25-Sep-2005 -- When you visit a confluence, which is marked “incomplete” you feel like Robert Scott must have felt when he reached the South Pole and finding Roald Admunsen’s flag there. Well, in my case there were two major differences: The temperatures were higher and I survived the trip.
During my previous visits to Brunei, I had noticed already that the trunk road from the capital Bandar Seri Begawan to the harbor town of Muara passes Brunei’s only confluence by just 500 m. So on this Sunday, with nothing else to do, I thought I might try to find it, even if I am just the second one to come. From Bandar Seri Begawan’s Central Bus Station I took bus 38 going to Muara. When I reached the point along the road, which is closest to the confluence and which I had marked already earlier, I stopped the bus (busses in Brunei will stop anywhere when you press the button) and walked down the road, which leads northwest where my GPS indicated the confluence to be 470 m away.
When I had approached it as close as 200 m and the GPS urged to move to the right, there was a comfortable gravel road to follow. It took me as close as 110 m to the confluence, but there was a fenced-in mango orchard in the direction of the confluence and I did not want to intrude onto people’s territory. So I followed the road to the end to find a walk-around. There was an isolated house and my GPS pointed past it. As the door was open and the people around, I thought it might be a good idea to ask them if they mind if I stroll about their land. The people turned out to be Pakistani tenants. They invited me for a tea and were very happy that I was neither American nor British. Of course they allowed me to pass.
Now it was just a 100 m over the small hill and then down into the valley. There, in a somewhat neglected Tarap (Marang) fruit orchard with medium size trees is the confluence. Overgrown footpaths made it easy to move through the undergrowth and the light vegetation allowed perfect GPS signals. The GPS indicated an altitude of 30 m MSL.
All in all it took me no more than 45 minutes from getting off the bus to reach the confluence, including the tea with my new Pakistani friends. After doing all the necessary documentation and enjoying the quiet place for a while, I made my way back to the main street, jumped on the next bus to Muara town and dried my sweat-soaked shirt at Muara Beach (take bus 33).
In fact, visiting Brunei’s only confluence is so easy that I will give a general guide to it here (numbers relate to picture #9).
At Bandar Seri Begawan’s Central Bus Station take bus number 37 or 38 to Muara, fare: 1 Brunei-$ (0.72 US-$/0.46 €). At KM 16.7 along the BSB – Muara road (1)(4.99611°N, 115.00214°E) alight from the bus and walk down Jalan Tanah Jambu 1 to the left (North-West). After about 350 m at (2)(4.99815°N, 114.99975°E) turn right (North-East) into Simpang 32 and walk the gravel road to the end. You will be just 150 m off the confluence. To your left there is an isolated house (3) in front of a low hill. Pass along the fence behind the house, moving in southwesterly direction over the hill and down into the valley. Somewhere there between the tarap trees you will find confluence 5N 115E (4). It’s a nice quiet place, unless too many people follow this instruction. Enjoy.