Thursday, 9 December 2010

A Walk at Tasek Lama

In the UK our default leisure activity is to walk.  We've been lucky enough to live in some beautiful areas with walks literally from the door of our house, and we also spend most of our holidays in the UK walking - in Shropshire, South Devon, Dorset, Yorkshire, the Peak District and of course the Lake District.

Here in Brunei the walking is very different, but we still try to get out at least once a week.  During term-times we walk every Thursday afternoon, lead by one of my colleagues who knows the jungles of Brunei far better than we do - we've quickly learned that one bit of jungle looks very like another, and there are no OS maps here!

So when Rob and I walk on our own we stick to the recreational parks here, which generally have very well-marked trails.

We've recently discovered a park called Tasek Lama (translated as Long Lake).  It's very close to the centre of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city, and there are some great views of the city as you walk around.

The park entrance is landscaped and popular with families because of the children's playgrounds there.  It's been really nicely done.  The bins (that's one in the foreground) are shaped like tree-stumps.

There are lots of lovely plants alongside the paths.  These leaves always seem to be catching the morning sun every time we walk there.

The park is popular with walkers and joggers (although I can't understand why anyone would want to move any faster than a leisurely amble in this heat!) and there are lots of paths.  We've discovered a circuit that takes us exactly one hour which is about right - much longer than this and the heat and humidity really start to get to you.  A longer circuit will take you past the lake, after which this park is named.

The toughest bit is near the start where you're faced with a long steep hill.  The fact they've built steps to help you is nice...

but the fact that the torrential rains have eroded them so badly means that they almost make it harder to climb up!

 Still, the views from the top are impressive - and there's often a little cooling breeze there too.  This is the Jame'Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque.

Once the hill is conquered the path is fairly clear and level.  Many jungle walks leave you totally disorientated as the vegetation is so thick that you completely lose your bearings with the lack of visible landmarks, but on this walk you can orient yourself pretty easily once you know Brunei - there's usually a distinctive mosque in view!

It's always reassuring to see a signpost though.

Our circuit brings us out of the jungle beside a small fenced building on a hill, surrounded with barbed wire.  I have no idea what it is, but this sign always makes me laugh.  Actually it makes me a bit scared too, hence we've never investigated further!

The final section of the walk is down a tarmacked road.  From here you can see the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in the centre of the city, as well as Kampong Ayer, the water village beyond.

At the bottom of the hill you reach the main road and it's only a short walk back up the road to re-enter Tasek Lama.  The first time we did this walk we discovered Lim Ah Siaw - the pork market run by and for the Chinese population here.  Being a Muslim country pork is rarely seen here so this is a useful place to know about if you're craving some crackling!

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