Thursday, December 24, 2009

Short Trip To Johor Bahru

I've not been to JB (Johor Bahru, don't know when it was changed from Johore to Johor?) for many many years. Think the last time I drove in was in the 80s and the usual few hours trip usually end up in Jalan Sentosa.

This time after about 20 over years, my family and I decided to have a short 3 days 2 nights trip to JB. The planned trip took place from 16 to 18 Dec 2009. JB is not a big place, but to find a decent updated detailed map on the net is not easy. Luckily there were some bloggers put up their experiences going up to JB. We decided to take a public bus there and a train back to avoid the causeway jam.

16 Dec, Wed:
We left home early about 8am and took a bus to Tampines Bus Terminal. We took bus service 168 to Woodlands Regional Interchange and the journey was about 50 minutes. Luckily there were seating space for the 4 of us. You may use this site Gothere.sg to plan your bus journey.

After alighting at the Woodlands Regional Interchange, you will see the shopping mall Causeway Point;



It took us 1.5hrs to reach here from home (9.30am now). Suggest visiting the toilet first at Causeway Point before leaving for JB. If you are not sure where to take the bus to JB from here, just ask around. From here, we took Bus Service No.170. The queue was long and we didn't manage to get seated for all. Should have taken the Yellow Bus from Malaysia operator as there may be seats for all - regret...

When we reached the Singapore Customs side, we alighted and brought along everything as we will not board back the same bus again. We just followed the crowd and cleared the customs. After that, as we were not sure which queue was correct, so we just asked which bus would bring us to the new JB CIQ (Custom & Immigration Quarantine) complex, Banguanan Sultan Iskandar.

The journey was short but the jam at circus (roundabout) took us about 45 mins to reach the new CIQ. Again once there, we followed the crowd and took the white card and filled in. This new CIQ is much better and they even have space for you to fill in your white card. No hurry then and we took our time. At this time, I saw some VIPs (I think) group walking around with reporters following them. I hope it won't cause a delay after we have filled up the white card.

After having our passports stamped, we again met that VIPs group. Now guess who I met in that group? She was no other than the Malaysia's Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen! She came over and shook my hand, chatted with me and asked us to try their Bak Ku Tay in JB. She gave me the Tourism Malaysia card with the web address http://www.fabfood1malaysia.com/ . At that moment, I recalled she was the Malaysia Minister who said that many of their Malaysia dishes were "hijacked" by other countries - dishes like Chilli crab, Hainanese chicken rice, etc. What a coincidence!

There was no crowd to follow as we were the last group, so we just asked the staff for direction to the City Square. We were told to head towards the overhead bridge that would bring us to the City Square opposite. This is the overhead bridge that link you to the City Square;

Here is the photo of the CIQ;


Below you can see the road separating CIQ complex on the left and City Square on the right;

Surprisingly once I stepped into the City Square, I put aside how dangerously it was in JB behind me. Of course we still remind ourselves not to go to those quiet places. Frankly the City Square is not as grand as what I've read, maybe something like our Tampines Mall.

City Square;

Due to the traffic jam, the time was already about 11.15am when we reached City Square. So we decided to have our lunch here. Read from the internet that Sizzling Stone Grill is good and the price will be cheaper than in Singapore, why not give it a try. Took us a long time to search for it and finally found it at the basement level. There were many other food stalls and restaurants at the basement as well.

As the portion is large, so we ordered 3 sets for the 4 of us.


The Grilled Ostrich meat sticks;

The NZ Ribeye;

The Marinated Mixed Grill;

As it was the first time we tried stone grill, the experience was fun but personally I find it difficult to control the grilling process especially if the steak is large.


And the total bill;


Don't forget it's in RM! The service is fair though I didn't see any smile on them...

It's only 12.30pm after our lunch, so we took a walk round this City Square shopping complex. You will find that on the 2nd floor, there are also some eateries around;



Take a closer look at the below menu of one eateries;


One end of the City Square is like our Bugis Junction where there is an extension of small shops selling T-shirts, bags, shoes, etc.. and even a few shops selling those 'pc softwares' and DVDs. OK it's already 2.15pm and should be just nice to walk to the hotel for check-in.

I used the below map to walk to The Puteri Pan Pacific Hotel from City Square;

I remembered I found this map in the Hardwarezone forum under the JB Makan section. You should read it for more references. We walked along the Jalan Wong Ah Fook, towards the Sikh Temple and turned right towards Jalan Trus. We didn't know that we can actually go inside the Kota Roya supermaket and cut right through to the Pan Pacific hotel until we went out from the hotel.

