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Traveling 旅行 Yuki's Diary 日記

Johor Bahru

On the third day of this trip I went to Malaysia.

I exchanged my own 100USD bill into Malaysian Ringgit at a money changer in Orchard. The 100USD became 299 Ringgits.

MRT Woodlands station

I went to Woodlands by MRT to catch an SMRT950 bus, which would cross Causeway and go to Johor Bahru. Crossing Causeway on foot was possible so far, but now it’s forbidden.

Woodlands bus terminus

People waiting in line at the dusky bus stop were, in comparison with other places of Singapore, in a weird mood.

Bus to Johor Bahru

After waiting dozens of minutes a bus for Johor Bahru came. You can pay the fare by tapping your EZ-Link card. There were very crowded people on the bus. I’m afraid that, because I had such large luggage, it probably disturbed other people.

The bus passed MRT Marsiling station and then it was about to cross Causeway, but I couldn’t see outside very well because other people were packed on that bus.

Before crossing Causeway, the bus stopped and every passenger including me was forced to get out of it to pass the immigration. After going upstairs to the building, there were immigration counters in charge of departing Singapore. The disembarkation card I had kept since Changi Airport was taken away, and a departing stamp was stamped on a visas page of my passport.

After clearing the immigration, I was caught by a woman with a hood on her head and asked me to fill out a survey for me. I accepted her request because I had enough time and I saw she had a validly authorised ID card. I was asked some questions, like airline name coming to Singapore, nights of stay, the amount spent per day, impression for Singapore. After the survey, a little strap was given to me.

I went downstairs and saw the bus stop. The SMRT950 bus was already gone, but the next bus came soon and I got into it. That bus had fewer people than the previous one. While onboard I tapped my EZ-Link card here as well.

Crossing Causeway

I took a picture of the view from the bus crossing Causeway. I couldn’t find where the national border was. All I saw was the sign saying “Welcome to Malaysia” in the middle of the bridge. After crossing Causeway the bus stopped again and every passenger had to get off to have Malaysian immigration. Going upstairs as I did at Woodlands, I saw there were immigration counters of Malaysia. I filled out an immigration card behind the booths, handed in it to an immigration officer along with my passport, and had my passport stamped a Malaysian immigration stamp. At last, my immigration process was complete.

Malaysia immigration
Bus terminus at immigration

I made up my mind to keep going by bus, though taking a taxi to KTM Johor Bahru station was also available. SMRT950 bus would’ve taken me to Kotaraya bus terminus, but I decided to take another bus coming earliest because I had to wait for a long time to catch SMRT950. Most of them would go to Larkin bus terminus instead of Kotaraya, but buses going to Larking was more popular.

Bus terminus at immigration

The bus came first was Singapore-Johor Express from Bugis and was air-conditioned and enough vacant seats. However, the EZ-Link card was no longer available, and I paid one Ringgit cash instead.

The bus ran on a wide road like an expressway for a while and arrived at Larkin bus terminus.

Larkin bus terminus

When the bus arrived, dirty-looking pimps-like people came around the bus and they started asking us to take their taxis. I was frightened from the very beginning of the travel to Johor Bahru. Although they did nothing as long as I ignored, I felt I’ve come to the very place I least wanted to come, seeing many pimps around the bus stop and fierce-looking men walking boringly around there. Nevertheless, I got used to that mysterious situation after being there for an hour. The pimps didn’t follow me any longer once I said no to them. There was a police station in the terminus so I could rush into it if I was attacked by them.

Larkin bus terminus

Once I got used to it I walked in the terminal building. Dirty-looking newsstands, markets, and mobile phone shops were crammed into the building with a stinky smell. I wanted to buy some pictured postcards if there was a souvenir shop, but no such shop was in that building.

Market in Larkin bus terminus
Market in Larkin bus terminus

Of course, I first dropped in on a mobile phone shop. I got a DiGi Prepaid SIM card for 10 Ringgit and had it activated there.

The building was a two-storey high. Mobile phone shops and newsstands were on the ground floor and a Seven-Eleven convenience store and clothing shops were above.

I completely lost my way in Johor Bahru, so I was afraid that if I took a taxi to the hotel I was gonna stay the taxi driver would charge me an unreasonable price. But I had no other way. I went to a taxi stand where red taxi cabs were because the red cabs seemed to be authorised. I asked a driver out of the taxis how much it cost to Thistle Hotel, where I was going to stay that night, and the driver answered he didn’t know where the hotel was. Then I caught the next taxi driver as well. He understood it so I got into it. The cab arrived at the Thistle Hotel for ten minutes or so, for about 6.1 Ringgit. I didn’t know if it was reasonable because I didn’t know how much it should be. Probably it was acceptable because the taximeter seemed to work well and 6.1 Ringgit was equivalent to just 200 JPY or so.

Thistle Hotel
Thistle Hotel guestroom
Thistle Hotel guestroom
Pool area of Thistle Hotel
Pool area of Thistle Hotel

Thistle Hotel is a British-capitalised hotel located in various places worldwide.

View from Thistle Hotel

It’s the view from the hotel room. You’ll see typical Malaysian houses.

Yasin Restaurant
Jalan Abu Bakar


I went out of the hotel to see a downtown area before dark. Af first I walked Jalan Sungai Chat, where the hotel was on, then turned left on Jalan Abu Bakar. JB was a pedestrian-hostile city as well as I heard. There were no sidewalks or had broken one too poor-maintained to walk on.

Jalan Abu Bakar
Bus stop
Jalan Abu Bakar
Causeway

I thought that, because Jalan Abu Bakar ran alongside the Johor channel beach, I could walk on it seeing the beautiful sea, but the seaside of the street was under construction as the above pictures.

A building beside Makamah Syariah
Pusat Islam Negeri Johor
Masjid Abu Bakar

The opposite side had bright Islamic mosques and buildings.

Muzium Diraja Sultan Abu Bakar
Muzium Diraja Sultan Abu Bakar

This seems to be a museum on Sultans (kings) of Malaysia. I’d see inside if I had much time.

Lembaga Tabung Haji and Johor Tourist Information Centre
Restaurants
Jalan Ayer Molek
Sekolah Kebangsaan Ayer Molek
Johor International Convention Centre
Suruhanjaya Kehakiman
Jalan unnamed

I walked towards city centre (losing my way).

Telekom Malaysia buildings

This is Telekom Malaysia building and its tower.

Bank Islam

Bank Islam. I wonder if it does Islamic finance.

Kota Raya shopping centre

This is Kotaraya shopping mall with plenty of shops from a supermarket to fashion shops.

Sikh Temple

Sikh Temple. Turbaned men were inside.

KTM Johor Bahru station
KTM Johor Bahru station
JB station ticket counters

KTM JB staion. It was old-fashioned like a rural small station. I got a ticket for the next day’s train.

Merlin Tower
City Square

Those are Merlin Tower (left) and City Square (right).

Although I heard JB was poor in safety, it was not right (as long as in daytime). The people there were nice. Nobody tried to attack me. Nevertheless, I got back to the hotel before dark.

The night view of the Thistle Hotel. You can be in a tropical mood for much cheaper prices than in Singapore. I want to stay at it again.

By Masayuki (Yuki) Kawagishi