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Borneo: Brunei and Kota Kinabalu

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM | Wednesday, 28 January 2015 | Views [188] | Comments [2]

Chilies and limes are cooking staples in this part of the world.

Chilies and limes are cooking staples in this part of the world.

The island of Borneo now mostly belongs to Malaysia, with the exception of the tiny country of Brunei Darussalam.  Brunei is quite oil-rich, I think we’ve been hearing “as rich as the Sultan of Brunei” since we were small kids.  The sultan is indeed reputed to be one of the two or three richest people in the world, but he has been pretty generous to the people of Brunei with the oil revenues, more so than most of the other oil-rich nations that we’ve seen.  In Brunei, citizens pay no income tax, and the state provides education through the university level, healthcare, and subsidized housing.  There are only 400,000 citizens, but since they enjoy a fairly high standard of living, there are many Indonesians imported for labor and household staffing.

Houses were fairly nice (some were *really* nice), but there was a dicey water village area that was a bit seedy.  It seems that in the past, Malaysians liked to build their houses on stilts over the water, because the Borneo headhunters didn’t like to go out onto the water.  (May not be true, but it makes a good story.)  Anyway, the water village in Brunei is as the end of a deep, narrow estuary.  The water was very cloudy and we soon discovered why—all the sewage waste from the water village houses dropped right down into the water beneath.  Kind of surprising, given the relatively advanced infrastructure in the rest of Brunei.

We also took a boat up the river a bit, looked at some mangrove swamps, saw several crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, and tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to spot the elusive proboscis monkeys.

After leaving Brunei, we moved up the coast a bit for our last visit to a Malaysian port at Kota Kinabalu.   There wasn’t much going on there, nothing of real historic significance.  We took the shuttle bus into town (these are usually free buses sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, or in this case, by one particular shopping mall).  We walked around the city for a couple of hours, through another fun market, got a battery for my watch, and headed back to the ship.

 

Comments

1

Whoa, now. You claim...."The island of Borneo now mostly belongs to Malaysia, with the exception of the tiny country of Brunei Darussalam." A good part of Borneo was a significant part of Indonesia until very recently. What happened? Malaysia's portion is about one fourth of island on most maps. Love the chili/lime pict...burn me, pucker me, drown me in margharitas (the Malaysian spelling!).

  Stephen the Elder Feb 7, 2015 10:36 AM

2

You are right, mostly Indonesia.

  Vinnie the Abashed Feb 7, 2015 11:10 AM

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