When I asked Tom if my aqua blue sport shoes was a suitable footwear for trekking trip to Ulu Temburong National Park, he replied that our feet are going to get submerged fully in muddy waters so wearing a pair of unsoiled and well-kept sport shoes to the forest didn’t really sound like a good idea. Thankfully, we were told that we could purchase aqua shoes which costs about BND5 or 6 for a pair and if we didn’t want to bring our aqua shoes back home, we could always leave it in the resort for next batch of tourists to use.
Before we embarked on our journey to the pristine primary forest at Ulu Temburong, we first need to fill our stomachs with some good food for breakfast. The continental breakfast buffet at The Rizqun International Hotel was surprisingly quite good with its substantial range of breakfast items ranging from breads, salads to warm rice-based dishes like Nasi Lemak.
Chit-chat, chit-chat. Chitter-chatter,chitter-chatter. One of the most effective and meaningful ways to kill time.
After a hearty breakfast, we met up with Anthony who is the managing director of Sunshine Borneo Tours and Tom, our guide at the hotel lobby area. From there, we made our way to Ulu Temburong National Park which is estimated to take up about 2 to 3 hours of our time. First, we had to take a speedboat from Kianggeh Jetty to Bangar Town. From Bangar Town, we were ferried by a mini van to Batang Duri, which is another jetty where we took a long boat to Ulu Ulu Resort.
Yes, indeed, it’s a long journey to an “ulu” place. But the boat and car rides were smooth and the journey to the forest was pretty comfortable.
Interestingly, the Temburong district is actually separated from the capital of Brunei by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. At some point throughout the journey to Bangar Town, our boat had actually crossed Malaysian waters and you will know it the moment your phone start beeping with SMSes sent by Malaysia’s telecommunication network.
Tom brought us to this convenience store which sells the aqua shoes or waterproof rubber shoes which is great for water sports activities or even juggle trekking. These shoes are made in Malaysia and they only costs me BND5.50. What a steal! The ones with shoelaces cost about 50 cents more expensive. With these sturdy shoes, I don’t have to worry about slipping across the muddy and slippery slopes because there were studs attached to the soles of the shoes which provided additional friction on slippery and soft surfaces.
After somewhat like a 20 minutes boat ride, we finally reach the “ulu-est” destination here in Brunei – Ulu Temburong National Park. If you take a closer look, the forest here is also different from the forests encircling the city area at capital. With reference to what Anthony had said, at the capital, you will find secondary forests but here at Ulu Temburong, you will find primary forests which are in their undisturbed and pristine condition. From a distance, the crown of the treetops resembles like broccoli clustered together in the primary forests.
This is what I call a retreat into the woods. Suddenly, there’s this rush of fresh oxygen filling up my exhausted lungs. For a minute, you might start comparing this nature resort to the ones you have stayed in Bali, Phuket or Krabi. But here at Ulu-ulu, there’s nothing quite like this place. There’s nothing quite Balinese or Thai about its surroundings. It’s just … Bruneian. The true blue Bruneian style. It’s indescribable and you just have to get here to experience it.
Here at Ulu-ulu Resort, you would be served with freshly-brewed lemon grass tea with honey, warm local snacks and cold refreshing towels upon entering as guests.
Everything was prepared for us even before we reach Ulu-ulu resort. Talking about good and prompt service, we didn’t really have to wait for anything to appear when Tom was our tour guide. In fact, most of the time, I felt really guilty because Tom was the one who had to wait patiently for us to get ready. Tom, thank you for being so understanding and accommodating with us!
It’s a true bliss to just enjoy our afternoon tea with some freshly-made local delicacies with a beautiful view of the lush greenery and forests around you. It not only looks good but delicious too.
Here’s one important tip you should take note while you’re at Ulu-ulu resort. To discourage tourists from using and disposing plastic water bottles at Ulu Temburong , they decided to give out free stainless steel bottles to their guests and encourage us to use this as a drinking bottle.
