This is my favorite fish soup stall in the entire Johor Bahru.  Ah Chuan Fish Soup has been a staple for me since 2012. It is run by two brothers in their twenties. They may be young but their fish soup is way more delicious then veteran hawkers twice their age. Like the saying goes: "Age is just a number".

 Ah Chuan Fish Soup was located along Jalan Lumba Kuda which is a stone's throw from JB Customs and Immigration Building.  However as more and more Malaysians park their vehicles around the area to cross over to Singapore for work, customers numbers decline due to lack of parking space. In 2014, they threw in the towel and shifted to their present location at Jalan Sri Pelangi.

The Barramundi (Jin Mu Lu) is sliced thick, not like the thin razor blade cut found in some places. The fresh fish is so skillfully cooked that the pieces crumbles in your mouth without much chewing The soup base is made from four main ingredients: ginger, salted vegetable, tomatoes and fried fish bones  grind into powder. Yes, you read correctly "fried fish bones". The soup is to die for.

Their home-made fishball (they actually make it in their home) is light and chewy, with little added starch. You can either ask them to add fish balls to you slice fish soup or you can order it individually at RM $6.00.

I highly recommend this stall to fans of fish soup. Even if you are not a fan, give this place a try and you may be converted. There is a saying in Singapore that there is no such thing as "Cheap and Good" . Well, such things do exist in Johor Bahru.

The stall owner felt shy and turned away when I snapped.

Fresh Barramundi chunks straight from the fridge

Four main ingredients used in cooking.

Take look at the thickness of each piece.

Available but not on the menu "Slice Fish Soup with Rice" RM$8 (S) RM$11 (L).

Who says that healthy food is never delicious.

I would have lick the bowl if I could.

Ah Chuan Fish Soup

124-138, Jalan Sri Pelangi, Taman Pelang, Johor Bahru.

Opens Daily from 8.00 am to 2.30 pm or until they run out of fish.

I must confess that the only time I visit the dentist is when I have some serious problem with my teeth. Though i proud of the fact that my last visit was almost a decade ago, I was not looking forward to the appointment as i suspect that there may be more problems lurking beneath the surface that the single cavity that I feel when I rub my tongue against the base of the tooth. I already lost one of my molars and I had no intention of losing another anytime soon.

The dental clinic is located on the second floor of a shophouse, the first floor is occupied by a medical clinic. Like most shop house in Johor Bahru, the staircase leading to second level is narrow, steep and dimly lit. It makes me wonder if it is some fly-by-night business. I only came because it was recommended by a friend.

When you reach the entrance at the second floor, there is a large glass panel that gives you a good idea of what is on the other side of the door, guess the dentist wanted to reassure first timers that the place is not an illegal gambling den..or worse. The waiting areas is similar size to a hall of a 3 room HDB flat. The place looks clean, tidy and organise. The small and simple layout gives a homely feel, guess it help calms the nerves, it also give the impression that it is not a high class place that will burn a hole in my pocket. Good that they have the large glass pane as it makes the place bigger and less claustrophobic.

 

 

 

180 Degree View of the Dental Clinic using panorama mode.

Registration was a breeze, you can use your passport or Singapore I.C. There's two Malay nurse cum admin staff who can converse in basic english.

Taman Pelang is mainly a Chinese enclave, most of the patients are Chinese, patients appeared every 15 min . Unlike Singapore, patients do not call for an appointment, they just walk in and wait. Seems like they can afford the luxury of time, unlike in Singapore.

 

 

They are very punctual with their appointment schedule. I went into the surgery room on the dot. Dr.Yang is a graduate from the University of Malaya. He is the sole dentist in the clinic. He first started practicing in Muar before shifting to Johor Bahru. He said that he left Muar because there were just too many patients. He claimed that he could have up to 50 patients waiting in line as there was a lack of dental services in Muar. The flip size is that he could not diagnose each patient thoroughly as there were just too many to see.

 He said that my tooth filling had broke exposing the large cavity. Initially he suggested a root canal treatment followed by crowning. (Total cost Rm 2000+) but after the X- ray he said that the affected tooth is still alive (i.e. the nerves are not damage) and there is no need to kill the nerves. He suggested that I just fill the large cavity, and three more smaller cavity that he spotted. The procedure took about 20 minutes. First the polishing then the filling of one large cavity and three small cavity with a silver inert alloy. Everything was very efficiently done and there was NO PAIN at all.

 I took only a few photo as Doctor Yang told me politely not to take any photos of the surgery room, x-ray room and other off limit areas.

