Niah Cave, Bandar Seri Begawan(Brunei)3D2N getaway July 2019

Day 1

Brunei and Laos are the only two Asean countries which we have not visited. So this time we decided to visit Brunei and at the same time also visit Niah Cave.

We arrived at KLIA2 at 3.30 am by Yoyo Bus. Immediately we went to Plaza Premium Lounge to have our breakfast before boarding our flight to Miri at 7.00 am. After 2 hour 10 minute flight, we finally touched down at Miri Airport at 9.10 am.

Our pre-booked car rental driver was at the airport to deliver the car to us. [RM 150 per day] Immediately we drove to Niah National Park which is about 84 km away. 

Pumped RM 30 petrol for the whole trip

The road was bumpy but traffic was not heavy. On the way, we stopped at Kg Salap Lada Kelulit Sibuti to buy some local bananas and oranges. Then we proceeded to Kg Niah for lunch. We had some authentic Sarawak laksa. Then we continued our journey to Niah National Park.

The restaurant at Kg Niah

We arrived at around 12.00 pm. We purchased the entrance ticket. It’s RM 5.00 for senior citizen.[RM 10 for Malaysian adult & RM 20 for foreigner]  We were provided with a small map and a short briefing on the route to Niah Cave.

To go to Niah Cave, you need to cross a river and the boat ride only takes 30 seconds! It must be the shortest boat ride I have ever had! Know what? There’s a sign board alerting the travellers to be aware of crocodiles! You just prayed hard that the reptiles do not appear in this short 30s! At the other side of the river is a museum. We didn’t go in first. We continued our walking.

The trail to the cave wasn’t tough at all. The first part is concrete paved walkway followed by wooden planks. The walkway could be very slippery especially after raining. It is very shady as there are plenty of trees along the way. The air is fresh and there must be a lot of negative ions at the park. After walking about 2.9 km, there’s a public toilet and some stalls set up by the natives selling cold drinks, snacks, souvenirs and raw bird nest.  

 

All the way there’s wooden plank or concrete walkway

The native Iban from the nearby longhouse selling drinks etc

After walking about 3.2 km we finally reached the Traders Cave. Near to Traders Cave, there’s an info board about the Niah Cave. It was here that I slipped and fell. Luckily I just got some bruises on my knee. Actually, the info board shouldn’t be displayed at this point as immediately there is step going down.  As there wasn’t any signboard to Niah Cave, we walked back again to the museum. We were looking for the trail to Niah Cave. We couldn’t find it. Then we enquired at the museum only to be told that the trail to Niah Cave is after the Traders Cave! Apparently we had misinterpreted the route map! So we had missed it. To walk back would be another 3.2 km. And it was already 2.30 pm. The park closes at 5.00 pm. We were too tired and at the same time feeling frustrated as we didn’t reach our destination.   All our efforts had gone to waste! It looks like we have to leave without achieving our goal of visiting Niah Cave.

Abandoned chalet at the National Park

One shot before leaving the museum

So we drove back to Miri. On the way, we savored  some local durians.  It was RM 25 per kilo.  The fruits were scrumptious but the price was  a bit high as the fruits were not branded variety. They were all local durians. 

Only 4 seeds per fruit

Then we stopped at Tusan Beach, a scenic and beautiful beach. However, we had to park our car some distance away and walked to the beach as they are building a gazebo and some facilities for visitors. So we didn’t stay long. We left after taking a few photos.

 At around 5.00 pm, we checked into Pullman Hotel at the Miri Waterfront. After a short rest, we walked to the Sea Village Restaurant at the Waterfront for dinner. Today we had walked a total distance of 12 km!

Simple dinner at Sea Village Restaurant

View from our hotel room

Day 2

At 7.30 am, our pre-booked driver Mr Tony was at the hotel lobby to fetch us for a day tour to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. [RM 450] We then went to a local coffee shop for some authentic kolok noodles and Sarawak laksa. After breakfast we headed to Sg Tujuh check-point which is about 30 km from Miri. The road was really bumpy! Immigration clearance was a breeze at both the checkpoints at the border as there were not many cars at the border. Our first destination was Kuala Belait where all the petroleum from Brunei comes from here. It was also my first time witnessing a petroleum exploration pump at work!

Kuala Belait

Sea petroleum exploration platform

Land petroleum exploration at the background

A pose with our driver, Mr Tony

The next destination was Empire Hotel and Resorts, which is a 6 star hotel in Brunei at Jerudong. The hotel is majestic and grand. I noticed most of the hotel guests were from West Asia. We didn’t stay long, just snapped some photos and left for Bandar Seri Begawan.

