and taking shots 360 and you got it! The center is manageable in less than 15 minutes walk with NOTHING interesting to see. The only audible thing was the main Mosque all day and all evening and nothing else. Even the Mosque isn’t that all impressive and you can find more interesting architecture elsewhere…

    I think the Sultan is definitely a smart guy and as he wants to create a true Muslim country, he found the best way to get people to follow. He is simply boring them to death! Having nothing else to do has them flock to prayers just to kill time!

    If Brunei is ever on your list… just pass it… Not worth the visit and I am surprising myself as I never had this experience anywhere else…

    In less than a day I gnawed my left leg from utter boredom and was wise to keep my right leg intact as I needed it to escape the next day!

    1. Anthony Middleton Reply

      Wow – 89 countries and more! I’m envious of you!

      “I think the Sultan is definitely a smart guy and as he wants to create a true Muslim country, he found the best way to get people to follow. He is simply boring them to death! Having nothing else to do has them flock to prayers just to kill time!”

      Hahahha brilliant! Looks like we’re in agreement – lovely people, but boring country. Well worth a miss!