Monday, August 29, 2016

Ikimasho!: My base in Brunei - Badi’ah Hotel, Bandar Seri Begawan

The sights and sounds of the city within walking distance – or water taxi.

I first visited Borneo seven years ago, spending three weeks in the Malaysian state of Sabah with my ex from Northern Ireland.

On that particular trip I always remember toying with the idea of going to Brunei, but for whatever reason it just never happened.

Perhaps it was because to get to Borneo we had to fly from Belfast to London to Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu – the thought of any more travel most likely put us off.

This time around, however, I had no excuse. Already based in Kota Kinabalu, my flight to Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan, took just 30 minutes – with the return ticket only costing $60 / £50.

As a side note here I have to say that Royal Brueni Airlines is perhaps the best low-cost carrier I have ever flown with.

The plane and staff were immaculate – and despite it being such a short flight, passengers were offered newspapers and cold juice. I was also told I could sit wherever I wanted after take-off.

It just goes to show that you can indeed run an airline with great service while still keeping the costs low. Ryanair in Europe in particular could learn a few things here.

Arrival in Bandar Seri Begawan

I got chatting to the guy in the row next to me while on the plane. He was from Nagoya in Japan, on his was to Brunei for just one night to meet a friend.

Once we landed we both came out into the arrivals hall only to find out we were both staying in the same hotel, the Badi’ah.

A driver was waiting to take us to the hotel – always a major bonus when you are arriving somewhere new, allowing you to avoid the logistical worries of getting yourself into town.

I still always find it funny when someone holds up my name on a card at the airport, it’s a good feeling!

On our short ride back to the hotel our super friendly driver, Atoi, pointed out many landmarks along the way.

One thing I immediately noticed was how calm it was compared to Kota Kinabalu.

The streets of Bandar Seri Begawan are wide, clean and in great condition.

It’s evident that Brunei as a country is financially better off than its neighbours.