It’s telling that when I sit down and think about the best things about being in Brunei, the first thing that comes to mind is getting out of Brunei. This isn’t because Brunei is a bad place to live, not at all. It’s just that Asia is such a huge and varied area, and being able to get to all (well, most) of it in not too long a flight is pretty darn amazing.
To be honest, we haven’t done as much travelling as we planned when we moved here. Out of the two and a half years we’ve been here, we’ve committed one year to growing a baby, and one year to raising a baby. These things don’t mean we can’t travel at all, but they certainly make it more difficult and less appealing. Add on a few months of settling in and getting visas sorted, a one month trip home, and The Engineer’s limited leave allowance, and our available travel time has actually not been all that high.
We have been on a few fun trips: to Chiang Mai for two weeks of chilling out with family; to Singapore and KL for long weekends and shopping; to the Philippines for snorkelling; to Kerala, South India (without The Engineer, but with my sister) for yoga and delicious food; to nearby Miri and Labuan for a change of scene. But the highlight so far has been our recent trip to Penang, Malaysia.
Penang is on the west coast of Malaysia, up near the Thai border, and is a 2.5 hour flight from Miri (which is a 1 hour drive from our house). We spent ten days there, which everyone said was too much, but which we thought was just perfect.
The first four nights we stayed in Georgetown, which is my favourite Asian city so far. There was street art and markets and hawker food and hipster cafés serving cold brew coffee and churros.
We stayed in the heritage district and could just wander around seeing what was interesting, or jump on the free city loop bus or a trishaw to explore.
We took photos and ate and chilled out and it was lovely.
Then we spent five nights in a resort by the sea. We hired a car and headed to the National Park and the Spice Gardens and Penang Hill.
We ate seafood by the sea, and up in the trees.
We relaxed at our resort.
We celebrated The Engineer’s Baby’s first birthday by the sea and at the mall.
Overall, it was kinda perfect (despite the many moments of not at all perfect, like the non-sleeping too hot baby, the taxi driver objecting to our car seat, and the rat in our room).
When you have all of Asia to see, and a limited time to see it, it can be tempting to cram a lot into every holiday. But we were so glad to have the time to take it slow and go at a pace that worked for the whole family.
We feel so lucky to have all this on our back door step, and this holiday was a great representation of what we love most about being in Brunei.
We would love to go back. But, if we’re honest, we have so much left on the list, so there’s a pretty good chance that this was it. And if that’s the case, that’s okay, because it was amazing.