Thursday, October 14, 2010

Driving from Brunei to Labuan


The Muara-Labuan-Muara vehicle and passenger ferry service which has started operation on 4 October 2010, is going to be an added destination for Bruneians to travel by car in. So far they travel to Malaysia's Miri and Limbang by car.

One may be able to take a day trip on one's private vehicle including bicycle, motorcycle, sedan car, small van, MPVs and SUVs across the border to Labuan very soon.

Labuan is an island surrounded by coral reef just north of Brunei Bay belonging to Malaysia.

It has always been a rich island, where taxes are nonexistent, attracting ships and traders throughout the world.

There were many battles fought between the Japanese and allied forces during World War II, leaving behind quite a few shipwrecks. In the last few decades, the island has become a financial centre for insurance, banking and investment.

A ticket to get to Labuan from Brunei by boat is priced between $17 and $22, and the journey from Muara to the island takes slightly over an hour. The boat operators plan to operate a total of four trips daily.

Once a part of the Sultanate of Brunei, Labuan was ceded to the British in 1846. It remained under the British rule for 115 years, except for the three years when it was under the Japanese occupation.

With the increasing change in colonisation, Labuan was ceded to the state of Sabah in 1963. Subsequently, its administration was handed to the Federal Government of Malaysia in 1984. Recognising Labuan's strategic location and proximity to major shipping routes and offshore oil and gas fields, the Federal Government launched a long-term development programme to jump-start Labuan's stagnating economy and to encourage the influx of both domestic and foreign investments.

As Malaysia's only deepwater anchorage, Labuan is a free port, a Federal Territory, and an International Offshore Financial Centre (IOFC).

The World War II Memorial is one of the most visited places in Labuan. The beautifully landscaped memorial garden is the final resting place of 3,908 war heroes who died in battle or captivity in Borneo during the Second World War.

Every year in November a commemoration is held (Remembrance Day) to honour the lives of the valiant men who fought during the war.

The Chimney, with its usage still a mystery until today, stands at 106 feet high at Tanjung Kubong (besides Labuan Bird Park). Believed to be built during the coal mining era (1847-1912), the structure contains 23,000 England imported bricks with 12 layers of foundations beneath the surface.

Another tourist attraction is the Labuan Bird Park, located near Tanjung Kubong. Here visitors can check out the wide variety of species of Borneo birds and its collection of rare birds. The birds in the Labuan Bird Park fly inside large dome-shaped cages

Also a must-see is the the exact surrendering point of the Japanese army to the Australian army, which marked the end of the 2nd World War in Borneo.

The Peace Park is just a few steps away from the surrendering point. Funded and maintained mainly by the Japanese Shipbuilding Industry Foundation, the park is well-maintained and serves as a memorial of the war.

For greater convenience to travel about while in Labuan, picking a hotel based in the town area is crucial, making sure the whole town is accessible by foot.

To get around outside the town area, such as the beautiful beaches and the Chimney, hail a taxi at the jetty, where dozens are available, or rent a car for the day. Buses are fewer in numbers, so perhaps that should be an option visitors resort to last.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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