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The wonder of Tutong's magnificent Beach Palace (Brunei Darussalam)

Story & photos by Wina PHM Yunus Tutong
The Istana Pantai building seen from the entrance gate.
The Istana Pantai building seen from the entrance gate.
A notice board at the entrance of the Istana Pantai with secured fencing covering 100 sq metres.
A notice board at the entrance of the Istana Pantai with secured fencing covering 100 sq metres.
Close-up of the Istana Pantai.
Close-up of the Istana Pantai.

Virtually hidden to many, about 2km away from Tutong town centre and 4km away from Kuala Tutong's historical Jetty Bridge is a unique old building majestically fronting the South China Sea with its back to the Tutong's River.

The 'Istana Pantai', directly translated to "Beach Palace' is built within a well-fenced area facing the beautiful South China Sea. Located at 'Pantai Seri Kenangan' and built in the early 50s, entrance is restricted and has to be applied through and with the authority of the caretakers.

The Istana Pantai is well looked after and regularly maintained by the caretaker and other authorities concerned. To locals, the building is one of the very few old buildings that still stand erect against the onslaught of demolition due to modernisation. Many old buildings in the Tutong District have been demolished and replaced by new buildings.

The Istana Pantai in its yesteryears was regularly visited and fully occupied by dignitaries and V.VIPs, as their retreat, where they would spend their leisure with their families alone. They would normally spend their entire time at the beach frontage or fishing at the riverbank or would sometimes catch wild pigeons locally known as 'Punai'.

The building still remain in its old 'Hardware' structural wood that supports the whole building floor, wall and the roof beams. The Istana Pantai is preserved for the present and future generations. And the best preservation could be to turn it into a District and State mini-museum. The 'palace' can accommodate old pictures and exhibits. Besides that, it can also house local and state works of art and handicraft of historical value and items of curious interest.

The area left of Istana Pantai, the beach frontage, could be renovated and turned into a children's playground and traditional structural huts could also be built for picnics. The Tutong River's frontage could be turned into a waterfront's sporting activities site.

Apart from all that, an open-roof restaurant could be built for families and tourists. A golf course and various sports and games fields are some of the other sites that could be created.

These are some of the examples that can help attract tourists to the Tutong District. We are fully aware that tourists are always after old historical buildings that have cultural exhibits like food, dances and clothing that cannot be found in their countries.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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