14th January 2019, twenty-five students from Diploma in Architecture, School of Science and Engineering, Politeknik Brunei, conducted a site visit to Bandar Seri Begawan and Kampong Ayer for their final year project under the supervision of two lecturers. The aim of the visit was to understand the cultural, social and economic aspect of Bandar Seri Begawan which will be embedded in the students' final year project. At the same time, to appreciate the architectural form and space of the surroundings as well as the structural mechanics underlying the Kampong Ayer dwellings built above the Brunei River.
The group gathered at jetty located in Kedayaan River nearby Istana Darussalam at 9.00am before taking off with their boat-ride. Students were briefed on the boat-ride safety and their academic tasks for the day. The recitation of prayers was made prior embarking the journey into Kampong Ayer and was led by Haji Muhammad Seriwan bin Haji Sulaiman (prefer to be called Haji Wan), from Syarikat Pengangkutan Haji Muhammad Seriwan bin Haji Sulaiman, a local who owns the water transportation company himself.
Haji Wan, navigated the group through a lot of places from Damuan River, across the Brunei River, and until Kampong Kota Batu; covering historic and present remarkable places for the students to learn. Haji Wan himself whom have been residing in Kampong Ayer for almost 40 years had shared vast amount of information of the Kampong Ayer, worth passing down to the generations which could be forgotten by many especially for those who do not have the opportunity to come to Kampong Ayer frequently.
At the kick start off our boat-journey on the Kedayaan River, Haji Wan shared the history of the Istana Darussalam which belonged to Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien the Second (SOAS II) and was where Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah was born; preserved little island containing a graveyard; and the history of the kedayaan river where previously it is used to be Kampong Sumbiling, Kampong Ujung Bukit, Kampong Limbongan and Kampong Sungai Kedayan and was demolished as part of Brunei 2035 Master Plan Project. Currently the area is now officially known as Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas and locally known as Eco corridor Park. The residents of the demolished villages are now resettled under National Housing Scheme.
Haji Wan brought the students throughout the existing villages such as Kampong Pengiran Lama, Kampong Pandai Besi, Kampong Indera Lama, Kampong Tampoi Tengah and Kampong Tampoi Ujung. Looking up from the Brunei River, the group were able to capture a great view of Istana Darul Hana, Istana Nurul Iman and a new palace that is still under-construction. The group was also brought to one of the legendary landmark about an unfilially son name Nakhoda Manis who refused to acknowledge his mother after being blessed with family and wealth and caused the entire ship to turn into a rock and sank and eventually was called by 'Jong Batu'.
The boat-ride also gave the group an opportunity to capture the best view, looking up the brand new landmark of the new bridge of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, as well as being shared about a mystical story of the Pulau Sibongor known only by the local residents. Just nearby, the group was again shared another legendary story of Awang Semaun, a legendary local icon with an unimaginable strength. It was believed that Awang Semaun was challenged by his competitor, Awang Sinuan, through a spinning top competition. With Awang Semaun's unimaginable strength, his gasing flew away and eventually settled at the current spot and turned into a boulder over the time. Judging the size, it was believed that humans has larger size during the early days compared to now.
The group were also shared on Pulau Berambang Housing Scheme known as Kampong Bolkiah A and Kampong Bolkiah B, conducted under Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, which includes residents from Kampong Saba whom had encountered a fire tragedy that involved hundreds of houses burned down. Finally, the group was brought to the newly built Kampong Ayer Housing Scheme located in Kampong Saba, nearby the Kampong Ayer Tourism and Cultural Gallery.
Concluding the visit, the group also had the chance to visit the Kampong Ayer Tourism and Cultural Gallery and learn more about the history of Brunei Darussalam from 10th to early 20th century A.D., before going back to the Sungai Kedayaan.