Empire Hotel at Jeludong 

Beautiful landscaping at this hotel

All the way to Bandar Seri Begawan, you could see large plots of idle land without any agricultural activity. It shows that the people in Brunei are really wealthy.  Most of the houses have 4 to 5 cars! We were looking for a restaurant for lunch. Alas, it was a public holiday in Brunei as it was the birthday of the Sultan of Brunei. Most of the shops were closed for business. I suggested Jing Chew Bakery as it has some good reviews in TripAdvisor on their famous yellow buns. So I wanted to try out. However mum and the driver were not keen to eat there. We just bought some yellow buns. Well, I would say it’s over-rated. In the end we had Japanese food at Escapade Japanese Restaurant.

The famous yellow bun at Jing Chew Cafe

Well, Brunei is famous for its mosque. So our next stop was the  Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. The mosque is not very big, but looks magnificent. They are very strict on the attire of the visitors. For ladies, you need to put on the gown provided by them and photography is strictly prohibited.

Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Like graduation gown!

Our next itinerary was the water front. Here you get to see the largest floating village  in the world at Kg Air. To get a closer look at the village, you can take a boat ride to go round the village. It costs 20 Brunei dollars per boat.  Then we walked to the floating mosque near the waterfront. It started to rain. So we didn’t enter the mosque. The last itinerary was the Brunei National Museum. We spent about 1 hour at the museum which exhibits Islamic Arts, historical period of the 16th century as well as the archeology of Brunei. It also displays the life and glory of the Royal Family of Brunei.  Again, no photography is allowed inside the museum except the ground floor at the entrance area.

The only Chinese Temple in Bandar Seri Begawan

Waterfront. Behind is Kg Air

Floating mosque – Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

National Museum

At 3.00 pm, we began our trip back to Miri. On the way back, we stopped at Curtin International University at Senaldin. The campus doesn’t look impressive although it was opened 20 years ago!

Our trip ended at 5.00 pm.

After a short rest at the hotel, we set-off again. We took a grab car to Coco Cabana to catch the sun-set. The sea breeze hit me the moment I stepped out of the car. Wow, it was really relaxing here. There were already a lot of people there waiting for the sun to sink. This place also offers you some other activities like cycling both for adults and children. There’s also a beautifully lit children’s playground. Of course many people would not miss taking photo with the iconic mascot seahorse of Miri. For your information, the international Borneo Jazz Festival was held here. Jazz musicians from US, Italy, Austrian, Mexico and Japan took part in this festival. We stayed on for about an hour before we left. 

The iconic mascot of Miri: seahorse

There isn’t short of activity here!

Sunset at Coco Cabana

Dinner was at the Muara Restaurant opposite Pullman Hotel. It serves some good Indonesian cuisine like the ayam penyet but they call it ayam lalahan. It was good and tasty. The portion was also generous.

Ayam lalahan

Day 3
Today was our last day in Miri. Our flight back to Johor Bahru was at 7.15pm. So we decided to visit Niah Cave again having missed the first time. We set out early at 8.00 am after breakfast at the hotel.

This time we walked straight to Traders Cave and continued to Great Cave. As it was a weekday, there weren’t many visitors.  This National Park is  home to bats, macaques, mouse deer, horn bills flying lizards, some variety of insects and also reptiles. Upon entering the Great Cave which is 40,000 year old, it was completely pitch dark. There are wooden plank-pathways but the trail was tough as it goes up and down. You need to be careful with your steps. Here headlamps and torches come handy. Gloves are also required as you need to hold on to the railings in order not to slip and the steps and railings were full of bat and bird poops!  This cave really offers thrill seekers and nature lovers a gateway to cave adventures.  There are some stalactites and stalagmite but they are not as beautiful as some of the caves in other part of the world.  It is almost naturally untouched unlike some other caves which a lot of shrines or temples are built inside. Of course you need to endure the stench of the poops! There are bamboo poles indicating that some bird nest harvesting is on-going. We managed to chance upon a native collecting guano at the cave. We went round the loop and were back to the entrance again. We didn’t go to the Painted Cave which is another hour walk as we were short of time. So we turned back to visit the museum before driving back to Miri. If you are interested in botany and where to sight macaques and the history of the cave, then engaging a guide will be a good choice.  In fact, I managed to spot a small snake slithering away on the way back!

Second visit to Niah Cave in 3 days!

The bruise after 3 days!

This is a small snake. If big snake, we would have run for our lives!

We reached Miri town at around 3.00 pm. We went round the town looking for local kolok noodles. At around 4.30 pm, we drove to the airport to board our flight back to Johor Bahru ending our unforgettable trip! Today we walked a total distance of 8.5 km.

 

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About HP Lim

An experienced Form 5 chemistry teacher from Johor Bahru.