We all love to travel and with destinations like London, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur becoming a cliché there is a rising trend in independent travellers wanting to explore the relatively unknown. From Tour Companies to Backpacker experiences, tourism has today challenged itself to be at its innovative best. But few have set their eyes on a tropical paradise called Brunei. So when I got a chance to explore this secretive nation, I simply said, “Why not?” a decision I will not regret.
Brunei, nestled on the northern part of the Isle of Borneo is a nation whose rise to glory was marked by the discovery of oil in 1929 resulting in the Sultanate to be today, classified by Forbes, the fifth richest nation in the world. But unlike many, this nation uses the profits earned, to uplift the citizens such that the vast and relatively untouched forests can be well preserved and today, the Government, with an aim to bring this tiny nation onto the tourist highways is choosing wisely to promote itself as an eco-tourist hotspot!
Contrary to many raised eyebrows who were curious to know what experience I would come out with from a nation whose population is just 3 million, Brunei was a treat to the eye for me. But apart from the glowing majesty of its exquisite mosques and the deafening silence of the general crowds, Brunei was the perfect haven for all who wish to get away from the stressful bustling metropolis the world over, living to its name Darussalam – the Abode of Peace.
But I was particularly taken aback when my hotel recommended me an experience I would never forget. It was a trip into the heart of the ancient forests of the Temburong Province for a trek I will always treasure.
I was picked up by the agency [B2N Brunei] who escorted me and other tourists to the famous Ulu Temborong Forest via the local Water Taxi, whose speed, frankly speaking could well compete with the taxis of Bombay! We were greeted by a friendly host who through the journey made us feel like family and if his wit, experience and knowledge were not enough as we paddled upstream on traditional long boats dogging rocks, the trek up the hill through the virgin forest, definitely was, considering that along the way we spotted different species of mushroom, flora and even a family of hornbills who seemed to be more curious of us than we of them as we walked over the rooftop of the rainforest on a suspension bridge.
But the highlight was when we rowed our boats down to a secretive waterfall. Just when we thought that we had enough pictures to send social media in a tizzy, we were asked to venture into the pool by the waterfall and as we braved our way imagining the latest Indiana Jones movie, we were pleasantly welcomed by a shoal of fish who nibbled at our feet. Though we had experienced this in many a destination, seeing this phenomena in its natural setting was a feeling quite pure!
After a day out in the forest we returned both physically fatigued and spiritually enriched as never had we experienced the raw comforts of Mother Nature and it was definitely worth the visit. I still catch myself bragging about it to friends as a highlight worth cherishing and would definitely return! Brunei for me has been more than just an oil haven but an abode touched by the Green Maiden herself!