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Brunei: Kampung Ayer

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Kampung Ayer | Brunei | Asia

[Visited: February 2001]

Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of Brunei, is situated on the riverbanks of the Brunei. Part of it is Kampung Ayer, which is actually built on the river and which exists already for many centuries. It is the biggest area built on water in the world. Nowadays some 30,000 people live, work, shop, sleep and go to school and mosque on the water. To be able to do so, a maze of wooden walkways has been constructed connecting all houses and buildings, as well as landing sites for boats. Bridges allow for boats to cross the canals under the "streets".

Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): Kampung Ayer

While cautiously walking along the wooden planks on the walkways, I was also able to look into houses, shops and schools, and meet some of the inhabitants of this remarkably vivid place. I was struck by the kindness of the people, their genuine smiles, and their barely concealed curiosity. As I walked alongside a school, I am spotted by one girl in class who then secretly advises her friends. They all try to hide their temporary lack of attention for the teacher who in fact does not notice anything.

Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): House in Kampung Ayer

While I continue walking on these wooden swinging streets, getting used to their flexibility and guarding a safe distance from the "sidewalk" which actually is the filthy water several metres below, I realize that this village in every way tries to be a "normal" village. People have gardens with flowers, TVs, water and electricity, and are almost completely self-sufficient as a village. It is when I return to the city and look behind that I realize that no, Kampung Ayer is not an ordinary place.

Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): Kampung Ayer
Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): Kampung Ayer
Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): Kampung Ayer
Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): Kampung Ayer schoolgirls
Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): Garden in Kampung Ayer
Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): House in Kampung Ayer
Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): Kampung Ayer
Picture of Kampung Ayer (Brunei): Door in Kampung Ayer

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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