It really got me thinking about such recycling or environmental-friendly initiatives in Singapore. Right where I am currently dwelling, people couldn’t care less about the usage of plastics and not to mention about keeping Singapore a clean place.You never fail to see litter lying around after each event at the public area. It really becomes an eyesore but no one seem to be bother when they know that there were someone else picking up their litter right after they had left. Something really needs to be done right here with the full support from both our government and people.
The rooms here are all air-conditioned. Towels, shampoos, soap and even hair conditioner are provided. Basic amenities like cabinets with hangers and hot showers could be found in the rooms. You are going to have an instant digital detox session here at Ulu-ulu resort. Don’t even dream about receiving phone or Wifi signals on your mobile.
Brace yourself and be prepared of harmless bugs which might scurry across you. Once, I had this lizard which took a skydive and landed on my left arm. I was startled by it but thank goodness that big fat lizard escaped even before I could take a closer look at it and then scream in terror.
Take a stroll along the river banks. For a moment, it did reminded me of the never-ending walkways along River Seine in Paris. Notice that row of lamp posts along the walkway in the photograph? This place could be a romantic getaway since it’s so secluded. It would be nice to had a wedding photoshoot here as well instead of flying to the usual romantic destinations like Bali.
|Photo credit: Karen Ashley Ng from Renzze
Thanks Karen for the photos from your underwater camera!
Right after lunch, we changed into our swimsuit as we were all prepared to get ourselves wet during the tubing activity. It was my first time doing tubing and I had no idea what it was all about until I’d tried it. It’s basically a water activity where you would sit on a large rubber tyre and just simply get yourself swept down the river with its currents. I had a tonnes lots of fun screaming and trying to cling onto the float dearly as I was afraid my float would get overturned. The river course could get pretty challenging as the river bed is embedded with rocks and gravels and you might get your float trapped between these rocks. You might also need to practise some butt lifting exercises as you wouldn’t want to have rough-surfaced rocks brushing against your butts. Oh, it’s time to really work those core muscles and abs!
We took the long boat upstream and throw ourselves into one of these floats so we could float ourselves back to the resort!
We were all drenched but I got to admit that it was alot of fun floating down the river banks while trying to avoid random tree branches that just appeared out of nowhere. The water isn’t too deep. Infact it was rather shallow at some areas because your feet could literally touch the ground. The trickiest part about tubing is how to paddle and navigate yourself in the right direction so your rubber float will not get caught between the rocks or dangling tree branches.
This activity could be rather tiring if you paddle your way through the waters. By then, all of us were feeling quite exhausted though I knew I still had the energy to perhaps go for a second round or do some kayaking by the river. But the sky was turning into this menacing grey colour and we had yet to short trek through the forests to a small waterfall where we get to meet little fishes which would nibble our feet to rip off our dead skin. But I am just not into fish spa at that point of time.
So by the time we got back to the resort, it was already evening and we had a short afternoon tea break where coffee/tea and biscuits were served. An hour or so, our dinner was served and we had a western-style home-cooked meal.
I would be glad to hire their chef as my personal chef because the food here tasted so delicious!
The itinerary for the day didn’t just end here as we had a jungle night walk into the woods with our torches. The skies were clear and they were sparkled with a cluster of stars. Memories of my previous stargazing sessions started surfacing when I vaguely saw a constellation in the night sky.
Once we were in the woods, you will be thrilled to spot tarantulas, frogs and other invertebrates nestling themselves in the leaf litter. There were times where Tom would ask us to switch of our torch lights where darkness starts to envelops the surroundings around you.The momentary darkness would scare you a little but just get yourself relax and composed to soak in the sights of the nature in the dark. You will find that your senses heightened in the dark environment. Wait and see.
To end our adventurous night, we had one of those get-to-know-you sessions where we bonded over casual conversations about our life philosophy,hobbies and interests. Nothing too scandalous but just about our lives in general as bloggers.