zoom inn hotel

These things are popping up like mushrooms. I’m currently in Johor and staying at Zoom Inn Boutique Hotel in Danga Bay for a night. I got it online for about RM 90+ and realized that the walk-in rate is only RM 78. There are three shoplot hotels within the area (not including Tune Hotel) and from looking at all (the room wasn’t available until 3 pm) this seems to provide the best price-comfort consideration.

game over room

Ill omens and portents. (!!!) Game Over all over the room. I’m not sure I want to see that whenever I open my eyes. smirk However, it is pretty creative, each room is has its unique theme and decoration…and the repeating game over is tethered to a quasi picture frame of someone playing a console game. Very artsy fartsy.

sliding either or door

Either-Or sliding door for toilet and shower.

lcd tv shoplot

The large LCD TV right at the foot of your bed is awesome though – it has all the premium channels but I only watch Discovery Channel or National Geographic variants/spinoffs. I’ll be happy with those channels.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Pretty comfortable for a night
  • Good selection of cable channels
  • Friendly and apologetic staff
  • Creative rooms

Cons:

  • Weak to non-existent WiFi
  • Room is dark
  • No writing desk

bloodstains duvet

It also has stains on the duvet that looks suspiciously like blood. I can only imagine what the previous occupants were doing but since their hairs are still sticking to the pillows, a multitude of entirely unwanted vivid scenarios come into mind.

I’m still waiting for housekeeping to change the sheets.

Speaking of creative, MilkADeal is having an awesome deal for novelty 8 GB USB drives in a variety of designs.

usb drive
RM43 instead of RM68 OR RM54 instead of RM89 for Limited Edition 8GB USB Drive + Free Delivery within Peninsular Malaysia from USB Boy. Only 200 vouchers available! [Up to 39% OFF]

I collect USB drives, though not to this extent, but it’ll be perfect for Secret Santa gifts. :)

noooooooo

Luckily, there was an extra bus at 8 am. Phew.

us

Johor! It has always seemed like a state to stop by to eat and refuel before heading down to Singapore. It never seemed to hold much interest for me, despite having a nice waterfront. I went on a trip to ISKANDAR MALAYSIA last week and was surprised to see that there’s a lot of interesting developments going on.

legoland malaysia

…like the first LEGOLAND in South East Asia!

legoland site

Well, it’s not finished yet, ETA would be next year but here’s the spot where it’ll be at.

imic

However, there’s an interactive showcase called Iskandar Malaysia Information Center (IMIC) at Danga Bay Convention Center where you can see what LEGOLAND and other ISKANDAR MALAYSIA developments would look like.

danga bay convention center

The place is deceptively fun!

lego

You can discover your inner child (everyone has one) by playing with the LEGO bricks available there and build something interesting.

golf simulator

Play virtual golf.

motion sim

Sit in a motion simulator.

wii

Get some Wii Boxing!

kiosk

See your mug on a variety of virtual backdrops. You can save it to a USB port attached to the kiosk or post it to your Facebook account. Nifty.

virtual

Kids won’t be left out too, with interactive learning touch screen programs.

ramsar boat

There’s even a large rocking boat that will bring you to Tanjung Piai, Ramsar, one of the largest wetlands in the world…virtually, that is.

lontong kering

We were famished by the time we landed and the people at ISKANDAR MALAYSIA brought us to all the authentic Johor food places. We were whisked away as soon as we landed to one of the authentic stalls in JB for some lontong kering. This is at Warong Saga – it’s one of those places that you need a local to bring you to. You’ll be hard pressed to find it yourself. :)

mee rebus tulang gearbox

We also had some really awesome mee rebus tulang gearbox for lunch. You just have to try this if you’re ever in Johor. They have the best tulang gearbox I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. You’re given a short straw to suck out all the bone marrow too!

highway

ISKANDAR MALAYSIA is also changing the landscape of Johor in more practical ways. They’re building a lot of highways and roads to ease traffic congestion and ensure a more optimal route throughout the city. I’m quite impressed at the number of highways they are building in a such a short amount of time.

