Monday, 3 October 2011

Vietnam journey – Brisbane to Bangkok

In the weeks leading up to our departure, I kept justifying our 1am flights. Everyone expressed sympathy for my plight but really they're a great idea. You get the full day to do practical things, the hours you spend in the airport at night are ones you would otherwise be doing nothing but watching TV and as soon as you get on the plane you can go to sleep. Hopefully. Theoretically.

In taking advantage of cheap airline deals, Jane and I flew Royal Brunei with a 5 hour stop-off in Brunei. I had images in my head of what Brunei might be like and certainly the airport. Knowing that the Sultan was for many years the richest man in the world, I had this image in my head that the place would have an attraction as a 5-star tourist destination. The airport would therefore have a nice selection of duty-free luxury stores, glistening white tiles and a certain modern spaciousness. Instead it looked like a run-down 1970s casino. A small casino. About the size of a modern Aussie house stretched out a little with nothing in it except a chocolate shop, a cafe and a smoking room.

To kill time, we bought $5 temporary entry visas and took the 1.5 hour free tour of the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. Our tour guide was perky and full of interesting facts about the tax system (there isn't one), how many cars there are in this tiny country (1.2 million for a population of 300,000) and the benefits of living in Brunei (there are lots, except that ultimately you're living in a place where NOTHING HAPPENS EVER. Like Canberra.).

Floating villages and a statue gifted by the Sultan, marking something or other. In gold.

This was the closest we got to the Sultan's 1000 room palace. That is the tour bus window you see on the left hand side there.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque complete with gold-covered dome.

Best part of Brunei? Dumplings for lunch. Oh, and the coffee in the airport was surprisingly good.

pork dumpling-a-licious


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