The place looked very organized and tidy.

Looking into the clinic from the staircase.


The x-ray room - just a chair and an x-ray machine inside.

Total costs RM 600. The breakdown: Scaling (RM$100), X-Ray (RM$50), Filling -Large (RM$150), Filling -Small (RM$100 X 3). No consultation charge.

 

Address:

34a Jalan Harimau Tarum, Taman Abad,  Johor Bahru.

(Opposite Plaza Pelangi)

Telephone:

07-3342746

Operating Hours:

Monday to Saturday 

9.00 am to 1.00 pm & 2.00 am to 6.00 pm

 

They have not added their business details in Google Map yet.

"Fresh Frog Porridge".

I never ever tasted frog porridge until I shift to Johor Bahru five year ago. I loved porridge since young but somehow frog porridge was not within my radar. Now, it is one of my more sought after dishes.

Yesterday we were on the prowl for good food, we chance upon this restaurant at the popular 'food hunting ground' Mount Austin. We would have missed Ding Seng Restaurant if not for the words "Fresh Frog Porridge" spread across the signboard.

Restaurant interior - Spacious and Well-Ventilated

Top: Signature Claypot Frog With Dried Chilli Right: Claypot Drunken Frog

The Owner is also a Frog Supplier to Restaurants

Ding Seng Restaurant was establish in 2011 at Taman Bukit Indah by Mr Tan Hock Seng, a supplier of fresh frogs to restaurants in Johor and Singapore. He and his wife teamed up to venture into the restaurant business when they saw a growing demand for frog porridge and related dishes. Since then they have open a second outlet at Taman Mount Austin.

Signature Dish - Frog with Dried Chilli

Our Standard Operation Procedure (S.O.P) when we head to a new restaurant is to try their signature dish. In this restaurant it is their Claypot Frog with Dried Chilli. This dish is not unique to their restaurant but it is probably one of the best I have ever eaten. Firstly, the chilli is NOT so spicy till it makes you cry, Secondly, the black gravy is not inundated with oyster sauce or light soya sauce so it is not too salty and you can taste the sweet, moist meat. Thirdly, the frog meat is extremely tender, it is perfectly prepared  to fall off the bone by gently sucking on the meat.

We ordered 2 frogs per pot. But it seem like there were three in each pot.

The frogs legs are BIG

Another Must Try  -   Claypot Drunken Frog

According to  the waiter, the drunken frog is cooked with traditional Chinese herbs, ginger and a mixture of three different wine, one of which is rice wine. As usual, they are unable to divulge more as the recipe is secret. This rich tonic soup goes well with both rice and porridge.

Claypot Drunken Frog - we ordered 2 frogs but it seems like 3.

My better half enjoyed the soup tremendously , she even brought  the remainder home to make bee hoon soup for lunch the next day. I found the smell and taste of Chinese wine overwhelming at first, but I took a liking to it after a couple of spoons. The frog meat is big, tender and juicy. I guess the restaurant gets the best quality frogs since the owner is also a fresh frog supplier for the Food and Beverage industry.

Look at how tender and fresh the meat is

The pieces are large too.

 

The salted radish omelette is dry and slightly crispy which is perfect dish to accompany a porridge meal. The portion is more that enough for two people.  The only downside is that there was not sufficient dried radish to make it salty and crunchy enough. The plain porridge is awesome. It has a very fine and smooth texture, probably due to the many hours  on the cooking stove.

Dried Salted Radish Omelette - Would have been better if there was more dried salted radish

Breakdown of Bill:

  • Signature Claypot Frog with Dried Chilli - 2 Frogs (RM $24.00)
  • Claypot Drunken Frog - 2 Frogs (RM $30.00)
  • Dried Salted Radish Omelette (RM $10.00)
  • Plain Porridge - 2 People (RM $6.00)

 

Mount Austin (Branch)

Address:

No.19, Jalan Austin Heights 8/4

Taman Mount Austin, Johor Bahru 

Operating Hours:

4.00 pm to 4.00 am

Telephone:

+6019 755 9299

Website:

www.dingsengfrog.com

Social Media:

www.facebook.com/dingsengfrog

 

Plain Porridge - Fine, Smooth and Thick

The Restaurant is well known to the locals.

Story Ria is a Halal certified Malay restaurant owned by a local Chinese and his Indonesian Chinese wife. The restaurant is located off the beaten track, tucked in the upper middle class residential district of Taman Kebun Teh (see map below). It  a 15 minute drive from Johor Bahru Checkpoint via the Tebrau Highway. This place is well known to the locals and they have a large pool of regular customers. This restaurant is clean and tidy, and it has a homely feel to it. Oh! did i forget to mention that the food is delicious too.

