Wednesday, July 20, 2011


You certainly have to keep on your toes in Asian countries when it comes to making deals! What you think you have agreed to in terms of service and price can change in the blink of an eye if you’re not alert to things. Yesterday, through the hotel desk we booked two tours. The first was to the oil area some 75 km from down town Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) for $110 per person and the second was a full day city tour including a trip to a river village $70.
Well – the first trip delayed its starting time by an hour yet managed to finish at more or less the agreed time. Because the display/museum we were supposed to visit was closed – something to do with the King’s birthday celebrations – the tour company was obviously unaware of that! Somehow the forestry visit we were supposed to make was also dropped off the itinerary – but the amazing thing was the price remained the same!!

While returning to our hotel the guide called his company about Monday’s arrangements. Well, they had changed as well! Instead of the tour we booked we were told that we wouldn’t have time to do that one because it would make us late for the airport. By my calculations, if they ran to time, we would have plenty of time to do the tour. However, they were offering us a shorter tour for the same price.

When we got back to the hotel we approached the reception desk to check with them what we had booked. It turns out there had been a misunderstanding and that the tour we originally booked for $70 was indeed $110!! Not understanding the language put us at a distinct disadvantage and out of all that we finished up with a 3.5 hour tour for $70!!

If we hadn’t been aware of this kind of experience our day could have been ruined. However we had the courage to question, discuss and debate before confirming things and as a result lost a lot less than we might otherwise have lost. Make no mistake, we still lost!!!
For all that we had an interesting day out admiring the oil and gas rigs standing offshore and a lunch at a place called The Buccaneer in Kuala Belait. The greatest ‘fear’ for Brunei seems to be what happens when the oil runs out.

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