Day 11: Thursday
Our best-laid plans for today came crashing to the ground as it turned into a bit of a Groundhog Day scenario!
Free brekky is always a good start to the day, so that went well. We had a “45-minute city overlook tour” booked for 10am so we decided to spend a couple hours picking up souvenirs and any final details we’d missed. First back to the grocery store for a few postcards and another cakoi, but we were too early for the city and everything was still closed. So on our way back home we stopped and got our bus tickets to Miri, a town just across the border in Malaysia, which was quick and easy as well.
We opted just to hang out near the hotel and get packed up and organize our taxi before our tour, which was literally us sitting in a van and our driver occasionally grunting our location “waterfron” or “watervillage” as we circled the places we’d already visited. Oh well, at least we didn’t miss anything important! We asked to be dropped off at the grocery store again to get some sweets and souvenirs, but couldn’t find 100% of what we wanted so back to the Royal Regalia museum for the remainder.
After that we were getting ready to spend a lazy afternoon/night at The Empire Hotel, a flash hotel outside of town, so we checked out and paid our taxi out there, only to be…disappointed. The review is on TripAdvisor, but basically we were less-than-astounded for what is meant to be a 6-star resort. We explored the grounds while waiting for check-in and didn’t see much life at all, so once we got up to our room we planned to just chill out and enjoy the luxury. First on the list: room service! We went to order a burger each from the all-day menu, only to be told they didn’t have any. You know when you really have just one thing on the mind and nothing else would come close to satisfying that craving? That’s exactly how we were.
Anyway, this led us to take a taxi into Gadong (a suburb where the night market and Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque are located) to seek out a place called “Hommed Baga” which we read about in a local magazine. This place did NOT disappoint and we were so happy that we made the effort to come out; the owner even came out and introduced himself to us and took a few photos for his FB page. While here we also strolled thru the “infamous” Gadong Mall (with the only McDonald’s in all of Brunei) and then tried to catch a local bus back home, as explained by the concierge at the hotel. This was an epic fail, but luckily some locals helped us out by informing us that to get back out to the Empire we would first have to go back in to Bandar – where we had only recently come from. After having a bit of a laugh as we passed the hotel we’d left just hours prior, we sat waiting for the bus that was meant to take us to the hotel for about 20 minutes. Finally we succumbed to a taxi, retracing our steps out to Gadong once again.
I can attest to the fact that the bath and the bed were lovely and we certainly didn’t want to get up this morning – especially to take a taxi back to the city centre to catch a bus to Miri which had to pass by –guess where? – The Empire Hotel. Matt and I now know the route from BSB to Gadong like the backs of our hands!
Now onwards to Malaysia!