Introduction to Kampong Bakut Berumput Village
Kunyit 7 Lodge is located at Kampong Bakut Berumput, Kampong Ayer, Bandar Seri Begawan having an impressive landscape with diverse flora. Early evidence shows the existence of Kampong Ayer was recorded as early as the 16th Century by Antonio Pigafetta, a transcriber on Magellan’s sea voyage around the world. According to a report by Pigafetta who once came to Brunei in 1521, the population of Kampong Ayer was 25,000 families. It is known that Kampong Ayer was a large settlement in Brunei prior to the period of the British residency.
The majority of the villagers are Malay Brunei living in Kampong Ayer, besides speaking Malay the majority of the younger generation speaks English as it is taught in schools. There are 9 schools in Kampong Ayer, most children will either walk to school or take a water taxi.
Economic activities in Kampong Ayer mainly focus on fishing and cottage industries like the production of prawn crackers, shrimp paste, traditional cakes, and the making of handicrafts. Some residents work in government offices while others work in the private and public sectors.
Villages here are built on stilts in the water, there are stilted mosques, schools, a post office, restaurants, even police stations and a fire department, all above water. For most of the villages in Kampong Ayer, the stilted houses are connected to modern utilities. Houses have running water, electricity, satellite TV, and a few have air conditioning units. Villagers get around by boat and water taxi or they can walk between homes using the maze like interconnecting wooden walkways that join some areas of the villages. Only as recently as 2018 the water village was connected to the city centre by a 670 m bridge. These wooden walkways span a total of 36km connecting the 30 villages that collectively make up Kampong Ayer. Most of the villages are still dominated by timber homes, painted shades of green, blue, pink, and yellow. Corrugated iron roofs are still visible in some of the older homes and their main builders are villagers who were trained since young, over generations. In April 2011, the Government of His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam implemented the construction of the houses under the Kampong Ayer Upgrading Pilot Project. [expander_maker id="1" ]
Construction of a network of roofed bridges, and a sewerage system ( including treatment plants and sewage pumping station to Sungai Kebun) were completed. The flooring, concrete columns and flame retardant wooden walls, shows the structure of the houses were built using high quality materials, making the living conditions in Kampong Ayer better.
Kunyit 7 Lodge offers Bed and Breakfast services. Your host here has many skills. She is a mentor for BMEN (Brunei Mentor), trainer, a certified tour guide and can share many stories of living in Kampong Ayer as well as experience of the local culture to her guests. She encourages her guests to walk around her village, sharing the history of the place, sharing her memories, and recommendations of interesting and informative visits to cottage industries in the area.
The best time to visit is between January and May, when it is dry and warm but not too hot. High season is considered to be between June and September due to Europe’s summer holidays. The rainiest season is between October to December.
During your visit the best time to stroll along the walkways is in the late afternoon when it is cooler, you will see school children returning from their school day as well as seeing the beautiful sunsets in the evening.
Kampong Ayer is a tight knit community with warm and polite villagers, with centuries of heritage. In the past the Sultans built their palaces in Kampong Ayer before 1906.
Culturally, the household in the village live together as extended family e.g. grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren, which strengthens and bonds the family unit together.
In certain parts of Kampong Ayer, most elderly folk will gather together on their patio
(pantaran) and share stories or afternoon tea. As you walk along the boardwalk you will come across them and they will normally greet us and have a little chats. Feel free to communicate with them.
Traditionally, until recently, weddings were held in their own houses, where the community will open up their houses as part of the wedding venues to host the invited guests. The wedding ceremony will usually take about 14 days with customs and traditions.
The concept of ‘Gotong Royong’ (community togetherness) still exist today whereby the whole village will come together and help in wedding preparation, and repairing houses should this be needed and available.
Women in the village besides wearing modern attires, also wear the local costumes which are very colorful and diverse in fashion. It is called the Baju Kurung; it includes a long blouse and skirt which covers for modesty reasons. Men’s clothing though plain, they are also colorful with long pants and long sleeved shirts which open at the neckline. In addition to this clothing, women and men will also wear kain sarong in their lives at home.
The ladies weave beautiful kain tenunan or embroidered material using traditional weaving looms. Each material will take between 2 to 3 weeks to complete for a 2 metre piece and it can cost between $400 and $15,000 or more, depending on the motifs and level of detail. These pieces are mostly used when you are invited to the Palace or when His Majesty conferred medals to well deserving people. There are several traditional motifs in Brunei which you can learn about when you visit.
Kunyit 7 Lodge, Kampong Bakut Berumput