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None of the 3 capitals this post is about were in our initial plans, but as it happens often, in the end, we were glad we had a chance to visit them.

Brunei

Brunei happened to be on our way and we were also quite curious to see what a tiny muslim oil kingdom looks like outside the Gulf.

DSC_0076One can reach Brunei and its capital Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) by bus from Kota Kinabalu, but that means stopping at 3 boarders and going through 6 immigration and customs checks. We decided to take the more interesting route – by ferry – through the Malaysian island of Labuan. Labuan is 3 hrs by ferry from KK and another one and half hour far away from BSB. It is a duty free island and so most of its streets are filled with alcohol and cigarettes shops. We figured it is a good place for a weekend trip and to stock-up on your supplies if you live in dry Brunei. We spent a night in Labuan and got a chance to walk the small town, where we found this version of muslimized Dutch flag. DSC_0008We also were lucky enough to be there during some kind of a festival, which meant seeing some live performance on a stage and roaming around the streets filled with street food stalls. DSC_0007Being 5 months on the road we sometimes forget what to be careful about and we had this delicious drink with ice, result of which for Mark was the same face colour and tummy issues the next day. We also visited the local marine life museum which considering it is not more than 10 years old is in a sad state. It is advertised as the only museum where you can pet sharks. A small pool with colorful stones at the bottom and a couple of confused sharks adds to the sadness of it all.

DSC_0028Anyway, back to Brunei! For the first time in months we treated ourselves to a nice accommodation with TV, ensuite bathroom, roomservice and daily housekeeping in Badiah hotel. We did not have much choice anyway, as the only budget accommodation – gender separated dorm – has been closed for renovation. And so we enjoyed it fully and spent half of the 3 days closed in with TV and our laptop. The other half of the time we were out walking the city. To answer the question of how different it was from the Gulf – it was very different! First of all, this country is totally green. It is like there is a jungle inbetween the city areas. It rains here. The mosques are more majestic and colorful. In general, there is more colours to this city than beige and grey of the Gulf. There is a lot of tradition and culture visible across the city. Part of the city is built on stilts in the sea, which creates the worlds largest water village. DSC_0033A water-taxi ride away from the land we visited a water village gallery which is a museum focused on telling the history of Brunei. The most interesting was the video, so make sure they turn it on for you. The gallery is free and you’ll get a free ‘I love Brunei’ badge too. In town we selected one more museum to visit – Royal Regalia – a museum that houses among other things a huge collection of gifts received from countries around the world on their official visits. It was fun to comment on how cheap-ass some countries are or on the other hand how some are showing-off with e.g. their supersized models of mosques made of crystals and golden paint.

Kuala Lumpur

We would probably not come back to KL if we didn’t have to get our Myanmar visa from here. And so our stay here turned out to be more of an administrative stop rather than a sightseeing one. Next to the visa we had to arrange for some other things, for example visit an ATM on 6 separate occassions to withdraw enough money for Myanmar (that just recently started accepting foreign cards in ATMs and it is recommended to bring cash with you) and also visiting multiple money exchange bureaus to find the best rate and brand new dollar notes (Myanmar accepts mostly USD and the bills have to be spotless and uncreased). We also had to sort out our broken harddisk issue and so we spent half a day in Low Yat plaza – the gadget geek’s heaven. Not only did we end up buying a new harddrive but we also couldn’t resist the temptation and upgraded our camera lens with an aperture converter to be able to make images with a wider angle and make nice macros. We stayed in Serai Inn guesthouse which was OK and clean.

DSC_0095We also visited Yves, a guest from Sandakan Seaview hotel, with whom we agreed to meet and learn how to make chocolate. Yves lives on the edge of KL, pretty much in the jungle (with monkeys being his often visitors). He picked us up at the metro station and took us to his wonderful home with a view over the city. We had a chat about our experiences from Borneo and then we watched Yves prepare a yummy and super healthy pumpkin soup. Oh, sorry, before that we learned how to make healthy popcorn. Made of cauliflower! DSC_0093After the soup we had some rice with special touches of lentils and white melon with steamed vegetables. As Mark said – for a vegan dish, it was very good :). The chocolate making came at last just before Yves tuned up our chakras. It was a nice new experience that opened our minds further to alternative ways of life.

