Brunei: A Tour of National Treasures

In part one and part two of his travel adventures, Malcolm unearthed the hidden treasures deep with the rainforest of Borneo and the seas of Brunei. In this travel article, he journeyed back to Bandar Seri Begawan to discover the other national treasures resting between the two giant mosques of gold. 

DSC02169a

Having spent a longer time  at Ulu Temburong National Park soaking in the morning fresh air at the Canopy Walk, we had to rush through the rest of our itinerary that day. Day 3 breakfast was a special experience as we had our meal packed into bento boxes and ate it on the go while traveling on the long boat back to Bangar town.

DSC02307 IMG_1885a

Once we reached the speedboat terminal at Bangar town, everyone were excited to get connected with technology and were rushing to post their pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share with our readers, friends and followers. Seems that you can take bloggers to Ulu Ulu Resort without wifi but you cannot take the habit off from us! I was guilty as charged too.

DSC02308a

Next on the itinerary was the tour of the Water Village. Commonly nicknamed “Venice of the East” by both the local and international communities, Kampong Ayer is actually not a village but a town of 40 sub villages interconnected within this water community. Kampong Ayer is home to over 30,000 Bruneians. From the outside, they look like kelongs or houses built on stilts, commonly found in Malaysia as homes of fishermen. But take a closer look and almost every house in Kampong Ayer was reinforced by concrete pillars and not wooden stilts.

DSC02329 DSC02311

For the locals, traveling across the river was a daily affair. Prices for the water taxi or small speedboat start from B$1.00. Our first stop was to visit the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery which gave us a detailed introduction about the history and culture of the Water Village. I also heard that Brunei is applying for Kampong Ayer to be listed as a UNESCO Heritage site, I sincerely hope this will bring up the profile for the Venice of the East.

DSC02312 DSC02317

Next to Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery are the newer houses on water. These residents were re-homed due to a big fire. The newer houses lack the unique characteristic and remind me of our public housing built by Housing Development Board (HDB) in Singapore. But these houses certainly look like resorts and I really don’t mind owning one. By the way, owners of these new houses own title deed, meaning to say, they don’t just own the house but also the land underneath it too (unlike the older water houses, the owners can only claim ownership of the house and not the land underneath).

DSC02313 DSC02321

One disappointment was that I didn’t get to see any proboscis monkeys, which hang out further down the river from the water villages. However, we did get to go inside one of the residents’ house to have a peek at what daily living there looked like. The host we visited own a house with three bedrooms and converted one room into a wedding studio for visitors to take photos. We also had tea with some local snacks before moving back to main land.

DSC02324 DSC02325 DSC02328 DSC02332 DSC02336 DSC02337 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA DSC02355 DSC02356 DSC02363 DSC02366

After visiting the Water Village, we crossed the river and drove to the Royal Regalia Museum. Opened in 1992, it houses a huge display of the ceremonial items associated to the Royal family. These royal regalia had been passed down from generation to generation. Inside the museum, there are replicas of the royal throne, robes, crowns and gifts to the Sultan displayed as a tribute to the life and times of the monarchy.

DSC02371 DSC02375 DSC02376 DSC02378

Lunch was at Tarindak d’Seni located at level 2 of Brunei Arts and Handicrafts Centre (Jalan Residency, Bandar Seri Begawan) opposite the Water Village. It was here that we got to finally try the much talked about national dish of Brunei – Ambuyat, a dish made from the interior trunk of sago palm.  It is a starchy bland substance commonly eaten using Chandas (chopsticks or bamboo fork) and with special local dips. This dish was invented in World War II when food choice was limited.

DSC02390 DSC02393 DSC02389

To be honest, I prefer Singapore’s national dish Chili Crab and national cocktail Singapore Sling for sure. Speaking of drinking, no alcohol is sold in Brunei but you can bring your own booze from Changi Airport duty free shops before your arrival to the Sultanate.

DSC02385 DSC02388

That afternoon, we also got ourselves wet as we went snorkeling at Pelong Rocks (mentioned in my previous post). We checked-in to The Empire Hotel & Country Club to freshen up before the much anticipated dinner meeting with the Brunei bloggers at Azhani’s residence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was a pleasure to meet up with passionate individuals who have a love for online sharing and writing. Did I mention that the barbecue dinner was specially prepared by Azhani’s husband? Azhani is the senior corporate communications officer for Royal Brunei Airlines and she blogs occasionally these days due to heavy workload.

DSC02426 DSC02437

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_1904

Check out the Bruneian bloggers’ website:

Rano Iskandar (@RanoAdidas) – RanoAdidas.com and LoveFoodHateWaste.org

Reeda Malik (@AnakBrunei) – AnakBrunei.org

Kamarul D Ajimain (@marul69) – geekinwhite.com

Maurina (@Maurina) – maurina.wordpress.com

Azhani (@EmmaGoodEgg) – emmagoodegg.com

We are thankful to Royal Brunei Airlines and Brunei Tourism for the travel arrangement and hospitality, and to Omy.sg for organising this trip. For more information about Brunei, visit Brunei Tourism website at: www.bruneitourism.travel

Brunei Tourism Logo

For more information on Royal Brunei Airlines’ destinations, fares and promotions, please visit their website flyroyalbrunei.com and Facebook page www.facebook.com/royalbruneiairlinessingapore

“Save time, pay less, travel more – Get cheaper air tickets and hotel rooms with Wego.com“.

