Saturday, 2 March 2013

Labuan & Brunei trip – 1 & 2 Mar 13

My niece Hui Ping couldn't join us for the trip at the last minute so this trip only left with the 3 of us. We stayed one night at KL LCCT Tune Hotel before taking the domestic flight to Labuan on the next day.

As we are taking a domestic flight, the departure hall is located at the right side of the check in counters. There is no immigration clearance and we just need to present our boarding pass and passport (Identification card for Malaysian). The waiting area is smaller than the international departure waiting area and there are fewer shops here. Surprisingly there is water cooler outside the washroom and we do not need to purchase mineral water.
Domestic transit hall
Colourful Air Asia planes

We landed at Labuan after 2hr 30min. Although there is aerobridges in the airport, the plane stop at the tarmac and we have to walk from the plane to the airport terminal.
Bird view of Labuan
Labuan airport
I didnt know that Labuan is the Pearl of Borneo

As there is no immigration clearance and we don't have checked in bags, we wasted no time and we are outside the arrival hall in 10 minutes. There are few car rental counters and a taxi coupon counter. We enquired at the taxi counter that we are not required to buy coupon since we intend to book the taxi for an hour. We enquired the charge and walked straight to the taxi. We asked the taxi driver if he can speak Mandarin before we board and we agreed at RM50 per hour. The taxi driver is in his 50s or 60s and he is very friendly. He chatted with us throughout the journey and recommend us the attractions and foods in Labuan. As I have already planned the list of places to visit, I informed the taxi driver which attractions I wanted to visit when boarding the cab.
Taxi stand

The first attraction we visited is the chimney. There is a chimney museum which displayed the days of the coal mining.
Chimney museum

The Chimney is one of the famous landmark in Labuan. The Chimney was long thought to be nothing more than a ventilation shaft. However, recent findings revealed that there were no traces of smokes or burning to suggest its use as a chimney as popularly believed. The Chimney is still very much a mystery until today.
Mysterious chimney

The Tanjong Kubong tunnel is just 500m away. However we have to walk a path through the bushes and we decided not to go ahead. Hence we continue to Layang Layang beach.
Path leading to Tanjong Kubong tunnel

Layang Layang beach, Peace Park and Surrender Point are just side by side hence we visited these 3 attractions within 10 minutes.

The Peace park is built by the Japanese government as a memorial to peace. According to the taxi driver, the Japanese government continues to pay for the expense to maintain this park. 
Peace park

Opposite the Peace Park and Surrender Point is Layang Layang beach. This is a popular beach for the locals during the weekend but there are less than 5 people when we are there.
Layang-Layang beach

The surrender point is where the 37th Japanese Southerm Amy surrender to the 9th Division Australian Imperial Forces on 9th September 1945 which led to the end of WWll in Borneo.
Surrender Point

On the way to the last attraction in our list, we passed by Universiti Malaysia Sabah - the only university in Labuan. We also stopped by Eight deity temple which is the largest temple in Labuan.
Universiti Malaysia Sabah
Eight Deity Chinese Temple

Our last attraction is An'Nur Jamek mosque. The mosque is special as it looks like a rocket from afar.
An Nur Jamek Mosque

Kota Kinabalu has a marlin statue, Sibu has a swan statue and Labuan also has a swordfish statue.
Swordfish statue

Then the taxi driver dropped us at the ferry terminal. We bought tickets to Brunei for the next ferry at 1.30pm. The ferry from Labuan to Brunei departs 4 times daily and the ticket cost RM35 for economy class (lower deck) and RM40 for business class (upper deck). There are ferries to other places such as Kota Kinabalu, Limbang etc.
Tickets counter
 Ferry timing from Labuan Ferry Terminal
Ferry fare

We have lunch at a malay eatery on the 2nd level. There is only one eatery in the ferry terminal.  I ordered mee goreng with telur (egg) RM2.50 and orange juice RM3. They put too much syrup in the orange juice and it taste so sweet.
Malay eatery
Mee goreng with egg

