DID YOU KNOW THAT BRUNEI DARUSSALAM IS THE 5th RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD???
For a country so far that I’ve been to with the least enticing tourism, I was surprised to know about that. Haha hello self, what a lame indicator of a country’s economic level. Since there’s nothing much to talk about their tourism, I’m sharing with you the interesting things I learned during the trip.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THEIR WEALTH.
The country is governed by the sultanate of Bolkiahs. The small country with a population of only around 400,000 makes it to the list of the richest countries in the world despite the lack of infrastructures, lack of business establishments except for the luxury cars shops, small manpower, and despite that its “biggest mall” is just actually as big and looking old as Isetan in Recto.
Not only does it top the list of richest countries in the world but the Sultanate is also the richest monarch in the world! Step aside, Queen Elizabeth II, says Hassanal Bolkiah. The King practically owns the country! AND DID YOU KNOW THAT HE WAS THE RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD FOR YEARS before Bill Gates stole the spotlight?? Yeah, right. He owns thousands of luxury cars and for years sustained a huge portion of Rolls Royce’s profits! In fact, the family owns the largest fleet of Rolls Royce.
They also own the Dorchester Collection, a collection of one of the most prestigious and expensive luxury hotels located in US, Italy, France, and UK. The profit goes to Brunei Investment Agency.
The monarch also owns the biggest residential estate in the world, the official residence of the King, “Istana Nurul Ima.”
DID YOU KNOW that the King’s divorce with his 2nd wife is the “WORLD’S LARGEST DIVORCE SETTLEMENT?” That makes the Malaysian flight attendant-turned-King’s 2nd wife as the wealthiest divorcee in the history.
We also toured around the estate of the royal family where their own hospital,exclusive for the royal family, stands, surrounded with immense fields for golf and polo. There’s also the air-conditioned horse stables.
SO WHAT MADE THEM RICH?
Their major source of wealth is their vast reserves of oil and gas. Despite their rich soil for agriculture, the country never bothered to boost said sector and instead depend on imported products. A small portion of their source of wealth is contributed by their timber industry, thanks to their lush green forests.
In return, the citizens enjoy free health care, education and housing. They also revel in zero income tax policy of the government.
DID YOU KNOW that Brunei is the first Southeast Asian country to impose Shariah Law? Brunei is a Muslim country so suppress your pork cravings while in here. Almost every food has “halal certified” mark.
It’s also interesting to find Jollibee anywhere! The country has only two Mc Donalds, couple of Jollibees, few KFCs and Burger King. Since there were only few choices of restaurants in the country, we didn’t have a choice but to eat in fast-food chains from breakfast to dinner! The fast-foods’ crew are also filled with Filipinos! Hello kababayans!
It is not difficult to communicate with the locals because most of them speak English. This isn’t a surprise because Brunei was a British protectorate.
Moreover, alcohols are prohibited. Thus, no parties too! And. we. just. found. out. about. that. when we got there. Haha.
Our main (only agendum actually) for visiting here is to see Prince Mateen! He is the 10th child of the King from his 2nd wife I mentioned earlier. DID YOU KNOW THAT his well-sculpted physique is the main attraction of Brunei? HAHA kidding!
Brunei lies in Borneo, an island shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Since there’s nothing much to do here, locals spend their vacations crossing the borders of Malaysia; the nearest is Kota Kinabalu.
So we spent the longest four days of my life in Brunei. Haha. We just spent most of our time… lying on our beds. One time, we went to Jollibee. The Filipino crew asked us what we were up to in Brunei and we told them we were there as tourists. They were surprised and sarcastically asked why Brunei? Apparently, they rarely see Filipino tourists, let alone tourists, in the country because even the locals would say that their country is boring.
That’s further manifested in the airport activities. Our flight was still at 11pm but we went to the airport right after our hotel check-out at 2pm! We just stayed at Coffee Bean for hours. We have observed that there were only few departing passengers.
Nevertheless, Brunei itself has some attractions to offer.
The most visited (as if there are other options) in the country is the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque.
Situated in the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan, the golden topped dome is built in an artificial lagoon and is considered as one of the most beautiful mosques in Southeast Asia.
Just a walking distance from the mosque is the port to Kampong Ayer, or “water village.”
Also dubbed as “Venice of the East,” it is the largest water village in the world.Not only will you find homes built on the water but also school, fire station, mosque, and even a gasoline station.
Our boatman also brought us to this crocodile sanctuary in Brunei river. Crocodile heads randomly pop up, we were so scared!!!
Brunei also boasts Ulu Ulu National Park, famous for its 60-meter high canopy walk. We didn’t go here though because it’s 3 hours away from the capital (wow as if we have limited time) but also the fee costs around 6,000php!!! SERIOUSLY that’s only few buckets lesser than our hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia! So…nope.
We also went to Empire Star Hotel, one of the few 7-star hotels in the world! It houses the biggest swimming pool I have seen but with no one swimming. It is overlooking the serene South China Sea.
My take away is that Brunei is a discreet opulent state. Maybe there are actually exciting things to do there which we didn’t discover. And why should everyone not miss it? To experience the fun we had!