Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Well, that about wraps it up for Brunei

That's about all I have to show for my holiday in Brunei, which lasted two hours and twenty-eight minutes so is at least better than I managed in Cambodia. It's only thanks to Borneo's slightly silly borders that I needed to pass through this country at all on my epic cross-country/cross-island bus journey between two bits of Malaysia.

At 11 hours, the Borneo Express from from Kota Kinabalu to Miri wasn't the longest bus journey I've ever taken - that tedious honour probably belongs to several low-budget school trips from North West England to Germany, which must have been at least 18 hours, and the overnight/overday bus I took from Bangkok to Krabi Town during floods, which was similar.

But this is the first trip I've taken where I've picked up practically one passport stamp per hour.

Are you mental?

This borderline mentally ill level of border hopping might sound inconvenient and annoying, but I'd been really looking forward to it since I first got to this impractically large island. During the journey itself, my feelings about the ridiculous frequency at which these immigration booths were cropping up started at 'interesting,' peaked at 'this is getting amusing now' and dropped to 'this joke's not funny any more' after the eighth or so. It was the Stewart Lee routine of bus journeys.

I don't like the idea of taking a flight between two places when there's easy land access anyway. Take-off might be a bit of a thrill, but travelling by land and sea is clearly superior to the displacement of flights and a lot better for my psychogeography - even if the roadside jungle scenery is basically the same thing you get in Peninsular Malaysia. Plus, it was probably slightly less worse for the environment or something? (Yeah, like that's why I did it).

Needlessly detailed itinerary

07:42 - Lift off. 4 immigration forms, a bumper book of ghost stories and some bics. This is going to be a good one

10:15 - 10:40 - Leave Malaysia and enter Malaysia (just the one passport stamp, just to make things uneven and confuse me for ages while writing this). Sarawak has separate immigration laws to the rest of the country - you know, because things aren't complicated enough already

11:10 - 12:10 - Lunch in Lawas, where I had to abandon my local-eating principles to make use of KFC's Wi-Fi and handily/patronisingly labelled toilet roll

12:38 Leave Sarawak, for now

12:45 - 12:55 - Enter Brunei and try to take some deliberately lousy photos, most of which accidentally ended up looking nice anyway. Bloody Borneo

13:18 - Leave Brunei, but for some reason the road continues for some time before Malaysia immigration. Am I nowhere?

13:38 - 13:45 - Sarcastically slow ferry crossing across a narrow river. Look at it - it can only be deliberately taking the piss. Build a bridge with your oil billions already!

13:47 - Re-enter Sarawak for passport stamp #5. Though the guy didn't take my immigration form, which is presumably for next time I re-enter the state. I've given up trying to work this out, I'll just enjoy the ride

15:05 - 15:20 - Re-leave Sarawak - The ride loses its novelty factor about now

15:20 - 15:40 - Re-enter Brunei. If there are two things Brunei excels at, it's stern justice and Microsoft WordArt

17:35 - 17:45 - Bye bye Brunei

17:50 - 18:00 - Re-re-enter Sarawak and stay for good this time (i.e. six days). Here are two thirds of the passport stamps I collected today - if you're in East Malaysia, why not board the Borneo Express and waste your time and passport pages too? I got a kick out of it. But then, I always did like interminable Stewart Lee routines.

18:52 - Arrive in Miri. The end.


  1. You heard about this? http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-11-22-new-dizzy-game-in-the-works


  2. Great news! When I lived in Edinburgh I knew a guy who was the spitting image of Dizzy, right down to the egg-like head and hat. Someone else confided to me that they'd thought the same thing too, independently.

    Now I think about it, he used to carry loads of really unusual items around with him too - presumably to solve problems that were blocking his progress through life.