Labohan in Malay meant anchorage
It is known as the Pearl of Borneo
The main town was called Victoria in the colonial era and now is called Bandar Labuan .
Labuan was historically part of Majapahit empire in the 14th century and then part of Brunei Sultanate but taken over by the British ( source Wikipedia ) in 1846 and later became its colony ,during second world war the Japanese conquered it and changed its name to Maida island it was liberated by the Allied forces in 1945 and when Malaysia attained independence it became part of East Malaysia .
Its an international offshore financial center since 1990 and has steel mills offshore banking,floor mills ,methanol plant and offshore supplies
close to Brunei Labuan today is a tourist spot for holidaying Bruneians as its a tax free haven and also a pleasant beach resort .
Ferries and speedboats connect the two and it takes approximately 1.5 hours of travel to reach Labuan .
We had planned to leave by MV Hope the ferry which could carry vehicles too though we had parked our car in the paid parking area near Maura Ferry station ( 10 Bruneian dollars for one day )
Indians need a Malaysian Visa for going to Labuan and a multiple entry Brunei visa to return back .
We reached Maura ferry point by 8.30 am and parked our car .
We stood in line to buy the ticket which was 13 Bruneian dollars each approximately 700 INR
After buying tickets we had to go to immigration and customs before we alighted the ferry .
MV Hope had space to accommodate lot of cars motorcycles and some big containers too .
Passengers could either sit on the deck but would have to face the sun or relax in the AC hall .
the huge ship glided away from Maura and into the open sea ,the sea was smooth as the ferry sallied forth .
the safety instructions were shown as a video film and later a movie started playing ,I moved into the deck for the photo ops
within an hour and half we could see land again as we reached Labuan island ,we could see the famous Financial center looming ahead of us a lot of ships were berthed there and we too moved into the jetty ,completing immigration we sauntered into the jetty building
the first impression was of a small town full of colorful shops overflowing with chocolates and liquor bottles
Rightly called the Chocolate island the duty free haven was famous for these two items .
there are small malls like the one stop shopping center laden with liqour ,tobacco and ,chocolates
there were several restaurants and a sprinkling of KFC and other eateries.
We went through customs formalities quickly and bought our return ticket for the next day ferry and in time as we found out the tickets would have been exhausted shortly !
Our hotel the Labauan Beach resort was 17 km away from the ferry point and had shuttle facility from the ferry point ,we put our luggage in the small aircon van and as the driver was waiting for some more customers quickly did some chocholate purchases and i clicked away furiously anything in sight ,it was quite warm and the sun was pretty strong .
soon we were moving along the main road crossing the island and passed a church a mosque saw a board for the famous second world war cemetery with more than 3900 graves which was a tourist destination though we did not visit it .
on Remembrance day many family members from different countries would visit the grave
the Allied landing point when they reconquered the island was also well known
the surrender point was where the Japanese surrendered in 1945 and the famous chimney which existed from the coal mining era but no one knew its purpose .
Soon we were at the resort itself which was picturesque and stately with a colonial touch ,the high ceiling-ed hall was cool of course Ac was on but the place was less hot as there were lit of trees
the swimming pool was shimmering in the back and was an infinite pool bordering the sea and private beach