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".
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.
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.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Kampung Ayer (Brunei). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Kampung Ayer.
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