Posts Tagged ‘malaysia’

How to beat the queues at the Johor Immigration Checkpoint

Everyone loves the idea of hopping across the causeway to Johor Bahru for cheap shopping and good food. But it’s no secret that before you can enjoy the thrills that JB offers, you must first brave the jams at the Immigration Checkpoint. The Woodlands Checkpoint to the Johor Bahru Checkpoint is but a 2.5 km stretch but if you’ve ever been stuck in a multi-hour jam there, the two places feel world’s apart.  If only it were a breeze to make the journey across, I am sure many more Singaporeans would make day trips to JB multiple times a year. Wouldn’t it be a dream when you no longer have to even devote an entire day to visiting JB, it could be as simple as "going into town" for a couple of hours!

I for one have been itching to revisit JB and do more cafe hopping since my last visit. But devoting an entire day to this has been next to impossible as we are stuck with having to pick Edward from school during lunch time on weekdays, and the weekend crowds are even more off-putting. But nevertheless, here’s my tips on how to beat the queues at the Johor Customs, assuming that you are not going by car. Let’s be frank, it’s either going to need advance planning, or you’re going to need to be in "battle-mode" and have your smarts about you.

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People & Places Cafe [Johor Bahru]

Quick post on this super instagrammable cafe that I visited in JB during a quick daytrip to JB. It’s called People & Places, and according to my friend who has been to JB countless times, this is a very popular cafe especially on the weekends. Food in general is also above average. And as with most things in Malaysia, the cafe food is cheaper than in Singapore, which is always appreciated!

I have to agree that this cafe as many instagrammable opportunities because of the layout and decor. There are lot of plants around, there is a special cosy seating corner and there is also a long flight of stairs leading to the 2nd floor where you can take overhead shots of the cafe too. We spent 10 minutes eating and drinking but nearly 1 hour taking pictures, we were that crazy! Scroll down for all the nutty pictures that we took!

People and Places Cafe (4)

The super popular pancake. It’s not bad but not the best. Would have liked a sweeter topping to drizzle over as the pancake was a little dry. Also the bitter veggie garnish totally did not go with the pancake, although it made for a lovely shot… The drinks were good though, no complaints there.

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Kedai Bak Kut Teh Hin Hock 兴福肉骨茶 [Johor Bahru]

Last year, I visited Johor Bahru for the first time in many years. It was a trip unlike any other because my friend brought us around like a local. We got to check out a popular bah kut teh eatery, 2 Instagrammable cafes and even had time for a cheap massage by Singapore’s standards! You can read more about my day trip to Johor Bahru via public transport here. But for this post, I thought I should write more about Kedai Bak Kut Teh Hin Hock, which is worth trying if you ever visit JB.

The interesting thing about this place despite their name is that they are also very famous for their steamed fish. In fact, the Grab Driver who drove us, knew about the steamed fish but not the Bah Kut Teh. Another interesting point is that most of their dishes are steamed or boiled, eg the veggies.

Here’s a video of lunch hour on a weekday at Kedai Bak Kut Teh Hin Hock. Check out that enormous package of herbs that was dunked into the BKT broth.

Kedai Bak Kut Teh Hin Hock

We left the ordering entirely to my friend and so this is what we had for lunch that day. As is quite common in most Bah Kut Teh outlets in Johor Bahru, the Bah Kut Teh tends to be quite heavy on the herbal flavour, as opposed to the more peppery kind that you might be more familiar with.  The Bah Kut Teh tastes good, especially when you first try it because of the intense flavours. But I must admit it does get slightly overwhelming after a while, especially if you are trying to drink the soup.

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Day trip to Johor Bahru via Public Transport

Last week, I went on a day trip to Johor. You know something? Travelling around Malaysia has been on my wishlist for the longest time. Yes I know that Malaysia is our nearest neighbour and it’s just across the Causeway, but truth be told, my parents have never liked the idea of going to Malaysia because of perceived safety concerns. Every time I try to broach the topic, nobody is keen, or we simply end up travelling to some other “safer” country instead.

The reason why I’m so keen to travel around Malaysia is because of the novelty of it being soooo close to us and cheaper thanks to the ringgit. And of course, I love anything that gives me a glimpse of how Singapore was like back in the 70s and 80s. I love all the luxuries of modern living but I also like experiences that are steeped in history. I have in the past scoured old maps of Singapore, reminiscing how things looked like previously. Oh another big reason to visit Johor in particular is because I don’t need to take a flight to get there. I almost always fly by Singapore Airlines, it being after all our tried and trusted national carrier, so any savings on transportation is welcome!

Am so glad to report that after a decade of waiting, I finally visited JB again last week. Yes my last trip was probably a decade ago, and much has changed at JB Sentral! The journey to get into JB was quite eventful on its own. Thank goodness I was travelling with great kaki so we managed to pass the time somehow. Even though we chose a weekday to cross the border, it being the December holiday period, between the Christmas and New Year holidays to boot, the crowd at the immigration checkpoint was probably as crazy as that on a weekend! We took a total of 1.5 hours to cross the Malaysian checkpoint! My friend, who has travelled to JB countless times, shared with us numerous tips on how to choose the shortest queue. It’s so hilarious the tips he mentioned, like you must observe the THICKNESS of the queue and not just the length! These tips on how to cross the Malaysian checkpoint as quickly as possible probably needs an entire post on its own!

Kedai Bak Kut Teh Hin Hock

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2D1N self-drive to Malacca and Jonker Street

Last month, over the 4 day Vesak Day long weekend, we decided to make a quick trip to Malacca. It was a very sudden decision, so sudden that we only talked about it at 10pm on the day before the trip! Even better, we only booked the hotel the next morning on the day that we were going to set off! Can you believe that? I must say that the spontaneity of the trip was quite refreshing, instant gratification at it’s best. It was like, hey honey, I feel like going on a holiday. Ok let’s go tomorrow.

Just in case you are wondering why is it that we couldn’t book the hotel any earlier, it’s because if you want to book one of Malacca’s numerous boutique hotels, most of them usually don’t have booking websites. You have to email them, and they will respond within a few hours. But of course, it being the Vesak Day holiday weekend, we couldn’t wait for their email and decided to call them, and were told that the hotel was fully booked but that there may have been cancellations which only the morning clerk would be able to tell us. And since the boutique hotel was highly recommended by my colleague, we chose to wait, although it was in vain eventually.

Hotel Equatorial Melaka (1)

It was just as well that we did not stay at the boutique hotel because we eventually booked the Hotel Equatorial. We had a lovely room that was so spacious and with a nifty daybed built into the balcony. Views from our room were totally unblocked since we had a high floor, could even see all the way to the Malacca coastline.

Hotel Equatorial Hotel Room Balcony

It was well worth the upgrade to a room slightly better than the deluxe, just to get the high floor and the balcony! And guess what, costs only about SGD $130! All of us agreed that it was worth the 3 hour journey to Malacca (assuming no jam and no pit stops!), rather than to stay in Singapore and spend $300 plus for a staycation in Singapore. Must be careful not to strip naked at the balcony area because you can actually peep into the balcony area of the neighbouring rooms. Don’t ask me why but I found it very exciting to be able to wave to my parents in the next room.

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