Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What Is It In Iskandar Puteri (JB)?

The skyline of Johor Bahru, seen from Woodlands Waterfront
Most of my visits to Johor Bahru are not a matter of want, but rather a matter of need (napilitan lang, kailangan eh J).
Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim with a beautiful model
 My first visit was when we went to Kuala Lumpur where we took a bus from Larkin Terminal which is situated within Johor Bahru Sentral. Other succeeding trips were mainly to tour around families and friends visiting Singapore for the first time. Johor Bahru, commonly called as JB, is Malaysia's southernmost city, just across the border from Singapore. Currently, I live in a suburban town in northern Singapore; thus, going to JB is as easy as going to the downtown. I can even see the buildings in JB from our flat!

Getting across to Johor Bahru from Singapore is quite cheap. Bus fare to and fro will only cost about S$4.00 (roughly about Php130.00). If crossing the border by foot is allowed, then it will only cost a few calories to get there. Unfortunately, walking is prohibited. One must travel by bus or a car.
Based on experience, it was very stressful travelling during rush hour on weekdays (morning 7am-8am/6pm-8pm) and almost all day during weekends and public holidays; as there were too many people pushing and shoving, not to mention the long queue for the bus and to get through immigration. It would be more orderly and quite to travel during weekdays.
The city doesn’t have that “wow” factor that you could get from other places in Malaysia. Though JB does have tourist attractions like Legoland, Hello Kity Town, Pulai Waterfalls, Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, Danga Bay, Johor Zoo and among others, these are not within the JB Sentral. During our past visits, we only had day trips. So we only walked through the city center which seems a little run-down, scary, smelly and a bit messy. It is really not a tourist-friendly place. Travelling alone for a foreigner is a “no” “no” unless you’ll just stay inside the mall. Speaking of malls, there are myriads of shopping complexes in the city. Some offers quite competitive price compared to shops in Singapore. However, if it is compared to other cities in Malaysia, it’s a different story. I think shopping for souvenirs and other local brands in JB is much more expensive compared to Malacca or Kuala Lumpur.
Nonetheless, we managed to enjoy our little adventure by visiting some of the popular landmarks in the city. First stop, we went to Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim. It wasn’t allowed to go inside the gate, but we sneaked in while the security guard was sleeping. We get caught in the end and we were shooed away. After a few walks here and there, we reached the seemingly bizarre Bazaar St and paused for a while at the Red House in China Town. As we went on, we found ourselves in Little India. We climbed to the Hindu Temple and we walked around barefoot just like the others. Did we pray? Hmmm, we took a photo that’s all. J
After the long walks and laughs, there was nothing more to do than to fill the growling stomach. So we ended our day at the City Square Mall where we enjoyed a fresh juice and seafood delights. What’s really in JB? Nothing much, it’s just a perfect short escape from Singapore. Whether you just want it, or need it.
Family poses in front of the KTM station
Sumakay sa bas. Tumawid tulay. Sumakay naman ng teksi. Bumaba sa bangunan. Nakipagpatentero sa tawiran. Naglakad sa d mataong bazaar st. Nasilip ang bahay-tsino. Lumiko sa gawing little india. Pumanhik sa templo ng hindu. Nakarating sa City Square. Kumain, nagpalamig at nag-window shopping. Umakyat sa escalator. Sumakay ulit ng bas. Tumawid sa tulay at nakabalik sa bahay. Ganun lang kabilis ang maglakbay. J


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