If you need a reminder that just beyond our air-conditioned offices and malls lies the Bornean jungle, then this city park should do it.
Open from 6am to 6pm, Tasek Lama Recreational Park is a jungle oasis in the middle of the city. The chorus of buzzing, chirping and rustling rainforest sounds provides respite from the hustle of bustle of nearby commercial areas.
Located just 2km from downtown Bandar, the park is a popular exercise spot for joggers and walkers. Well-marked trekking paths lead to a lake, waterfalls, picnic areas and a hilltop tower which offers views of the city and encroaching greenery.
The lake also acts as a reservoir that provides much of the city’s drinking water.
There are rougher jungle trails for longer walks, which can take up to six hours to trek. Here are some tips for would-be trekkers:
1. Always let someone know where you are going. It is easy to get lost in the jungle if you don’t follow the marked paths. Forest rangers do regular checks on the trekking paths but bringing a mobile phone is a good idea in case you need to call for help. Solo trekking is not advised for longer trails, it’s always better to hike in a group in case you get lost.
2. Start early. If you’re undertaking a long hike through undulating terrain, you should overestimate how long it will take you to complete the trail. Take into account factors such as your level of fitness and the weather — some tourists are not used to Brunei’s humid, tropical heat, and trekking in rainy conditions requires extra care because the paths will become slippery. It’s worth noting that the park closes at 6pm. The last thing you want to do is be racing against the light and get stuck in the jungle when it’s dark.
3. Wear proper shoes and bring adequate water. Shoes with good grip will do you a great service, especially when going downhill or when trekking in wet conditions. The topical heat also has a way of sapping all your energy so it’s a good idea to bring a bottle of water and a chocolate bar to give you energy.
4. Don’t feed the monkeys. The macaques found at Tasek Lama are generally not aggressive, but they are curious and aren’t phased by humans. Don’t leave your water bottles or snacks in plain sight, the cheeky animals may be tempted to grab them. It can be quite fun to watch the monkey families swing through the branches near the small river that runs through the middle of the park, but just keep your distance.
5. Rehydrate with some fresh coconut juice. Once you’ve completed the trek, celebrate your feat #TheBruneiWay by indulging in some fresh coconut juice, prepared on the spot by one of the many vendors near the park entrance — it’s a big hit with regular visitors. Coconut juice is rich in potassium and electrolytes that will help you replenish nutrients and fluids lost during rigorous exercise.