10th October 2010, Sunday
Miri – Brunei
As soon as we woke up, we were greeted by fragrant smell of chicken cooked in wine and ginger. JS’ dad cooked breakfast for us! By 6 am, Miri is already bright. I woke up around 7.15 am, and got dressed by 7.30 am. But it felt like 9 am already.
Mee sua special!
Introducing the chicken mee sua cooked in chinese wine and ginger. According to JS’ dad, he would normally whip up this special dish only on Chinese New Year, or whenever there is a guest visiting. We were very honored by his warm gestures. What a way to make a guest feeling totally welcomed!
After breakfast, JS’ mom took us to Tamu and introduce to us the many types of Bario rice. I was informed that you could not get genuine Bario rice as Bario people only grew enough rice for their own consumption. The ones that we find at the Tamu is normally grown in Miri itself, but using seeds from Bario. I guess we would be very lucky if we could have original Bario rice flown in from Bario itself! Then, JS’ mom drove us around Miri. I could see that Mirians are very proud of their hometown, which is an upcoming young city!
Immigration checkpoint at Sg Tujoh, Miri
We then, made our way to Brunei. We drove to Sg Tujoh check point – which is about 30 minutes away from Miri town. We passed by Curtin University, Miri and saw plans of building more universities around the area. If you want your children to concentrate fully on their studies, perhaps you can send them here. It’s a jungle out there. Haha! Both sides of the road heading towards the border are flanked by fields of lalangs! We passed by e-mart as well. Things are really dirt cheap here! It’s like a mini Cha-tu-chak.
To drive to Brunei from Miri, you need to bring along a copy of car registration that you traveled in. From Miri, we had to pay RM10 for use of the bridge to cross the river (I was informed that, they had to take a ferry many years ago to cross the river to the Brunei border). Upon reaching the immigration check point, you don’t have to get out from the car, just hand over passports to the officer to be stamped. Then, after the Malaysia checkpoint, follow the sign and drive towards the Brunei checkpoint. Again, hand over your passports to the officer and drive on to the custom check point. Here, fill up a form of your car registration. This is when the car registration form comes handy. For detailed directions, see this blog.
Isi form at the nearby parking bay
After custom clearance, we headed towards Kuala Belait. There is another toll where we paid BN$3. The road towards Bandar Seri Begawan was a long one! We decided to stop a bit on smaller towns before heading to BSB. First, we went to look for this place called Sushi Excapade in Kuala Belait where fresh and huge sushis were served! We were lucky that we managed to snag a spot since we didn’t make any bookings and the place was not packed. We were given an hour to use the table before the guests who had reserved a table comes. We agreed happily.
Sashimi at only BN$12
At first, we decided to only have a few dishes just to stimulate our palate, we ended ordering a bento set, a shashimi set, fried silver fish, fried soft shell crabs and a plate of California sushi. It was a lunch bomb! Sushi Excapade serves the freshest sushi and the cawan mushi is nothing like I tasted before even in those expensive Japanese restaurants in KL. It actually has a whole prawn in it and the ingredients were really fresh and thick! Almost every pieces of sushi has huge chunk of avocado inside! We were surprised that, all our food only came to BN$46! No wonder my colleagues in Brunei always rave about this place and they actually have dinner at this place at least 3x a week.
The next stop, we wanted to try some kolo mee in Tutong. However, the blog had given us the wrong addresses, so the GPS led us to wrong place. After we drove some distance to look for the Chinese food, we gave up and headed straight to BSB. On the way, I was already feeling too sleepy due to the heavy lunch and snored away throughout the journey while Datin and JS chit chatted away.
After a long drive to BSB, we were in dire need of caffeine fix so, we pried our eyes open to scout for the first coffee shop available. We made a hasty stop when we saw Coffee Bean. Parking was a breeze because the entire town seemed rather quiet for a Sunday afternoon. When we got down the car, we saw a bunch of foreign workers lining up and sitting down at the pavement near Coffee Bean. I guess they were lining up to send money home. We felt like we are foreign workers also, as we didn’t see any locals walking around on a Sunday afternoon!
Cafe latte and egg tarts
We plunked our asses on the sofa at Illy’s and ordered our coffee for the day. We also ordered beef curry puffs and egg tarts. The beef curry puffs were too sweet for our likings. I guess, Bruneians love all things sweet!
As we were enjoying our extreme leisurely time, news broke out from the little tv in the café – there’s a breakthrough on the Chile’s miners trapped in the mine for over 70 days! Such good news! We were all very happy! It’s like adding a cherry on top of already a good day!
Since this post is a little long winded, I will break it into two. Stay tune for second part tomorrow!