Archive for the ‘Brunei’ Category


The orange Mazarati stood next to the bright red Porsch in front of the spa resort and restaurant as our friend, paying for everything, beckoned us to take a seat. Labuan is the fun island of sin just off the coast of Brunei, and we find ourselves living it up here in an orgy of consumption and decadence. Thank you so much Charles for the experience!

Night club

Night club

‘There’s no time,’ said our Brunei cycling hosts.
We had met with them in the morning for another wonderful meal of Brunei delicacies under the supervision of the Sultan, hanging in tapestry form on the wall above us.
‘You should go straight to the harbour.’
That was our call to challenge, and there was not a minute to lose. We had to do 50km in 3 hours, see the mosque in the city, and arrive at the harbour at 1 to catch the boat at 2. So we hurtled along the highway in the mounting heat and ran into the mosque. We felt the air-conditioned silence and peace inside, surrounded by gold and the finest marble. Then off to the harbour. We arrived 10 minutes early only to find that the boat was leaving an hour earlier than expected. Running through customs, we threw the bike on the boat and darted inside – our visit to this little country lasted exactly 24 hours.

The mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan

The mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan

Labuan is the tax-free playground of the people from Brunei. Part of Malaysia, one can indulge in temptations here that are not to be had in it’s Sharia-law neighbouring state. Clement and I find ourselves with Charles staying in an apartment with four bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, with a 10th floor view over the island from (one of) the balconies. We would have played cricket inside, only Clement doesn’t know the rules. Today was non-stop dining. In the evening we were whisked away to see the sunset from a beautiful beach. We finally finished with whiskey and coke, continually refilled by the cute little waiters in white shirts and black ties plying the tables of the thumping music night-club.

Sunset on Labuan

Sunset on Labuan

Walking home with the music still ringing in our ears, Clement and I thought back on Borneo. Such an explosion of experiences and contrasts. We have been welcomed by many lovely native Iban families. We have cycled through jungle and through vast deserts of palm oil plantations. We have played pool in the mining outpost of an aluminium smelter. We have been welcomed in a private manor in Brunei, and lived it up on Malaysia’s Labuan island. Borneo – what is in store for us next?


‘What do you think of the sharia law in Brunei?’ I ask.
‘No problem,’ he replied. ‘There is nothing to worry about. In Brunei there is no thief. Noone does anything wrong. There are no hands cut off. There are no stonings.’
I am sure he is right.

A wonderful dinner with the Brunei cycling team

A wonderful dinner with the Brunei cycling team

We had a rest day in Miri with our new friend Charles. He showed us Miri and paid for absolutely everything. This is certainly not what we expect, but, wonderful to receive. We finished our day in Miri with a long night at the Irish pub with some pints of Guiness. This, of course, led to the late departure to Brunei. We were joined by Charles on one of his many ultra-light racing bikes.

Guiness

Guiness

Charles, Will, Clement and me

Charles, Will, Clement and me

Leaving at 11 meant a race along the flat freeway in Brunei with music pumping in my ears and the wind in my hair. We were welcomed by the Brunei cycling club, put up in their mansion and given a splendid meal of delicacies from Brunei.

Brunei was completely dead – like a zombie town – when we entered. Of course, we forgot, it was time for Friday prayer. Not a soul was to be seen.

Friday prayer

Friday prayer

The Brunei cycling team picked us up from the freeway and lead us to a huge house to stay, brought us to a wonderful dinner, and welcomed us with interesting conversations and fun. Thanks to the team in Brunei for the amazing welcome! It’s great to be here.