Category Archives: Malaysia

Chinese New Year shopping at City Square Johor 2017

So quickly Christmas was history and Chinese New Year is the new event on the calendar. City Square Mall in Johor has been transformed and is now Chinese New Year ready. Red is the new colour.

The main atrium is now filled with stalls selling Chinese New Year goodies. Enthusiastic staff are offering samples to visitors throwing in sweet deals to sell cookies and tidbits.

One of the vendors told me the Chinese New Year event started today and will end on the 26th January 2017.

If you are visiting City Square some time, you may want to set aside budget to buy some Chinese New Year stuff to bring home. Cost savings need not be emphasized shopping across the Causeway.

By the way, recently open Din Tai Fung Restaurant is pretty much established with long queues of waiting diners even at 11 am.

So prepare to spend more time over here should you be thinking of shopping and dining at City Square over the holiday weekend before the start of 2017.

Happy shopping and happy new year 2017!

5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang Tour – Day 5 (November 2016)

Breakfast at Royale Bintang Hotel

After a terrible bout of food poisoning, I felt a lot better this morning. I should be able to take in some food today. So we went for breakfast at the Sri Tanjung Restaurant quite early. The restaurant was pretty empty at 7.30 am. We chose a table in the middle and went to get our food.

The buffet spread was pretty much the same with different varieties but the day before was better. My wife went to the egg counter and ordered an omelet to share with me. She also tried the local soup noodles as well as the roti canai. I took just very little amount of food hoping not to upset my stomach again. I dared not try the fruit juice but I took some fruits and a cup of coffee and that was it.

We returned to our room after breakfast to freshen up and rested a little bit more and also watched some TV. Our flight to Singapore was 12.50 pm so we had plenty of time before leaving Royale Bintang Hotel. Finally after chatting with the children back home to prepare them to meet us, we went to front desk to check out.

The hotel lobby was busy as usual. We collected our RM 100 deposit and then exited Royale Bintang Hotel. It was the same ritual of making two left turns to the back of the hotel to walk through the Interactive Museum to get to Pengkalan Weld. Then we walked towards the Jetty Bus Terminal again to take bus 401E to the airport.

Bus to Penang Airport

It was another bright and sunny day this morning. It had been great weather during the day and then a light shower early evening while we were in Penang. We walked past beautiful former colonial buildings. The building next to Royale Bintang Hotel would be turned into a 5-star hotel and should open in 2017. This new hotel would be very grand and with balconies facing the harbour, this would surely be a selling point for the hotel to make a mark in the hotel industry.

Continue reading 5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang Tour – Day 5 (November 2016)

5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang – Day 4 (November 2016)

Terrible Night

Shortly after midnight I began to feel unwell. I was shivering in cold and had to put on my jeans and socks plus bathrobe and then cowered under the blanket. At the same time, I felt nauseous so I could not lie flat on bed. I had to prop myself up with more pillows and tried to sleep. The toilet became a tourist attraction through the night.

Was it because I caught a chill walking during the light drizzle before dinner? Was it due to food poisoning at the Hawker Centre at New Lane where I told the hawker not to put cockles into my kway teow? I had no idea. It wasn’t really important. I was just miserable.

To add to my misery, a bunch of school girls checked into the hotel around 1 am and were making lots of noise at the corridor. The school teacher didn’t fare much better talking so loud outside our room. I was too tired to get up to rebuke them but my wife did. To up the ante, we received a phone call later in the night and it was called to the wrong room. I couldn’t pick up the call but my wife did. Oh, what a night!

I survived the night and didn’t throw up but the toilet trips were draining to say the least. From our room windows, we got the impression it was going to be a hot day. It would be good to head out for shopping but I wasn’t in the best condition to move around. The hawker centre behind the hotel wasn’t opened so early.

Breakfast at Royale Bintang Hotel

It was breakfast time. I made it to the Sri Tanjung Restaurant for breakfast with my wife. The restaurant was busy but we managed to be seated. The restaurant staff were still as helpful and friendly. Coffee was poured for us when we got seated and my dear wife went to collect her food.

The buffet spread was pretty sumptuous. There were western and local dishes on top of the usual salad with cheese, bread and pastries. Of course fruit juice and fruits were available as well. My wife was enjoying her breakfast while I took some fruits hoping to get my body back in balance. I was simply content with having my coffee. The coffee in Penang was much better than those in Langkawi.

