Yesterday, HRH The Crown Prince officially opened the Exhibition to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Brunei Capital moving officially to dry land. It was the first British Resident McArthur who suggested that the capital to be moved to dry land in 1906. The capital began to take place on dry land where it is now. I wrote about this earlier.
I have to admit the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Authorities outdid themselves in preparing the exhibition. When you first go into the exhibition, you will see a few wall size collages of Brunei's old photographs and new. If you are a young person, some of these sights you would never see before, Istana Kaca, Istana Mahkota etc. Even Churchill Museum if you have never seen it is also visible in the collages.
Past those collages, you would go into a small hall where there are actual size replicas of Kampung Ayer houses. In fact you would be walking on a bamboo walkway along these houses. You can peer inside the houses and actually see real life Bruneians enacting life as it used to be. You would see people playing congkak, lullabying their baby to sleep etc. There was also a group of people playing music using a gendang labik. All around the houses you would find wall size photographs of Kampung Ayer as it used to be in the 1920s.
You will then find yourself in another hall consisting of the recent Sultans of Brunei - short biographies, their achievements in modernising Brunei and also photographs of old palaces.
When you step out of the small hall, you would find yourself facing two huge dioramas - replicas of Bandar Seri Begawan and its surrounding areas. These dioramas are on two huge tables easily 30 feet by 10 feet. You will find miniaturised buildings (see attached photos) - and they look so cute. Look closely and you can even find a helicopter (fly size) somewhere over the hills. It's absolutely amazing the details that they did to build each and every single one of those buildings as near to scale as possible. Even if there is nothing else to see, these two huge miniaturised Brunei is worthwhile for a visit. Spend a long time on these tables and imagine yourself being Gulliver.
Around the tables are lots and lots and lots of old photographs. If you have always secretly wanted to build up a collection of photographs of old Brunei, this is the place for you. You would find photographs of buildings you have never seen before and have been destroyed in the name of progress. We have lots of heritage buildings but unfortunately in the 1950s and up to the 1970s, old buildings are considered as nuisance and most of them have been torn down. There are just lots of things to see. Do not ignore the columns as every column also has huge photographs of old Brunei. In fact try to see every little nook and cranny.
After that you will see the efforts of the Municipal Boards, the Town and Country Planning and the Ministry of Development in modernising Bandar Seri Begawan through their exhibits. The Municipal Board had a replica of the Royal Charter naming Pekan Brunei as Bandar Seri Begawan. The other two are not as interesting to me but they do provide a wealth of knowledge if ever you want to know about the progress of Bandar Seri Begawan.
So, go to the Commercial Centre at the Municipal Hall (in front of the Bus and Taxi Terminal). Bring a camera with lots of memory card spaces. Mine ran out halfway and I had to frantically decide which old photographs to delete. And enjoy yourself. Believe me, you will.