marina

The marina is also another captivating place. We went there for a nice, cold glass of iced lemon tea to cool down and walked around the area.

yatch prices

The marina is meant to dock leisure yachts and ships and there’s also a place to get your very own sailing craft…if you have the cash that is.

iskandar malaysia

The marina is set to be a hotbed of activity – there are plans to turn it into a vibrant community with lots of condominiums.

imperia puteri harbour

This is the showroom of IMPERIA Puteri Harbor by the marina, the highest condominium in Johor – it’s already sold out and the waiting list is 200+ people strong so there’s a looooong wait for an opening.

chillax

It’s a nice place though – every unit will have a balcony with a sea view and it seems like the perfect place for a holiday home.

showhouse

There is also vast tracts of lands being turned into gated communities and high end houses in East Ledang. I’ve been to some of the show houses at Melody Park and it’s AMAZING.

east ledang

Just look at this and tell me you don’t wish you live here.

bedroom

There’s lot of different variations and themes too – modern, English, classic, whichever way you want you interior décor to be like, you’ll find it no trouble to get there.

educity

EduCity @ ISKANDAR MALAYSIA is home to several renowned Ivy League universities which has set up their campuses there.

newcastle university

The beauty about this place is that the universities only have ONE faculty there – the best of the best e.g. Newcastle University has a medical faculty for all those interested in going into that field.

kate middleton

There’s also Marlborough College which Kate Middleton graduated from. Yes, that’s the Duchess of Cambridge’s alma mater. I’m so going if they manage to get her to come and officially open this college for them. smirk

johor premium outlet

ISKANDAR MALAYSIA aims to turn Johor into a destination in its own right instead of just a transit point for people going to Singapore and I think they’ve done a really good job. There’s just something for everyone and one of the much anticipated openings is the Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) which is a HUGE retail space for designer labels.

The interesting bit about JPO is that they’re making plans to have sales at certain times e.g. Coach having 50% off at 3 pm on Thursday. I can imagine the amount of people queuing up or even camping way ahead of time for this!

prisma

ISKANDAR MALAYSIA is also doing a lot of CSR initiatives like their PRISMA housing areas – it’s for married couples earning below RM 3,000 and it doesn’t look like any of the low cost housing areas I’ve been too. These are comfortable apartments with great facilities. There are also 1,500 units for OKUs with specially designed living areas to cater to them. Yes, the photo above is an ACTUAL SHOT of the place.

iskandar malaysia public housing

It looks way better than my apartment…ISKANDAR MALAYSIA sure knows how to do things right. I mean, look at the picture above! Does that look like a low cost public housing unit to you? I’ll love to live in that place but I’m not eligible. :x

stairs

They also have a pilot project going for green buildings which aims to provide self sustaining units with solar power, water recycling and other technology.

living area

Looking at what ISKANDAR MALAYSIA has done to Johor in just a few years, I have very high hopes for the state. Invest. Work. Live. Play. is their mantra. Education, health, entertainment, infrastructure, they’ve got it all covered.

fun

Personally, I’m waiting for LEGOLAND to open so I can go for the awesome rides that’s going to be there. I’m a huge fan of amusement parks. :)

botak asam fish head

Botak assam fish head is one of the more popular fish head places in JB. It’s different from the famous Kam Leong fish head at Jalan Wong Ah Fook – Botak asam fish head is spicy and sour, while Kam Leong’s is cooked in a more traditional Chinese style curry.

Botak asam fish head is their signature dish, but a lot of people order the deep fried fish head too.

botak johor

The proper name for the place is actually Kedai Makanan Jadi Baru (Botak). I heard that the name originates from the proprietor’s hairstyle – he’s bald. Thus, people started calling the place Botak (bald) asam fish head. It occupies two shop lots side by side and prior to their expansion, the queue for it is legendary too. In fact, it’s still very full when we went – almost all the tables are occupied!

botak restaurant

Behold! This is the huge claypot of asam fish head that we had for lunch. This portion is for five (5) people and it has okra, tofu and other miscellaneous vegetables. We opted for the fish slices instead of the fish head – I reckon the fish head will taste even better.

