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11

KAMPONG AYER: THE PURE BRUNEI

A huge contrast with the glittering centre and therefore a haven in the capital is

Kampong Ayer. In the shadow of the golden domes of the Royal palace we find the

largest water village in the world. An estimated 30,000 people live here. With one of

the many water taxis that constantly move back and forth from the quay to the jetties

of the village, we take a closer look. From afar the somewhat cluttered houses seem

rather shabby, but appearances are deceptive, because the wooden pile dwellings

appear to be fully equipped inside. There are brand new flat-screen TVs and expensive

air conditioning units in the houses. To our surprise, the village has electricity, satellite

television and even internet access. Connected by many gantries and numerous wood-

en bridges, this is a world in itself with restaurants, shops, schools, hospitals, police

stations, mosques and fire stations. The latter are not superfluous luxuries, because

where there is so much wood, fire can ignite quickly. The doors of the houses are open,

and the smell of fried garlic and fresh ginger drifts towards us. Children play on the

piers and women are chatting in front of their colourful houses. They give us a friendly

nod. Fascinated, we look at life as it is lived in Kampong.

Kampong Ayer is the largest water

village in the world.