Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

On Monday, I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Seri Begawan and met my favourite Kiwi for a new country adventure.

Bandar Seri Begawan, بندر سري بڬاوان, is the capital of Brunei.  The city has a population of 100.700 with the greater metro area is home to almost 280.000 people.

Until 1970 it was known as Bandar Brunei which translates to "Brunei Town."  Locals simply call it "Bandar" or BSB.

The city lies on the northern bank of the Brunei River.

The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque was built in 1958.  It is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful mosques in the world.

The mosque has an artificial lagoon with a replica of a 16th century barge.  The barge was completed in 1967.

The 1968 Coronation Arch commemorates the coronation of the sultan.  It was originally built somewhere else moved here in October 1993.

The Timepiece Stone Monument was built in 1959.  It functions as a zero-mile-clock to indicate the distance starting point from BSB and other places in the country.

The Al-Muhtadee Billah Mosque is known as the pyramid mosque.  It's huge and sits on the southern bank of the Brunei River.

The Brunei History Centre opened in 1982.  Lots of information about the history of the royal family.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for the propagation of Islam and for upholding it as the state religion.

Tamu Klanggeh is the open air market that dates back to the 1980s.  Lots of fresh local produce.

The Raja Ayang Mausoleum honours a couple who were severely punished for committing adultery.

The General Post Office was built in 1952.  Inside is the Brunei Stamp Gallery.



The Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien is a large stadium used for ceremonial events.  This is where the country proclaimed independence in 1984.



The Royal Regalia Museum is all about the sultan.  It was built in 1992 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Sultan's accession to the throne.  It documents the sultan's life and is full of display about his coronation and Silver Jubilee.  It's a shame that photography isn't allowed because the chariots used for his coronation have to be seen to be believed.



The Teng Yun Temple is the only Chinese temple in the country.






The Brunei Legislative Council was established in 1959.





The Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Bridge opened in 2017.  It is the 2nd longest single-pylon cable-stayed bridge in the world.



Kampong Ayer is the water village built on the Brunei River.  It's been called the "Venice of the East."  It's basically stilt homes that are connected with wooden and concrete bridges and walkways.




The village was founded 1000 years ago.  It's the world's largest stilt settlement with about 2000 homes and 30.000 residents.



One of the easiest ways to get around is by water taxi.  There are jetties along the river.

We hired a chap to take us out on the river for a bit.  We had a few stops under the mangrove trees to see the endangered proboscis monkeys which are only found in Borneo.

We also got a glimpse of Istana Narul Iman which is where the sultan lives. It's the world's largest residential palace but it is not open to the public.


Chicken feet for lunch

BSB was an interesting place.  With the whole controversy about the sultan making homosexuality punishable with death by stoning, several of my mates were really shocked that I was going to visit.
Granted I was with Nat but I didn't see or hear anything about it.  What I did love is that once I showed up there was a big gay rainbow.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Batu Caves, Malaysia

The Batu Caves are about 13 km (8 miles) from Kuala Lumpur.  It's basically a limestone hill with caves and temples inside.  The caves are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India.






It is home to the world's tallest statue of the Hindu deity Mungan.
The statue is 42,7 metres (140 feet) tall.

The limestone forming the caves is supposed to be around 400 million years old.

Besides the caves, the other popular attraction are the monkeys.  Long-tailed Macaques hang out along the steps leading up to the caves.  Everyone wants a selfie with the monkeys.

It's a hike up the stairs to the caves but it's worth it.  The caves and temples are interesting.  This is an easy half-day trip from the city.

Plus...there are monkeys.  Here's me and the monkey.  Sounds like the best cop-buddy-mystery-crime-solving TV show ever!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Putrajaya, Malaysia

Putrajaya, officially the Federal Territory of Putrajaya, is about 35 km (22 miles) from Kuala Lumpur.  It's near Cyberjaya which is the Malaysian version of Silicon Valley where most of the IT companies are.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia but Putrajaya is the seat of the government with most federal ministries located here.

Putrajaya was established in 1995 and it became a federal territory in 2001.






It was a planned city with lots of parks and eight bridges.  Putrajaya is home to almost 92.000 people.  I believe that federal employees receive free housing here.  If I'm not mistaken they have to leave when they retire but I never got a straight answer on this one.

The Putrajaya International Convention Centre overlooks the city.  Construction was completed in 2003.

The Perdana Putra is the Prime Minister's office complex.

The Putra Mosque, next to Putrajaya Lake, was completed in 1999.  It can accommodate up to 15.000 worshipers.

The Seri Gemilang Bridge is the ceremonial bridge.






The Seri Saujana Bridge is a futuristic cable stayed Arch bridge.



The Wawasan Bridge is the other main futuristic bridge made to resemble the sails of schooner.




At night the bridges are lit up in different colours which makes for a nice sightseeing trek around the city.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is officially the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and it's the capital of Malaysia.  KL is in the west-central Peninsular part of the country.  It's the country's biggest city with around 1,7 million people.  The greater metro area is home to 7,2 million.

KL was established is 1859.  It received city status in 1972 and it became a federal territory in 1974.  It is among the top ten most visited cities in the world.  It might have something to do with also having three of the top ten biggest shopping malls in the world.

The Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque is at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers.  The mosque was built in 1909 and is one of the oldest in the city.

The Exchange 106 is the city's newest skyscraper.  Construction began in 2016 and finished this year.  The 95-floor building is topped with a 12-story crown making it come in at 445 metres (1460 feet) tall.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church was consecrated in 1902.  The "Scottish Church" was built during the British occupation.



Petaling Street is home to the main Chinatown.  Lots of restaurants and food stalls serving Chinese and Malay food.




Stadium Negara, built in 1962, was the country's first indoor stadium.  The 10.000 seat stadium was renovated in 2015.




The Central Market was founded in 1888 by the British.  The Art Deco building was completed in 1937.

The KL Tower opened in 1996.  At 421 metres (1.381 feet) tall it is the world's seventh tallest telecommunications tower.  At night it is lit up in different colours.

The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre was built in 2005 for the 11th ASEAN Summit.



The Upside Down House opened in 2016.  Everything in the 2-story house is upside down with the furniture arranged on the ceiling.




TV Al-Hijrah began operating in 2010.  It was the country's first free-to-air Islamic TV broadcast.




The National Textile Museum opened in 2010.  The building was completed in 1905 as the headquarters fo the Federal Malay States Railways.



The Telecommunications Museum opened in 2005.  The 1928 building used to be the old exchange building.




The National Museum opened in 1963.

The Petronas Towers is the city's main landmark.  The 88-floor towers were completed in 1996 at a cost of $1,6 billion.



At 451,9 metres (1.483 feet), it was the tallest building in the world until 2004 when Taipei 101 opened.
Today it's 19th tallest in the world but it is still the world's largest twin tower.

The National Palace opened in 2011.  It is the Malaysian monarch's official residence.




The National Mosque of Malaysia was completed in 1965.  It can accommodate  15.000 people.

Little India is cool little area with Hindu temples and delicious Indian food.

The food courts throughout the city are the best places to eat.  Delicious and cheap eats.

Putrajaya is the federal administrative centre of the capital.  The planned city was established in 1995 and is home to about 92.000 people.




The Batu Caves are about 13 km (8 miles) from the city.  It is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India and is home to the world's tallest Murugan statue.