The last two days of my Brunei trip was definitely the highlight since I have booked us an overnight tour to the Ulu Temburong National Park, which covers a big chunk of the Temburong rainforest. I am not really a nature lover, but since we didn’t have that much to do in Brunei anymore, I figured that it would be a change of scene and a whole new adventure for me. Had packed the night before, bought some water and some snacks since I figured we’d end up starving over the course of this 3-hour journey to the our guesthouse in the middle of Brunei nowhere.
We were picked up by the owner of the tour agency from our hotel at around 2:30PM, dropped us off at the Brunei waterfront and waited for the local water taxi to bring us to Bangar, the capital of the Temburong district. It was a whole new experience riding the water taxi, passing through a network of rivers and channels around the back of Brunei Bay, watching the dense mangrove islands as we passed along and having this Fast & the Furious moment since the water taxi was speeding like crazy. It took us about an hour to arrive in Bangar to meet our guide, July, who was waiting for us at the Temburong terminal.
Before dropping us off at our guesthouse, we visited some of the locals in the Bangar area, a number of which were actually pagans, not just Muslims, who occupy most of the country. July told us stories about their history, tribe rituals, to stuff about tribe beheading, inter-family marriages to cannibalism. Now we’re talking! Haha! We arrived at our guesthouse around 4PM, tried to rest for about thirty minutes and departed for our evening river safari tour. We traveled along the mangrove banks for almost 3 hours, enjoying the wildlife and watching out for some weird animals to pop out of nowhere. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Proboscis monkey, hornbills, a group of fireflies, some huge weird lizards, and oh yeah the crocodiles. We were also able to step into Sarawak, which was just about a few seconds’ swim from the Temburong riverbanks. So technically, I was able to visit Malaysia as well, though immigration was about 30 minutes from where we stood during that time. After the 3-hour long river safari tour, we had dinner at a local restaurant and retreated back into our guesthouse for some much needed rest.
Woke up around 6AM the next day, packed all our stuff, checked out, and had some breakfast before venturing into Batang Duri for the Ulu Temburong rainforest. We arrived at the riverbanks again and departed using a longboat. Had our lifejackets on, and thoroughly enjoyed the views and the sights from the river. At that point, with the sounds of the river water splashing against the boat and the peaceful sounds of the morning jungle surrounding us, it was definitely an amazing feeling.
We arrived at the Ulu Temburong National Park about an hour and a half later and started our rainforest trek. We weren’t able to cross the hanging bridge since it was destroyed when some of the large trees fell on it because of the typhoon that hit the region a couple of weeks ago. The most awaited part was crossing the 1200 steps to the base of the 60-meter Canopy Walkway Towers, where we climbed up all the way to the top of the 196-feet wobbly structure in the middle of the jungle. Crossing through the steel suspension bridges that connected the canopy towers was scary and at the same time exciting. Actually, I didn’t find it scary at all but Ann was scared to death, but she has no choice, I needed someone to take my pictures. Haha!
After absorbing and enjoying the view from the top of the jungle, we all went down back to meet with July, who was waiting for us to take us back into the riverbanks, where we had lunch, kinda like a little picnic before we journeyed downstream back to Batang Duri. We then went to the Temburong terminal to catch the water taxi back to Bandar with July, where he dropped us off on our hotel to rest for a few hours before we pack all our stuff back since our flight leaves in 6 hours.
After sleeping for a couple of hours, we got a call from the reception desk, informing us that Tita Lorna, our newfound friend from our flight a couple of days ago was downstairs at the lobby. We went down to meet her and as promised, she brought us a bunch of pasalubongs, which made me very, very happy. I don’t care if it’s just a bunch of chocolates and mei goreng noodles, I just love freebies and I love thoughtful people. We exchanged numbers and told her that when we return to Brunei, we’ll definitely contact her the next time around. After we’re done packing, we decided to have dinner and walk around the city some more.
We had arranged for the hotel to have their driver bring us back to the airport to catch our flight back to Manila. Along the way, we passed by the Sultan’s Palace, and our driver was kind enough to bring us inside and took some pictures of that beautiful place. It’s one of those moments that my jaw literally dropped open, trying to digest the magnificent sight in front of me. I just needed some background music ala “A Whole New World” and it would’ve been perfect. I wanted to stay a little longer but we needed to be at the airport to catch our flight back to Manila. Brunei may be tagged as a boring place, but I enjoyed every moment of it. Very relaxing, very quiet, just peaceful enough for me to enjoy and de-stress. And the people there are also one of the kindest and friendliest bunch I have met so far. Will I be back in Brunei? Definitely! I got this as a planned sidetrip for our Kota Kinabalu trip early next year and I can’t wait to tour some of my friends here the next time around.Follow @iamthegarysia