Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday 11th May - Wild Weather

We had decided to get up early and go for a swim at either Muara or Meragang beach. Unfortunately Steve couldn't get the car out, thanks to some dodgy parking by one of his neighbours. Luckily a while later someome else moved their car and we were able to get on our way. Muara was pretty busy as it was Sunday, so we tried Meragang beach instead. The sea was pretty rough, but we still went in for a refreshing dip.

After a shower, we drove into Bandar for a coffee, then tried to find the Sultan's Mausoleum as we'd read about in in a book we'd bought. We found it down a quiet road, in a tranquil settng next to the Brunei river. We didn't go in as we weren't sure if we were allowed to, but we were pleased we'd seen it.

We drove up to the Sultan's palace, to see if we could get a good photo of it, but the best we could manage was one of the entrance - better than nothing though.

The next stop was the Jame'Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, which is the most beautiful mosque I've ever seen, and the biggest in Brunei. It is covered in tiles and has 29 golden domes, and is set in lovely gardens.

I'd wanted to visit Jerudong Park, as the guide books said it was a 'must see' but Steve had heard it was deserted. I wanted to make my own mind up about it, so off we went. When we arrived, we took a wrong turn and ended up at the Jerudong Park Polo fields. Alongside the road in fenced off paddocks were at least 100 polo ponies (presumably the Sultan's). They were magnificent looking animals, and probably worth a fortune. There didn't appear to be any security, but who would steal one of the Sultan's ponies anyway? We eventually found our way to the Park and it was almost completely deserted. It was very sad to see all the empty rides. Apparently it used to be busy when it was free to get in, but once they started charging an entry fee (B$5 per person, less than £2) the Bruneians stopped going.

Rather than go in, we decided to pay another visit to the Empire Hotel & Country Club. While we were sitting in the lounge with our mocktails, we could see very black clouds in the distance. They were heading our way and getting nearer and nearer. Suddenly the wind started howling - the trees were swaying like mad. It looked pretty scary, but we were nice and cosy in our seats overlooking the 8 storey high windows, thankful that we'd made the decision not to go into Jerudong Park! The rain started lashing down as well - I've never seen anything like it! It calmed down after about 30 minutes and we made a run for the car, but we still got soaked

On the way back, we saw the market at Gadong was on again, so paid it another wet, rainy visit to get a takeaway for our dinner.

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