There is a homely feel to the place.

They have a good spread of Malay food.

Signature Dish – Rendang

Our scrumptious lunch for two was only Rm $30.20 (about Sg $10). One of the dishes we ordered was their famous mutton rendang, we like to switch between mutton  and beef every visit. The meat is marinated with numerous spices that diffuses a fragrant scent and a delicious taste. Unlike the rendang we have in Singapore, theirs is more salty than sweet and the mutton pieces sits in thick rendang gravy, not the dry variant.   The meat is fresh, tender and lean, but has little tendon, I think it is because we came late this time round and all those pieces were already snapped up. The mini weighing scale beside the rendang is use to weigh the prized meat before serving.

Their Signature Dish – Mutton and Beef Rendang

The precious Rendang is weight before serving.

Archar, Otak -Otak and Tempeh are Fabulous

The Achar (nonya spicy pickled vegetable) was sprinkled with lots of sesame seed and turnip for that wonderful aroma and extra crunch.  Their tempeh (fermented soybean) is mixed with asam (tamarind) water and caramelized, to give it a fabulously sweet and slightly sour taste. I recommend that you to try the fish Otak Otak (Rm $2.50/piece), it is very fragrant with lots of lemon grass and ginger, the chopped onion gives it extra crunch and perhaps to remove the fishiness.

Their Tempeh is to die for

Otak Otak -Taste and Smells as Good as it Looks

Don’t Forget their Mee Soto

My better half ordered the Meet Soto, she loves the soup as the chicken broth is not oily. You won’t see a layer of oil floating like an oil spill on the surface. The chicken shreds are tenderso we know it does not come from unsold chicken a few days old.. The richly flavored chicken broth is so addictive, I wanted to gulp down the remaining soupThe lime tea is sour as they are too generous with the lime, you can ask the friendly staff for ice to dilute. We had the the  green bean soup for dessert.  Barley  is added to thicken the green bean soup mixed with sweet potato. This concoction taste much better that the plain green been soup.

Green Bean Soup with Barley and Sweet Potato – SO GOOD!

We are definitely NOT Here for the Nonya Kueh

Dishes are Replenish a Few Time a Day

I would not recommend their nonya kueh as I find  nothing fantastic about their assortment.  You be better off just buying your nonya kueh at  any Bengawan Solo shop in Singapore.

The more popular dishes at Storey Ria are sold out fast and the chefs needs time to prepare and replenish. Come at the right time and you will be able to savor delicious piping hot food just out of the kitchen.

Mee Soto – Little oil and lots of tender chicken meat

Rice, Tempeh and Archar. Mutton Rendang served separately

Address: 82, Jalan Kemunting, Taman Kebun Teh, Johor Bahru.

Tel: 07 333 0932/07 334 8494

Opening Hours: 7 am to 5 pm (Monday to Saturday)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/storeyria

Website: www.storeyria.com

The Nearest Mountain from Singapore where You Can Access by Road

It was one of those rare weekdays where the both of us did not have to work. We wanted to do something different for a change so I went through my bucket list and realize that there was something I attempted twice but failed on both attempts. And that was to summit Gunung Pulai, cause  it rained the first time and it got too dark on the second.

Gunung Pulai or Mount Pulai is a 654 meter high in the Kuali district of Johor. It barely make the cut to be classified as a mountain (>600m) but it is probably the nearest mountain from Singapore where you may ascend directly to the peak by a bitumen road. This place is both popular with the local and foreigners alike and is especially crowded on weekends and public holidays. There are two ways to the top: Jungle Path or Paved Road. The distance by road is 4.8 km to the peak , for the path it depends on which route you take to the top. If you stick to the bitumen road, you will reach the top between 1.5 hours and 2 hours.

 

 

 

Beautiful scenery along the way to Gunung Pulai

Could covered hills and cool breeze. The actual view is more beautiful, pity I only had a phone camera with me.

Quarry mine near Gunung Pulai

How to Get There

We took  the Eastern Dispersal Link Expressway (EDL) from our house near JB Customs and Immigration Complex towards Kulai (see map below) The trip takes about 50 minutes at an average speed of 90 km/h. Traffic is good in our direction but horrendous in the opposite direction towards Singapore.  We drove with the  windows down after we left the city as the air is cool and fresh The lush green plantations and  low hanging clouds  covered hills makes beautiful post card photos.

