As holiday and other non-essential travel return to relative normalcy, Bruneians are eager to once again explore beyond the boundaries of the Sultanate.
Would-be-travellers shared their plans with the Bulletin, mostly to nearby ASEAN neighbours – Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand – for shopping excursions and much needed de-stressing at scenic, iconic locations – away from the doldrums of the daily routine.
Others have more specific plans: the devout eager to carry out interrupted plans for Umrah; K-drama fans looking forward to embark on a different sort of pilgrimage; friends and family, longing to re-connect after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an extended separation.
Like many Muslims, Murniah had planned to perform the Umrah with her children years ahead.
After saving enough to book a travel package, her plans were interrupted after the COVID-19 pandemic struck and travel restrictions were imposed by governments around the world.
It didn’t discourage her, however, keeping faith that Allah the Almighty has other plans for her and her family during the difficult times.
While Brunei Darussalam no longer has restrictions on travel, she said she will wait until next year to travel, while continuing to save up as package prices and travel costs had increased over the last few years.
Meanwhile, South Korea and Japan have been popular destinations among Bruneians before the pandemic, partly due to fans of their cultural exports, including pop idols and drama series.
The two nations also have rich histories, iconic landmarks and breathtaking scenery that draw locals like Siti Norhafizah.
Siti made travel plans to Korea, intending to learn more about their culture, try out the food and hopefully meet her K-pop idols. She bought her ticket. Then the pandemic hit.
Now, with restrictions on travel mostly lifted, she has set plans to visit Jeju and Busan this December, looking forward in experiencing what Korea has to offer firsthand.
Meanwhile, Kuala Belait resident Joanne Lim said she hopes to visit Japan for her holiday in December, touring iconic cities such as Shinjuku and Hokkaido, visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, a preserved piece of the city struck by a nuclear bomb at the end of World War II.
“Shinjuku is famous for its large entertainment, business and shopping area, Hokkaido for the high quality and fresh seafood,” she said. “I also heard Kyoto and Kobe are interesting places to visit, due to the Western influence on their history.
“Also, I want to visit my daughter who works in Japan.”
Joanne’s cousin, Hazel, meanwhile said she would love to visit Paris again, after her last visit to a relative working there.
She said it was the most memorable fun she and her family had, with highlights being a shopping spree, experiencing the snowy weather and playing with snowballs.
Meanwhile, seeking nostalgia, Hajah Ezah is planning to visit the United Kingdom, where she spent a large part of her life in Brighton as a boarding school student.
She misses her friends from school, and hopes to reunite with them while visiting her old school.
“I really miss the place. I spent half of my life abroad and a big part of it was in Brighton enrolled at a boarding school.
“My school years have been bittersweet, but memorable as I made friends with people from different parts of the world.”