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Bandar Seri Begawan, the City

and the good Samaritan.


Bandar Seri Begawan, May 18th 2012

I thought I already understood the face of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei's capital city. However, due to my partly unsuccessful mission in Temburong, I was back in BSB earlier than expected.

I wanted to go to the museum, but the museum would soon be closed on this hour of a Friday. So I stood here contemplating on what to do. That looks like an 'ex-theater'. I haven't seen any theaters. Maybe it's forbidden in Brunei? There are no bars and nightclubs, that's for sure.

Okay, let me go to Gadong, I decided. I know it's just another sort of Jakarta, but with just a couple of hours in hand, that's the closest destination. So I got on the bus with Gadong written on above. The bus station is just next to this 'ex-theater'. You can see a small glimpse of the bus on the right.

Ouchhh... it's very hot! I quickly sought for refuge inside the well air-conditioned "The Mall". Well, for a Jakarta girl, there's nothing special. But it also can be that I'm not brand expertise. What brand has to have what quality, what brand normally cost what, don't ask me. The aircon just feels the same.

One more same thing, there is a theater here!

This Hua Ho Department Store seems to so everywhere in Brunei. Maybe Carrefour's Chinese name in Brunei is Hua Ho. Did I ever see Carrefour in Brunei? I can't remember. Wait a minute, let me Google. Hmmm, seems none.

Outside The Mall, there were many many shops lining left and right. Some part looked like Jakarta's Glodok. There was a house utensils centre, daily goods centre, electronic centre, and people. Nearly everywhere I went in Brunei had been quiet, but not in Gadong. It was like the whole Brunei had gathered in Gadong. Traffice within the complex area was jammed as well. I think that's the only traffic jam in Brunei.

How do you spell "KFC" in Arabic? Like this.

I burst out into laughter when I saw this. "Restoran Harian". Huahahaha. In Indonesian, 'harian' means 'daily'. So, "Daily Restaurant". That just sounds funny for a name of a restaurant. Doesn't a restaurant ought to open daily?

Outside the complex area, back to serenity. This is Ramadhan holiday in Jakarta.

Suddenly, psssttt! I felt an inch shorter. I looked down. My socks on the toe was wet. Each of my foot there was at least three blisters. But the biggest one was under my toe. Provided my skin didn't get in contact directly with my sandals, I could walk with ease. But now that one blister has ruptured, walking became smarting painful.

Logically, I thought, the bus back to BSB must be on the opposite side of the street. So I crossed the street. What an easy thing it is crossing a street in Brunei. Even crossing a wide main street like this, you can do it while scratching your back. I didn't scratched my back, though. I limped because of the ruptured blister under my toe.

I read a faded bus time table at the bus stop shelter. Correct, the bus to BSB passes by here. Hah. I sat down and took off my socks. Since high school I had always practiced keeping band-aids handy in my purse. I wrapped my toe, put my socks on, and tested walking. Great. It doesn't hurt anymore now. There comes a bus.

Something in me told me to make sure asking whether that bus was really going to BSB.

"Bandar ya?" I asked.

"Bukan. Bandar di seberang." Ooops, a Javanese lady again. Before crossing the street, I could see her looking back to me in the car. Does she recognize me? The driver yesterday told her? Phew.

At the bus stop across the street, there was a young guy apparently waiting for a bus, too. "Ke Bandar di sini ya bisnya?" I asked. I' had learned that the short for 'Bandar Seri Begawan' in daily conversation is "Bandar'.

He answered, yes.

Minutes went by, but no bus passed by. I began to become worried. What if no bus comes? I don't have enough money for a taxi. What if I miss my flight to Kuala Lumpur?

A sedan stopped in front of the bus stop. The young guy just now stepped forward. "Must be his friend," I thought. I looked back towards the street finding a glimpse of a purple thingy.

"Ke Bandar!" I heard the guy calling me. I turned my head. He waved his hand signalling me to come along. Oh, is this a private taxi?

How much, I asked him.

The same, he answered.

The same? The same as bus? Yes, the same as bus, this guy confirmed. I looked at him. He seemed to be a nice guy. Oh well, rather than missing my precious Air Asia, my instinct said it was okay to get into the car.

It was a cozy and fine car. Don't ask me the brand. I told you, I'm not a brand expert. Whatsoever, it's more comfortable than a taxi. With good music also.

All along the way, the driver and the young guy who sat in front, said not a word. Wow... I thought they were friends? The driver had recognized the young guy from afar. Thus, he pulled over and offered him a lift. And the young guy feeling sorry for me, a fine lady burnt under Brunei heat, kindly shared his luck of meeting a friend on a fine sedan. That was the story I had made up in mind.

But, hey, if a friend stops by and offers you a lift, wouldn't it be rude if you say nothing to the friend?

Oh, maybe, they don't want me to listen to them talking, I tried to figure out. That thought made me feel uneasy. They shouldn't have taken me, then. "But," the other me argued. "What harm would it be just to say 'what a hot day today' to a friend in the presence of a stranger?" That's true.

Near the bus station, the driver pulled over. The young guy handed a one Brunei dollar note and got off the car.

Wait! I don't want to be left alone with this stranger! "Saya juga turun di sini saja," I said.

I got a one Brunei dollar note and handed it cautiously. Now, the driver will scold me, I prepared myself. He will yell, "Who do you think I am?! You value my car like a bus?!"

I pushed the door open. The driver bowed his head to me. "Terima kasih," he uttered. He is thankful?

So, was that hitchhiking? People use to do hitchhiking in Brunei?

That young guy walked away. I deliberately took the opposite direction fearing he would follow me. Nevertheless, he didn't even turn his head!

I regret so much now, I didn't thank him for inviting me to come along. He saved me from the heat, he saved a lot of my time, he made me safe.

Dear Young Gentleman, if by any chance you bump into this post, please accept my gratitude. It was Friday, May 18th 2012, about 12 o'clock, in front of Gadong.
Across the street there, on the right, we waited for a bus to Bandar. Terima kasih banyak.

Posted by automidori 22:35 Archived in Brunei Tagged brunei bandar_seri_begawan gadong Comments (0)

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