I wasn't sure what to expect when I decided to pass through Bruneii on my way South to the Sarawalk province of Malaysian Borneo. All I knew was that it was a quiet country that everything shuts down early in and there was an enormous mosque in town built by the Sultan after oil was discovered here. Upon my arrival, I realized just how quiet the place was when checking into a hostel, there was no one to be found running the place. After finding a phone number to call, myself and a German guy I had met on the bus contacted a man who scheduled to meet us to check in a couple of hours. In the mean time, the German guy and I headed out for something to eat. Finding one open restaurant at six o' clock at night on a Sunday in the center of the capital city was quite surprising. We were joined by a young guy who was a teacher there in the capital city who gave us a little background and answered a few of our questions.
A few things I discovered about Bruneii is that there is no crime for the most part because the penalties are so stiff. There is no alcohol allowed in the country and if you are caught with it you go to jail and have an enormous fine. Gasoline here costs about 50 U.S. Cents a gallon. There are no taxes on anything. And lastly, there is absolutely nothing to do. Everyone here seems to be very bored.
I had heard that there was a nice rain forest nearby and inquired at the tourist information center about how to make my way there. The woman at the desk kindly told me that it had been privatized and if I wanted to visit on a day trip I would not only have to finds someone to go with me but we would have to pay about 150 U.S. Dollars each! I know this country is supposed to be a bit more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia, but that is ridiculous!
Seeing my disappointment the lady told me that there most popular tour is up the river to see the probiscuis monkeys in the wild. The 2 hour trip she offered was about 50 dollars. I thanked her for the information and walked out of the store stunned by the costs of everything here. No wonder there aren't any tourists visiting Bruneii.
I still wanted to see the Probiscuis monkeys in the wild so I decided to take matters into my own hands. It was as simple as walking out the door of the tour company, waving to a boat in the canal and asking him how much it would cost me to go on a trip up the river in his boat and see the monkeys. It would up costing me all of about seven dollars. I did split the cost with the German guy I had met, but still for the two of us to pay fourteen dollars to do the same thing the tour company would have charged us a hundred to do is incredible. Once again, I succeed in avoiding the organized tour and come out on top. I private boat ride up the river to see the monkeys was pretty amazing. Buzzing along the mangroves with monkeys leaping from the trees all around us and no one to be seen for miles was amazing.