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WA abroad brunei
This is pure, off-the-beaten-track travelling
at its best, but with the little luxuries you may
have come to prefer.
For those with more time, take a 40-minute
Royal Brunei flight from Brunei to Sabah in
Malaysia and connect with your wild side.
We didn’t make it that far, but met some New
Zealanders who had just spent five nights in Sabah
and its surrounds, and said it was unforgettable.
Do some trekking and see orangutans in the
wild, or climb the 4095m Mount Kinabalu. Not
for the faint-hearted, it is said to be a reasonably
gentle climb, with people of all ages completing
it. At its base, explore Kinabalu National Park
(two hours from the city of Kinabalu). Relax
at Poring Hot Springs, known for its water’s
therapeutic properties or try some Borneo
reflexology at the Aroma Villa Spa. Birdwatchers
can visit the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre,
boasting birds from around the globe, including
non-breeding winter visitors, especially during
migratory season, from September to April.
Brunei is not a shopping or party destination.
The lack of alcohol means there are virtually
no bars and dinners seem to wind up early.
However, if you want a truly different experience
in terms of culture and natural attractions, then
Brunei has much to offer. It’s safe, friendly and
a gateway to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and
Vietnam, all only a two-hour flight away.
All in all, it offers a fascinating chance to
see how a different political system can work
successfully. Bruneians are well looked after by
their beloved Sultan – schooling is free, housing
is heavily subsidized and there is no personal
income tax. There is very little poverty, with the
extraordinary wealth of the Sultanate shared,
to a large degree, among the people. There is
virtually no crime, a tiny military and hardly
any welfare, so little need for bureaucracy. Free
medical care for all citizens covers flights to
Singapore or Australia if complicated medical
procedures are required. The English-based legal
system works alongside the Sharia religious
court, which only gets involved in issues of
morality. And people seem happy: the complete
lack of violence and aggression, certainly, is
something from which we can all learn.
Our quick guide to travelling Brunei
• Brunei is a tolerant Muslim country and, although
foreigners are not required to follow strict Muslim
dress code, respectful attire is recommended. Short
sleeves are fine, as are summer dresses. Just leave the
thigh-high minis at home.
• Alcohol sale is prohibited in Brunei. Non-Muslims are
allowed to bring two bottles of alcohol and 12 cans of
beer into the Sultanate duty free, but you are not permitted
to bring that allowance along to most restaurants. It
is to be drunk in private. But if you are really stuck, it is a
short trip to the Malaysian border where you can resupply
– but no more than three or four times a week. This is
abstinence with balance.
• Brunei’s Tobacco Order – enforced by law since early 2008
– made it an offence for people to smoke in public places
or in vehicles, which means it’s incredibly rare for you to to
see anyone lighting up.
• Brunei is incredibly safe – probably due to the lack
of alcohol and drugs – so there is no problem walking
anywhere at any time. In fact, there’s so little crime the
police station has a nine-hole golf course. True.
• Brunei cuisine is a mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese. There
are some good traditional restaurants that should be tried.
Each one has an extensive mocktail list, so be prepared to
try fruit as you have never tried it before.
• There is not much shopping in Brunei, so don’t plan for a
shopping trip. However, if you are after textiles, there are
many places to choose from.
• Friday is not a good day to visit the mosques because
prayer services are on.
• English is widely spoken.
• Taxis are reasonably cheap and easy to get.
• Vaccinations are not needed.
• Drug trafficking is punishable by death.
Panoramic views at the Ulu Temburong
National Park. BELOW LEFT The proboscis
monkey, permanently looking for love...
BELOW RIGHT A day trip in the jungle.
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