Sunday, 15 May 2011

Borneo - visiting Kuching and Brunei

After climbing Mount Kinabalu and diving at Sipadan we flew to Kuching, the state capital of the other Malaysian province in Borneo, Sarawak.

The symbol of Kuching is a cat, as "Kuching" may or not have taken its name for the word for cat, depending on who you talk to and which language they speak.

city symbol

The province was governed by three generations of white rajahs, the Brookes, during 19th century and first half of 20th century. Some remnants of this period still remain :

square tower

Today the state capital building is very modern :

Kuching mosque

Leaving Kuching we headed north to the Sultanate of Brunei, where we stayed in the small capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan, (commonly abbreviated as BSB).
The city is dominated by the attractive Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, which was built in 1958 :

but we also come across a Chinese temple :

A must for all visitors to BSB is the Royal Regalia Museum, which charts the life of the present Sultan of Brunei and contains all the trappings of Bruneian royalty.

Royal Regalia Museum

Another quintessential part of BSB is the stilt villages where up to a quarter of the population prefers to live. These villages are equipped with electricity, piped water, TV ... We visited the closest village to the city centre, Kampung Ayer :

primary school

We ended our visit of BSB with a trip to the Tamu Kianggeh day market :

suggested reading :
My life in Sarawak by Margaret Brooke. An account of life in 19th century Sarawak by the wife of the Second "White Rajah".

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