Discovering Brunei’s island destinations

Rokiah Mahmud

Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd (DHSB) is showcasing the best of Brunei Darussalam through a dazzling array of new inbound tour itineraries for 2020, including one which features exploring island destinations with exciting educational information.

The Brunei Tour Island Discovery will introduce several islands located along the Brunei River, serving as a platform to raise awareness on tourism perspectives and exposure on what the Sultanate has to offer in terms of history and heritage related to certain islands.

Media representatives were recently invited to board a three-hour cruise to visit seven significant islands along the Brunei River, including Pulau Chermin, the biggest island Pulau Berambang, Pulau Baru-Baru, Pulau Keingaran and Jong Batu.

The new package allows locals to do inbound itineraries as COVID-19 restricts overseas travel. DHSB created the package so guests can have breath-taking experiences cruising to the islands that have their own histories and stories worth sharing.

The Queen Elizabeth II Jetty located at Kampong Dato Gandi, 10 to 15 minutes’ drive from Bandar Seri Begawan, is the meeting point for guests before boarding the speed boat cruise. The Queen Elizabeth II Jetty is referred to by the locals as ‘Jambatan Queen’ because when Queen Elizabeth II and her entourage first visited Brunei Darussalam on February 29, 1972, her vessel embarked at the jetty. The jetty was named after the Queen to commemorate the occasion of her visit.

Makam di Luba. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
Media representatives during the cruise

During the cruise, DHSB Tour Guide Haji Hasnal explained the history behind the islands we visited. The iconic Pulau Chermin and Pulau Keingaran in 17th Century were the venue of the only civil war that occurred in 1660 to 1663. The three-year war was compiled as a story in the book Mahkota Berdarah written by Yura Halim.

For those interested in learning about the Malay Sultanate, especially Brunei Sultans as well as traditions and heritage, they will find it noteworthy that the island was an important entrance area for vessels to trade with Brunei at that time.

As the cruise continued, we approached the biggest island on the Brunei River located east of the city centre – Pulau Berambang. This island is full of myths and legends and one of the popular recreational activities there is a trekking of Bukit Bujang Pahang. The island houses a number of villages including Kampong Sungai Bunga, Kampong Bolkiah ‘A’ and Kampong Menunggol.

Passing by Kampong Sungai Bunga, guests will be entertained with Haji Hasnal’s knowledge and will be amazed with how an island that was the site for several villages separated by a river from the city has been equipped with full amenities provided by the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

Most of the Kampong Sungai Bunga residents work as fishermen or in the private and government sectors. What makes Kampong Sungai Bunga a historical place is the tomb of the 10th Sultan of Brunei Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Hassan who was buried at Tanjung Kindana, reigning as Sultan of Brunei from 1581 to 1582. It was later named Marhum Di Tanjung.

The next area was Lumut Lunting, located at the mouth of the Brunei River. Lumut Lunting is often associated with a legendary story of a cockfight between Asmara and Mutiara located between the Pulau Sibungor and Pulau Berambang.

We then took a closer look into one of the famous tales of Nakhoda Manis. According to oral tradition, Nakhoda Manis disowned his mother, leading her to become upset. She then cursed Nakhoda Manis and his vessel into a rock known as Jong Batu today.

DHSB’s cruises will encompass weekend getaways that sail every Saturday and Sunday, and also cater to a range of guests and families during holidays as well as MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) groups looking for an innovative option for a memorable experience.

To complement the tours, guests will be given light refreshments of Bruneian delicacies at a restaurant in Kampong Ayer inclusive in the fare packages.