Shops along the Jalan Wong Ah Fook;

We were told by the Pan Pacific staff that we can take short cut thru this RHB bank that was linked by the overhead bridge to City Square;


Their public phones;


Outside the Sikh Temple;
It took us some time to reach the hotel as it was raining heavily. Finally we reached the Puteri Pan Pacific Hotel at about 3.10pm (Check in time is 3.00pm);

After a long and tiring walk to the hotel, we were told by the staff that our room was not ready and still cleaning up. We were told that because the previous group checked out late....and we didn't manage to check in until about 4.30pm!

The Gingerbread House on displayed at the hotel lobby;

We booked the room via the hotel's internet direct. It is cheaper and more convenient than other sites. I preferred to have at least 1 King sized bed and 1 Single Bed and luckily my daughter is still young and can share the bed with us (my wife and I);


The room and toilet is rather spacious. The baithroom is big enough for 2;


This was how we walked to the City Square from the hotel's side door. Just walked straight towards the pink building;

After that turned left and the supermarket was on our right and we came to a slope. Walked straight down and crossed the road towards the Plaza Seni;
We didn't know that we can actually go inside the Plaza Seni and come out the other side (out to Jalan Wong Ah Fook Road) of the mall's entrance until the next day.

We followed our intenary and went to Denga Bay. We took a cab and it's about RM10 by meter. Not much of a traffic jam but didn't know why the driver alighted us at the Merry Go Round;

If you prefer to dine in the restuarant enivironment;

The place is big and they should place directional sign so that we know which way to walk to the hawker centre...


There was tram ride but we didn't try;

Or if you are not tire, can try renting this and cycle;

We should walked a bit further than the zoo and will reach the hawker centre;

The hawker centre was on the opposite end of the restuarant side and we didn't manage to find it. It took us a long time waiting for a taxi and when the taxi drove further down, we finally saw the hawker centre. The taxi took a long time back to our destination..no wonder he charged us by the meter.

We decided to have our dinner at the Meidrum Walk Street Hawker which was shown on the map earlier. It was already 5.50pm when we reached there and it was a long street with hawkers on both sides. Probably one side Chinese food and the other side Muslim food;


The environment is typical back street type of hawkers and the price is very affordable and some food is good, example the fried oyster. Too bad the BBQ stingray is nothing fantastic and the price also not really cheap but still ok. The way to eat here is to order a variety of food and share.

After a heavy dinner, we walked back to City Square for some shopping. Nothing much to buy after strolling for about an hour or more, and ended up snacking at Secret Receipe located at the Basement Level. Headed back to hotel after that.


17 Dec, Thurs :

Had our buffet breakfast at the Pan Pacific's hotel as it was included in the room's rate. Quite a spread for the price, I would said ok. Anyway despite the unpleasant long wait on checking in on the first day, I would said this hotel is fine especially all things in the mini-bar is free. And the total bill including the buffet breakfast for 4 - RM372.50 (S$156).

Good view of the scenery (Plaza Seni across the road , orange building)and you can even see the causeway;



Don't really know what is this castle look alike place (view from the hotel room);

Luckily it's the building next door having fire drill and not the hotel;


After checking out at about 11am, we took a cab to Holiday Plaza as it's quite near our next hotel.I'm quite pissed off with the taxi driver that he didn't bother to made a U-turn to alight us in front of the plaza but opposite, making us crossed the road.

Holiday Plaza;

If you go there too early like us around 11.20am, many shops were not open. My wife and kids did not manage to get any clothing there but surprisingly the place still have many those DVDs and PC software shops. After a couple of hours here, we took a cab to Pelangi Plaza to have our lunch.

It was raining heavily when we reached there. Luckily it did not rain for long and we manage to find the Restoran Kak Kak which I've read about in the http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/showthread.php?t=1973465&page=114 forum.

Restoran Kak Kak just outside the Pelangi Plaza near the taxi stand;

This Kak Kak looked more like an ordinary coffee shop with a stall selling a la carte rice. In fact didn't know that by the time we reached Kak Kak, it was already about 1.20pm and the Dim Sum already sold out. But the staff told us they can heat up for us and if we didn't mind wait about 15 to 20 minutes. So we decided to give it a try since we were already there.

