Kampong Ayer is one of the original villages in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei still in full actual usage today with actual residents, unlike a lot of tourist villages around ASEAN. To better understand the history of Kampong Ayer, which was once the capital of the Bruneian Empire, the Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery is a good place to start.
The water of the Brunei River at Kampong Ayer is surprisingly not as deep as I thought, with a sea level of only around 1.6 meters at the jetty.
The welcome sign at the gate in front of Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery. The gallery is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm daily except on Fridays with a prayer break from 11.30am to 2.30pm, and is closed on Public Holidays.
The entrance to the Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery.
The opening hours are also posted on the front glass door.
The lecture hall in the front part of the Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery for tour groups.
The Cultural & Tourism Gallery itself is on the right, with different areas explaining the history and industry of Kampong Ayer. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside the informative gallery. There is also a souvenir shop to buy Bruneian souvenirs and cold drinks.
Once done, the arrows lead outside to the Viewing Tower.
The entrance to the Kampong Ayer Viewing Tower.
The viewing tower is just 2 elevated levels tall, but enough to see almost everything.
Heading up the steps to the top level.
The top level on the third floor was unfortunately sealed off by glass windows, making the view a bit marred and the gallery rather stuffy.
An information panel is placed below the window panels to point out the various attractions to see out of the viewing tower.
Looking towards Kmapong Ayer.
The second floor has better open-air views.
Looking around Kampong Ayer.
Once done, I headed out of Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery to explore Kampong Ayer proper.
The attractions around Kampong Ayer.
The nearest attraction just 24 meters away is the Awang Haji Ahmad Bin Haji Bujang Gallery, but it was closed at the time of my visit.
The newer part of Kampong Ayer at Peramu with concrete bridges and houses.
I headed west, following the brown and white arrows. Some paths led right through people’s houses, which they were quite friendly about. All the locals would say hello to you as you walk past them.
Some paths lead out in the open too, so those who are afraid of heights, water or both may wanna keep this in mind.
At key junctions, the brown signs will assist in way-finding too, which is nice.
The colourful Jabal Rahmah House.
Exploring around other people’s houses.
As most if not all attractions were closed already, I just played with some curious cats instead.
After exploring a bit of Kampong Ayer, I headed back to the jetty to get the Penambang back to Waterfront Bandar Seri Begawan.
Overall, Kampong Ayer isn’t the most happening village in the world, but what’s attractive about it is its realism – a town that doesn’t bother much about adapting to tourists despite being touted as a tourist destination, with sincere and friendly locals everywhere, forming a nice respite from city life that I’m so used to in Singapore in the middle of the Brunei River.