Photo Essay Photography

Brunei’s Water Village and grand mosque

A school in the Water Village of Brunei. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)

Before the advent of oil exploration in Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan’s Water Village, known as Kampong Ayer in the Malay Language, used to be the country’s primary settlement. A short boat ride is needed to reach the Water Village from the mainland.


“Water Village” is actually a misnomer. In reality, it’s more of a 13,000 habitants-strong community built on stilts. The community houses essential services including clinics and schools. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)


A school in the Water Village in Brunei. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)

The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan – the capital of oil-rich Brunei. It is one of the principal places of worship in the country and it is probably the Sultanate’s most recognisable landmark. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)

The Royal Regalia Museum in Bandar Seri Begawan houses a treasure trove of items used at the 1968 coronation and the 1992 Silver Jubilee of the current Sultan – Hassanal Bolkiah. The museum also houses gifts bestowed upon the Sultan by visiting foreign dignitaries. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan / YJI)


Museum pieces from The Royal Regalia Museum. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan / YJI) 

The public celebration of Christmas is forbidden in this Islamic nation. The ban extends to even Christmas carols in jingles. Therefore, the closest thing that resembles any Christmas decorations was the brightly lit Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque’s façade at night. Five times a day, the Azan, or the Islamic call to prayer, which signals the prayer time, can be heard across the city. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)