We pass through Kulai and traveled along the long and narrow Jalan Sawah, There are many trucks transport granite from the nearby quarries, Keep a lookout for on-coming trucks moving at high speed.

Be careful of speeding trucks along Jalan Sawah.

You Have A Choice of Jungle Track or Bitumen Road

You will know that you found the place when you spot a gantry welcoming you to "Kampung Sri Gunung Pulai". Near the entrance, there sa toll booth where you need to pay RM $3 parking fee. Drive a further 800m along the linear settlement lined with single storey houses before you reach foot of the mountain. It is easy to find parking on a weekday but not on weekends and public holiday. The last time we came on a public holiday we had to park some 400m away from the base of the mountain

You can visit this place any day of the week, but base on personal experience I advice you against starting your walk after 3.30 pm cause there are no lights and you will have difficulty coming down the mountain.

So Up we Went

We started walking at 8.45am. We chose the bitumen road as oppose to the jungle trek. Though I am skilled at jungle navigation (Thanks to National Service +  Reservist in a reconnaissance unit) I was not interested to "cheong sua" as the jungle here is as dense as Brunei and not sparse like Lim Chu Kang . Folks, if you are into jungle trekking, do note that there are very few sign board here that give you your map location or direction. GPS positioning does not work as the phone signals are bad, so proceed with caution.

We walked up the shady slope for 15min before we reached a rest area with toilets and an administrative office, the toilets were constructed this year, everything seems spick and span. On the opposite side lies a rest hut, further down flows a river with rapids, the water is clear and cool and there is aquatic life below. If you venture further in,you will see a small waterfall, be carefyl as the surface is very uneven and the rock are slippery,  We saw some youths taking a dip in the river. Yes, you are allowed into the water but remember to dress modestly. No bikini, mankini or birthday suit.

The colorful gantry welcomes you to the mountain

Path leading up the mountain. To the left is the rest area, toilet and river rapids.

The toilets were constructed this year. This road leads to the river and water fall.

The rest hut and the river below. The sign with the picture of the monkey say: "Only monkeys are allowed to litter".

While on the Ascend...

The morning sun was at maximum intensity but we only felt the sporadic rays. As with all equatorial rainforest the tree canopy is dense with little  sunlight penetration. Further up the mountain we bump into two guy from Singapore observing birds, they were armed to the teeth:  cameras;  tripods; binoculars; trekking gear and even an audio speaker with sounds of chirping birds. They must be hard core bird watchers.

Around the 50 minute mark, there is a PVC pipe that channels water from the mountain spring. The clear and fridge cold water provides some relief from the humidity that started to increase as it got more and more cloudy. The water is good for cooling your body but I don't recommend  that you drink it as you never know if some animal poop or pee upstream.

Hard to Gauge Distance Travelled

It is difficult to guage how far we walk as the distance markers are covered by undergrowth,You need to search either for a yellow rectangle sign mounted on a black and white metal pole or look out for white marking on the road side. The internet connection is unavailable as you go deeper , so you cannot use Google maps and other tracking apps to locate position or measure distance

Do be careful of motorcycles and 4x4 jeeps, there are two telecommunication facility on the mountain guarded by soldiers and the road is also used by them .

The water from the mountain spring is cool and clear.

Met two Singaporean bird watchers. They are totally serious about their hobby.

Be careful of speeding motorbikes and jeeps.

The PVC pipe channels water from the mountain stream.

Almost at the Top

During the entire journey we encountered stranger greet each other as they pass and everyone seems so friendly. Perhaps the fresh air and morning exercise brightens up their mood.

At the 1 hour mark you will reach a small bridge, and another 4 minutes you will cross a second bridge, these two structures serve as the start point for  a steep windy ascend up to 30 degrees for the rest of the journey . Further up  is a zebra pattern barrier which is also the  3.1 km mark according to a frequent hiker ,  a short distance and you will see a long granite barrier with graffiti carving this is the starting of the steepest climb of the entire route. ( Think of the steepest section of Bukit Timah Hill) and the final 700 to 800 meters. The majestic view from the top is block by the vegetation, but there are a few clearings for photo opportunities.  We heard thunder and by then the sky was really dark. We quicken our pace but my better half said that her legs were feeling the strain, so we stop at a fork road, one leads to a telecommunications station at the summit while the other to a lower level station.

Once you see the first bridge, prepare yourself for a more challenging walk.

