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Kuala Belait (Malay: Kuala Belait, Jawi: کوالا بلايت)is a town located in South-West of Brunei. It is the second largest town in the country, after Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei and functions as the administrative city for the Belait District.
"Kuala Belait" literally means "the mouth of the Belait River" in the Malay language. Its name comes from "Kuala" meaning either confluence of two rivers or the mouth of a river, and Belait, the name of the river and district. It is also known locally as "Belait". When needed to distinguish it from the district of the same name, it is known locally as "KB town" in English or "Pekan Belait" in Malay.
Kuala Belait is located close to the western border of Brunei with the State of Sarawak at 114.18ºE longtitude and 4.59ºN latitude. The town center is bounded by the South China Sea to the north, the Belait River to the west and south and the suburbs of Kampong Sungai Pandan and Kampong Mumong to the east and south-east respectively.
The historic administrative capital of the Belait district, Kuala Balai is located to the south and is linked to Kuala Belait by both road and river, and the oil town of Seria is located about 10 miles (16 km) east. Bandar Seri Begawan is about 120 km to the north-east. The Sarawakian city of Miri is located about 40 km the south-west.
Kuala Belait was a small fishing village at the turn of the 20th century. The natives were Belait Malays who were mainly fishermen. According to local customs, there was a falling out between two groups of the inhabitants and one of those groups moved to the west bank of the mouth of the Belait River to found the current day Kampong Sungai Teraban.
The old historic administrative capital of the Belait district used to be Kuala Balai, further up the Belait River. However, when oil was discovered in Padang Berawa (modern day Seria), a new administrative center for the district was established at the mouth of the Belait River so as to be more accessible. Kuala Balai, then was too inaccessible as there were no roads linking it to the rest of the country.
The Kuala Belait Sanitary Board was established near the turn of the 1930s, and this marked the transition of Kuala Belait from a village to a town. The Kuala Belait Sanitary Board was the forerunner of the Kuala Belait/Seria Municipal Board, or Lembaga Bandaran Kuala Belait dan Seria in Malay. In Brunei towns are governed by a Municipal Board while each village is governed by a village council.
After independence from Britain in 1984, a number of new government buildings were constructed to house the local services of the Brunei government.
At the turn of the millennium, a number of hotels were built in the center of town which drastically changed the skyline.
The town of Kuala Belait is further subdivided into villages or kampongs (often abbreviated Kg.). These are listed below.
Kampongs within the municipality of Kuala Belait
The municipality of Kuala Belait forms the downtown area and is bounded by the South China Sea to the north, the Belait River to the west and southwest, Jalan Setia DiRaja to the south and Jalan Setia Pahlawan to the east.
The "downtown" of Kuala Belait is further divided into the following kampongs.
- Kampong Pekan Belait
- Kampong Melayu Asli - the Kuala Belait mosque is located in this Kampong
- Kampong Melayu Baru
- Kampong Cina - the Chinese school Chung Hua Middle School, Kuala Belait is located here
- Kampong Temenggong
- Kampong Lubok Palam
- Kampong Sungai Teraban
- Kampong Pandan
- Kampong Mumong
Suburbs of Kuala Belait
There are other kampongs outside the municipality of Kuala Belait. These kampongs serve as suburbs to the town. Some of the more important kampongs include:
- Kampong Sungai Teraban - located just across the Belait River from Kuala Belait
- Kampong Pandan - this is the largest kampong immediately to the east of the municipality of Kuala Belait.
- Mumong- the Sports Complex for the town is located to the east of this village.
- Kampong Sungai Duhon - the commercial port of Kuala Belait is located here.
- Rasau|Kampong Rasau - a small village on the west back of the Belait River south of Kampong Sungai Teraban
Occasionally Sungai, or river, is also abbreviated "Sg." in the names of these villages. There was a ferry operating at the mouth of Belait river before the existence of the Rasau bridge.
Oil and Gas
Kuala Belait is located in the vicinity of the onshore Rasau gas field. There are however, no wells in the municipality. However Brunei Shell has various facilities in town to support the oil and gas production facilities in the vicinity.
The Kuala Belait Bunkering Station (KBBS) is located near the mouth of the Belait River. It supplies domestic gas to the town and other bulk chemicals in support of the various activities. The Kuala Belait Wharf is the main point from which personnel to and from the offshore platforms, off the Belait districts, embark and disembark. The KB supply base is located to the south of the wharf, and is the main point for logistics for Shell. The Marine Construction Yard, commonly known as SCO, is where construction of marine structures are carried out prior to installation offshore.
The Rasau field is located to the southwest of Kuala Belait town. The main area for the field is located south of Kampong Sungai Teraban and most of the wells are located there. However, there are also some oil/gas wells to the south and east of Kuala Belait town in Kg. Sg. Duhon and Kg. Sg. Pandan respectively.
Kuala Belait town itself has a number of tourist attractions. Some of these are:
- The Silver Jubilee Park and beach along South China Sea. The park is situated beside Jalan Maulana, facing the South China Sea. It was built to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s accession to the throne, as a gift from the people of Kuala Belait. Apart from the commemorative arch (or pintu gerbang in Malay) and the monument, there are exhibition huts, shelters, toilets and a children’s playground.
- Menara Cendera Kenangan, built to commemorate the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's 50th Birthday, along the Belait River between SKBB building and the KBBC.