 

Buoy Up with Airs & Graces at Millenia Walk

Defying the conventional expectations of private art exhibitions, Art Stage Singapore transforms Millenia Walk into an instant contemporary public art museum, offering a unique shopping experience to buoy up the much-awaited holiday and shopping season.

DSC02982a

Last Thursday, I attended the VIP reception of the Airs and Graces exhibition at Millenia Walk. This special art exhibition, which runs from 1 June to 7 July, is co-presented by Art Stage Singapore and Millenia Walk, featuring an impressive cast of renowned international and regional artists, including Singapore artist Sai Hua Kua.

Graced by Dick Lee as the guest-of-honour, attendees at the cocktail reception were treated to ‘live’ art exhibition, sand art performance and lots of ‘bubbles’.

DSC02914 DSC02920 DSC02915 DSC02917 DSC02928 DSC02958 DSC02962 DSC02951 DSC02930

“We are delighted to partner the Art Stage Singapore in the ‘Airs & Graces’ exhibition. This engaging exhibition demonstrates our continued support towards developing a vibrant contemporary art scene here in Singapore. We certainly look forward to sharing and celebrating the inspiring experience with all our visitors at Millenia Walk,” said Mr Tan Boon Tuck, Senior Vice-President of Millenia Private Limited.

DSC02944

“Designed by Pritzker Architectural Prize Laureate Philip Johnson, the inviting and spacious interior of Millenia Walk is ideal for a wide range of creative interactions and installations. This enables us to create a truly enriching experience for our visitors to enhance the premier lifestyle experience as opposed to just another sales promotion,” added Ms Esther Teo, Vice-President, Advertising and Promotions of Millenia Private Limited.

DSC02949

“It is our great pleasure to work with Millenia Walk to deliver an art project which can extend our reach to the local audience and transform the space into an instant museum for fun and discovery,” commented Mr Lorenzo Rudol, Fair Director of Art Stage Singapore.

DSC02916

Sai Hua Kuan’s Going Somewhere 01, Yavuz Fine Art Singapore

Sai Hua Kuan works in a diverse range of media, including installation, sculpture, film, photography and performance. He graduated from Slade School of Fine Art, University College London in 2007, and has participated in numerous group exhibitions internationally, including in the UK, Canada, Germany, France and Singapore. He lives and works in Singapore and the UK.

DSC02922 DSC02986

Max Streicher’s Floating Giants, Gallery Maskara Mumbai

Max Streicher is a sculptor and installation artist from Alberta, Canada. SInce 1989 he has worked extensively with inflatable technology in kinetic sculptures and installation works. He is known for his large and imposing inflatable sculptures which have been described as being distressing and enchanting, disruptive and playful. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada.

DSC02985 DSC02973

Sri Astari’s Armors for the Soul #2/3

DSC02966DSC02965

DSC02967

Sri Astari’s Love-Fear Bag #2/3 and Lochan Upadhyay’s Wedding Chair, Art Plural Gallery Singapore

Sri Astari is a painter, sculptor and installation artist. She studied painting at the University of Minnesota, USA and at the Royal College of Art, UK. Her work explores traditional Javanese values and social norms and how they relate to the status of women and gender roles in modern Indonesian society. Sri Astari lives and works in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Lochan Upadhyay graduated from the M.S University of Baroda where he is presently reading for this MFA. Influenced by various mediums, his work playfully blends tradition with modernity. He is known for using pieces of sari fabric given to him by the women of a rural village for his large wedding chairs, like a symbolic dowry. Upadhyay has showcased his work across India, New York and Paris. He lives and works in Baroda, India.

DSC02980

Navin Rawanchaikul’s Mission Navinland, Yavuz Fine Art Singapore

Navin Rawanchaikul is best known for dynamic art pieces that involve direct public interventions, social commentary, and eccentric fictional tales featuring recurring characters. His oeuvre has grown to encompass a broad array of media including performances, billboards, films, comics, games, and cocktails. He has been exhibited widely across Asia, Europe and the USA. Navin Rawanchaikul lives and works in Fukuoka, Japan and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

DSC03018

Entang Wiharso’s Feast Table: Undeclared Perceptions, Arndt Berlin/Singapore

Entang Wiharso majored in painting at the Insitut Seni Indonesia Yogyakarta and is considered one of the Indonesia’s foremost contemporary artist. He is known for his unique and hyper-detailed style inspired by Indonesian mytholog, contemporary global culture, public memory and personal experience. Entang juxtaposes the past with the present, and the absurd with the real, to cast a critical eye on the state of the world. He lives and works in Rhode Island, USA and Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

DSC03022

Chen Wen Ling’s Humanities Landscape, Linda Gallery Singapore

DSC03023

Chen Wen Ling’s Illusory Realm, Linda Gallery Singapore

Chen Wen Ling graduated from Xiamen Academy of Art and Design in 1991. He is known for his provoking and interesting sculptural works that often invoke metaphors and symbols related to Chinese culture. He has been exhibited widely around the world. Chen Wen Ling lives and works in Beijing, China.