Near the Peak. Thick water vapor blankets the distant Kulai reservior

What a time and place to RAIN

While resting at the fork road, the rain started to pour, to our dismay there is no shelter anywhere  and we could not enter the stations as it is a restricted zone.  We took shelter under a huge tree for protection from the rain but not the wind and cold. The 25 degree wind battering our wet bodies, it was COLD. We were only a few hundred meters away from the peak, I was determine to accomplish this feat that is incomplete on my bucket list. My better half told me to go ahead while she stay behind and wait for my return, I was half-hearted to leave her along in the middle of no where. So I remain with her till she felt better before we decided to turn back as the rain probably would not not stop anything soon.

Conquering Mount Pulai is till an unaccomplished goal in my bucket list.  I was third time unlucky, but we did have a great time and she finally could walk under the rain for hours without complaining or seeking shelter.

The fork road near the peak.

The telecommunication tower at the lower base. its a RESTRICTED AREA.

Near the top of Gunung Pulai. The rain was pouring and I was comforting a 'ghost'

Restoran Ya Wang is located right smack in the city center,  it is a 10 minute leisure walk from City Square (see map below), there is very limited parking lot, so drivers, either you prepare for a long wait or park some distance away.  When we were there at 3 pm on Tuesday the restaurant was at 80% capacity, guess this speak volumes of its popularity.

Restaurant 80% full at 3pm on a weekday. Some restaurants in Johor Bahru do not have this type of crowd even for Sunday lunch.

Food Consultant for Dian Xiao Er

Their specialty is roasted herbal duck and If you find the taste familiar, it's because they are consultant for Dian Xiao Er restaurant in Singapore. I have tried both and I vouch that they are very similar. The main difference is that Restoran Ya Wang is cheaper but Dian Xiao Er has a more enticing ambience.  Just like Dian Xiao Er, Ya Wang 's signature dishes is the  Angelica Herbs (Dang Gui) Duck, Wild Ginseng Duck and 10 Wonder Herbs Duck.

 

Consultants for Dian Xiao Er in Singapore and Jarkata.


Ya Wang bright yellow sign along Jalan sengget is hard to miss.

How do they prepare the duck?

The uncooked duck is marinated and stuffed with herbs and spices. After a few hours, the duck is roasted at a optimum temperature to keep the meat from drying out and to let the duck fat liquefy and drip out .The herb and spice stuffing is then removed before serving . A duck roasted in this manner is crispy and golden brown its flesh is both tender and juicy together with a strong herbs fragrance. Herbal duck is an acquired taste, love by some loathe by others, if you are into Chinese herbs, I urge you to give this place a go. The Char Siew is also lined with very little fat. Though is better that the normal kopi tiam/hawker centre fare, I would not come here to eat the char siew if it was not for the duck.

There is hardly any fat between crispy skin and the dense and juicy meat. YUMMY.

Very little fat on the Char Siew too.

The roast duck is really good

I have eaten at this restaurant and its sister branch at  Taman Sentosa a total of seven times.  I must add that the quality of food has always been consistent. We ordered roast duck and roast pork combo (RM $26) and stir friend cai xin with oyster sauce (RM $11). The roast duck skin is thin, crispy and brown with very little fat under the skin. Some people refrain from eating duck as among poultry, duck is exceptionally fatty, and a lot of its fat is directly underneath the skin. I believe Ya Wang roast the duck at a relatively low temperature over a long duration to allow the fat time to melt and drip away while turning the skin crispy brown, either that or they put their duck through a tough exercise regime.

Its so good, it must be kept secret

Bite into the  meat and you can feel its density and juiciness, dip it into the  sweet and salty plum sauce gravy and it is FANTASTIC. Be warned though, the gravy is very sweet and salty, its meant to be dip or drizzled onto your rice, not to be drunk as soup like what someone did at the next table. Don't bother asking the staff about the ingredients , just like KFC, it is a secret recipe.

The gravy goes fabulously with the duck and char siew


May not be the cleanest shop but the duck is fresh and fabulous.

Preparation area for the duck and pork. Look clean enough.

 If you want an additional bowl of gravy is costs Rm $5 for a small bowl and if you ask for a few pieces of cucumber to go along with the duck like what I did on my previous visit,  it is  RM $1 for a small bowl. Nothing is free but the air in the shop. But then again, it is a steal if you compare the price against Dian Xiao Er in Singapore.

The total bill for me and my better half

Duck and Roast Pork Combo + Cai Xin + 2 Bowls of Rice + Two drinks was RM 42.(sg13.60) (rm3.10 = sg 1).

RM 5 for an extra bowl of gravy.

Address: 28, Jalan Sengget, Johor Bahru.

