Monarchy

October 14, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Heritage

Bruneians are proud to have the world’s oldest reigning monarchy and centuries of royal heritage. At the helm of the only remaining Malay Islamic Monarchy in the world, the Sultan of Brunei comes from a family line that dates back over 600 years to 1405 when the first Sultan ascended the throne, founding a dynasty of which the current Sultan, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, is the 29th ruler.

The early history of the nation’s unique monarchy can be pieced together from accounts taken from Chinese, Javanese and local Bruneian records. The first ruler, Sultan Muhammad Shah, known as Awang Alak Betatar, is said to be responsible for introducing Islam to Brunei, forever altering the course of the nation’s history and cultural landscape.

The second ruler was Sultan Ahmad, followed by a third Arab Sultan, Sharif Ali, considered to be a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad. Also known as Sultan Berkat, he married the daughter of Sultan Ahmad and consolidated the monarchy with the Islamic faith. Following him was Sultan Sulaiman, who was succeeded by the most renowned ruler in Brunei’s early history, Sultan Bolkiah. Under the rule of Sultan Bolkiah, Brunei began to expand into an empire, with territorial holdings that would eventually encompass the island of Borneo and parts of the Philippines.

Brunei’s golden age centred on the reign of two remarkable rulers, Sultan Bolkiah and Sultan Hassan. Under their rule, Brunei’s Royal Court developed a splendour rivalling that of any other monarchy in the world, and the territorial and cultural influence of the country reached its peak. Visitors today can still marvel at the dignity of Brunei’s Golden Age as a great deal of historic relics from the era have been carefully preserved.

In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate and in 1906, the British Residential System was introduced. Brunei was eventually granted internal self-government, and Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien promulgated the nation’s new Constitution on 29 September 1959.

In 1967, the current Sultan, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah was made the 29th ruler of Brunei Darussalam, leading the nation achieving its independence in 1984. The Sultan declared Negara Brunei Darussalam (“Brunei, The Abode of Peace”) as a sovereign, democratic and independent Malay Muslim Monarchy (Melayu Islam Beraja) which would be administered according to the teachings of Islam.

Beaches

October 14, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Nature

Stretching the full length of Brunei’s coastline is a pristine, sun-drenched ribbon of sand caressed by the South China Sea. Take your pick from one of Brunei’s many undiscovered beaches:

Muara Beach

Less than 27km from Bandar Seri Begawan’s town centre, Muara Beach’s long, quiet esplanade invites leisurely strolling and is an ideal destination for a family outing. Amenities here include a well-equipped picnic area, a children’s playground, changing and toilet facilities, as well as weekend food and drink stalls.

Meragang Beach

Near the Jalan Meragang junction off the highway to Muara lies Meragang Beach — sometimes called Crocodile Beach. Despite the name, you’ll encounter no such creature along this peaceful, unspoilt stretch of sand — only a warm sea breeze, a brilliant sunset or a double rainbow.

Serasa Beach

A mere 10-minute drive from Muara, lively Serasa Beach is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. The Serasa Watersports Complex provides comprehensive facilities for sporting and recreational activities that are up to international competition level standards, including jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, regatta sailing, power boat racing, aqua sports training and water skiing.

Pantai Seri Kenangan Beach

Literally the unforgettable beach, this scenic locale is a popular recreation spot located at Kuala Tutong. Here, the beauty of the beach is enhanced by a narrow strip of land with the South China Sea on one side and the Tutong River on the other. The beach is a five minute drive from Tutong town and is a lovely spot for picnics, fishing and swimming.

Lumut Beach

For those who prefer a day of sun and sand while in Belait, Lumut Beach beckons. Located about 100km from Seria’s town centre, it offers complete facilities for picnicking, jogging and family outings. Added features here are the huts and shelters especially designed for visitor relaxation.

Adventure Activities

October 14, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Nature

From mountain biking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, sport fishing, wreck and reef diving in the South China Sea, to jungle hiking on well-maintained trails, the ecotourism and adventure options in Brunei are endless.

Enjoy the thrill of riding a local longboat up the rapids to the nation’s various national parks scattered throughout the nation’s four districts. Learn to raft — whether whitewater or on a tranquil jungle river, rafting in Brunei can be a fun experience for all ages, beginners and experienced enthusiasts alike.

An overnight tour allows visitors to truly experience Brunei’s pristine rainforests up close, with more time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Sunset and sunrise are when the jungle really comes to life. Hiking and camping are an unparalleled way to enjoy the early morning misty rivers, soaring birds and the noise of wildlife waking to the morning light.

At the Temburong National Park, a two-night tour offers visitors the opportunity to tailor their own personalised itinerary of venues and activities. Visitors wishing to explore the jungle wilderness may opt to spend their two nights deep in the National Park, while those looking to experience Temburong’s indigenous lifestyle attractions may choose one night at either the Bangar Lodge or Rainforest Lodge and one night at the National Park. While in the park, you’ll be immersed in the jungle sounds, smells, and the awe-inspiring feel of total remoteness. Walk in the rainforest canopy at dawn or sunset for a once-in-a-lifetime view of the earth in its purest form. Return to the comforts of the capital after an adrenalin-rush of rafting down the Temburong River.

