Another busy day ahead! We got up for a quick snack before our arranged taxi picked us up at 8:30am for the 20 minute drive out to Monsopiad Cultural Village. This tour gets mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, but Matt and I really enjoyed it. First we were invited to take a seat and enjoy complimentary tea or coffee or take photos on the hanging bridge (Samara would not have enjoyed crossing it!) before being escorted to the main hall where we witnessed 3 traditional dances. Since we were the only 2 there we enjoyed personalized attention and were invited to try 2 of the 3 dances as well as shoot a dart through a blowpipe to pop a balloon. Matt succeeded on his 3rd or 4th try whereas I got it in the first “blow” (pun intented!).
After the dances our guide showed us around the village for a little under an hour, explaining the traditions, religion, beliefs and showing us the collection of 42 skulls that had been head-hunted by Monsopiad (he was a person who the village is now named after). He was great at answering our questions and painted a great picture for us of what life was like. We didn’t try to start the fire with bamboo or taste the rice wine, but just getting a chance to wander around was enough for us and it’s something we would recommend to others.
Right on time our driver appeared to take us back to the hotel for a bit. We got everything in order, checked out and left our bags before treating ourselves to some reflexology for our tired feet. We stopped at 1 Healthy Reflexology & Beauty Point, a place we’d passed numerous times, and opted for the 40-minute foot/shoulder rub, which was a true bargain at RM38 per person (around AUS$12) but a bit nerve wracking when they would hit a sore spot and tell us it was our heart or liver. What does that mean exactly?! Not too sure, but either way it was relaxing!
Our empty stomachs were screaming out to us after this, so we decided to get some more history with our lunch at the Borneo 1945 café-cum-museum. The walls are decked out in timelines and black-and-white photos of Australian Troops during WWII and the area where the café is located is known as “Australian Place” since this is where so many Aussies set up camp during the war. The toast with kaya (coconut jam) is sensational, whereas my nasi lemak wasn’t what I was expecting.
Back to our taxi for a ride to the Sabah State Museum, which was only about 10 minutes away. The museum has some interesting artefacts but overall isn’t very well laid-out and many exhibits were closed. We saw a lot of taxidermied animals like a sunbear and a bearcat but for the most part (and it may have been a contributing factor that neither of us were feeling 100%) I wouldn’t say it’s a mandatory stop for anyone in KK. I think we could have just as easily passed our extra time with a nice cold coffee along the waterfront, but at least we know now!
Our driver met us again and ferried us off to the airport for our afternoon flight to Brunei. Everything was hassle free for our 25 minute flight, but arriving in Brunei was like stepping into a different world! Most of the areas we’ve been in have had a strong Muslim influence and culture, but this was something completely new to us; stepping into the arrival hall we were overcome with not just the sheer volume of people (all crowded behind at least a dozen military troops) but the fact that all the women were covered head-to-toe and all the men donned their caps. If we felt uncomfortable at first we needn’t have worried, as most people have been extremely helpful. Our van to the hotel arrived a bit late, but it gave us time to observe everyone around us.
Even though we were pretty worn out once we got to the Jubilee Hotel, our spirits were lifted by the front desk receptionist, Ahmed, who has a very lively personality. Our plans to stay in and chill were quickly changed and, once we dropped off our bags, we headed into the night to grab some snaps of the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque which, conveniently, was just a few blocks away. The place is gorgeous and so elaborate that we spent a good 20 minutes taking photos before deciding to find somewhere for dinner. Weaving along the streets we encountered a place that looked pretty chill (and cheap) and sat down to enjoy dinner at the DeRoyalle Café and read up on some news from the local paper before coming home and hitting the sack.