Saturday, August 02, 2008

Facelift for popular park in Tutong, Brunei

A building for stage activities

A Rumah Budaya depicting the house of a Tutong community

A hut where people can take a rest

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Rosli Abidin Yahya and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

The well-known Sungai Basong Recreational Park in Tutong is undergoing renovation and maintenance to make it one of the country's top tourist attractions.

This recreation area is one of the famous landmarks of Tutong District, apart from Merimbun Heritage Park and Pantai Seri Kenangan.

The re-branding of the park, which was initiated by the Tutong District Office, involves the current and upcoming upgrading of various facilities.

Perhaps not as large as Bukit Shahbandar Recreational Park near Jerudong, the park was first opened in 1989. Since then, it has undergone various re-branding. The park was also used as a venue for His Majesty's birthday celebrations in the past at a special area near the entrance to the park.

The park is definitely a suitable venue for joggers, walkers and jungle trekkers, including those who love camping and outdoor activities.

During the recent school holidays, the park hosted the camping activities of a uniformed association.

Apart from two lakes, the park has platforms, shelter huts and open activity areas. It is surrounded by rich flora and fauna, thus making it an ideal place to relax.

One of the most popular spots in the district for picnickers and joggers, the park features "Rumah Budaya" or cultural houses which showcase the five ethnic groups found in the district, namely, the Tutong, Kedayan, Iban, Dusun and the Chinese community.

The exhibits also show the rich diverse cultures and the cultural identity of the different ethnic groups such as the Kedayan, Murut and Dusun found in Tutong.

The "Rumah Budaya" was constructed in 2001 at the cost of $800,000 and it is the only park that features cultural houses in the country. These unique houses attract not only tourists but locals, too.

For those who want to take a walk at the park, the Sungai Basong Recreational Park lies just five minutes from the Tutong town centre and is situated beside and to the south of the Tutong Muara Coastal Highway on the outskirts of Tutong.

For those who come from Bandar Seri Begawan or other points in the east of the country, turn left at the traffic lights shortly after the viaduct before Tutong, where turning right would give access to the base of the Second Battalion of the Brunei Army.

If arriving from the west of the country, turn right at these traffic lights, the set after the main lights for Tutong town and beach. The turning is well-signposted.

In both cases, take the first turning left, then the leftmost of the various roadways onto which it opens.

Go to the end, where there is a carpark for the Mawar Emas Park Restaurant.

After a short visit to the samples of traditional buildings of various Bruneian ethnic groups, the trip will go clockwise around the jogging and hill-walking circuit behind the main park. This involves a number of stretches with a steep gradient, but none that are precipitous.

The paths are mostly sandy and clear of undergrowth.

The downside of this is that some sections have no shade, so sunscreen and hats or caps may be needed.

The full walk should take not more than an hour and a half, affording a number of panoramic views inland, out to sea and over the course of the Tutong River.

It is an easy outing that even children could come and join the adults. However, don't forget to bring water and snacks.

Awg Haji Jamain bin Momin, the Tutong District Officer, welcomes people from all walks of life to visit the park either for recreational activities or even for a mere stroll. "There are a lot of activities that can be done in this area for government agencies, private sector, mukim or kampong consultative councils as well as the general public.

"All are welcome here as long as they observe the responsibility of keeping the park clean, tidy and safe for others.

"Tutong District Office is planning to revitalise the area by outlining several activities in the near future such as repair and maintenance of cultural houses or huts, boosting local economies, specifically by setting up selling areas for local handicrafts from various mukims or kampongs under the mukim or kampong consultative councils' activities, re-branding of the information centre to become 'Tutong Galeri Warisan', working in partnership with mukim or kampong consultative councils as well as with the private sector to set family-oriented activities and other such worthwhile activities.

"At this juncture, we have just finished repairing and repainting the viewers' dais. We welcome support in terms of activities sponsor as well as technical expert advice to further facilitate the park activities.

"Insya-Allah, the upcoming action plans will be able to help rejuvenate Sungai Basong recreational area to become a more attractive place for tourists as well as for families.

"For us now, it is time to act. What is more important that every stakeholder will be able to make use of this area more positively," said the Tutong District Officer.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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