My recent business trip to Brunei was cool – if I was meant to tell you about the meeting with our company auditors. The auditor was great. I admired his sharp mind and confidence in his speech. I pictured myself as him, but I am still very far from it. I’m still building my character, wishing it would help me to be more prepared in the future.
Have you ever think of yourself stuck outside your town, or state, or country (like in my case), and got nothing but your work attire, mobile phone and your wallet? Furthermore, you’re alone, knowing no one but just the many faces of strangers. This is not a must, or tips on preparing yourself to bring more stuff and equipment with you. It’s a burden to carry such weight on your shoulder.
Let me share with you what I’ve learnt during my recent trip to Brunei. Before that, let’s go to the part how I got stuck there. Thursday morning, we (me and my boss) left Labuan for Brunei, with an intention to leave the auditors at 3 p.m. (assuming all will be done before 3 p.m.) and head straight to the ferry terminal at Muara for the last ferry, 4.30 pm (Ferry Duta Muhibbah). It was all fine for that day, until we realized that we stacked in a traffic jam, and we’re nowhere near the ferry terminal. We missed the last ferry – stop there, please – to the conclusion that I have to stay in Brunei for one night before getting on the first ferry to Labuan (7.30 am, Seri Anna Ferry) the next day.
So, here I’ll share with you some tips.
Accommodation – Get to the town near to the airport/ferry terminal/bus station and find a place to stay. It doesn’t need to be exclusive and 5-stars – but good enough for you to sleep and shower. To make it easy, go to any Cyber Café, and surf the YellowPages website. Locate any hotel near to your location. List down the hotels listed, and give them a call and ask for the cost per night. Some of the hotels might have their own website, but most of them don’t list down their pricing, so stick to the plan to call them.
Food – Do not spend too much money on buying junk foods. You might think you’re going nowhere and just stuck in your hotel room, watching television. I did once, and the next day the remaining foods went to the trash bin. Allocate your money for lunch and dinner (depends on how long you’ll stay there) and only spend less than RM 10.00 on junk foods and mineral waters (air conditioned room will make your lips dry, so drink lots of water). You’re stuck somewhere unfamiliar, you need to save your money in case of emergency.
Cash in hand – you need to have at least RM 200.00 (convert to local currencies if you’re in foreign country) with you (depends on how many there you’ll be there). Given that you don’t have any cash with you, or less than the amount mentioned, go to any ATM bank. You won’t have any problem to withdraw money if you have VISA and MASTERCARD imprinted on your ATM card/Credit card.
I’m using HSBC and there’s lots of HSBC ATM in Bandar Seri Begawan and Gadong (and Singapore and Australia).
Handphone – This is your important saviour. You realized that some mobile telecommunication service vendor won’t work in other country (like the last time DiGi was nowhere to find in New Zealand). Don’t waste your time (and phone battery) trying to make call or send SMS to your friends/husband/wife/girlfriend/parents to tell them where you’re now. Save your phone for your wake up call. (You might say your wrist watch can do the same, but does the sound can beat your phone yelling at you to wake up?) Some hotel provides wake up call on request, but sometimes they screwed up they slept under the counter as well. So, it’s important to save up your mobile phone battery. Remember, you’re traveling without preparation, and you only have cash and your phone. Do not waste your money on buying a charger. But it’s important to inform your family where you are now, or they go cranky and race to police station claiming you’re kidnapped. Go to any phone book shop, or anywhere that shows “Phone Card Sold here”, purchase the phone card, and use the public phone instead of using your mobile phone.
But if you’re in Malaysia, just use your mobile to call or SMS or MMS or XMS (don’t go there, we’re trying to be minimalist) to inform your families of your situation.
Entertainment – remember you’re in a limited budget, so don’t get into any entertainment spot/place/park and throw your stash of cash and enjoying yourself to the max. Tight budget means window shopping. You don’t have to experience it first, so just try to get familiar with the roads and buildings. There’ll always be next time.
Transportation – It’s important to know where the bus/taxi/monorail/LRT station is, so you’ll know here to head to when its time for you to go home. Spend sometimes wandering around town, near to your hotel and look for the public transport. In my case, I know one friendly Chinese uncle that can send me to the Muara ferry terminal and can bring me anywhere around Brunei with lower charges. If you happen to be in Brunei, do not hesitate to ask me his phone number. It’s important to get to your final destination on time, or you’ll miss the flight/scheduled bus express/ferry like me. Ask for the fare, and pick the one who will give you the lower price.
For now, that’s the important point (except for the Entertainment thing – I preferred to snap pictures to entertain myself and this blog readers) you might want to apply the next time you stuck anywhere unfamiliar, outside your comfort zone (your home town).
*The next time, I will share the etiquettes of traveling.