The central district of Tutong is wedged between Belait District to the west and Limbang (Malaysia) to the east, following the flood plain of Sungai Tutong. Recent growth in agriculture has seen the introduction of small-scale plantations in areas of Tutong, though most of the district is sparsely populated and covered by rainforest.
The coastal highway passes by the district capital,
, a small and pleasant town on the banks of the river. There's nothing much for the visitor to do here, other than stop by the small wet market or the nearby
(the regional open-air market, held every Thursday afternoon through to Friday morning). The
draws Tutong's indigenous inhabitants (Kedayan, Dusun and Iban tribespeople) who come down from the interior to sell their produce. It is mainly a food market, though there are handicrafts on sale, too. A kilometre to the north of Tutong is the
Taman Rekreasi Sungai Basong
, a small recreation park with a pond, a stream and picnic tables. Meanwhile, just west of town is
(Unforgettable Beach), a largely forgettable spit of sand dividing Sungai Tutong from the sea. Still, the beach is kept clean and the sea here is calm. Every July a local festival is held on the beach, with Malay games such as top spinning and kite flying.
The road continues along the spit as far as
, a sleepy place set among coconut palms. There's a small boatyard here called Marine Yard, where river trips can sometimes be organized. The arrangement is pretty informal, and you'll have to just turn up and hope there's someone around. The boat weaves upriver through mangrove- lined swampland, past Dusun and Malay kampongs. Look out for monkeys and estuarine crocodiles, which can sometimes be seen basking on the sandbanks.
Tasek Merimbun, Brunei's largest lake, is a beautiful and remote spot rich in wildlife and popular as a weekend escape. The lake and its environs are home to Dusun tribespeople, who for many centuries took advantage of the abundance of fish and wildlife. Now that the lake has been set aside as a nature reserve only a handful of Dusun remain. The setting is magnificent: an S-shaped, peat-black body of water surrounded by dense jungle. In the centre of the lake is a tiny island, accessible by boardwalk. The
Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park
encompasses the lake, plus wetlands, peat-swamp forest and lowland dipterocarp rainforest. The area is home to a great diversity of wildlife, including crocodile and clouded leopard (Borneo's biggest cat). The most important scientific discovery has been the white-collared fruit bat, which appears to be unique to Tasek Merimbun.
There's a small visitor centre, plus chalets for accommodation. Local Dusun have kayaks for rent. Opposite the chalets is a 2-km botanical trail; guides can be hired for longer treks. There is no public transport to Tasek Merimbun.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF