Travel Expenses: Brunei and Myanmar

Brunei surprised me. It wasn’t as expensive as I initially thought it would. Though my taxi from the airport was expensive, my expenses in Bandar Seri Begawan was kept at a minimum. You can live in Brunei for BND$20 a day: $10 for a night’s stay at Pusat Belia, $3 for breakfast, lunch and dinner and $4 for bus rides all around the city. None of the places we visited had any admission fees.

Myanmar can both be expensive and cheap. In restaurants catering to tourists (usually ones that appear in the guidebooks), you can expect to shell out an average of MMK 2,000 per meal. If you’re adventurous and eat in the streets though, you can get noodles as cheap as MMK 500. A liter of purified water usually go for MMK 300 per bottle. Taxi rides within Yangon can go for MMK 1,500, depending on the driver, the distance and your bargaining skills.
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9 things I did when I was 29

1. Lost my bus in Johor
Grew another year older and instantly reverted to an idiot. I was too caught up with watching a video on my laptop that when the bus I was riding from Melaka to Singapore pulled up at Johor Bahru’s Larkin bus station, I hurriedly got off, thinking it was immigration. On the upside though, I learned that even when you’ve lost your bus, there are alternative ways to go to your destination. Just relax and take it one step at a time… you’ll get there eventually with more stories to tell.

Calaguas Island
My workstation in Mahabang Buhangin. Such is the life of a travel blogger.

2. Saw proboscis monkeys in the wild
I was burning out from traveling last February and coupled with some money problems, I was ready to put off going to Kota Kinabalu. Up to the last minute, I was thinking whether I should still go. I’m glad I did because I had an awesome time — a serene boat ride along the river, gorgeous views (there was a cute Eastern European guy in the boat next to ours), great company (Hi Giselle!) and of course, seeing the unusual monkeys in their natural habitat.
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Bye bye Burma

My fears from my last post now seemed silly. They have Internet in Myanmar.

Myamar has been amazing. I’ve been to Mandalay, Bagan and now just killing time in Yangon before I leave for Kuala Lumpur. The people’s devotion to their faith is astounding — shiny, sparkling golden stupas everywhere. Don’t even get me started on Bagan; thousands of temples dot the horizon as far as the eye can see.

It’s not just the ancient temples that caught my attention. Yangon has a lot of colonial buildings. Gothic style cathedrals, brownstone buildings and Victorian houses are found throughout the city. Sadly, most are in a state of disrepair.
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Into the unknown

Into the unknown, originally uploaded by nina_theevilone.

Well, not really. Myanmar or Burma is not as popular a tourist destination as its next door neighbors China and Thailand, but it remains a favorite amongst travelers who has visited the country.

Burma is the last country in the ASEAN that I have yet to visit, but that’s to change in a couple of hours. I am both excited and scared. A thousand scenarios are going through my head, but from past trips, I know that I am just being paranoid and everything will be alright. I think it’s the lack of Internet that scares me the most.

From Brunei with love

From Brunei with love, originally uploaded by nina_theevilone.

Brunei exceeded my expectations. All the forums and guidebooks say the same thing: it’s so small, you can see everything in one day. It’s true — Brunei is small and if you move fast enough, you can see the major attractions in one day.

I was lucky enough to meet a Filipino family staying in the same hostel. Since it was their third day in Bandar Seri Begawan, they took me under their wings and we explored BSB and surrounds together. They showed me where to buy cheap food and water, and how to travel cheaply (by bus, only BN$1 per ride).

We share the belief that traveling is also a vacation. No need to wake up at the crack of dawn, no need to rush through everything in one day. We had no choice but to take it easy last Wednesday anyway; it was Hari Raya, a public holiday.

We were amazed at the number of Filipinos are living in Brunei. It’s funny when we’d be speaking to each other in English then finding out later on that we’re all Filipinos. The bayanihan spirit is very much alive as they go the extra mile to help us.

The Bruneians are quite exceptional too. They’re friendly and generous. Earlier we were just asking a local about how to go to the Kampung Ayer Cultural Gallery, he volunteered a friend’s boat, including his friend’s son and his son to take us around the water village and up the river.

After the water tour, he then volunteered to drive us to Kota Batu and then to Muara — places we wouldn’t have thought to visit since it was far from Bandar.

In my travels, I’ve come to realize it’s not just the landmarks and experiences that make a destination memorable. It’s the people that you interact with that makes the trip amazing. After this, I think I’ll be making a bigger effort to come out of my shell and be friendly.