The Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives all over the globe, including ours and millions of people wishing to travel and visit iconic travel locations and wonderful destinations.
While the pandemic definitely had the most devastating impact on informal economies (particularly “no work, no pay” jobs and hand-to-mouth income brackets), the global aviation and tourism industry has also taken the economic brunt.
To get us through our collective travel deprivation despair, here’s some iconic travel locations (some quite obvious and some less known) you might want to add to your post-pandemic “revenge travel” bucket list (or even “religious places to visit”, as it turns out) once we take to the skies as borders reopen and the world is safe again.
After visiting the Kampong Ayer (water villages) and having lunch at CBTL where Zaza met me, we then went to the Royal Regalia Museum, one of the must see places in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB).
The Royal Regalia Museum houses the “treasures” of the Sultan and the Sultanate of Brunei, ranging from personal collections of photos and memorabilias to gifts from various State leaders and governments. I guess you can say that just like in old times where the visiting envoys or monarchs or sultans/datus/rahas present exquisite gifts to the host, visiting State leaders or Ambassadors also present tokens from their countries as a gesture of “friendship” between countries. The collection included birthday gifts as well as anniversary gifts for the commemoration of the Sultan’s coronation.
Day 4: Bandar Seri Begawan walkabout and Kampong Ayer actual exploration (Part 1) Warning: You are about to have a Masjid overload
I had a great night with Zaza and her friends Narissa and Amal. There’s so many things I wish to share with you for my couchsurfing experience but that would have to wait a little while longer. Now, I wish to take you on a walking tour of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city of Negara Brunei Darussalam. The day began by Zaza, after checking her young ones’ class attendance, taking me around the city center and showing me the places where I might want to visit. We agreed to meet after my walkabout, at around 2pm in Coffee Bean. I won’t have a way to contact her directly since I did not get a Bruneian SIM card. So, with that settled and her dropping me off at the SOAS Mosque, my six-hour walkabout began.
Day 3: Kota Kinabalu-Labuan-Brunei via Ferry (the route most traveled)
After a great day and evening spent with Zuldee and Sally, I spent some more time chatting with the other guests at Sensi Backpackers. The Shanghai family is scheduled to leave the day after, just like me. We spent some more hours just chatting and me trying to convince them to come here in the Philippines. After that, my eyes and body finally gave in to the strong pull of the comfortable bed.
I woke up at about 6am and readied my stuff. I grabbed some breakfast too, and got myself some baon fruits (an apple and an orange), free! :p Before I left, I bade Sally goodbye (she told me to wake her) and promised that I’d see if I can come back to Kota Kinabalu before she returns to London (December 18). Unfortunately, I did not hold future at my hands and as much as I wanted to return and visit the Kota Kinabalu National Park, I no longer can. (If you are reading this Sally, I’m sorry! Come visit me instead! Hehe)
Anyway, if my camera time tag is correct, I am still having my bread toasted at 6:45am. The ferry that would take me from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei, passing through Labuan Federal Territory of Malaysia, is set to leave at 8am. Meaning, I should have been on my way at that time already instead of having two toasted bread with butter (more of margarine actually), strawberry jam and orange marmalade. So, I had to rely on my long legs and even longer strides to get me there before the departure time. I even made some stops actually, taking snaps here and there (I think I ended up erasing those here and there snaps when I ran out of memory somewhere in Vietnam).
I think it took me about 20 minutes walking from Sensi to Jesselton. It probably helped that I have been to Jesselton the day before for my Sapi Island Hopping Half-day Tour. I bought my ticket (sorry, I’ll try to juggle my memory to remember from which counter it was purchased) and paid the terminal fee. I asked for the cheapest ticket available (economy ticket), priced at RM53 + RM 3.6 for the terminal fee at Jesselton.