Singapore

Day 149 Feb 22Singapore came into the picture when we agreed with Gokhan (our old neighbor from Bahrain) to meet up somewhere around his visit to KL. As he planned to visit the city for a couple of days and we did not want to stay in KL for too long to wait for him, we booked our tickets to Singapore and re-routed our journey to Myanmar to fly from here. And good we did! Obviously it was great to meet with ‘The Gurk’ again and remind ourselves about the life in the Gulf, but the city itself left a good impression in us. We stayed in a modern hostel called 5footway.inn.

Let’s start with this picture.

DSC_0184

We bet you have seen it before. Also most certainly you know it is one of Singapore’s famous landmarks. Good. Now imagine how much fun Gokhan and Lucia had when Mark spotted this building for the first time. ‘What the hell is this!?’ was his censored reaction. It turned out he has never seen it before and so he had a chance to enjoy the moment when you see something amazing for the first time.

IMG_2366As a new experience on our trip we went for a concert on our first evening. Australian Empire of the Sun rang a bell to all three of us, but none of us really knew them. The amazing show and very good beats left us very satisfied with our new favourite band. The rest of the stay in the city made for a well deserved ‘western’ break for us which meant pretty much: having a good burger, salad and sushi, using well organised public transport (metro included) or just walking through well-kept, clean and organised streets of the city (yes, word ‘organised’ used twice, that’s Lucia talking).

From all Singapore sights we visited we can recommend a few. Highly informative and very enjoyable was the Asian Civilisations Museum. We did the fast-track option and joined a guided tour with a very knowledgable and engaging guide who took us through the cultures from the Middle East to China. If we ever get back we will definitely spend more time to go through this beautifully curated museum. DSC_0223DSC_0239Next to the China town walks and sightseeing in the centre, we recommend to visit futuristic Gardens at the Bay. The huge complex of gardens consists of various types of gardens but the highlights are the tall tree-like structures in the middle and the A/C-ed domes that simulate conditions for various types of vegetations. We visited the ‘mountain with waterfall’ dome. DSC_0248The whole dome resembles a greenhouse but you have never seen one as big as this one which has an artificial mountain with variety of tropical plants inside. After an elevator takes you to the 6th floor of the mountain you can take a ‘canopy’ walk on top of the trees and walk your way down through various types of vegetation to reach the bottom where a 2D projections shows what happens if the earth temperature rises by 5 degrees C. Not sure what was more striking – the video content or the high-tech ‘museum’ that the dome is.

See all in pictures. Here from Brunei and here from Singapore.

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Ziadne z 3 hlavnych miest, o ktorych bude tento post, neboli nasom plane. No ako sa casto stava, nakoniec sme boli velmi radi, ze nas sem cesty zaviedli.

Brunei

Brunei nam skrizil cesty pri odchode z Bornea. Zaroven sme boli zvedavi, ako odlisne bude toto male moslimske ropne kralovstvo od toho, ktore sme pred polrokom opustili.

Do hlavneho mesta Bruneia – Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) – sa da dostat autobusom z Kota Kinabalu, co ale znamena zastavit sa na 3 hranicnych prechodoch a prejst 6 imigracnymi a colnymi procedurami. My sme si vybrali zaujimavejsiu cestu – trajektom – s prestupom na malajskom ostrove Labuan. Labuan sa nachadza 3 hodiny trajektom od KK a z neho je to dalsia hodina a pol do BSB. Je to tzv. duty free ostrov a tak v jeho uliciach vacsinou najdete obchody s alkoholom a cigaretami. Zdalo sa nam, ze tento ostrov bude popularnou vikendovou destinaciou pre cudzincov zijucich v suchom Brunei. Na Labuane sme stravili jednu noc a tak sme mali moznost mesto si trochu poobzerat. V jednej z ulic sme nasli dokonca i moslimsku verziu holandskej vlajky. Mali sme stastie, ze v den, ked sme tu boli, sa tu konal akysi festival, a tak sme vzhliadli kratke hudobne vystupenie a vecer stravili u poulicnych stankov. Po 5 mesiacoch na cestach sa nam stane, ze zabudneme, na co si mame davat vacsi pozor nez doma a tak sme si pochutnali na tomto chutne vyzerajucom drinku s ladom (obrazok hore). Vysledkom bola rovnaka farba Markovej tvare a zaludocne tazkosti na druhy den. Stihli sme este navstivit miestne muzeum podmorskeho zivota, ktore vzhladom k svojmu veku ani nie 10 rokov, nie je v moc peknom stave. Najvacsim lakadlom muzea ma byt bazen, v ktorom si mozete pohladkat zraloka. S farebnymi kamienkami a smutnymi zmatenymi rybami je tento bazenik tak smutny ako cele muzeum.

