Thursday 2 December 2010

Brunei: Kampung life

Kampong Ayer - Bandar Seri BegawanWith an hour to kill before returning to the airport, I sat on the riverbank with a chance to observe life in the Kampung Ayer (water village), home to more than 30,000 people – 10% of the Brunei population.

River taxis (penambang) whizzed across the Sungei Brunei like speed boats in a James Bond film, churning up the cocoa-coloured water with their huge engines. Boys jumped intoKingfisher - Kampong Ayer, Bandar Seri Begawan the water for a quick bath before clambering up makeshift ladders and disappearing behind lines of washing. People laden with carrier bags wobbled along the boardwalks, narrowly avoiding children on bikes cycling with confidence along the narrow rickety planks of wood. The smarter houses were painted – many look derelict but the occasional light and satellite dish suggest otherwise.

I wanted to take a photo from a boardwalk behind the mosque, but I was drawn to the sight of a bird sitting on a rock trying to fish in the foul-smelling murky water. It would probably go hungry, just like me. I was getting peckish – even the thought of a tray of airline chicken curry was beginning to sound appetising.

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