Tel: 07 2248624

Opening Hours: 8 am to 6 pm (Monday to Sunday)

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pages/%E9%B8%AD%E7%9A%87%E8%8D%AF%E6%9D%90%E7%83%A7%E8%85%8A%E5%A4%A7%E7%8E%8B-Restaurant-Ya-Wang-JB/307375362611534

Actually it is called the Rapid Transit System (RTS), but most Singaporeans will go "Huh? What?" so I substitute RTS for MRT. This project was suppose to be operational by 2018 but has been push back by seven years to end 2024.

What is the Rapid Transit System?

For those who have been living in a cave for some time, the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link is a cross-border rail linking  Bukit Chagar, Johor Bahru and Singapore's  Woodlands North station on the Thomson East-Coast Line. It is able to carry up to to 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction and will start operations on Dec 31,2024.  If RTS operates from 5 in the morning to 12 mid-night daily, the total maximum carrying capacity will be 19 hour X 10 000/hour = 190 000 passengers. The trains are able to carry more then half of the 350 000 people commuting daily across the two land crossing. RTS  will have a common customs, immigration and quarantine facility at both ends to expedite immigration clearance and to ease traffic congestion.

What Caused the Delay?

As mentioned earlier, RTS was expected to  be up and running by 2018, not 2024.  In an interview with The New Straits Times in Oct 2014, Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee Chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said that Johor had already earmarked it's terminus station at Bukit Charger (near Johor Bahru Customs and Immigration building) “It is now up to Singapore to list their choice as there is still no indication as to the final alignment of the RTS from a total of three options.“I don’t know why the republic is holding back, knowing that the project will benefit travelers from both sides of the causeway.”

What this means is that Singapore has to decide what type of train tracks to build. The options are to build the train track parallel to the causeway and above the ground; parallel to the causeway and underground; or diagonally opposite the causeway. So according to him, it is Singapore that is causing the delay.

However in an article in Today News Paper (2nd March 15) Singapore's  Ministry of Transport refute the claim and said that they have already informed Malaysia in June 2011 that the RTS terminus in Singapore would be located in Woodlands North near Republic Polytechnic. However, to date, Singapore has not received official confirmation of the location of Malaysia’s RTS terminus in Johor Baru. Only upon confirmation of the location of the terminus can both countries proceed to finalize the alignment of the crossing between Johor Baru and Singapore,”

From what I gather there  seem to be some big miscommunication between the two, on one hand the Malaysian are taking about rail tracks, while Singapore is talking about the stations location .

Who is going to build?

The next issue is the question of tender. Singapore's Minister of Transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan told reporters that Singapore's preference is to call an international tender to operate the RTS Link and award it to the best bid, but Malaysia prefers a local experience contractor (The Straits Times, 1st August 17). “After discussing with our Malaysian counterparts, they felt the project is a little too small, and may not attract competitive bids,” he said. “So the decision was, maybe we will forget about tendering this particular tender, and work towards negotiating a contract – at least for the first concession – with an experienced operator.”

Map of the Johor Bahru - Woodlands RTS Train Track

How to Share the Revenue?

Then there is the question of revenue collection. RTS concession payment split is 39% to 61% to Malaysia and Singapore respectively for the first 50 years. The 61 % of fare payment to the republic as they have to spend more on construction. Malaysia requested for a 50:50 split after the total cost was recovered, but the matter is still up in the air as Singapore has to make further discussions on their part.

Photo taken from the pedestrian bridge linking JB Custom & Immigration to City Square. In red is the future JB RTS train station, at the moment it is a massive car park for Malaysian working in Singapore

Will the project be complete on time?

Although a high bridge train track is easier to build and cheaper than a more extensive underground network system, both sides must be willing to cooperate and be in it for the long-haul. Transport analyst Walter Theseira from the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS),  the timeline was “ambitious,” considering the amount of cooperation that is needed for a cross-border project like this.


I created a map on Google to show you the location of the station in Johor Bahru

Concerns about JB RTS Station

If they really go ahead with the RTS, the authorities need to come up with a comprehensive transport connectivity plan around the Johor Bahru station. At present, there are frequent traffic jam in the area earmarked for the station. Its location is very near the JB Sentral bus interchange, taxi depot, and the JB CIQ passenger pick-up/drop-off area. When the trains are operational, hundreds of commuters will be disembarking, clear the CIQ and leaves the station every few minutes, can you imagine the chaos when taxis, cars, buses jamming all the roads around the station, It probably takes about  10 mins to travel from Singapore to the Johor Bahru station by train but 30 min to get out of the station.

photo: Johor Bahru City Centre From Woodlands Park.

