Donated Proceed from Sale of Turtle Photo to Nepal Earthquake Relief

A visitor in the US came across my blog while browsing the web for a turtle photo she wanted for her bathroom wall. In her email, she saw this image and asked if I had others similar to that one she could look at. I promptly recommended my favourite piece from this blog post and it didn’t take long for Bernadette to confirm her order and in time made payment via PayPal.

I am looking for a picture of a turtle with bubbles, or happy in water (esp. getting clean, etc) as I have one amazing one near my kitchen sink and I would love to find one for my bathroom!” — Bernadette, USA.

While having my first shot of espresso of the day and checking my emails, an email from the World Food Programme immediately stood out, requesting donation to help victims of the Nepal earthquake, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of duty to give. Growing up in Kuala Belait and more so in Seria where the Gurkhas serving with the British Garrison have lived among us for decades, I have had the occasional and memorable interaction with the Nepalese community, even sharing lunch with them, during a day-long photoshoot at the Hornbill School. And, who can forget their participation and support during this world record attemptBritish Garrison Open Day, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla visit, the list goes on.

Seeing PayPal’s logo on World Food Programme web page I decided there wasn’t a better time than now to put that payment from Bernadette to good use. If you too want to make a donation, click on the image below.


Hiking in Brunei Darussalam: Bukit Shahbandar Trail Map

Hiking using smartphone GPS real-time navigation added. See post updates!

In the year and a half that I’ve been hiking the hills, both solo and group, there were three separate occasions involving 6 visitors that had lost their way in the Shahbandar forest. Since then, there have been more reports (along with cases that went unreported) of hikers getting lost within the 10 km trail. Together with my hiking buddy Rizan, founder of the Beach Bunch and Shahbandar Volunteer Group, we took on the task of mapping the established trails that connect the entire Bukit Shahbandar, for the purpose of providing all visitors access to accurate and reliable map. I highly recommend anyone planning a trip for the first time to download this map to their phones either as a JPEG image or a PDF document, or print a copy in colour in A4 size to ensure legibility. We understand that the Ministry looking after Bukit Shahbandar is in the process of updating their map so until the new one is available, this is probably the best one you have immediate access to. Created for hikers by hikers — it’s our way of giving back to the community :)

Download in PDF formatBukit Shahbandar Trail Map
See also: Aerial View of Bukit Shahbandar | How much water should you drink?


A second extended trail is indicated by the lighter red line  to the left of the map. This trail runs over 2 kms, connects the Menara (tower) to P8 and P6 huts, and is largely unmarked. Until the trail gets useful directional markings I do not recommend exploring this part of the forest, solo or otherwise. See more photos from our Bukit Shahbandar hikes.

Here’s an aerial map of the Shahbandar trails to give you a better idea of its vastness and proximity to neighbouring roads and landmarks such as The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Jerudong Beach, etc.

shimworld-brunei-bukit-shahbandar-google-mapHiking with GPS aided navigation Here’s something even better than a paper map if you had it printed, or a static map if you downloaded it as an image to your phone. I’ve been tracking my workouts using MapMyHike for Android for nearly two years but it was only yesterday when I discovered and tested the app’s GPS navigation capability — in the context of Bukit Shahbandar, I include two mapped trails below from a previous hike (regular and extended distance) of which anyone can choose to add to their app to enjoy a GPS guided hike without getting lost in unfamiliar territory.


The left screenshot shows an extended trail of Bukit Shahbandar (approximate distance of 6.21 km) before you start your hike. The right screenshot of a trail in Sungai Liang during a hike shows a GPS assisted directional arrow, indicating that I was going the right way.

Goes without saying that you need to download and install the MapMyHike app on your GPS capable smartphone before you can enjoy hiking with GPS navigation. Once the app is installed, you have two ways to register: create a new account or sign in using your Facebook credentials. Choose the trail map below (will be adding more) you want and click Send to Phone

Bukit Shahbandar 9 Pondok Trail (3.2 km) | Bukit Shahbandar Extended Trail (6.2 km)

If all goes well, you should receive the following email message. Click OPEN ROUTE and within seconds you should see your selected route appear in MapMyHike mobile app (as shown in image immediately above). Also see Facebook post.


Last but not least, SHOES. I have gone through a few pair of shoes to know which ones are most suited for the trail conditions at Shahbandar. I have hiked and I have run the trails on both dry and wet days, regardless of weather, you want to be wearing shoes with good traction.

My current pair is a New Balance MT610v3 — phenomenal traction, long wearing (208 kms in 3 months and counting of punishing terrain abuse, at time of this post) and most surprisingly of all extremely affordable. I think I’ve pretty much covered all bases for a great outdoor adventure. STAY SAFE AND HAPPY HIKING :)

Hiking Bukit Shahbandar’s Extended Hills Before Attending a Wedding Reception

Normally, Saturday morning is one of the busiest days of the week when we juggle school runs, tamu (fresh market) shopping, breakfast, more shopping when the supermarket opens. But because it’s the last weekend of the school holiday and shopping’s done a day earlier, it meant we were able to organize what we couldn’t since the start of the year — an extended Bukit Shahbandar hike, which is basically twice the distance of the regular 9 Pondok trail but a lot more intense. But it’s not just the extended hike that I am writing about. It’s also that on the same day, after hiking an exhausting 6 km jungle trail, there was an hour’s drive home, leaving us about 3 hours to grab lunch, shower and rest, before another hour’s drive back to Bandar Seri Begawan to attend a Chinese wedding banquet.

See larger version of photo: Group photo at Bukit Shahbandar Lookout (Canon PowerShot G11)

See larger version of photo: Group photo on extended trail of Bukit Tangahan (Canon PowerShot G11)


11 hours later, with barely an hour of shuteye, we were on the road again for another hour’s drive to the Centre Point Goldstone Ballroom for Sharon and Yazid’s wedding banquet. It was a great opportunity to catch up with so many people we hadn’t seen in a while. We reached home close to midnight, ending a very productive day collapsing in bed super exhausted.


Having a bit of fun with props posing for the photo booth camera.

I almost always make it a point to have a camera with me when I hike, regardless if it’s a short hike at Sungai Liang or half the morning in the Shahbandar forest. Being a photographer, I think it’s a habit to do so but more importantly, as you’ve seen from the two group photographs above, you just never know who you’re going to meet during the hike and what better way to remember these chance encounters than to have them photographed and shared.