In my previous post, I’ve shared how my wife and I decided at the spur of a moment to take a train from Tanjong Pagar to Johor Bahru. Naturally, the train ride itself was an experience in itself. Upon reaching our nearest Northern neighbour, our mission was to explore its newest shopping malls, eat till we burst, indulge in some massage, and shop during the post-Christmas sale (especially for Chinese New Year clothes).
The trip was certainly an eye opener. It revealed how similar yet dissimilar JB is to Singapore. While the shopping malls were every bit as impressive as ours – give or take a couple of years in terms of fashion tastes and trends – what particularly charmed me were the old style kopitiams (coffee shops), hawker centres, and street scapes which can no longer be found in Singapore. Although the roads are more chaotic (and dirty) than the streets here, I love that sense of rusticity and nostalgia in JB.
We were also charmed by the hospitality, warmth and sincerity of the Malaysians working in the service industry there. Their earnestness, proactiveness, and friendly banter made all the difference in our shopping, massaging and eating experience.
Okay, enough preamble. Here are the photos for your vicarious viewing pleasure!
These convenient money changing outlets were present in the new shopping malls that we visited. What’s interesting was that the exchange rates were standardised across all of them – and were pretty competitive too.
Lavender is apparently a very popular cakery and bakery here. Prices are about half that of Bread Talk in Singapore.
Our destination was the newly inaugurated KSL City, which I understand offered some of the most expensive residential apartments in the city.
We also tucked into some bak kut teh to satisfy our cravings for authentic coffee shop fare. The bak kut teh (pork ribs in spicy soup) here was generally more herbal and less peppery than those in Singapore.
Our final shopping destination was the older Holiday Plaza which was completed way back in 1985.
See my wife’s glum face? (Actually she was tired lah… and the caffeine boost from the Wong Kok Hong Kong Cha Chan Teng did help)
On our way back in a cab, I took this shot Plaza Pelangi, another older shopping centre in JB.
Finally, we walked through the spanking new CIQ complex at JB, complete with purple hued water feature and steel-and-glass architecture. Clearing customs and immigration was fairly easy, and I must commend the Malaysian officers for being polite and civil throughout.
Would we return to JB soon? Most definitely. It has much to offer and is just a convenient train/bus/car ride away.