Ale naspat do Brunei! Po case sme si znova dopriali luxusnejsieho ubytovania s TV, kupelnou, dennym upratovanim a moznostou objednat si jedlo na izbu v hoteli Badiah. Konieckoncov sme nemali ani inu moznost, kedze jedine nizkorozpoctove ubytovanie v BSB – separatny muzsky a zensky internat – bolo zatvorene z dovodu rekonstrukcie. A tak sme si to patricne uzili a z 3 dni sme stravili polovicu casu na izbe pri telke a pocitaci. Druhu polovicu sme stravili prechadzkami po meste a tak predsa len mame odpoved na nasu otazku: aky je rozdiel medzi Bruneiom a statmi zalivu. Ohromny! Tak poprve, tato krajina je uplne cela zelena. Je to skoro ako keby medzi mestskymi castami rastla dzungla. Prsi tu. Mesity su majestatne a farebne. Celkovo, mesto je celkom farebne, co je velky rozdiel oproti bezovej a sedej zalivu. Historia a tradicia dycha mestom. Cast povodneho mesta je postavena na mori a je najvacsiou vodnou dedinou sveta. Vodnym taxikom z pevniny je mozne dedinu navstivit a pozriet sa mimo ine aj do miestnej galerie, ktora je venovana historii Bruneia a zivotu na vode. Velmi zaujimave je video, ktore vam tu pri navsteve pustia. Vstupne je zdarma a este k tomu sme dostali zdarma aj odznak :) V meste sme si vybrali este jedno muzeum – Royal Regalia. Toto muzeum vystavuje siroku zbierku darov, ktore pri svojich oficialnych navstevach nosia vysoko predstavitelia statov. Bola sranda davat do kontextu dary a staty, smiat sa na tych, ktori neboli moc originalni ci velkorysi, alebo naopak divit sa nad darmi, ktorymi si darujuci masiruju ega napr. ohromny model mesity vyhotoveny z krystalu zdobeny zlatom.

Kuala Lumpru

Asi by sme KL znova nenavstivili, keby sme nemuseli prave odtialto ziadat o viza do Myanmaru. A tak nas tunajsi pobyt mal viacmenej administrativny raz. Okrem viz, nas cakali dalsie povinnosti, napr. 6 separatnych navstev bankomatu, aby sme aj napriek bankomatovym a dennym limitom dostali z uctov dost penazi do Barmy (bankomaty tu zacali prijimat cudzie karty len nedavno a tak sa odporuca radsej priniest hotovost so sebou a vyhnut sa komplikaciam). Dalej sme absolvovali hon na zmenarne, kde ulohou bolo nie len najst ten najlepsi kurz, ale najst aj taku, ktora ma dostatok dolarovych bankoviek v perfektnom stave (v Barme nevezmu dolarove bankovky, ktore su popisane alebo dokonca ani take, ktore su zlozene). Popri financnych zalezitostiach sme tiez chceli vyriesit nas problem s externym diskom a tak sme stravili pol dna v Low Yat plaza, nakupnom stredisku, ktore je akymsi rajom pre pocitacovych, mobilnych ci fotakovych maniakov. Okrem noveho disku sme odtialto odisli aj s vylepsenim pre nas fotak – nastavcom na objektiv, vdaka ktoremu teraz robime fotky s vacsim uhlom a mozeme sa vyhrat s detailnymi makrami. Byvali sme v hosteli Serai Inn, ktory bol v pohode a hlavne cisty.

No a navstivili sme Yves, hosta zo Seaview hotelu v Sandakane (kde sme pracovali), s ktorym sme sa dohodli na stretnuti a lekcii varenia cokolady. Yves byva na okraji KL, takmer v dzungli, dalo by sa povedat (opice su castymi navstevnikmi na balkone). Vyzdvihol na na stanici metra a odviezol nas do jeho krasneho pribytku s uzasnym vyhladom na mesto. Vymenili sme si zazitky z ciest z Bornea a sledovali Yves, ako nam pripravuje jeho lahodnu a extra zdravu tekvicovu polievku. No a este predtym nam ukazal, ako urobit zdrave pukance. Z karfiolu! Po polievke sme ako druhy chod mali ryzu ochutenu sosovicou a bielym melonom a sparenu zeleninu. Ako Mark zhodnotil, na veganske jedlo to bolo velmi dobre! Vyroba cokolady prisla na rad na zaver, predtym ako nam Yves naladil cakry. Bol to zaujimavy novy zazitok, ktory nam priblizil jeho alternativny sposob zivota.

