Sunday, January 20, 2013

Life Above Water

Opposite the opulent mosques of Brunei’s capital city Bandar Seri Begawan lays the picturesque Kampong Ayer, the Water Village.  Almost 40,000 people, roughly 10% of the population of this small country, live in these wooden houses on stilts above the Brunei River.  Most cross the river everyday for work, shopping or just enjoying the life of the quiet capital.  Along with fellow traveler Arnab, a joyful Indian/American, we pay half a Brunei Dollar to go across the river and get a first hand look at what European explorers of the 16th century dubbed “the Venice of the East”. 

Once across the river and after visiting the tourism center where we got “I Heart Brunei” pins we venture through the wooden walkways to explore.  Our official welcoming committee is a young couple eager to say hello to our lenses.  After snapping a few pictures and sharing many laughs as they see themselves in the LCD screens of our cameras we move along absorbing the laid back vibe.  Signs of the modern world, satellite TV antennas, air-conditioning units, now adorn many of the houses.  Even as modernity creeps in, a sense of a more simple life permeates the air.  The sounds of clattering wooden slats filled with the excitement of the end of a school day reverberate.  The smell of the day’s catch infuses the air.  Signs of everyday life hover above the water. 

We return to firm ground but luckily I bring back some of their smile.  Enjoy!       



Welcoming Committee


Welcome!


The Old and The New


Taxi Stand Melody



School's Out!


Daily Catch


Back to land 

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