Once again, for traveling the road less traveled.
14.05.2012 - 18.05.2012
Muara and beyond, May 17th 2012
Finally done with the interrogation at the immigration check out, I was delighted to find bus number 33 waiting at the exit. It turned out that the driver and bus attendant was the same as this morning. I became double delighted. But I was wrong.
"What was wrong with your martabak this morning?" the driver asked me. "You forgot the gravy?"
That was a surprise question. How did he know that I had forgotten to bring the gravy? That Javanese man told him? What for? They had been talking about me??
This driver and bus attendant were Javanese also. They spoke Javanese to me and I told them I don't speak Javanese. So they switched into Indonesian again. They asked were there many people inside the terminal. Yes they are, I answered. Thus, they decided to wait. While waiting, I asked them which destination would come first, Muara Beach or Serasa Beach.
"Where do you want to go?" the driver asked me instead.
"If time permits, I would like to go to both. But I would like to know which one is the nearest from here."
"That's up to you."
"Up to me?" I got confused.
"Yes, up to you. Do you want to go to Muara first or Serasa first? I'll take you there."
"Why up to me??" Come on, this is a public bus that has fixed route. The route map is clearly displayed at the bus terminal in Bandar Seri Begawan. How on earth it can be up to me? I am not hiring this bus, am I?
The bus attendant laughed. "Hahaha. Why up to me!" She imitated me.
Said the bus driver again, "Muara is more beautiful dan Serasa."
"Okay, I'll go to Muara, then," I replied.
Why am I traveling alone, these Javenese guys were curious. They asked me which part of Indonesia I had come from. Jakarta? they asked. Yes, I answered. Which part of Jakarta? they asked again. I answered. Where do I work? they kept on interviewing. Somewhere in that area, was my answer. What's my occupation? An occupation that's enough to support me traveling to this expensive country, was my answer.
Huahaha! The driver laughed out loud. "Are you an official's daughter? Anak pejabat ya?"
"Do you think slanting eyes can be an official?"
Huahaha! "So what do you work as?"
"I told you. An occupation that's enough to support me traveling to this expensive country."
"Do you think it's expensive here?"
"You think it's not? I think it's more expensive than Malaysia or China. It's very similar to Singapore over here."
"If you calculate and compare, it's the same as Indonesia." The driver gave an example of one kilo of rice in Brunei and in Indonesia.
"That's because you are calculating with your Brunei income," I argued.
"So what do you work as?"
"I told you already."
"Why is that such a secret?"
"Why do you have to know?"
The bus attendant laughed out loud, again.
"What time will the bus return to Muara?" I asked, because I didn't find a time schedule.
"That's up to you."
"Up to me??"
"Yes. What time you'd like me to fetch you?"
"No, no! I'll follow your time schedule."
"I can fetch you at any time you want."
Muara turned out to be like a small beach park. "I'll take you inside, so you won't have to walk," said the driver.
At a glance, 45 minutes seemed to be enough to spend here. "Can I return at four o'clock?" I asked.
"Four o'clock. Fine," answered the driver.
Entrance is free. That's one thing to proof this country IS rich.
The seashore itself was plain blue just like at Pantai Seri Kenangan.
But the beach ground ...
...and trees were more fascinating.
Thanks to the blue sky that provided the final touch.
In other words, there were more elements to put into frame here, than in Pantai Seri Kenangan. Or wasn't I just not creative at that time?
Such as this also. This beach would have served my best sunset view in Brunei. Too bad the beach is closed by 6:00 PM says an announcement near the entrance.
I suspect, when the tide is high, the sea water would flow into this canal. Great idea.
Thus, a tiny water canal flows through the park.
Besides me, there was a young couple at the beach. Besides us, there was no one. What a road less traveled indeed!
It was five past four already, but the bus had not yet arrived. I already packed my camera into my backpack, because I didn't want those Javanese guys to know that I was carrying valuable stuffs. I had already arrived at the suspicion that these guys want something from me. Oh well, but what if the driver isn't coming back at all? I walked out the beach park. It seemed quiet. Only few private cars rolled on. A taxi to Bandar Seri Begawan would surely be costly. But there aren't taxis. I dreaded the thought of having to spend a night here. Not for safety sake, but finance!