MUSE: Airs & Graces Art Exhibition runs from 1 June to 7 July 2013 at Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039596

DSC03025 DSC02919

In conjunction with the art exhibition, Millenia Walk is having the following promotions:

Buoy Up The Finer Side Rewards (1 to 30 June 2013)

Spend $300* and enjoy a Patisserie G’s special-edition art-palette artisan cookie. Top up the spending to $500 and receive an additional jar of gourmet homemade Apricot Confiture with Fresh Thyme from The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore and an art jamming session with Gallery 798. Other spending perks include complimentary 1st hour parking on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends and complimentary gift wrapping with a minimum spending of $50 from the outlets.

*maximum 3 same-day receipts from Millenia Walk. Other conditions apply.

A Life Inspired – Shop, Dine & Revel in the Finer Side (1 to 30 June 2013)

Indulge in guilt-free shopping and dining experience this Great Sale Season at Millenia Walk, select from masterfully crafted timepieces to bespoke tailoring, designer fashion and eclectic cuisines, everyone will surely find something to suit the sartorial bent and excite the palate.

Shades of Peranakan

544822_10151923369058018_1292379221_n

With a history dated as far back as 1900s, the Peranakan Association today is run by a group of passionate volunteers. The original association was the Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA), formed on 17 August 1900 with Baba Tan Jiak Kim as its president. Today, the Peranakan Association (Singapore) regularly organises events, talks and other functions to engage fellow Peranakans and to spread the unique Strait Chinese culture to anyone who is curious to get a taste of truly Singapore.

61525_10151923368523018_2123066940_n 164255_10151923368508018_1587790469_n

[Click to enlarge and read my article]

I was privilege to be given the opportunity to contribute to the official publication of the Peranakan Association. The Peranakan is a quarterly magazine by the association that covers from lifestyle to recipes. The theme for April / May 2013 was fashion, I had an enjoyable time interviewing two up-and-coming young local designers who infuses shads of Peranakan into their fashion.

Kae Hana The Label by Kae Hana who is graduate of LASALLE College of the Arts, current own a corner at PARCO Marina Bay and has recently launched her second collection so make sure you check them out.

487685_479813175380571_1982428459_n

The other designer, Jen Su, is the owner of SpunkPunkFunk which I had mentioned previously in my earlier post. Besides owning her own fashion studio, Jen also does make-up, styling, photography and consultation. So in fact SpunkPunkFunk is an one-stop service center for those looking for the witty look with a personal charm.

539807_479825232046032_564366662_n 552677_479824938712728_2125691208_n

Having fun with fashion blogger, Issac Ritz (www.issacritz.com) after interviewing Jen Su at her shop in Plaza Singapura.

487892_479822748712947_53421935_n 541545_479823092046246_1436731363_n

For more information about the Peranakan Association (Singapore), please visit their website www.peranakan.org.sg

Do check out Kae Hana The Label Facebook page or visit her corner at PARCO Next Next (PARCO Marina Bay, level 2, 9 Raffles Boulevard, Millenia Walk, Singapore 039596).

Jen Su’s SpunkPunkFunk is located at The Cathay, #01-15, Singapore 229233 (near the 7-Eleven store) and remember to check out the many spunky styling photos on her Facebook page.

Mid-Autumn Outing

 

On the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar new year, Chinese all over the world will come together with their friends and family to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival by eating mooncakes and playing a game of solving riddles. Children will carry lanterns and walk along the streets.

This popular lunar harvest festival is celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese, with a tradition that goes as far back as the Tang Dynasty. Several versions of how this festival first began, some say it is to celebrate the overthrow of Mongol rule, other stories are more fanciful, detailing the story of warrior Houyi and his beautiful wife Chang’e who eventually flies up to the moon.

 

When I was younger, my mom would bring my sister and I to community events, where often my creative self would take part in lantern-making contest and my mom would be participating in the riddles competition. Fast forward to present, Mid-Autumn is one of our family occasion where we would visit our relatives to present them a box of mooncakes and to catch up over our lives.

This year, I was invited for a full moon tour at Chinese Garden for Mid-Autumn. Organised by People’s Association, it’s east meets west in this park located on the western corner of our tiny island; there were lantern displays of dragons, the Little Match Girl, the Three Little Pigs, and other cutesy characters that the young and the young-at-heart can identify with.

 

 

 

 

 

For me, the highlight of the event was the wishing tree. We wrote our wishes on gold coins and we had to toss them up the tree. Click below to see what happen to Valentine‘s gold coin. It’s a must watch 16 seconds video!!!