First stop: Brunei

First stop: Brunei
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

If you’re flying with Royal Brunei Airlines, obviously you’re going to spend some time in Brunei Darussalam International Airport.

We had a two and a half hour stopover scheduled on the way, which turned into a three and a half hour stopover on account of our early arrival from Melbourne.

Being the organisational freak that I am, I’d done some research into what there is to do during a short stopover at this airport. There didn’t sound like a lot to do, but I imagined there might be some shops, some eateries, ATMs, maybe Duty Free outlets.

However, the reviews I read online were not particularly positive about the airport. The word “disgrace” occurred often and the general view from the online travelling public was that it wasn’t up to international standard. It was also, I was led to believe, undergoing a major renovation.

Not knowing whether these travellers had high expectations of airports and were comparing it to huge international airports (which this is not), I thought it might be a bit like Hobart Airport. Small but with enough to do, read and eat to survive a couple of hours.

The signs of renovations are obvious. This can only be a good thing. Unfortunately, it’s no good for us, because expected completion is November.

The transit/departure area is one big hall with two spiral staircases leading up to the members lounge and down to the toilets and showers. There’s a space with a small range of duty free goods and 8 departure gates. There are 2 clusters of seats which were full by the time we got into the terminal. This situation wasn’t aided by people who decide to sleep across 3 seats and spread their luggage across the adjacent seats.

There’s a small souvenir stand and, if you venture around the corner, a coffee shop. You can get all manner of coffees and teas and snacks, but no water.

There’s nowhere to get any water anywhere in the airport. When I said I thought it would be like Hobart Airport, I meant Devonport.

So we had nowhere to sit, and nothing to drink other than curious iced coffee and tea concoctions.

We took up some time by browsing the souvenir stand for tacky souvenirs. (Every place I go my aim is to buy the tackiest souvenir I can find. Brunei Airport did not let me down on this.)

Lil Sis decided to brave officialdom and go outside. To do this you have to pay $5 (Brunei $ only, which I had thoughtfully ensured we had some of – planning win!) to get a visitor permit. This lets you out of the airport and gets you a stamp in your passport. I think the attraction of the passport stamp outweighed whatever inconvenience she went to through to get out and back in again. At least she can say she’s been to Brunei and has set foot on Brunei soil (or concrete), which is something I’ve never done.

Our boarding pass said boarding would be at 18:25, which seemed early for a 19:55 flight. What it actually meant was that was when we could go through security and go to the gate lounge, where there were enough chairs for everyone. Hooray!

We’ve been flying for over an hour now. It’s now 21:20 Brunei time (23:20 in Australia) and 17:20 at our next stopover, Dubai, where we’ll arrive at about midnight. We’re 1200 km out of Brunei and we have 5600 km to go. We’ve just flown over the South China Sea.

It’s been a long day and there’s a lot more travelling to do yet.

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