Johor Bahru City Centre From Woodlands Park.

 

Peaceful & Tranquil yet Jammed Packed & Chaotic.

This photo was taken on a Friday evening while I was cycling along Woodlands Waterfront Park.  From where I was, it was very peaceful and tranquil, but just 20 meters away the Causeway was jammed packed with commuters and travelers in chaotic traffic. If you click to enlarge the photo, you will the traffic on the Causeway. This is made worse by the fact that the next day is a non-work day.

JB is Developing Fast

In the background,  you can see the construction of Princess Cove and Sky Habitat Condominium. Five years ago, I had a panoramic view Woodlands from my home on the opposite side. I could receive Singtel network from Johor Bahru. Nowadays, I can only get peeks of Woodlands between the many condominiums and my Singtel phone signals have been completely blocked by the new buildings.

photo GC Good Coffee - Taman Sutera - Feature Image

The Place

GC Good Coffee is located along Jalan Sutera Tanjung, Taman Sutera Utama about 15 minutes drive from Bukit Indah Shoping Centre.  This place is a hive of activities, there are massage parlors; botique hotels; pharmacies; convenience shops; fashion boutiques and even a car repair shop. But the star attraction at this place is the  FOOD. Yes there are rows and rows of cafes and restaurant serving a smorgasbord of food. By the way, if you are concern that you will be bored after a meal, just head to Sutera Mall which is just one car park away.

The Coffee

GC Good Coffee is able to hold it own in the midst of stiff competition. The company has been around for 70 odd years, it started as a coffee powder manufacturer, and later branched into the traditional kopitiam business before transforming into a modern lifestyle cafe. GC has its own unique coffee roasting method that produces coffee with a rich aroma, slightly bitter aftertaste with a trace of sweetness, GC also produces its own Italian espresso roasted beans to create more varieties of coffee beverages.

I was told by a hard-core coffee addict that manufacturers in Malaysia roast their coffee beans twice, on the second roast they add sugar and margarine or palm oil. This gives the coffee a full body, low acidic and slightly bitter after taste.

photo jalan sutera tanjung johor

The food alleys of taman sutera tanjung. Street after street of food.

GC Good Coffee - Taman Sutera Branch.

Mean looking Coffee Machine. They are serious about their coffee.

I ordered Coffee Double milk, basically it is coffee mixed with condense and evaporated milk, I was half expecting the milk to overpower the taste of coffee (i.e. I end up with coffee flavored milk) , to my surprise the richness of the milk complemented the nutty and bitter sweet coffee very well.

The hot honey lemon was a bit too sweet as they were way too generous with honey, but you can always ask for water to dilute the sweetness.

 

Coffee Double Milk (RM$3.80). I was too eager to taste it.

Hot Honey Lemon (Rm $5.50)- Generous with both lemon and honey

The Bread

GC Good Coffee has been baking bread with their own unique recipe since 1972. Their white bread is sliced thick and it is crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside after toasting. I ordered the GC Hainanese Homemade Kaya + Cold Butter Toast.  The brown kaya is made from brown sugar,  coconut mike and eggs, and served with cold SCS butter. Perfect! Unlike the kaya that is served at a certain kaya toast cafe back in Singapore,  GC kaya is not overloaded with sugar and won't give you a sugar rush and perhaps diabetes. We also tried the Peanut Butter Bun, the bun is soft and chewy, the peanut butter was the type found in any super market. Hmm, lets just say I prefer kaya toast.

The GC Bao Pau was something my better half found interesting and wanted to try. Essentially, it is fried hash brown stuffed into a typical egg and lettuce sandwich. Perfect for vegetarian but not vegans. The contrasting hard and crunchy hash brown combined with soft and chewy bread was a unique experience. it was good that they went light on oil when they fried the hash browns although I suggest that you could ask for less mayonnaise and ketchup if you don't like your sandwich too creamy.

Foreground: GC Hainanese Homemage Kaya + Cold Butter Rm$ 2.10. Background: Peanut Butter Bun Rm $2.60.

GC Bao Pau Rm$ 5.90

GC Bao Pau - take a look inside.

Other Food to Try

I tried the Mee Siam with Otak Otak Maur. The mee siam is fried and not the drown in gravy variant. The bee hoon (rice vermicelli) is fried with garlic, dry prawn and a smatter of shredded vegetables. The sambal is sweet, sour and has a strong peppery taste but not too spicy.   They packs lots of fish and little flour into their otak otak, I can feel the chunks of mackerel as I bite into the otak otak. Their otak otak is made in Muar (a place famous for otak otak) and  may be purchase separately at Rm$ 7.50 per pack.