Continue reading 5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang – Day 4 (November 2016)

Komtar in Johor Bahru

Komtar Alternative to City Square

Almost everyone knows shopping in Johor means heading to City Square Mall and KSL City Mall. One less mentioned mall to spend time shopping in Johor Bahru is Komtar next to City Square Mall. It is a mistake to underestimate what this mall has to offer.

Comparing to City Square Mall, this mall may seem smaller with fewer shops and stuff sold might be more expensive. However, there are retailers offering value for money items to shoppers that are not available in City Square Mall.

For example if you are longing for a pizza meal, Pizza Hut is available at Komtar. For ribs lovers, Tony Roma’s Restaurant is at Komtar as well. The Dragon-i Restaurant is also located in Komtar too if you don’t wish to join the queue at the same restaurant over at City Square Mall. In addition, Sushi Zanmai Restaurant is also there for those who wish to have a nice Japanese meal.

In fact, dining over at Komtar seems to be more enjoyable with nicer ambiance and is quieter with lesser crowd. Besides restaurants, there are retailers that complement shops that are not available at City Square Mall.

Continue reading Komtar in Johor Bahru

5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang – Day 3 (November 2016)

Sunrise over Kuah Town

The first thing in the morning was spent admiring the wonderful sunrise scene at our balcony. The harbour was peaceful and calm. Moreover, the changing lights of the harbour scene was picturesque. They were like paintings on canvas, very beautiful to behold.

The skies above the hills in front was equally mesmerizing. The clouds above the hills receiving first light of the day was putting up an awesome light show. Yellowish orange lights were coming up behind those hills. Gradually, a ball of light slowly emerged. As this glowing orange ball continued its ascent, the surrounding brightened up dispersing glorious rays of sunbeams from above the hills.

Kuah in Langkawi had awakened. The city had come to live even though everywhere was still quiet this morning. This short sunrise moments were indeed amazing. This would be the beginning of a great day for our onward journey to Penang.

Breakfast in Adya Hotel

After the awesome sunrise show, we went for breakfast. The restaurant was already quite busy. We were asked whether we would like to sit inside the restaurant or outdoor. We requested to be seated indoor and were ushered to an empty table and coffee was poured for us.

The buffet spread varieties were very good with both western and local items. There was a counter for self-service noodles soup. Of course there were fruits, salads, cereals, bread and pastries. The food quality was pretty good but we couldn’t say the same for the coffee. They seemed to have a very different definition for coffee in Langkawi. Other than Starbucks Coffee at Cenang, we didn’t have a good experience with the local coffee here. However, there was a machine in the restaurant and my wife made herself a cup of soya mild which was excellent.

Continue reading 5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang – Day 3 (November 2016)

5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang Tour – Day 2 (November 2016)

Getting Ready for Day 2 in Langkawi

We had an island hopping day tour in the morning so we went for breakfast near 7.30 am. The restaurant at the lobby was already busy. We were ushered to an empty table and we went to collect our food. The breakfast spread was sufficient for this 3-star hotel. There were western and local items, fruits and salad, fruit juice, coffee and tea. The coffee was very dilute but the food was fine.

After breakfast we left the hotel and went next door to Cenang Mall. The mall was still closed being so early in the morning. But KFC was opened. We entered KFC and brought two breakfast set meals to take away and then returned to Nadias Hotel.

Back in our room, we washed up, brushed up, changed to suitable attire and then got ready to check out for our day tour. After watching TV for a while, we went back to the lobby to check out at 8.50 am. The tour agent had arranged to pick us from the hotel to head to the jetty at 9 am. After collecting our RM 100 deposit, we left our bags with front desk to keep. The lady staff also loan us two very nice beach towels to bring for our island hopping tour. We then settled down to wait for our tour agent.

There were quite a few hotel guests waiting at the lobby as well. They had arranged their own tours too. Soon, one after another left the hotel when their agents showed up. We waited until 9.15 am when our agent finally showed up in a white van. We followed him and left Nadias Hotel for our day tour.

Langkawi Island Hopping Tour

This white van wasn’t in the best condition. The van headed south along Jalan Pantai Chenang passing the Underwater World towards the jetty. We arrived in about 10 minutes. We alighted and were told to wait with many other tourists at a huge tent shelter. Tour agents were busy assigning tourists to board different boats.

Not long after, we were told to head down to the beach to board a yellow colour boat. When we were about to step down the stairs to the beach, a teenage girl who was holding a camera, took our pictures. She did this to every other tourists and we wondered was this the way they kept track of their passengers.

