Our mother had a choice between Batanes and an out-of-the-country trip – she chose the latter. Why? While she knows that Batanes is really breathtaking, she wanted a stamp on her passport. 🙂
As our brother was based in Brunei back then, we opted to explore two of the most popular cities in the island of Borneo. We flew to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei and travelled by land to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in Malaysia. Mom finally got her wish. She had her passport stamped – eleven times in April 2011 alone! 🙂
It was the first time that our family set off to travel outside the Philippines, which makes the trip one of the most memorable trips that I have ever done. We’ve met several people from all walks of life – Filipinos working overseas, the Muslims from Tawi-Tawi who have migrated to KK, Bruneians and Malaysians. As Muslims dominate the two cities, I was exposed for the first time to the Islamic way of life. The travel was a good prelude to my life two months after – as I left the Philippines to join my husband here in the Middle East.
Here are the highlights of our Brunei-Malaysia trip:
1. Visiting the picturesque mosques of Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan
The Floating Mosque in Kota Kinabalu
Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
This is the larger of the two most famous mosques in Bandar Seri Begawan. It is also known locally as the Kiarong Mosque and is said to be the biggest in Brunei. The four main minarets and two golden domes of the structure are a fantastic sight when illuminated in the evening. The gold domes of the mosque shine as the carefully designed landscape that surrounds it.
For a while, I thought I was affluent! =P
|We were very small in comparison with the lobby’s towering columns.|
|Photo courtesy of Iyah|
|Photo courtesy of Iyah|
We travelled by land from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kota Kinabalu, which entailed us to make several border crossings. From Brunei’s Bandar Seri Begawan, we drove through Sarawak, Malaysia in Kuala Lurah and crossed back to the Temburong district of Brunei via Bangar. We crossed the Pandaruan River via a ferry (in the Philippines, we call it ‘roro’) to access an appendage of Sarawak and finally entered Sabah, Malaysia.
Crossing several borders meant filling up several immigration cards, stopping by the different checkpoints and getting numerous passport stamps. We could have flown to Kota Kinabalu from Bandar Seri Begawan but this was much more exciting! It was my first time to cross country borders via a car transport ferry.
|All set for the road trip – Go Team North Face! 🙂|
|Full Tank at Php 530!|
|Mount Kinabalu in the background|
While Mami was resting, we thought to explore KK by foot during the night then head off to party (wearing shorts and slippers!).
8. Wandering through the streets of Bandar Seri Begawan
|A Muslim child on his way to the mosque|
|The water taxis in Brunei|
|A street display|
|Venice in Brunei?|
|‘Our band’ family photo 😀|
|Muslims on their way to the mosque for prayer time|
|Taking a peek through the gates of the Sultan’s abode (you won’t see anything apart from the photo above)|
|Photo opp with the guards at the Sultan’s abode|
|At the gate of the Sultan’s abode|
6. Sightseeing at the Taman Peranginan Tasik Park in Bandar Seri Begawan
|Mom obviously enjoyed her day out! =P|
|Driving from the park, my sister tried driving a right-hand car. We almost hit the car 5m away as she was in a left-hand driving mindset! =P Whew!|
7. Wandering around Kota Kinabalu
|Mami at the Sabah Foundation Building|
If someone’s going to ask me what I remember most about this trip, “food” will be one of the first three words I’d say. I especially loved the food we ate at Litte Italy in Kota Kinabalu and the Brunei noodles at a turo-turo style eatery.
|At Little Italy|
At a turo-turo style restaurant in Brunei where I have tasted the best pansit
|Roti at an eatery in Malaysia
We had a choice between condensed milk and curry for additional flavor.
We truly had a wonderful time during our swift but sweet exploration of the two cities of Borneo. We’ve crossed several boundaries during the expedition – the boundaries in Borneo, the boundaries of faith, the boundaries of exhaustion, the boundaries of culture, the boundaries of wealth.
Mom surely made the right decision. 🙂