Meanwhile, at Selirong Island in Brunei Bay, the Brunei Forestry Department has installed elevated walkways through the mangroves which criss-cross some of the many waterways that penetrate the island, offering an up-close view of some of Borneo’s famous wildlife and nature attractions. .

Rainforest

October 14, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Nature

The island of Borneo is synonymous with raw, unspoiled nature and Brunei, situated in its heart, is a shining example of natural beauty. More than 70% of Brunei’s land area is covered by primary rainforests, which the government has taken great strides to protect. The Government of Brunei has acted to conserve some 32,000 hectares as forest reserves and allocated 50,000 hectares for national parks which are some of the finest in Asia. Mangroves, natural hatcheries of marine life, are also plentiful and unspoiled and house abundant forms of plant and animal life unique to Borneo. But perhaps Brunei’s most distinctive advantage is that all of its natural attractions are within easy reach of the contemporary luxuries of the capital, meaning that you never have to sacrifice comfort to enjoy untamed wilderness.

Nature lovers will definitely be spoiled in Brunei. Pristine rainforests, unspoiled coral reefs, mangrove-covered islands, white sand beaches and accessible nature reserves offer visitors a dazzling array of ecotourism options. In Brunei, visitors can have the unique opportunity to walk in the rainforest canopy which houses an abundance of birds, plants, micro fauna and mammals, such as the rare Bornean proboscis monkey, making up one of the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystems. They can also stroll around the hauntingly beautiful lakeside walkways of Tasek Merimbun or relax on the turquoise shores of Muara beach without the crowds of other Asian destinations.

Brunei is also home to some of Asia’s best nature reserves and field study centres, such as the world famous Ulu Temburong National Park and the Kuala Belalong Field Study Centre, both of which offer an exciting array of ecotourism and adventure activities. Indeed, the longboat ride down a winding jungle river, surrounded on all sides by pristine rainforest makes the journey as much of an adventure as the destination itself. With few tourists around, nature lovers will appreciate having this untouched paradise all to themselves and may explore at their own pace, returning to lodgings in the capital when they have completed their visit, or staying in more primitive forest lodgings nearby. Furthermore, with Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan next door, they can spend weeks uncovering Borneo’s magnificent natural beauty, using Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan as a gateway

Fruits and Vegetables

October 7, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Food

Brunei’s tropical climate and year-round warm weather means that the country produces a wide spectrum of fruits and vegetables unique to Southeast Asia. Orchards and backyard gardens produce a wide range of seasonal and non-seasonal tropical fruits, and traditional production systems produce non-seasonal fruits such as bananas, papayas, pineapples, watermelons and seasonal fruits namely, durian, chempedak, tarap, rambutan, langsat, belunu, asam aur-aur and membangan to meet the domestic demand for fruits.

Try some of these home-grown specialities on your visit to Brunei!

Durian

Famous across Asia for its unique, unmatched flavour (and characteristic smell!), the durian may have originated in the rainforests of Borneo. A number of rare durian species are found only in Brunei and almost nowhere else on the planet. The creamy, custard-like flesh inside has an indescribable taste that some describe as addictive!

Rambutan

In the months of July and August, fruit stalls in Brunei are filled to the brim with this unusual, colourful offering. Visitors are often apprehensive about the rambutan, with its bright crimson skin covered with short fleshy hairs, but inside lies a sweet white fruit hailed across Southeast Asia as one of the most delicious in the world. It’s apt name comes from the Malay, ‘rambut’ meaning hair. Inside is a narrow seed covered with semitransparent flesh which is crisp, sweet and juicy.

Langsat

The langsat is known by many names in the other dialects of the Old World tropics, but around the world, langsat is the most commonly used. Originally from Malaysia, the langsat is now cultivated across Southeast Asia and is a summertime favourite. The light yellow skin is easily removed, revealing a sweet white fruit with a grape-like flavour, but without the tartness and acidity.

Long Bean

One of the region’s most distinctive vegetables, the long bean is used in a variety of dishes in many countries. The long thin edible pod of the cowpea, the long bean can reach up to 3 metres in length! It adds a crisp texture to curries and other traditional Malay dishes found in Brunei

Arts

October 7, 2010 by admin  
Filed under People and Culture

Brunei Darussalam is richly endowed with a cultural heritage that the government and the people have worked tirelessly to maintain. The nation’s Arts and Handicraft Centre, for example, is a living testimony to the preservation and the proliferation of the arts and crafts for which Brunei was once renowned, including boat making, silversmithing, bronze tooling, weaving and basketry. Visitors will also find Malay weaponry, wood carvings, traditional games, traditional musical instruments, silat (the traditional art of self defence) and decorative items for women to be some of Brunei’s most unique cultural offerings.

