Thursday, May 19, 2016

DimitriosFan: A stopover in the Sultanate of Brunei

Since that time I first remember myself being introduced to the world’s geography and history, my curiosity was always keenly animated by the prospect of visiting that tiny sovereign state, situated on the north coast of Borneo, called Brunei.

It was something about the aged stories of the powerful Bruneian empire reigning across Borneo and the South Sea, narrated by the great adventurers of the discovery age.

Something about the fables of its aforetime almighty sultans, their excessive opulence and their ostentatious palaces, which had made me regard that little piece of land through an exotic and romanticized scope.

Being finally in Borneo, after the years, the time to give my curiosity’s fancies satisfaction had come.

To get there I took a public bus from Kota Kinabalu which covered the separating distance in 8-9 hours.

A great deal of this time was consumed by the boarder controls.

First crossing from the Malaysian state of Sabah to the one of Sarawak, then from Sarawak to the eastern Bruneian district of Temburong, back to Sarawak, and, finally, again into Brunei, which whole thing amounted to seven boarder crossings and two wasted pages in my passport, all in one single day.

We arrived in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei’s capital, some time about late afternoon. By that time, already, nothing was moving.

The streets were deserted, the shops hermetically shut and the air bereft of any sound traveling through it, as if in the outer space.

The whole image I faced gave me the impression of a ghost-city… a desolate, utterly depopulated city, recently ravaged of some pernicious pestilence or something.

That, deadness, would also be and the principal characteristic of this city, as I was to further observe during my brief staying.

A city of about 50.000 inhabitants, I would compare its vividness to a – Mediterranean, let’s say – village of 100-200 people during the early mornings, and to the farthermost dunes of Sahara during the nighttime.

The aforesaid unliveliness of this city, would definitely render one’s time there as dull and uninteresting as watching a movie in an unplugged screen, if intent on spending there a length of time exceeding two or three days.

As, though, in my case, the length of my sojourn did not last more than two complete rotations of the earth, I found this characteristic of the city ideally cooperative to my ramble-around-in-peace mood.

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