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 :)

First Sunday of 2015: Hiking Bukit Shahbandar (Again)

If there is one thing more uncertain than predicting the weather before a hike, it is coming up with a blog title that differentiates one from the other. We hiked the 9 Pondok trail on the first day of the new year and three days later we’re back hiking the same trails. Another day, another adventure through the forest and rocky terrains except with fewer company than our last hike. Also, Jong (red tee) a Miri resident who trained exclusively on these hills for his successful 2014 Mount Kinabalu climb joined us for the first time this year. Our morning began with a drizzle as we left our house in Seria that quickly escalated to a heavy rainfall by the time we reached the Seria By-pass. There was turning back or changing of mind because of bad weather — we remained positive, optimistically hopeful that the weather would clear up by the time we’re near Jerudong — it did, to everyone’s delight :)

A group photo here at the intersection to Pondok 7. This trail is very popular for hikers that prefer a slightly less intense hike, by passing the more challenging and often slippery trails (when wet) that connect Pondok 4, 5, and 6.
A cloudy morning makes for a dramatic photo moment. I am not too fond of dark clouds but I’m far less fond of environmental portraits with washed out sky. Lighting the subjects here is another matter with the PowerShot G11’s tiny flash just isn’t up to the task. I had to meet things halfway by exposing for the clouds to retain as much detail as possible, setup flash for slow sync and shooting RAW to pull brightness from the otherwise underexposed faces. You only need to look at our shadows to see direction and intensity of sunlight. Click on image to view larger version.
Jong who was once upon a time the face for Muffin & Co. is incredibly fascinated by Shahbandar’s flora, in particularly the pitcher plants or ‘monkey cups’ as they’re commonly called, or even “somboi-somboi” as they’re called in local Bruneian context.
Whether you choose to hike 7 or 9 Pondok trail, Bukit Shahbandar offers trail runners and hikers a variety of terrain to keep things interesting. I would get bored rather quickly if there was only one kind of terrain — an hour to get there from home and another hour to get home — would be quite the buzz kill.


The short rocky trail between Pondok 6 and 7 has some amazing scenery with Pondok 7 offering a higher vantage point overlooking the rooftop of two (maybe three) huts in the distance.
Descending from Pondok 8 the hike to the last hut, is met with a steep, rocky climb all the way to Pondok 9. Alternatively, there’s a by-pass side trail for anyone who wishes to give this a miss.

see MapMyHike for trail map and workout stats of this hike.

If this part of the climb looks vaguely familiar to you that’s because it is — scroll up to see my blog header image and that’s a wider perspective. Quite deceptive to think that’s the top of where Pondok 9 might be when in fact it’s only the start of the climb. Like the Pondok 5 lookout photographing people and exposing them correctly here is also quite challenging considering the camera is aimed directly at the bright sky the natural tendency of camera’s automatic metering is to underexpose rendering shadow areas (of trees) and faces dark. Once again, the G11’s DSLR controls saved the day! Click on image to view larger version.

Photographing KFC’s Premium Italian Desserts

September 2014 was all about franchise food photography. I had bookings to photograph KFC, Starbucks, Sushi Tei, Auntie Anne’s and Gloria Jeans food menu, all in the same month. A week before the Starbucks assignment, I photographed KFC Brunei’s Premium Italian Desserts in three offerings: Profiteroles, Tiramisu and Chocolate Tartufo. Of the three, I have sampled the Tiramisu and Choc Tartufo — can’t say which one I liked better but as far as sweet desserts go, I guess I would take turns having them again. Now to find time to sample the Profiteroles.

As I have no behind-the-scenes photos of the assignment to share, here are close-up images of the mouthwatering desserts used in the actual packaging instead. According to KFC Brunei’s Facebook announcement, these desserts are now available in all stores nationwide.