|Kampung Ayer as seen from the Royal Wharf|
From across the river, one might think that this is a slum area, much like what we see here in our country. But upon a closer look, you'll find a gasoline station, several mosques, and schools, all in stilts. Oh also, you'll find the houses with air-con and cable satellite dish installed.
|One of the Kampung Ayer schools|
|Cruising through the Brunei River|
|Oh and did I mention there's a government housing too?|
Kampong Ayer is accessible via water taxis, found along the Royal Wharf in Bandar. You can hire a boat to tour around the village and to go deep into the mangroves to see the proboscis monkeys. If you have ample time, you can ask the boatman to wait for you as you explore Kampong Ayer on foot. Haggle with the boatman as they tend to have a high asking price. Mine asked for 50BND but I haggled for a couple of minutes before we finally agreed at 30BND. I heard some people were able to bring their fare down to 15BND though.
The boatman will take you upstream and deeper into the mangrove. On the way you will pass by historical sites such as this one. The photo below is of the old Royal Cemetery, where generations of the Royal Family used to be buried.
On the river banks you will also see the Royal Family's jetty port as well as the dome of the Istana Nurul Iman, the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei and is recognized as the largest residential palace in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. Interestingly, the palace was designed by Leandro Locsin, a Filipino architect. Too bad it is not open to the public and we can only see the dome.
Now, compare that speck of dome with the photo below.
That used to be the official residence of the Sultan, before oil was discovered in Brunei. See what riches oil can bring to a country?
Spot the Proboscis monkeys
I felt funny after seeing a proboscis monkey. The resemblance of this specie to how some of us humans look like is amusing and eerie at the same time. Long nose and big belly, I'm pretty sure that would remind you of someone you know. Kidding!
The truth is, I'm quite scared of dark, murky fresh waters. I can't help but picture crocodiles and snakes lurking nearby. However, seeing the proboscis monkeys in their habitat from a few feet way entertained me more than I thought it would. Plus the novelty of seeing people luxuriously living in the water piqued my interest. And just so you know, most people who live in Kampong Ayer have their cars parked across the river. How cool is that?