 Also on offer at GC Goood Coffee are Chinese rice and noodles dishes as well as western baked rice , pasta and pizza, but the most popular items are their coffee and bread.

Mee Siam with Otak Otak Muar (RM$9.50). Look simple but delicious nevertheless.

The Mackerel Otak Otak .Big chunks of fish. Can be purchase separately at Rm$7.50/ packet.

Menu - Not very clear cause it was covered with a creased worn out plastic cover.

Location

Jalan Sutera Tanjung 8/4, Taman Sutera Utama, 81300 Skudai, Johor

Telephone 

07-5547387

Opening Hours

07:30 - 23:30
Monday to Sunday

Website

www.gcgoodcoffee.com

How to get there 

http://www.suteramall.com/getting-here-7.aspx

Link to sutera mall website. The mall is about 7-10min walk from CG Good Coffee.

It cost RM1 to see  the doctor at a Johor Bahru polyclinic. Yes! Its no gimmick, the only condition is that you must be Malaysian (its free if you are 60 and above). For foreigners like me, it is a flat fee of Rm$40 (Sg$13).

A few day back my better half was down with flu, so around 8am we went to the nearby private clinic. However the counter staff told us that the doctor will be arriving late, not wanting to wait, my other half suggested that we head to the polyclinic at Tebrau which is about 10 minutes drive. Initially I protested as I felt that we should not wait three to four hours in a  hot and humid waiting area filled with other sick patients   (vivid recollection of my last visit to a polyclinic in Singapore) , we could always find another clinic. She just gave me the nonchalant chill look. (Non verbal meaning: " I'm not bothered, why should you be").

 

photo: Payment-rm-1-jb-polyclinic

Rm$1 for a Malaysian below 60 years old. Free for 60 and above. Foreigners Rm$40.

photo Tebrau Polyclinic at Jalan Tombak 2.

Tebrau Polyclinic at Jalan Tombak 2. Walking distance from Plaza Sentosa Shopping Mall.

Entrance of Tebrau Polyclinic. There was still vacant parking lots even at 8 am.

There was still vacant parking lots even at 8 am.

After packing four hours worth of work into my laptop bag from home we headed to Tebrau Polyclinic. The first thing I realize upon reaching is that there were ample parking space at the polyclinic. Honestly I expected to park along the roadside cause by the time we were there it was already 8.00 am. If you live in JB City Centre long enough you will realize that vacant parking lots are a prized as Mao Shan Wang.

 Upon entering the polyclinic, I walk straight to the nearest vacant seat while my other half went to register. thinking that she will take forever I turn on my computer to do some work. Just as my word document open, she return and told me she finish registration and she was going to take her blood pressure.

 

photo Close to 9am and there was still no crowd.

Close to 9am and there was still no crowd.

12 minutes later she was back.  It didn't take long for her number to be called again. I peep into the consultation room (the door was ajar) and I realize that there were two doctor attending to two patients in the same room.So much for privacy.  The doctor did not examine my better half, she just asked her a couple of questions jotted down on the medical card and told her to wait outside the dispensary.  Gosh! It is faster then ordering at Mc Donalds. Either  the doctor assume that she was knowledgeable enough to self-diagnose, so examining her was unnecessary or....

photo Two doctor and two patients in the same room.

Two doctor and two patients in the same room.

One very obvious difference between the polyclinics of Singapore and Johor Bahru is the doctors in attendance. In Johor Bahru, the doctors are local ( mini survey of nine doctors i observe at the polyclinic) while in Singapore it is a mini United Nations. I had problems communicating with the doctor in Singapore due to their/our accent and lingo. Miscommunication leads to wrong diagnostic and prescription, which may lead to heath problems. I don't think it will be the case in Johor Bahru were doctors are Malaysians.

photo All the Doctors looked and spoke like Malaysian. Can safely assume that they are locals.

All the Doctors looked and spoke like Malaysian. Can safely assume that they are locals.

Another 14min and it was her turn at the dispensary. They gave her a bottle of cough syrup and three stripes of different type of tablet. I was expecting them to pour out the syrup and tablets from a huge economy size bottles.

Time in to time out it was a grand total of 48 min. Much better then the 4 hours I spent at the polyclinic in Toa payoh, Singapore. Best of all she paid only RM1 (sg 33 cents) for consultation and medicine.

photo johor bahru polyclinic medicine all for the price of rm1

All for the price of RM1.