botak lunch

I noticed that they make a pretty good omelet too and one of the things that you must not miss is their otak-otak.

botak otak otak

The otak-otak from Botak (rhymes, doesn’t it) is simply delicious! It comes wrapped in banana leaves and when you open it up, a waft of steam rises, accompanied by the aroma of fresh fish and spices. This chunk of otak-otak is STUFFED with fresh fish flakes. It’s one of the most amazing otak-otak I’ve ever had – it’s spiced just right and 80% of the jellied contents is made of fish! Delectable.

botak asam fish

I wouldn’t compare Botak asam fish head and Kam Leong fish head side by side – it’s two different dishes. I like the spiciness of the asam fish in Botak – it leaves a nice sour aftertaste, and you can practically see the chili flakes on the fish. It’s amazing. I love asam and I can see why the perfect combination of spiciness and sour notes has people flocking in droves to Botak asam fish head.

party people

What are you doing this weekend? I’m heading up to Penang early Saturday morning for Freedom! We’re planning a nice, leisurely drive up at 6 am in the morning, stopping at Ipoh for breakfast before arriving in Penang in time for lunch!

zon jb

The last Freedom event I went to was in JB with Lainey bff. We stayed at Zon Regency by the beach and XeX was already pumping out music when we checked in at 12 pm.

xex

I love the ambiance – there’s a lot of interactive displays and light fixtures and I hear the Penang one this weekend is going to be even more awesome!

dj ray ray

Freedom in JB had DJ Ray Ray from Taiwan as the international DJ. She spins really hot tunes, can’t wait to see what Kid Fresh has in store for us in Freedom Penang.

freedom jb

Wanna party up north? Freedom Penang is happening this Saturday (30th July) at FAME from 9 pm onwards. Surf over to the Freedom 360 site for more information!

hb lains

See you in Penang Cheryl! :D

freedom jb party

Oh, and btw, did I mention that the RM 35 cover charge for Freedom Penang comes with FREE FLOW BEER? smirk

hb hanis

How does breaking your fast with royalty sound? Warong Saga has been operating for decades near the old cemetery in JB. The proprietors running it are the second generation and contrary to popular belief, it’s named after pokok saga instead of Proton Saga. ;)

lontong kering

Anyway, Warong Saga’s main claim to fame is their lontong kering. JB makes the best lontong kering in the country, or so they’ll have you believe. Lotong kering is a breakfast meal of nasi impit (compressed rice), a potpourri of vegetables (long beans, leeks, potatoes) and a piece of chicken rendang.

pokok saga

The entire dish is then doused with a generous amount of peanut sauce. It’s a pleasure to use the nasi impit to wipe the gravy from the plate before devouring it. The multitude of textures and flavors in lontong kering makes it an ideal breakfast.

nasi impit

The walls of Warong Saga is adorned with sultans, prime ministers (both ours and Singapore’s) and other people of historical importance and it attracts a healthy local crowd for breakfast.

warong saga

This place is a bit hard to find for non-locals but if you follow the old royal cemetery and watch out for a small shop by the road you’ll see it. The lontong kering and the chill, relaxed atmosphere in Warong Saga makes it well worth the trip! :)

mee rebus tulang gearbox

I just had the best mee rebus tulang gearbox at Restoran ZZ Sup Tulang in JB. This is one of those local foodie treasures that you need a local to bring you to.

zz sup tulang jb

The place is a rather chaotic assembly of huts and trees. The huts with the thatched roofs is meant to keep the sun and rain off your head and I found that dining in nature whets the appetite like nothing else.

mee tulang gearbox

What is mee rebus tulang gearbox? Well, it’s basically Malay style noodles with an interesting component – the tulang gearbox part. Tulang gearbox is basically the large bones from a cow, usually from the shank. There is still quite a lot of meat, cartilage and tendon on the bones but when you request for it “gearbox style” it comes with a straw.

bone marrow straw

The straw is for you to suck the marrow out of the huge bones.

hb tulang gearbox

The portion of the noodles in mee rebus tulang gearbox is a bit small for me but the gravy is sinfully rich and delicious. It leaves you hankering for more. It’s about RM 8.50 and comes with 4 good sized bones.

tulang

You’ll find at least one HUGE bone in there and you’re supposed to insert the straw deep inside it and suck in all the marrow and juices. It’s a visceral experience like no other. The bone marrow is sweet, warm and hearty. It’s simply the best mee rebus tulang gearbox I’ve had!

hb jayne

You know, I’m not a particularly photogenic person. The concept of angles and poses is like an arcane art which I never quite mastered. People tell me I look better in real life than in photos.