The beach here wasn’t clean. There were some confusion as we queued to board the yellow boat that was already full with many more passengers trying to board. Apparently, the group that boarded had boarded the wrong boat and they had to climb down before the rest of us could board this boat. Had we been forced to board this horribly overcrowded boat, we would turn back and not take this island hopping tour. There was no need to put ourselves in danger.

Continue reading 5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang Tour – Day 2 (November 2016)

Din Tai Fung City Square Johor

Din Tai Fung Restaurant is now opened in City Square Johor. It is located on level 2. You can easily find this restaurant going down from the escalator outside Uniqlo Store.

The restaurant was already busy when we passed by at 10.45 am this morning. Slightly after 11 am, a queue was formed but we didn’t find out about the waiting time.

We were in Penang last week. I was down with food poisoning so I could only watch helplessly as my dear wife enjoyed the xiao long bao in Din Tai Fung Restaurant at Gurney Parade. So with Din Tai Fung Restaurant in City Square, this would be another excellent lunch option for us.

By the way, City Square is dressed up for Christmas. Vendors are already starting business at the main atrium. More stalls should be coming up soon.

So it might be a good idea to hop over to City Square for some shopping and dining during this school holiday. We saw quite a few families dragging luggage with their young children walking towards City Square after clearing custom and immigration. Spending a night or two in Johor Bahru might be a great getaway too.

KSL Mall is nearby as well. There are two hotels at KSL shopping area. KSL Hotel Resort is connected with the mall and the other new hotel is just outside the mall.

To get to KSL Mall, you can take a bus from JB Sentral bus terminal after clearing immigration before heading into the City Square Mall. Bus SM1 or IM17 will get you there and the cost for bus fare is just RM 1.50.  The ride takes about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you may take a taxi and the cost is RM 11.50 at JB Sentral.

The money changer at the immigration complex showed an exchange rate of S$1 to RM 3.08 this morning. It attracted quite a queue as well. This looks like a good place to change money if you have forgotten to change sufficient Malaysian notes during a last minute rush to take a break in Johor.

Well, stay safe and have fun during this year end break!

5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang Tour (November 2016)

Planning a Tour to Langkawi and Penang

We had a week that would be free in November 2017. So in April, we booked flights to Langkawi and fly home from Penang. Cost for both flights was just around $80 per person. This would be about the equivalent cost for taking a coach to Kuala Lumpur and back to Singapore. In addition, flight time is just slightly over an hour which would be much shorter than the 5 hours bus ride to Kuala Lumpur.

Our flight details were as follows:

Singapore to Langkawi 12.50 pm to 2.15 pm by Tigerair
Penang to Singapore 12.50 pm to 2.15 pm by Jetstar

Such flight timings were pretty ideal. We won’t have to wake up very early in the morning to rush to airport and would be in time to check into hotel in Langkawi upon arrival.

Deciding Where to Stay

For hotels in Langkawi, we booked Nadias Hotel at Cenang Beach for the first night and then Adya Hotel at Kuah Town for the second night to facilitate our ferry ride to Penang Island.

We also booked Royale Bintang Hotel in Georgetown, Penang which is near to the ferry terminal. Average hotel cost was around $70 per night from for all these hotels when we booked early.

To save the hassle of having to get to Kuah Jetty early to purchase ferry tickets, we bought our ferry tickets online at Langkawi Ferry. Cost for a ticket from Langkawi to Penang was RM 70 inclusive of tax. We simply printed out the boarding pass and we were good to go.

With all arrangements settled, we were ready to head to Langkawi and Penang for a short break.

Singapore to Langakawi

November came so quickly. We took a leisurely bus ride to Changi Airport with just a piece of hand held luggage in the morning. It was slightly before 10.30 am when we arrived Terminal 3. First stop was our usual fish ball noodles for a quick early lunch.

Next we walked to Terminal 2 via the underground link way and approached Tigerair’s counter to collect our boarding passes even though we had already completed our online check in process. Once done, we entered the secured area, cleared immigration, we were free to roam the airport.

Terminal 2 was already dressed up for Christmas. This shopping mall like terminal was quite busy with many passengers taking pictures at different beautiful spots. Others were shopping or having meals while some were resting at various very relaxing and comfortable zone before their flights. Continue reading 5 Days 4 Nights Langkawi and Penang Tour (November 2016)