There are 3 duty free shops here selling liquor and chocolates. I love those miniatures liquor but too bad I can't brought these back to Singapore as I didn't purchase check in baggage.
Miniature liquor
Various Coke packaging
Tiramisu ice cream

The boarding gate opens half an hour before the ferry departs. Clearance of immigration is fast as the queue is short.
Ferry to Brunei

There is movie showing at the TV but the screen is blur after the ferry departs. Brunei immigration card is distributed when we board the ferry. Shortly after the ferry departs, they start pushing a cart selling cup noodles, tidbits and mineral water. I was tired and slept throughout the journey.
Lower deck
Brunei immigration card
Lower deck

After 1hr, we reached Brunei Muara ferry terminal. There are only 2 immigration counters servicing foreigners and it took us almost 1/2hr to clear the immigration. 
Brunei shore

After we exited the ferry terminal, we saw the purple bus and we asked if it goes to Bandar Seri Bangawan (BSB) The bus fare is BND1 per person and we paid SGD since it is accepted in Brunei. The bus driver will collect cash and issue bus ticket.
Public bus from Muara ferry terminal
Bus ticket

To our dismay, the bus stopped at a place 5min away from the bus terminal and we have to alight. The bus conductor told us that we have to change to another bus. We waited for about 10min and bus 39 arrived. Then it took another 10min before it departs. We board the bus and show the bus driver our tickets and he gave another bus ticket in exchange for our tickets.
Bus ticket

The bus journey to BSB took 1hr 15min as it picks up a lot of passengers along the way. Finally we reached BSB and it's already 4.15pm so I changed my itinerary and we walked to Royal Regalia directly instead of checking in at the hotel.

Public buses in BSB operates at 20 min intervals and end service quite early (at about 6 pm). All buses begin and end service at the bus terminal at Jalan Cator. They cost B$1 regardless of distance and stop anywhere along the route to drop or pick up passengers (so if you want to stop, just indicate it to the conductor on the bus, and the same thing if you want to get on).
Public bus route map

It is scorching hot in BSB and traffic is sparse here. We passed by the post office and I knew that there is a stamp gallery so we went in to take a look. There is nothing much on display and the security told us that it closed at 4.30pm. We left and continue our way to Royal Regalia. When we reached, the staff told us that it is closed. I checked from the internet that it is closed at 5pm. I realised that the last admission is 30min when I saw the visiting hours at the entrance.
Royal Regalia
Opening hours
Royal Ceremonial Hall
Road in Bandar seri Bangawan

We decided to have a drink at Coffee Bean since we are dehydrated. The best thing in Coffee Bean is that there is free wifi so we stayed until evening time when the sun is setting. Then we make our to Jubilee Hotel.
A cup of mocha at Coffee bean
HSBC in Jawi script
A Chinese temple

When we are checking in, I asked if we can change to a smaller room and add an additional bed since there are only 3 of us. However there are no rooms available hence we sticked to the original arrangement. We booked the shuttle service to airport tomorrow while checking in. As there is a complimentary return trip to selected destination, I enquired about this. The receptionist told us that there is a 45min free tour around BSB to which includes these attractions: Kampong Ayer, Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Istana Nurul Iman, Jame' Asri Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque and Royal Regalia at 8am tomorrow. I agreed without hesitation as Istana Nurul Iman and Jame' Asri Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque are not within walking distance in BSB.
Jubilee hotel

I have booked a deluxe suit room which comes with a living room, 2 bedrooms (1 twin room and 1 double room) a kitchenette and a bathroom. We rested for a while before going out for dinner.
Executive suite
Minimart in the hotel

We walked along the stretch of Jalan McArthur but most of the shops are already closed. We went to Yayasan shopping mall but there is not much variety. In the end we walked to Jalan Residency where there are stalls selling satays, Malay food and western food. I ordered mee goreng and coconut which cost BND6.50. I also ordered satay for sharing (8 for BND2).
Hawker centre
Satay stall

After dinner, we walked to Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque as I wanted to snap night shot of the mosque. Then we went back to the hotel and rest for the day.
Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque night scene

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