Virtual Vacations: Brunei, Island of Borneo – Part 1
Posted on: November 21, 2021.


There are few incredibly beautiful places on Earth, so remotely located, that they are physically difficult to travel to. Such trips are highly challenging, at times logistically, at times financially—at times both.

While digitally scouting for a location to write about for this week’s Virtual Vacations, Brunei Darussalam, a tiny, independent nation on the island of Borneo, captured our interest, making us zero in on the place.

This week’s article is the EIGHTH location in the “Yokibu Editorial Vacation Special Series” that endeavors to be both entertaining and informative, vividly descriptive, and vibrantly narrative.

Read on, for interesting information about Borneo—world’s third-largest island, politically divided between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei—and the Sultanate of Brunei—SEA’s most observant Islamic nation.

Where is the island of Borneo?

Borneo is a primarily mountainous region—Mt. Kinabalu (4,095 meters) its tallest peak—with dense rainforests surrounded by…

… Indonesia (Northwest, West, South, and Southeast),

… the Malay Peninsula (Northwest),

… Philippines (Northeast), and the

… South China Sea (North)

How is the weather and climatic conditions like in Borneo?

Being about 0.29 million square miles in area, Borneo is also the third-largest island in the world. It often rains in Borneo whose climate is generally hot and wet.

The island is buffeted by monsoon between October and March, making Borneo’s flora among the most diverse in the world, given the abundance of Bornean rainfall.

Parts of Borneo receive an average of 175 inches of rainfall annually. Of nearly 11,000 species of flowering plants in Borneo, about 3,670 is indigenous to the island.

Borneo’s lowland forest has a 16-acre area where has been recorded over 700 species of trees—the Bornean vegetation is that dense—in all of eastern North America, there are only 171 native tree species.

To whom does the island of Borneo belong?

The answer is actually quite interesting—four regions in Borneo are politically divided between three countries: the Malaysian States of Sabah and Sarawak, Indonesian Kalimantan … and Brunei.

What is Brunei Darussalam?

It is a tiny autonomous nation sandwiched between Sabah– and Sarawak–Malaysia and whose beaches are coasted by the South China Sea.

With nature reserves protecting much of its bio-diverse rainforest regions, and its beaches for which it is most famous, Darussalam means “Abode of Peace” in Brunei Malay—not like Bahasa Malay of Malaysia.

Brunei is a “sultanate”—religiously—and a “kingdom”—politically—ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah whose residence is the massive Istana Nurul Iman palace in Brunei’s capital city Bandar Seri Begawan

Why is Brunei such a “unique” place?

…home to the most beautiful mosques—motifs of Islamic Architecture—in Asia. While the Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque stands near the Brunei River and waterfront with an impressive artificial lagoon…

…the opulent Jame’ Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque features twenty-nine golden domes. As oil continues to prosper in abundance in Brunei, it is thankfully thus considered a “developed” nation.

The “lack of tourists” is so refreshing!

There are a rare few countries in the world that are least visited, Brunei being one in that elite club—there are very many who, given a map of the world and asked to locate Brunei, are clueless about its whereabouts.

Brunei is refreshingly tranquil—something that Thailand and Vietnam which attract mass tourism cannot offer—and is thereby a delight to its elite visitors.

Floating Village!

Brunei has a national heritage which holds many titles and nicknames, yet officially known as “Kampong Ayer”—the floating village that stretches across the Brunei River in Bandar Seri Begawan.

13,000 residents, approximately, call Kampong Ayer their home, which has its own schools, libraries, and mosques, while the settlements are separated into different neighborhoods.

…continued in the next part

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