The best day
Sometimes, as the day begins, we feel a little ho hum. A little weary of early mornings, being given directions and told what to do. When we opened the curtains this morning and saw the rain, it only added to the temptation to stay at home today, to take an easier, shorter, less strenuous tour. But you know, we are so glad we went with our original plan, because really, we had the best day!
I’d popped out first thing when I’d heard a commotion outside early on. Sure enough, there was the pilot’s launch. It was warm and sticky, even then, and my camera immediately fogged up.
But it was raining, and though we kept our fingers crossed that it would fair up once the sun rose, as we gathered our things together and watched as we neared the dock, it was coming down more heavily if anything. No dancing girls here in Brunei, just a man in a yellow kagoule.
Even the welcome poster didn’t have the right name of the ship on it.
However, after breakfast, we joined a group to visit the Temburong National Park and found that, once we were outside, it was so warm that the rain didn’t really wet us, if you know what I mean. We began by driving through the affluent neighbourhoods of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei and listened to our guide tell us about life here. I’ll share that in a future post, because really, it’s rather interesting.
It being Sunday – Easter Sunday, in fact, the streets in the city centre were quiet. No market today and not much traffic either.
Zul, our young guide told us our boat wasn’t quite ready, so he’d take us and show us the mosque. By the time we’d looked around there, hopefully all would be ok.
No, that’s not our boat, but a concrete, mosaic covered structure in the middle of the man made lake which surrounded the main mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan.
We were advised that it’s the best place to take a photograph and sure enough, there inside it was a small platform specially constructed for the purpose.
Eventually, I got my turn.
Even more interesting was the clothes rail with black burkas hanging there. I rather liked the sign too: “Please take off your shoes” and underneath the step with a pair of shoes on it, “Thank you for not putting your shoes on the stairs”.
Ok, so no time to go inside, even if we had all got ourselves togged up appropriately, so off we went passing by the Sultan’s field just opposite.
At the jetty, we boarded a medium sized speedboat equipped with two powerful engines and squeezed ourselves in for a 45 minute ride.
We passed by the water village, where homes are built on stilts.
But soon, we were out into the jungle, making our way towards a different state of Brunei which involved us sailing through a little part of Malaysian water once again
Our driver was a casual sort of chap, sitting back and navigating the river with ease, in spite of some tricky areas of rapids.
From time to time we’d pass another, similar speedboat and both would slow down to minimise the rocking and rolling.
There were lifejackets stuffed into a rack above our heads, but we hoped they would not be needed, especially when Zul told us about the crocodiles in the river.
Once back into Brunei waters again, he pointed out the emergency beacons on either side of the river. On the top is a button to be pressed in the case of an emergency. What worried me was how on earth I’d shin up that green pole to reach the button – although as my hero pointed out, the crocodiles in the river might well provide a bit of an incentive in the case of such an event.
45 minutes later, we arrived at the boat jetty where a bus was waiting to take us on to the National Park station. Here we were given lifejackets of our own to wear, given strict instructions for the next part of the adventure, which was to take place aboard smaller, five seater long tailed boats on a fast flowing river with rapids here and there, too.
For some reason, too, we were given a pair of rubber shoes to wear as well and advised to leave all our belongings and our own shoes here, before continuing on the next part of our journey. We had no idea why we needed rubber shoes, but it was too late to find out more. We simply did as we were told and boarded the small, long tailed boat.
With fond memories of our travels by boats like this in Thailand, we climbed aboard and sat tight for the journey.
I’ll tell you all about the rubber shoes in the next post!