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Recently, I had a group of relatives from overseas visit Brunei and so I began looking for interesting things to do,for a few days. Aside from the usual attractions, I stumbled upon a hidden gem- Eco Ponies Garden. Scrolling through their Instagram images of their rural farm-to-table living experiences, I was attracted with what they had to offer.
The family-run, community supported garden is located in Lamunin, about forty-five minutes drive away from Bandar Town using the Tutong highway (the tour guide explained that there was a shorter route via Sengkurong highway). They were able to customize the itinerary to suit our schedule as we had head back to Bandar by 12pm since some of them had to catch a flight back on the same day.
Finding the place was pretty straightforward, it is only a few kilometers away from Tasek Merimbun and you can easily spot the signboard along the roadside. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Irene and Simon (the facilitators) and had a refreshing lemongrass and pandan welcome drink. After a mini tour around the garden, Simon gave us an organic gardening tutorial, educating us on the benefits of recycling our kitchen scraps and sharing tips on the composting process.
One thing I liked about their program was how they can cater for both the adults and kids. We had to go on a scavenger hunt, looking for items around the garden in preparation for the kids craft activity. After all the items were found, Irene took over with the kids at one shaded corner, while the adults went for a foraging walk in the jungle with Simon. We were also accompanied by two local tribal men, who were very familiar with the plants, herbs and route in the jungle.
The whole walk lasted about 15-20 minutes, with Simon offering commentary and interesting titbits of information on the herbs/ plants found in the forest. It was interesting to learn that some of the vegetables (one of them known as “Umbut”) regularly consumed by the local tribes living in that area were not known to other tribal group who are just few kilometers away, as they have their own unique culture and lifestyle. This is a plant (known as “Langir”) the locals use as soap and it has anti-bacterial properties.
We ended the trip with a delicious brunch of local traditional food. I really liked the bamboo chicken, and can literally still smell the aroma of it. There was blue rice, using ingredients such as the blue pea flower (which normally food colorings are used as substitutes). There was also a traditional kueh (penyaram) cooking demonstration.
Whether you are a nature lover or just need a break from the urban lifestyle, this “kampong” trip can be quite therapeutic and invigorating. Experiencing the minimalist and being so connected with nature, made me feel really humble and little in the grand scheme of things. If you are adventurous enough, you can opt for a more authentic experience of their culture with their homestay service. I like how they are promoting community tourism and welcome volunteers who would like to add value and help to grow the community. Oh, and one last thing, do make sure to check out the weather forecast beforehand.
For more information, visit the Eco Ponies Garden website
or check out their Instagram
: +6738879909 (Irene)
: Kg Bang Nukat, Jalan Bukit Sulang, Lamunin, Tutong, Negara Brunei Darussalam