I was browsing through my photos from JB (the most recent one that I just came back from) and saw this photo of me and Jayne drinking in the hotel room at night. We were both in our PJs and Jayne had this priceless expression on her face which I found hilarious.

She’s one of those people who’s really photogenic – the camera just adores her. It’s a great skill to have, but I guess it’ll forever elude me…it’s like how I can never style my hair properly unless it’s done by a hairstylist. :x

jb famous curry fish head

There is a Chinese style curry fish head place in JB that seems to be VERY popular among the locals. Kam Long Restaurant serves curry fish head and curry fish head only. It’s their flagship, signature dish and…the only item on the menu. ;) I have heard about the prodigious queues forming just to get a taste of this very dish and I was very keen to check it out.

kam leong restaurant

The funniest thing I heard (which I didn’t get the first time) was from Lainey bff who told me – DON’T WRITE ABOUT IT. Geddit? I didn’t the first (or second time) either. smirk

curry fish head

Anyway, it just so happens that I was reading The Dead Cockroach’s review of the place the day before we were heading down. We drove along Jalan Wong Ah Fook twice and still couldn’t find the place so we stopped and asked for directions several times.

fish head

Okay, the problem with this place is that you can’t exactly see the Kam Leong Restaurant signboard while you’re driving. It’s obscured by some pull down canvas shutters to keep the sun out. It’s actually not hard to find – you just have to drive down from the BEGINNING of Jalan Wong Ah Fook and stop at the first traffic light.

queue

You’ll be able to see the queue of people outside the humble restaurant – just cross the road to join in.

curry fish head prep

It should be noted that the queue is not strictly first-come-first-serve. The small size of the restaurant and the limited seating arrangements allowed us (a group of two) to share a table with other people while if you’re in a larger posse, you might have to wait longer until a table clears.

steaming curry fish head

Well, since there’s only one thing to order, we went for the famous curry fish head for two people. It’s RM 18 inclusive of rice and you best be able to read Chinese coz there are no other languages on the menu. In fact, there is no menu, save for a small signboard beside the industrious kitchen.

kam leong curry fish head

I have to admit, the Chinese style curry fish head is very good. Lainey finished her rice, which is quite uncommon and I loved the curry sauce. They put in a lot of vegetables too – okra, long beans, tofu and so on but the fish head is the centerpiece and it does not disappoint.

hb lainey

The flesh of the fish is tender and juicy and the curry sauce complements the fresh fish head very well. My only complaint is that there isn’t enough fish meat to go around so if you’re feeling particularly hungry, order +1 people more than your group. :)

Anyway, I’m heading to JB again in a couple of hours despite just coming back early this week. Heh! We were in JB for Freedom. There’s another one this Saturday right in KL so don’t miss it! I’ll be going to the Freedom in Penang at the end of the month too!

pencuri

HOLD ON TO YOUR PANTS LADIES!!!

(and gentlemen)

Spotted at a JB toilet. It basically says “Beware – Thief. Don’t hang your pants here. Thanks.”.

Surreal. In other news we’re staying at Zon Regency Hotel by the sea and Gods be good it’s a duty free haven.

 jb food

I can’t say much about the quality of food (it’s alright but nothing to write home about – wait till my next post for an awesome JB specialty). However, it IS exactly like the photo in the menu so no one can say that it’s false advertising.

jb view

The best thing however is the ambience – it’s al fresco dining beside the sea…and yes, you can see Singapore yonder.

duty free

…and the alcohol? Duty free prices baby. :D

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