This is in no way a review of this majestic hotel by the South China sea, The Empire Hotel in Brunei. For a one day visit to the place is not enough to bask in the glamour and the expensiveness of the place. But my poor self had to see the glitter if only to admire them from afar. While most of what’s inside the hotel is made of gold, the place does not feel as highly valued, just like stepping into a forgotten territory where only those who are attached to what made the place significant in the first place, find comfort. For me, this reflects the rest of Brunei, where not everything that glitters is gold.
I don’t remember what I was thinking when I planned for this trip to Brunei. Maybe it was the cheap plane ticket from Penang, or the fact that it is very near Malaysia [where we’re having our corporate event]. Whatever it was, it sounded strange for almost anyone who heard that we’re coming because Brunei is not a touristy place. In fact, it is so laid back, so unhappening that I will not recommended for tourists. Establishments close early, streets are empty after 6pm, no reliable public transport, few people on public places, idle business district, empty city central, vey few restaurants, no public parks, no nightlife, etc. When you don’t have any of these outside distractions, you tend to look deep within yourself.
We went to the Empire Hotel on a weekday and interestingly, we were the only passengers in the bus. We were brought there by a fellow Filipino who works as a bus driver for about 30 minutes from the city bus center. He told us of a family he left in the Philippines in exchange for a job that in our point-of-view, doesn’t even pay that much. We learned of his longing for Filipino food, to see the face of his children, and to again sow the land that he used to tend. He went back for us after we roam around the hotel for about an hour. And for the next few days until we go back home, we again see Kuya driver who offered to show us around. It’s like he thought his bus is a car taxi. He really do miss his kababayans.
Our trip was a combination of quiet time, inner reflection, keen observation, and emphatic regard for others that I, admittedly tend to forget because of work and a busy lifestyle. So despite not having much, I feel that this Brunei trip actually gave me more. And I’ll take these kinds of travel memories over popular tourist’s attractions any day.
The Empire Hotel and Country Club Brunei
Kg Jerudong, Muara – Tutong Hwy, Brunei BG3122, Brunei