Four days, three nights stop-over on our return journey to UK
15.03.2010 - 17.03.2010 33 °C
Brunei was, as usual, hot (36 degrees C) and the only way to keep cool was to shop hop – dash from one air-conditioned place to another. BSB has plenty of shops; in fact for the population of the country (less than 500,000) it has so many that many seem to do very little business. There was lots of staff in the department stores and shops but virtually no customers; it was hard to see how they subsist. We had a buffet meal back at the hotel – an extensive range of Malaysian and Indonesian dishes. Walking round the area after the meal, we were surprised at the numerous sports stadiums catering for many different sports including football, baseball, hockey, athletics, swimming, diving and squash. All the facilities were well maintained but seemed underused.
‘Was awoken at 5:00 by prayer singing further down the hotel corridor; two rooms had been allocated (one for males and the other for females) for Surea (Muslim Prayer). I had noticed a row of shoes outside them the previous night. After a leisurely breakfast (chatting to other hotel guests) we got a shuttle to the city centre and browsed the shops. Catherine & I had Thai massages –really invigorating and felt refreshed after it. We took a taxi out to the Empire Hotel (about 15 km outside the city) for afternoon tea. The hotel is owned by the Sultan and is luxurious; it is self contained with its own shops, cinema, theatre, beach and floodlit golf course. The tea was well presented. We had a browse around the shops there and a look at the golf course. The latte was so inviting that we booked a round for Thursday (our last day in Brunei). Back at our own hotel, after a Chinese meal on the way, Catherine & Thomas had an early night while I went to the second floor where I heard from one of the other guests that alcohol was served there. I walked down the corridor of the second floor looking for this place in vain; then heard some loud laughter and many voices from behind one of the doors; I knocked and was invited in. It had all the appearance of a Speakeasy from the early US prohibition – lots of people smoking in a cloudy smoke-filled room, beer and whiskey on sale, a group playing cards and another playing pool. I had a can of beer but didn’t stay long as I didn’t find the atmosphere social and disliked the smoke.