ILIGAN CITY – MINDANAO
It was a quick drop to Malaysia before our plane sends us to Singapore and I was totally blown away by the rush of people – of different colors and of different languages. If not of the translations and symbols, I probably have lost myself.
And it starts to get to me – I am totally far away from the Philippines – heading to somewhere where I could be foreign.
*AirAsias main hub is in Malaysia – at this airport.
I have never tangled myself into so much crowd like this before – it was a bit overwhelming but then there comes the fun when you look at the string of faces and your curiosity starts to run.
It was a 3-hour wait before our flight leaves Kuala Lumpur and anything with rich and heavy flavor can be a satisfying meal. This Indian food for $12MR (PHP160) might get you tempted but the strong smell of herbs and spices might not convince you to take another bowl. *halang kaaU xa super and wala ko kasabot man sa lasa!
Johor Bahru Malaysia – A Quick Visit
The trip to Johor Bahru – Malaysia was supposed to be part of our tour package from Reliable Travel and Tours but they pulled out the place’ inclusion as we fall short of number 2 days before our trip. The close proximity of Singapore to Johor Bahru – we crossed the country for 30 minutes by bus – has intensified my eagerness to see the place even just for 4 hours and even without the tour – YES 4 hours was all I got for Malaysia with travelmate Rejolene, good friend Rey and my sheet of paper with the 12 places we could possibly enjoy.
Honestly, I know nothing of the place, haven’t even done long hours of research – all I’m certain is it’s near Singapore and I have to see it.
So what my short visit to Johor Bahru has dashed me into?
The town of Johor Bahru is much like the ones we got in the province – only that it’s filled with Hindus more than Malaysians – I somehow noticed their groups to almost anywhere I look. The narrow yet paved street corners are glittered with colors of all sorts. Of all the fascinating things around the area, my eyes have gazed into these lovely ornaments hanged near to one of the most prominent temples of Johor Bahru – Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam Temple.
I can still hear the rhythmic Hindu song played as we walked this narrow pavement going to something worthy of our visit.
2. The Hindu Temples.
Temple it is!
Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple sets contrast to what seems natural to a town. The idyllic structure is proud to remind our decades of the rich Hindu culture – rising approximately 15 meters high from the ground. The entire surface is bouncing with colors with Hindu Gods adorned with the stringed flowers I’ve smelled on my way to the temple.
I know there’s more behind the closed door, it was an unfortunate welcome to see the temple closed when we had our visit but I was happy to settle outside along with these beautiful Hindu Goddesses. It was the colors – the deep, rich colors.
Though our access to the temple was limited, I still enjoyed the beauty of the place – serene and interesting. I”ve never seen a Hindu temple as close as this before nor my hands to lay on its surface – it was such a remarkable moment.
I could have took a lot more photos but I was a bit disturbed by the arrival of Indians and their suspicious stare – OPS!
3. The Foods.
Local dishes in Johor Bahru could almost appear entirely the same as the one’s we have at home if not of the added spices. With noodles to get first on the menu, their list can be a challenge to your active taste buds.
But me? I’m good with so much food explorations that I want a more decent flavor this time – sticking to what’s known – fries and shrimps. *Na-trauma galore sa Indian curry? *Thanks Rey for the treat.
4. The Structures.
While it’s true that each place has its own beauty and attraction, Johor International Convention Centre could be just a perfect welcome to someone who doesn’t know where to go.
Don’t expect too much of those skylines in the area – you’ll never see a grand one in Johor Bahru. Amidst the common city appearance and simplicity of living – this improving town could still be heaven to some who admire varied cultural mix and rich foods.
5. The People.
These creative caricaturists have impressed me with their talent to create an outstanding colored sketches amidst the noisy and curious crowd. As I glanced to how quick and detailed their brush has laid on the thin sheet of paper, I was thinking of getting my own piece too. *suyaon.com ko diri. But time was short so ba-bye caricature.
We opted to visit Legoland Malaysia – a famous theme park in Johor Bahru from among all the remaining temples on my list. The $15MR taxi fare and approximately 10-minute drive wasn’t that bad as I get to see not only the lively side of the town but also the mix of various races.
Legoland might get other people ecstatic but not me who have never been attracted to rides and theme parks. Wala mi nisulod. And I was thinking of Universal Studios to be more worthy of the expense so para walay sayang, I paid my effort and time with a short stroll and fresh breathe of air.
For interested adventure-goers, other prices and tickets are FOUND HERE.
That was the entire 4 hours of our visit to Johor Bahru – quick but fulfilling. As we pushed ourselves to our smooth return to Singapore, there comes my smile again as I get stamps from crossing 2 borders just in one day.
We were supposed to spend the remaining hours in Sentosa – to pursue our plans to go inside Universal Studios but the long line and limited time have detoured us to Chinatown – the famous pasalubong area for all those who are skimping on their budget,
From the silent town of Johor Bahru, here I am fighting the flock of crowd for those golden pieces of ashtrays and key chains to bring home. This packed area is the home to several crafts that are cheaply priced – making it the famous market to buy almost all types of pasalubong. Magpa-ulahi ba mi? Gorabels na sa keychain na tag $2/6pieces!
We ended the day here and returned home exhausted but happy.
1. Ang Super Maasahan Friend – Rey
Binung thank you – sa libre na lunch and pagkuyog! Cheers for our years of friendship – from Iligan to Singapore – serbisyong totoo jud imung gihatag..hehehe. See you soon when you return to Manila.
2. My Travelmate Rejolene
Here’s our best photo together Rej – smile! And yes, super enjoy ko ang mahabang lakad galore sa Johor especially the “sniper threat” na nakita mo sa Ibrahim Consulate Building haha – napadali tuloy lakad natin. It was a trip worth making with you.
1. Don’t get a tour – you can go around the place with the taxi or better yet walk.
2. Go to Woodlands MRT station to catch a ride to Johor Bahru – bus fare is $3.
3. Legoland is much less than Universal Studios – so decide wisely whether to go inside and pay almost the same price as Universal.
4. Walk the town – it is more fun.
5. Fashion is not too much in the place – so your jeans and shirt might just be right.
6. Have your passports ready for another set of stamps.
7. ENJOY – it’s fun to stroll a place you know nothing about.
Stayed at: Singapore
Days: 1 day (4 hours to be exact)
Enjoyed most: Walking without any hints of where to go and how
Overall Impression: 8 stars