Singapore

Singapore sa objavil na zozname po tom, ako sme sa dohodli na stretnuti s Gokhanom (nasim starym susedom z Bahrainu), ktory sa chystal na svatbu v KL. Kedze sam planoval navstivit Singapore, bolo pre nas nakoniec jasne, ze tam pojdeme i my. Zabukovali sme si letenku a zmenili plan cesty do Myanmaru s odletom odtialto. A sme radi, ze sme sa tak rozhodli! Samozrejme, samotne stretnutie s Gokhanom bolo skvele, spominali sme na stare casy, pripominali sme si zivot na blizkom vychode, ale mesto samotne na nas urobilo velmi dobry dojem. Spali sme v modernom hosteli v centre mesta s nazom 5footway.inn.

Pozrite si na uvid obrazok hore s budovou s troma vezami prepojenou na samom vrchu.

Urcite ste ju videli uz niekde predtym. A skoro urcite tusite, ze je to je dominanta mesta Singapore. Dobre. Tak si. Iete predstavit, ako sme sa s Gokhanom nasmiali ked Mark prvy krat vzhliadol tuto budovu. ‘Co do kelu je toto?’ by znela jeho cenzurovana reakcia. Ako sa ukazalo, Mark tuto budovu este nikdy nevidel a tak mal to stastie, ze si mohol uzit moment, kedy vidite nieco uzasne prvykrat v zivote.

Ako novy zazitok na nasom vylete sme absolvovali v nas prvy vecer v meste koncert. Australski Empire of the Sun nam nieco hovorili, ale nikto z nasej trojice ich moc nepoznal. Vdaka skvelej show a chytlavemu beatu sme odchadzali velmi spokojni z vystupenia nasej novej oblubenej kapely. Nas pobyt v Singapore sme vyuzili, aby sme si dopriali zasluzenu ‘zapadniarsku’ prestavku, co v podstate znamenalo: dat si dobry hamburger, salat a sushi, vyuzivat organizovanu mestsku hromadnu dopravu (vratane metra) alebo proste sa prechadzat po uliciach, ktore su dobre udrzovane, ciste a organizovane (ano, dvakrat slovo ‘organizovane’, to samozrejme pise Lucia).

Zo vsetkeho, co sme v Singapore videli, vacsina stala za to. Vysoko informativne a zaujimave je Asian Civilisations Museum. My sme sa pridali ku skupinke s komentovanou prehliadkou a tak presli bleskovo kultury od blizkeho vychodu az po Cinu. Ak sa raz vratime, urcite si vyhradime cas a toto krasne muzeum si prejdeme dokladne. Popri prechadzkach China-townom, vyjdenim po eskalatore do parku ci prehliadkou centra, doporucujeme sa ist pozriet na Gardens at the Bay. Ohromny komplex zahrad ma na svojom pozemku nielen niekolko druhou a stylov zahrad ale aj vychytavky ako napriklad vysoke struktury pripominajuce stromy v strede komplexu a 2 obrovske domy s klimatizaciou simulujucou podmienky v roznych vegetacnych pasmach. My sme si pre navstevu vybrali ten s horou a vodopadom. V podstate cely dom vyzera ako sklenik, avsak takyto obrovsky ste urcite este nevideli. Vnutri totiz najdete umelu horu s rozlicnymi tropickymi rastlinami, ktore ju pokryvaju. Po jazde vytahom do 6. poschodia tejto hory sa navstevnici vydaju na prechadzku nad korunami stromov a postupne prechadzaju na nizsie poschodia, kde sa pomaly meni podnebie a podla neho aj vegetacia. Na uplnom spodu caka projekcia, ktora ukazuje, co sa stane, ked sa zem ohreje o dalsich 5 stupnov. Neviem ktore, ci vysledok oteplovania alebo cela tato high-tech parada, zanechala silnejsi dojem.

Najlepsie momenty uvidite na fotkach. Z Brunei tu a zo Singapore tuto.

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3 thoughts on “3 Capitals

  1. Pingback: Trans Mongolia Express | Take it and go

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