“You need to know what Kampong Ayer is all about – the people, the culture, the houses that you see,” says Dk Kemariah Pg Hj Duraman, the proud owner of Kunyit 7 Lodge, which – like all of Kampong Ayer’s structures – hangs above water, supported solely by stilts.
And we’re not just talking about a few small clusters of buildings here. Kampong Ayer, in the heart of Brunei’s capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan, is the world’s largest settlement on stilts.
Literally translated as “Water Village” in Malay, Kampong Ayer is a cluster of around 40 small villages connected by a 38-kilometer (23-mile) boardwalk.
It dates back more than 600 years. Today, around 13,000 people live in the water village, about 3% of the country’s population.
“Put on your shoes and your sunblock, you can walk,” says Duraman.
“If you don’t want to walk, just take a water taxi as if you’re taking a bus from place to place, because there’s lots of jetties. The jetty is the main focal point where people get on and each village has its own culture and economy.”
Kampong Ayer is a self-contained community with its own schools, clinics, post offices and gas stations – all above water.
“I love the sound of the water. Everything is simple in the water village,” says Duraman.
“You have no rush to go anywhere. You take it calmly and easy. On the land, we’re forever rushing, chasing after the next thing, but here I’m so relaxed.
Check out the video above to learn more about Kampong Ayer.