Borneo 2016, Part 2: Brunei Darussalam

I had a great experience in the islands of Kota Kinabalu. I enjoyed the city as well, with its laid-back atmosphere and natural ambiance despite some big establishments. It was my time then to leave the place and head to my next destination, which just lies near Sabah; I was bound for the oil-rich country of Brunei.

Situated at the northwestern coast of Borneo, this tiny nation is divided into two sections by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Its capital is Bandar Seri Begawan, which spans an area of 100 square kilometres. Travel between Kota Kinabalu and Brunei is easy, with a lot of options either by land, water, or air. Just like Singapore, the city can be explored in a short period of time and the sights here mainly includes mosques, parks, and shopping areas. On my one (and a half) day trip in Bandar, I saw most of its notable landmarks.

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View of Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudien Mosque from Yayasan Complex

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Borneo 2016, Part 1: Kota Kinabalu

I love short escapes from the mundane life. It just relaxes my mind and free myself from stress for a while. It was another eid holiday season this September, so it was meant for me to go out again for a long weekend. On the earlier part of the year, I booked a cheap flight from Manila to Kota Kinabalu, knowing that tentatively, the work-free day would fall on a Monday, September 12, as listed by some of the sources I checked online. Good news, the holiday was announced to be on that date.

Gaya Island, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

Kota Kinabalu, the city where I would land, is the capital of East Malaysia’s Sabah in the island of Borneo, the third largest non-continental island in the world after Greenland and New Guinea. This island offers a lot of natural sights and is famous for its diverse wildlife, white sand beaches, excellent diving spots, and huge national parks. Borneo is shared by three countries: Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak), Brunei, and Indonesia (Kalimantan). Kota Kinabalu is the main gateway to East Malaysia that’s why it is the second busiest airport in the country. The main sight I was planning to visit there is the well-known Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, a group of five islands some kilometers away from the city.

I planned to have a four-day vacation there. This would be my itinerary, supposedly: Continue reading

Traveling Visa-Free in ASEAN Member Countries

Having a Philippine Passport, one of the things that makes us difficult to travel aside from purchasing costly airfares is the mandatory application for tourist visas to most of the countries. Based on Passport Index, currently our national passport is only ranked 63 by the number of visa-free countries where we can enter (which is 62), that is a long way down from Germany and Sweden with 158.

Thankfully, our neighbours will always welcome us. Last 2006, there was a signed agreement between the ten ASEAN member countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) that grants the passport holders of these nations to move freely around the region and enter each country without applying for a visa for a stay of up to 30 days, depending on the regulations of each one of them. It means worry-free travel to those who wish to explore the culture around us!

Here is the list of the ASEAN Countries with their corresponding number of visa-free days: Continue reading