“Brunei? Where is that?” is basically how the conversation goes every time I mention the name. Therefore, it’s only fair that this is the first place I feature on my blog!
This gorgeous country, also known as the abode of peace, is on the island of Borneo. It is surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea. Oh look, there it is!
Brunei was home to me for about 3 years altogether. I moved there in 2008 to do my A-Levels and moved out for University in 2010. However, I went to visit every summer for the next three years. When I think about Brunei, the first thing that comes to mind is the tropics. Maybe this is because of the first impression I always got of the country. As soon as I would leave the air-conditioned airport, warm misty tropical air would overtake my senses. From the smell of rain and thunder against the rotting leaves of the rain-forest, to the sound of birds chirping away, yes, it felt like home (or so it was to me back then!).
More than 70% of Brunei’s land area is covered by primary rain-forests, which the government has taken great strides to protect. I was blessed to live in a condominium that was located in a valley, both sides being covered in dense rain-forest. We lived on the 10th floor and this meant we got an amazing view, just overlooking the canopy of the forest. Our evenings consisted of sitting on the balcony with tea and snacks and watching monkeys swing from tree to tree, subhanAllah!
Being a predominately Islamic country, the country is decked with breathtakingly beautiful mosques. Each being vastly different from the other in terms of the its design and architecture, they all serve the same purpose: to bring the Ummah to one place to pray and worship the Almighty. The two most well known mosques, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque and Jame Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, are both covered in pure gold and marbles.
If you are a shopaholic, Brunei might not be the ideal place for you. However, if you are like me, and would rather spend the day having a picnic at the beach and walking along the shore at sunset, and then ending the day at a nice restaurant, this is definitely where you want to be!
After living in Brunei, my favorite cuisine has very easily become South East Asian. For a foodie like myself, exploring the various restaurants was always on my bucket list (and what a success it has been too). Just to name a few of my favorite items: Nasi katok, buttermilk shrimp/chicken, chicken rice sets (that come with condiments), tom yum soup, satay from the night market, Thai corn fritters, ahh okay I am salivating now! Here’s some visuals for you guys:
As I have mentioned before, the majority of the landscape of Brunei is pristine, untouched rain forest. But perhaps Brunei’s most distinctive advantage is that all of its natural attractions are within easy reach of the contemporary luxuries of the capital, meaning that you never have to sacrifice comfort to enjoy untamed wilderness.
I absolutely loved my time in Brunei Darussalam. From meeting locals to falling in love with the South East Asian cuisine, enjoying the Mosques, the beaches and the tropical weather and making some of my closest friends, I will always treasure my time there. I can’t wait to go back one day inshaAllah!