Brunei 2014

May 30th
We all left Adelaide late morning for overnight stay in Melbourne to start our trip a day early, everything started on a bad note when the minibus Chewie organised did not turn up and we had to organise one from the airport.


Had lunch at the Sherlock Holmes Pub and had some great beers, probably too many….

Later that evening we went to Dracula’s Cabaret Restaurant. Chewie said he knew the way and we could walk there. Well we really needed a drink when we got there because we must have gone via Geelong after taking a wrong turn, it was that far.

The show was called a ‘Bloodbath” and was quite funny and entertaining and you should go there at least once.

May 31st
Next morning we got a taxi bus to the airport and started asking questions about alcohol in Brunei. We were told that we cannot buy alcohol in Brunei as it is illegal.

We did find out that we could take in about 2 litres into Brunei but could only drink in our hotel rooms, which we did. Also there was no alcohol given out on the plane as there is on all other airlines in the world but we could buy small 200ml bottles at Melbourne and drink them on the plane but anything opened had to be consumed on the plane.

When we got to our hotel ‘The Empire Country Club Resort’ we thought we were doing a tour of the Sultan’s Palace because it was so magnificent. I lost count on how many swimming pools fresh and seawater. You always think the best one is the one outside your complex and we did mix our Coke cans with a bit of extra tasty liquid.

June 1st to June 6th
For the next 6 days we were picked up from the hotel at 8am by the people from ‘Poni Divers’ and they were very professional in the way they organised our diving.

We had 2 dives per day with lunch on board between dives.

The first day was a shallow wreck dive which was bad visibility with the second dive being a reef dive where when you have seen one reef you’ve seen them all.

The next 3 days some of us were using Nitrox in our tanks for extra dive time less deco and for safety reasons.

We did 6 wreck dives between 25 and 45mtrs all of them we were able to penetrate the wrecks deep inside and the visibility was better inside than out.

These were all pretty good dives even though the visibility could have been better than it was.

The 4th day was split up into 2 groups where 6 of us myself (Johno) Chewie, Wolf, Graham, Mustard and Mac the dive guide, went on a 25min 60 metre decompression/tech dive with one tank on our back and a sling tank on our side.

We had to do a 60min deco. (I wish I’d had a movie to watch). It was a boring hour on deco. We had a 2hr surface interval with lunch and soft drinks and the staff changed over our tanks.

The second dive was also a tank on our back and a sling tank and we did a 45mtr dive for 20 mins with also another boring 60min deco (I could have finished watching the movie).

I said to Chewie afterwards that you can stick Tech diving right up where the sun don’t shine; the extra dive time didn’t seem to warrant the extra boring deco time. He told Mike what I had said and Mike made a comment later that I have now been cured of Tech diving. Well I have to say definitely that I have.

The last day diving was a 45mtr wreck dive 1hr surface interval and then a dive on an old oil platform that had either fallen over or was not used anymore and discarded.

This platform was close to a reef that had crayfish on it. When we saw it the cray looked big looking at its feelers, this is where Mustard went back to the boat and brought back a boat hook to get the cray, he managed to catch it and gave it to the boat crew.

June 7th
This was a relaxing day mostly doing a tour of the massive complex we were staying in and swimming in the swimming pools. One of them had a poolside bar but to our disbelief only sold soft drinks.

June 8th to 11th
The next 3 days was a trip to Ulu Ulu Rainforest Resort where we got picked up by bus mid morning then a short trip to the local river port where we were transferred to a fast river launch. There we were joined by some American greenies doing an environment course of lectures etc. I think someone told them jokingly that we were from the ‘Tasmanian Woodchoppers Association’.

We were taken up river for about 40mins and were then transferred to a small bus and taken by road for about another 30mins then to another tributary river where we got into five-man canoes with a fast outboard on the back and in 20mins we were at our rainforest retreat which was quite impressive considering it was in the middle of the jungle.

While we were there we got up at 4.30am next morning for a walk up the mountain (we were supposed to see monkeys, toucans and other wild life but I think our noise scared them off), then up a very tall scaffolding for what was called ‘The tree top canopy walk’. This took us about 3hrs and were back for breakfast and then a catch up sleep for a couple of hrs.

After lunch we went inner tube rafting through some tame rapids which was quite fun. This took us about half an hour and we got out at a landing then went on a muddy creek walk up to a waterfall and swimming pool that was so inviting we just had to make use of it. We left it as a muddy swimming pool.

Next day after breakfast we went on another creek walk for a couple of hours up to another waterfall and another swimming pool and of course another swim, but not as muddy.

In the afternoon we wanted to do a longer run of the rapids on the inner tubes but were told that the rain we had overnight had made it dangerous because of all the logs and tree branches washing down the river, no matter how much we complained and said that we were willing to take the risk we ended up watching DVDs on TV. Some slept the afternoon away.

The next day we finally wore the tour guide down and he was willing to take us on the longer rapids run which also happened to be his first time as wel. lt was faster than the short run because of the extra water coming down the river and this time some of us got dunked out of the tyre and into the rapids. I was lucky not to lose my glasses where Mike wasn’t so lucky. We both got back into the inner tube ok.

The fun over we packed our bags and headed back down river on the motorised five-man canoes then minibus ride to the main river where we were surprised to see crocodiles (not sure whether I’d have swum in the river if I knew there was a chance of crocodiles), and back to the river port on the fast speed boat to catch the bus to the airport.

We were lucky that the plane was half empty and were able to change seats and lay down for the overnight trip and get some sleep. We arrived in Melbourne at about 5am with a 4hr wait before our flight to Adelaide.

The entire trip was an adventure, going to a Muslim country where alcohol is banned and being with 14 other sober members of the Sea Wolves for 12 days was unusual to say the least, I think my liver said thank you.

I am now looking down the track for my next trip.


John Wood

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