Friday, June 4, 2010

Backpacking Borneo: Bandar Seri Begawan-Kuala Belait-Miri

Overland from Bandar Seri Begawan to Miri (Sarawak, Malaysia) involves changing bus three times. The trip can take more than half a day, eight hours at the most. Although in our case, way longer than that.

Our Indian driver negotiating with officials about our expired permit.

The BSB bus station is along Jalan Cator, on the ground level of a multi-storey carpark. After we exchanged Shervin's leftover dirhams from U.A.E. (finally we found a place in Asia where it's accepted!), we bought some snacks and hopped on our ordinary bus to Seria (B$6). We loved it because we need not deal with blasting AC, but then we had to put up with people smoking on board.

Our Borneo trip thus far. View Bandar Seri Begawan-Miri in a larger map

Less than thirty minutes on the road, we turned to an open parking area by the river, where we were held up for another half an hour by Brunei's government (perhaps transportation) officials. Apparently, our bus' permit was expired and we waited for the Indian driver to take care of the renewal.

We were cleared, and arrived at Seria's bus station after two hours. From the station, we took a mini bus to Kuala Belait (B$2, thirty minutes) and got there five minutes late for the bus to Miri. We were advised that we'd have to wait two hours for the next one. We had lunch at an Indian restaurant nearby, and bought a three-pronged adapter to be used in Malaysia.

Shervin filling out an immigration form at the bus station.

Back at the station, we approached the guy from the bus company who was tasked to organize the passengers' border crossing and asked for immigration forms for us to fill-out.

Scary boat ride. At one point I thought we were going to topple over!

Passengers paid B$10.20 each which included a bus to Sungai Belait (with a boat ride to cross the river), and another bus from Kuala Baram border point to Miri (four hours).

We reached Miri's city center a little past 6:00 PM. Here, everything you need is within walking distance. We learned this when we asked an officer at the police station (where our bus driver dropped us off) for directions.

Rough but helpful map by a police man.

He didn't know the place named 'Highlands', but drew us a map to get to the Multi-Storey Carpark (there seems to be only one) and Wheels when we mentioned them as our landmarks. We thanked the officer and followed his map (which I kept as souvenir!) with ease and reached our destination in no time.

An exhausting climb. Nasty if you go back to the hostel drunk.

The Highlands' rate increased to RM50 (with breakfast and coffee/water all day) but we took it. I assumed that the caretaker was offering a good price when she said with confidence, "If you don't like, you can go, I don't mind". I didn't want to look for a cheaper hostel/guesthouse in vain then come back, only to hear her say 'we're already full' with a told-you-so face.

[This blog is part of the South East Asia in Six Weeks series which took place May-June 2009. Price of goods, transportation and so forth may already be different.]


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The Nomadic Pinoy said...
June 27, 2010 at 7:32 PM

I also can't stand people who smoke inside buses - such inconsiderate people! Must be one of nicotine's long term side effects?

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 2, 2010 at 1:16 AM

I used to smoke. But even then, I did not like people who smoke inside ordinary (non aircon) buses. That's why there are stopovers, so they could do that without annoying other passengers.

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