- The Kuala Belait Boat Club (KBBC), located on the Belait River.
- The Tudong Saji market is just next to the KBBC. It is the place where people sell their produce at the weekend. There are some food stalls and restaurants serving local cuisine such as the ambuyat.
- The weekend evening market is located at the old wet market building next to the Custom building, selling hot and freshly made local fast food.
- There is a playground next to the new wet market.
Other tourist attractions in the vicinity include:
- The teapot (locally known as 'kiri') roundabout in Kg. Sg. Pandan, its construction sponsored by Brunei Shell Petroleum.
- Istana Mangelella - the residence of the Sultan of Brunei in the Belait district.
- Excapade Sushi - A very famous sushi restaurant located at Bangunan Pg Hj Md Jadid, Jalan Jaya Negara. It is one of the most famous Japanese restaurants in the country, currently with 8 branches throughout Brunei. Other than being popular among Bruneians, it is also a well known eatery for tourists, especially those from Miri, a city in Sarawak, Malaysia.
Further afield are the attractions of the historic village of Kuala Balai and the oil town of Seria.
The climate of Kuala Belait is Tropical. The weather is warm, humid and rainy all year.
|Average High (°C)
|Average Low (°C)
|Average Rainfall (mm)||360||200||190||287||288||226||196||219||250||284||260||297||
Most of the roads within the municipality are surfaced. However, not all the roads are level to encourage effective drainage during a downpour. The main commercial street in town is Jalan Pretty and shops and other commercial buildings can also be found in the vicinity.
Due to the geography of the town, Kuala Belait is connected by roads east towards Seria. The main highway from the Malaysian border west of Kuala Belait to Muara Town passes south of the municipality, and there exists a link road towards the Kuala Belait Highway from Kampong Mumong at Jalan Pandan Lima. The highway crosses the Belait river just south of the town via a toll bridge. It costs $3 for a normal passenger car to transit the bridge one way. A glimpse of the town, including the waterfront can be seen from the bridge. It is also possible to travel west towards Kg. Sg. Teraban (and from there to Miri) by taking a ferry across the Belait River at the Kuala Belait Wharf (see Ferry below).
The taxi stand is at the north end of Jalan Pretty to the west and faces the local HSBC building. The bus station is across the road from the taxi stand. Taxis fares start from B$3.00. Tourists are advised to negotiate the price for the trip before hiring the taxis. There are three scheduled bus services from the bus station, these are:
- twice daily to the immigration post at Sungai Tujoh (towards Miri)
- daily to the immigration post at Kuala Lurah in the Brunei and Muara district (towards Limbang) in Sarawak, Malaysia
- thrice hourly to Seria town from about 7am to 6pm, with a one-hour break during lunch time from 12pm to 1pm.
(These are correct as of January 2006.)
To take public transportation to Bandar Seri Begawan, one either has to hire a taxi, or take the bus to Seria town and from there, the connecting bus into the capital city.
There are no railways or light rail in Kuala Belait
Ferry and River, Ports
A ferry did connect Kuala Belait town to Kampong Sungai Teraban to the west. This service ceased operation in 2008.
It is possible to hire a "water taxi" at the public wharf close to the Kuala Belait market to go upriver towards Kuala Balai. There are also trips organised by the Kuala Belait Boat Club to sail out in the open sea to various nearby destinations.
The Port of Kuala Belait is one of the three ports of Brunei. The other port in Brunei is at the other end of the country at Muara. The part of the port near the mouth of the river is operated by Brunei Shell and public entry is restricted. The commercial port of Kuala Belait is located to the south of the municipality in Kg. Sungai Duhon and its environs further upriver from the mouth. Due to silting of the river mouth, the port can only take shallow draft vessels. Two breakwaters have been constructed at the mouth of the Belait River to reduce silting of the river mouth. However, regular dredging is required to keep the port in operation.
There are no airports in Kuala Belait. Commercial travellers would have to travel to either Bandar Seri Begawan or Miri to catch a commercial flight. There is a helipad at Suri Seri Begawan Hospital.
Schools in the municipality of Kuala Belait include:
- Sekolah Rendah Kuala Belait - the Kuala Belait Primary School (Public)
- Sekolah Rendah Ahmad Tajuddin - very near Sekolah Rendah Kuala Belait (Public)
- Sekolah Rendah Pengiran Setia Jaya Pengiran Abdul Momin - The Kampong Pandan primary school (Public)
- St. James' Mission School (Private - Anglican)
- St. John's Mission School (Private - Catholic)
- Chung Hua Middle School, Kuala Belait(Private - Chinese)
- Sekolah Menengah Perdana Wazir - the Perdana Wazir Secondary School (Public)
- Jefri Bolkiah Technical College - Kuala Belait college (public)
- Sekolah Agama Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin - the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Religious School
- International School Brunei, Kuala Belait (ISB) - this is a branch of the ISB in Berakas.
- St.Angela's School,Seria - This is located at Jalan Tengah,Seria (Private-Catholic)
Schools outside the municipality of Kuala Belait:
- Sekolah Menengah PJN Pg. Hj. Abu Bakar formerly Sekolah Menengah Mumong - recognised as the best public school in Kuala Belait.
- Sekolah Menengah Sayyidina Ali - the first school outside the capital to offer sixth form education. It is located in Kampung Pandan.