The introduction of Islam, of course, also dramatically changed Brunei’s cultural landscape, adding its own distinct artistic forms. The nation’s mosques and other Islamic sites of importance are all works of art in themselves, and many contain some of the most striking examples of Islamic arts that can be found outside the Arab world. Examples include gilded Holy Korans, ceremonial items and the intricate mosaics that adorn several monuments throughout the nation’s four districts.

Borneo Cultures

October 7, 2010 by admin  
Filed under People and Culture

The Southeast Asian island of Borneo — third largest island in the world — has captivated the imagination of explorers and travellers for centuries with its alluring mix of indigenous culture and untamed rainforest.

Approximately 16 million people live on the island of Borneo, which is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. The island’s population is comparatively low for the region, owing largely to the fact that up until a few decades ago, Borneo was completely covered by dense rainforest with poor soil for agriculture. This, combined with rugged terrain, unnavigable rivers and the fierce head-hunter reputation of its inhabitants, ensured that the island remained underdeveloped for many years, giving Borneo a legendary mystique as one of the most mysterious and exotic places on Earth. For thousands of years, this image was fairly close to the truth. Borneo has been inhabited for at least 35,000 years, and life for many Borneans has changed little over the centuries. Most people lived in harmony with nature, leading nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyles, travelling over vast areas in search of wild boar and other products of the forest.

Around three thousand years ago, traders from other lands began to frequent Borneo, connecting the island to a larger trading network extending to China, India, and beyond. Locals collected exotic products like bird’s nests and sandalwood for trade abroad but otherwise, life went on as before. Approximately 500 years ago, Islam arrived to the island, and a number of Muslim kingdoms were established, the largest of which was Brunei, which once controlled most of the northern coast. The name Borneo is in fact derived from the name Brunei.

Today, Borneo is still home to thousands of indigenous ethnic minorities which add to the island’s diversity and local colour. While Borneo is rapidly modernising, indigenous culture still thrives, evident in the many traditional longhouse communities that dot the landscape of Brunei and in the native handiworks and crafts they continue to produce. Headhunting, however, is a pastime which thankfully has retreated into legend!

Malay Cultures

October 7, 2010 by admin  
Filed under People and Culture

Brunei’s culture mainly derived from the Old Malay World, a territory which covered the Malay Archipelago. Brunei’s culture is therefore deeply rooted in its Malay origins, which are reflected in the nation’s language, architecture, ceremonies, and customs governing daily life. Though various foreign civilizations have played a role in forming Brunei’s rich history, the traditions of the Old Malay World have left an indelible mark on the culture of modern Brunei.

Today, Bruneians are predominantly Malay, though significant Chinese, Indian and indigenous Bornean populations add to the cultural makeup of Brunei. Brunei’s blend of cultures, customs, beliefs and customs is therefore very similar to that of Malaysia. The nation’s official language is Malay, but English is widely spoken by most of the population, and most signs in the country are written in Roman script.

If Malay traditions are Brunei’s cultural root, then Islam is its heart. The nation’s Malay Islamic Monarchy is a uniquely Bruneian blend combining the best of Malay culture with the teachings of Islam and a mutual respect between ruler and subjects. This national philosophy is aimed at forging a stronger sense of identity as well as fostering unity and stability, and it forms the backbone of Bruneian cultural identity. While Brunei is indeed a devoutly Muslim country, the national philosophy is one of respectful tolerance, allowing for the practice of other religions and beliefs.

Temburong

October 7, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Country Overview

The call of a proboscis monkey. The thrill of a speedboat cutting through jungle waters. Unspoiled. Untamed. Unbelievable.

Early European explorers told tales of the exotic wonders found on the island of Borneo. Rare orchids with blooms as large as dinner plates. Elusive monkeys with long, curved noses. Rivers that snake through uncharted forests. And green, verdant shades never before seen. This is Temburong, and all it beholds the adventurous traveller today.

Temburong is a living tribute to Brunei’s dedication to preserving one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. The Ulu Temburong National Park offers visitors a peek at a world untouched by man, from above or below the forest canopy. The simple culture of the Bornean longhouse community can also be seen — a complete and unforgettable Borneo experience.

Kuala Belait

October 7, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Country Overview

Birthplace of the nation’s wealth. Home of the oil industry. Brunei’s economic heartland.

Behind the glitter of Brunei’s legendary wealth lies the district of Kuala Belait, seat of the nation’s oil and gas industry, producing the country’s main export commodity. While the economy today is slowly diversifying to include manufacturing, services and tourism, the real “gold” of Brunei flows deep below the ground in Belait.

To see where it all began, visit the town of Seria to see rows of the affectionately-named “nodding donkeys” which pump the lifeblood of Brunei’s economy from the oil-rich earth of Belait. Seria’s Oil & Gas Discovery Centre provides an up-close view of the inner workings of the nation’s main industry, and the visually striking Billionth Barrel Monument immortalizes the industry’s accomplishments through contemporary architectural forms.

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