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.

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'

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.

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.

Most Singaporean have been to a Pasar Malam (Night Street Market) , but most have never heard of Pasar Pagi (Morning Street Market). The main difference between a Morning and Night Market is that in the morning, the stalls selling all sort of raw food in addition to the stuff sold  at night. I also realize that Street Markets in Malaysia has much more variety that Singapore.
 
If you are in JB on a Monday or Thursday morning (7am to 11am) perhaps you like to get off the well trodden tourist path (KSL, City Square, etc) and head to a morning street market and experience life like a local.  The market is only 15 min from the border by vehicle (taxi  RM 10 -JB Sentral tax counter)  or by Causeway Link bus (CT1) from JB Sentral Bus Interchange (building beside JB CIQ). I cannot remember the exact fare as I did the trip almost four year back but It should be less the Rm $2.  Tell the bus/taxi driver that you are heading  to Jalan Sri Pelang, Taman Pelang opposite Hong Leong Bank. The bus stop is just before Hong Leong bank, just walk 5 min in the same direction as the bus and you will see the market diagonally across the traffic. junction.
 
The first thing you could do when you reach is to get a drink. More precisely, get a young coconut  to quench your thirst. The juice is sweet and the flesh succulent. Then you could try more sinful pleasures like the crunchy Chinese cruller (that's any mo for you tiao) for RM 1 or the fried fish cake Rm 5.

You Tiao (ang mo name :Chinese Cruller) crispy on the outside, not oily and soft inside. Only rm $1.

Started our day with sweet and refreshing coconut water. one for Rm $5

The succulent coconut flesh was soooo good.

Fried Fish Cake. Rm 5. Unlike the Singapore version, theirs is less salty and more crispy.

 

I was very surprise to find fresh Norwegian Salmon at the market. The fish  were neatly vacuum packed and it looked and felt  very fresh (we poked - with approval).  The seller knew her stuff and  she spent the next 20 minute schooling us about salmon. We didn't buy cause I  already brought some from SG the previous day, but will come back for sure the next time round.  

I spotted raw chicken on sale. On first sight it look liked turmeric powder was smear on the chicken. My better half told me that it is actually corn -fed kampong chicken. I was still skeptical until she confirmed with the seller. As we continue down the street, My nose detected a pungent but familiar smell. To my right were  container filled with various types of preserve vegetables. This is something I have not seen since I was a kid. 

Visiting the Pasar Pagi may not be as exciting as walking along Orchard Road. But it is a good place to buy stuff at bargain price for the home, trying the local food and experiencing something different from what we are accustom to in SG.

 

 

 

Fresh Vacuum Packed Norwegian Salmon. Could'nt believe they have this at a Street Market.

This is corn fed chicken. Apprently you can tell from the yellowish color of the skin.

A variety of preserve vegetables. Inside the urn is Spicy Sichuan Veg.

Pasar Pagi @ Jalan Sri Pelangi

Taman Pelangi

Monday and Thursday

7am to 11am.

When I first arrived in JB, I could smell Sungei Sengget a mile away, there were a number of Kopi-Tiam and Mamak stall along the river which I never ever patronize cause the sight and smell of the river makes me forget that I am hungry. Sungei Sengget was flagged as a 'dead' river backed in 2014. A 'dead' river is a river that is unable to sustain any form of fish or aquatic plants. If I trip and fall into the river, I probably need to soak myself in a bath tub of Dettol for a week. According to locals,  people use to swim in the river during the 1950, however, due to rapid development, sewerage effluence and rubbish from open drains were discharge into the river. I vainly searched for photos of the polluted river online to show you what it looked like (before 2015) but I guess it was not exactly a picturesque spot.

photo-sungei sengget very polluted

In 2015 the Malaysian government  initiated the transformation of the river and its immediate surroundings . It is part of an ambitious plan to make Johor Bahru a World Class city by 2020. Besides beautifying the river  to make it a tourist attraction,  they also widen it and place a flood mitigation system to flood proof Jalan Wong Ah Fook ( the busy road along City Square and JBCC). I read that they  also built two sewage treatment plants to clean the river water and water that will flow into the river. Maybe in a few years I can even fish along the river.

Photo - Flash Flood outside of JBCC, City Square.

Flash Flood outside of JBCC, City Square.

photo -sungei sengget , johor bahru -now

I must say that I am very impress with the transformation, there is hardly any rubbish floating in the river, the water looks much cleaner now, they even built two walkways and planted grass and trees on both sides the river. Everything looks so clean and orderly. I am waiting to cast my fishing line soon.