Kopchinskiy

trying to stay above the ground...

Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital of Brunei inhabited by over 50 000 people. It is nice but the problem of staying there is the heat. Because of the heat, people tend to spend most of their time indoors. Almost all buildings in Brunei have air condition. Inside it can be quite cold. The contrast between hot outside and cold indoor is a little hard to get used to. That’s why many people are trying to shorten the distance between their air conditioned cars and houses to the minimum. Few people are walking under open air. This is the reason why pedestrian part of the city almost does not exist. There are very few streetlights and sometimes it is quite difficult to cross the road.

Brunei is very sweet. I mean literally sweet because sugars is the only source of joy that is left for people (except for prayer of course). You hardly can buy alcohol (actually you can't). For things like ecstasy you will be prosecuted up to a death penalty. Nowadays it is also nearly impossible to buy cigarettes. But you can drink cola and eat cakes all the time (during Ramadan you have to do it after sunset). People are very friendly. Shopping is a must. Lots of restaurants of all kind. Coffee is bad. There are few places however where you can get more or less good coffee. One of them is the Italian pizzeria near hotel Centrepoint in Gadong.

Important note to non-Muslim tourists arriving to Bandar: you can bring up to two bottles of alcohol with you. Take care however that the size of the bottle is irrelevant meaning that if you have a small 50 ml bottle it will be qualified as a "full sized bottle". So take as big as you can. You have to check it in upon arrival but it is free. At least this year it didn't cost me anything. With cigarettes, it is more complicated since I do not smoke and never tried to bring it with me. The colleague of mine brought two packs and she was asked to pay 50 Brunei dollars per package. She complained because the last year it was cheaper. They listened to that and took the old fare. 
There is taxi. Fare is similar to Europe. Buses exist too but are very few and unreliable. Tap water is drinkable but better to drink bottled water. There are many hotels. Centrepoint is one of the best with per night cost around 150 Brunei dollars (about 110 US$). Main tourist attraction is the food. There are some museums but they are not very interesting (IMHO). The treasure of the country is definitely the forest. Since Brunei is rich, the government manage to refrain from logging therefore you can witness the aboriginal tropical rain forest in all its beauty. However to get to the forest is a tough task.

The best option is to get to the KBFSC (Kuala Belalong Field Study Center). It belongs to UBD (University Brunei Darussalam). Unfortunately, UBD is very picky when it comes to get permission to get to the station. You need to be on a certified project that is collaborated by UBD in order to get the clearance for the stay at KBFSC.

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Water villages or Kampung Air in Malay are the wooden constructions that represent the traditional way of living in Brunei. Most of them are spread over Brunei Bay within the boundaries of the capital city Bandar Seri Begawan. Over 39,000 people live in water villages. The footage was made during WWTF sampling expeditions to KBFSC.

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