Sad to say we didn't quite like the plain taste of the dim sum and do't think we will try again in our next trip. The reason I chose this place was because it was walking distance to our next hotel, Grand Paragon, which was rather new. It was so near that we could see it when we came out of the Kak Kak;

Did some shopping at the Pelangi Plaza and bought some bread like this 'charcoal bread';

Don't know why my son like it. It's about 10 mins walk to the hotel from Pelangi Plaza;

When almost there, we walked past these 3 water tanks (I think so) and Hotel New York;

Checked in was fast and it was almost 3pm;

We booked this room with 2 Single Beds and surprised that the single bed was big enough for even 2 adults to share;

The room was also very spacious;

The only thing I did not like was the towel hanger was just above the toilet seat;

After a short rest at the hotel's room, we took a cab to Jusco Tebrau City. It was a long journey, almost 1/2 hour and no wonder the driver charged us by meter. It was a rather big shopping mall but the concept is like our Vivo City or Jurong Point;


There were plenty of theme restaurants and eateries in the Jusco;

Sad to say, we didn't quite like any of it for dinner...and also we didn't like shopping here (like shopping in Singapore). So after a couple of hours, we decided to take a cab to Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre. Since this Jusco seems like a far far away place and we had no choice but to pay a flat fare (RM$18) to Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre which was in front of Crystal Crown Hotel;

The Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre;

and the market which was closed;

Luckily the hawker centre was opened and it's best to check with the taxi driver before going. It was rather big and there were about 2 or 3 stalls selling sea food inside the hawker centre. As it was our first time here, we just simply picked one.
We just ordered 4 dishes which include deer meat;
Drunken Prawn and vegetables;

And of course the crayfish;

Sorry didn't remember how much was it in total but I can tell you, it was not expensive and definitely will be back again here in our next trip! Took a cab back to our hotel. Maybe next time we should try the Crystal Crown Hotel which was walking distance to the hawker centre and seems to have more shops around the area.


18 Dec., Fri :

We had our buffet breakfast at the hotel lobby. We booked our room via the Grand Paragon Hotel's website. We paid RM251.75 (S$105) for the room and including 4 buffet breakfast (3 adults and 1 child). The breakfast was ok and after breakfast we took the lift to the swimming pool level. This level offered a good aerial view round the hotel;




Even the Holiday Plaza can be viewed from here;

Since there wasn't much to do at the hotel and we decided to check out. We walked back to Pelangi Plaza and decided to have lunch at....Sizzling Stone outlet again! See what we had this time;



So after the heavy meal, we took a walk at the Pelangi Plaza and then took a cab to the Danga City Mall. This Danga City Mall is one that incorporate the railway station at one of the level. As we were not sure, so we asked the security guard which level should we go to take the train. If you are hungry, there is a food court at the basement and some eateries near the place where we board the train.

Danga City Mall;

In fact we were misled by this KTM Counter that we thought must buy ticket first. There is no need to buy ticket and when the train arrive (just take note when the train will arrive), just go in and take a seat!

You may check the train schedule here. We didn't see this notice pasted at the counter until later;

As we planned to take the 2.18pm train, we still have about 1 hour to spend here. Luckily there was a shop called ProWave just besides the Metrojaya renting out those "castorwheel board" and they even teach you for only about RM10 per hour.


And the place was not crowded;
And what is this type of tricycle;



While waiting for the train to arrive, I saw how some villagers staying across the railway track actually went over to the Danga City Mall to bathe or wash up;


Finally the train arrived at 2.27pm;


We then went down this staircase linking the mall and the train;

Once in the cabin, we quickly looked for seats that face the front so that we won't feel motion sick;

A man came to sell tickets and we bought 4 costing RM3 each - very affordable isn't it? Probably because of this, the stop here was quite long. Finally the train moved on and not too long, it arrived at the JB immigration side. No need to go down and the immigration officer came up to collect back the while card. Again another waiting time before the train moved off to the Singapore Immigration side. This time all had to alight and went through the customs. Remember to bring all your belongings down as after clearing customs, one may not take back the same seat in the same cabin. Didn't expect the custom took so long to clear...and finally reached Singapore railway station at about 5pm. My goodness, it took us 2.5hrs from JB to Singapore, regret...should have taken bus!

Once we reached the Singapore Railway Station (now known as Tanjong Pagar Railway Station), we just took our bags and walked off..no more customs check, etc. The food stalls just beside railway track at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station;


The inside of the station;

The exterior look of the railway station;

You can read more about this old Tanjong Pager Railway Station here. As it was already after 5pm, it took us some time to get a cab home and that stupid cab driver was taking a longer route via ECP then went into KPE and PIE to Tampines knowing well that during that time there would be jam at the PIE. Lesson learnt, never dozed off when taking a cab!

3 comments:

danlyne.L said...

thanks for your informative blog on JB!

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_shopping_malls_in_the_world

KL has 3 in the top 10 and Malaysia has 6 in the top 40, how about Singapore?

Anonymous said...

thank you for the information...

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