Outside the beach park, by the side of the road, I found a bus stop.
Hah... hopefully, hopefully, a bus will come by.
Hurray! Bus number 33!
"Did you take my picture?" the driver asked as I got up. The same driver. And the same bus attendant.
Weird Things Go On
The bus driver drove into the beach park. I was surprised. Didn't he say that just now he drove inside to drop me off? Now, that I'm already on the bus, why does he have to drive into the beach park again?
The driver paused a few seconds at the place where he had dropped me off, and then turned out the park. What did he want to do??
"You are going to Serasa now?" asked the bus attendant.
"What time does the last bus to BSB leave?" I asked back.
"Six o'clock," she answered. "You still have enough time."
Hmmm... but what if there's no six o'clock bus to BSB? I don't have money, you know. I even almost couldn't pay for my ferry ticket this morning. On the other hand, I feel like getting rid of these guys' company. I love Brunei, but I don't want to be with them.
"No, I'm not going to Serasa," I told the bus attendant.
"Don't worry. You still have enough time."
"No. I want to return to BSB right away."
"You are scared!"
"No! I'm not!"
"Huahahaha. You don't even let us know what your occupation is. Gitu aja dirahasiain."
"I've told you already!"
How I regretted myself for revealing my nationality. Had I spoken in English and not greet them in Indonesian, they would have thought I'm a Malaysian or Singaporean. Aaarghhh.
"I'll bring you pass by Serasa," said the driver. "Just for you to have a look of what it is like."
Besides me, there were one two other passengers who got on and off along the way. One guy got on the bus. He and the driver greeted each other in Javanese. On the back of his red shirt was written "Indonesia".
Yes, the beach ground in Serasa wasn't as beautiful as Muara. But I found something unique there. The road ran into a very long but narrow cape. So there was a seashore on the left and right side of the road. I've never been to a place like this before. What would it be like to take a bird's eye view picture with a seashore on the left and right? Ah, whenever I get a chance to visit Brunei again, I have to make a stop in Serasa (Twin) Beach. From inside the bus, I couldn't see the end of the cape. The road seemed to drop into the sea.
The driver made a U turn. There was a bus stop signpost like the one in Muara, but no shelter. A guy was standing there. My bus stopped. That guy got up. Was he someone like me whom the driver had promised to pick up? Hmmm, that didn't seem so. They didn't even look at each other.
Along the way, my mind tried to digest the whole thing. Hah... I think... everything was just a pretense. It was possible to act so, because there weren't many passengers on this route. Actually the route IS fixed. The driver drove into the Muara Beach Park, because he had to. Not because he was being kind to me. He passed by Serasa Beach not to show me the place either. That's the bus route he had to follow. Obviously a bus stop is there and someone who knew that a bus passes by this road had been waiting for the bus. Do you think he knew that a bus driver would have to pass by here at this hour in order to show the place to an Indonesian fellow?
When the driver promised to pick me up at my requested time, he was merely gambling carelessly. The whole route is not long anyway. Even if he doesn't arrive in Muara at the promised time, he would have to be there anyway, and the time won't differ so much. Moreover, there are no other means of transportation. I would have to wait for him anyway.
At Muara Bus Terminal, the bus to BSB was already there. "Terima kasih, Mas. Terima kasih, Mbak." I thanked the Javanese guys as I got off the bus.
"Terima kasih imbalannya!" I heard the driver said. 'Imbalan' is a reward for someone's kindness.
Aha! See?! They want something from me! You guys, bus driver and bus attendant, are no different than those working at the water company in my hometown. A corrupt that preys on the seemingly potential a.k.a. rich but weak.
I pretended not to hear the bus driver and walked to the bus heading to BSB. It was a different number thus different route as the one this morning. The bus driver was, a Javanese Indonesian, again. Aye.