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Water is life in Brunei’s Kampong Ayer

April 16, 2009

To think of water in an oil rich state ruled by a sultan, seems unusual to someone who has long held a stereotype image of oil and deserts. Next to oil, and religion, Brunei’s life supporting artery has to be its river life. In fact over 30,000 people believe that life on the water is the best way to live.

Situated opposite the capital Bandar Sari Begawan, Kampong Ayer is a water village with soul. First impressions can be a little  misleading, wooden huts and oddly built homes joined together with wooden footbridges. Delve into the heart of the village and the impressions move way to pleasant surprises. Bruneians live here because of the lifestyle. Schools, madrassas, mosques and houses all carefully perched on stilts, co-existing with nature, harmoniously. Why go somewhere  else?

by Cate

Walking around the village is a little difficult, with the exception of footbridges, the best way to move around and see it all is from a water taxi. These small noisy crafts prowl the Brunei river transporting passengers from home to dry land, and tout for the occasional tourist business on the side.

There is much to see from the boat. Family’s gathering, school kids waiting, and madrassa’s chanting prayers. Sometimes a brave face will peer out from behind a window to check on the traffic. A different style of people watching but with the same curiosity: to see who is out there.

by Cate

During the rainy season, the river fills and transforms into a milky tea colour. Usually it’s a river darkened by fresh and salt water mix. It isn’t one of the cleanest rivers I’ve been on, but it is one of the more interesting ones.

by Cate

Even now writing this post, life in Kampong Ayer continues it’s daily routines: people wait and taxis move while the river keeps flowing.

by Cate

And stereotype images disappear.


Water taxis are easy to find around the riverside at the central city end of Bandar Seri Begewan. Most taxi’s will find you before you find them.

Caffeinated Traveller

One Comment
  1. Sheldon T permalink
    April 22, 2009 2:44 pm

    I never knew Brunei had a water village this big. It sounds great. I really want to go there now. Cheers for the information.

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