Johor Bahru

A few days ago, I came to Johor Bahru, Malaysia, from Singapore by riding on the 170 bus from Bukit Panjang station. The Singapore immigration checkpoint was smooth like the time when I entered Singapore at Changi Airport. All I had to do was scan my passport and I’ve exited Singapore.

I got on the 170 bus again to go across the bridge to Malaysia and the immigration checkpoint there was terrible. After the agent scanned my passport he informed me I had to scan a QR code to fill out the arrival card on a website. It’s a newly implemented procedure that started in January. However, the website won’t load on my phone. At first I thought it was my internet connection, but it wasn’t. Then I tried to open the website using my laptop, still didn’t work. I asked the agent if there’s a physical arrival card I can fill out. He told me there isn’t. As it turned out, someone who had an iPhone was able to access the website. I was able to borrow her phone to fill out the form. I was thankful that a stranger helped me. It took me about 45 minutes to finally pass immigration.

I was a bit pissed off by the whole thing and it took me a while to walk from Johor Bahru Checkpoint to the Maco Inn Century, where I was staying. Google Maps walking directions brought me to an express way where there aren’t any sidewalks. As I navigated myself in Johor Bahru I realized that the city is very car-centric, not pedestrian friendly at all.

I stayed for three nights in JB, as the locals call it. In hindsight I only needed two nights. The second day I took the bus to downtown. I found my way to Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple. There was some sort of event there so I just took some photos since the temple is made out of glass, which I found to be very unique. Some lady insisted that I pay 10 MYR (~$2), which I didn’t since I wasn’t participating in the event.

Next I walked to Chinatown and saw the Johor Ancient Temple. I wasn’t impressed by it since the building wasn’t that grand. Again, there was some event going on there. A bystander told me they are preparing for a festival.

I continue to walk in downtown and decided to visit Zaharah Botanic Gardens. When I got there I found out the gardens is owned by the sultan and is a private property. Frustrated and exhausted by the heat, I found a place for lunch nearby before taking a Grab taxi back to the hotel.

I rested for a while then got a haircut at a barbershop that’s next to the hotel. I didn’t want to do any more exploring in JB afterward.

The next day, I didn’t do anything except some administrative work on the computer. However, in the afternoon another traveler came in. His name is Nate and he’s a long distance cyclist from Germany. I was very excited to talk to him since I was thinking of doing a bike tour from Europe to Asia. He didn’t actually bike all the way to Asia since he took a plane that flew over central Asia. Nevertheless, we had a great conversation.

At night, I went to the Aeon Mall Tebrau City to meet a date and to have dinner at the food court. I had a decent time, but I didn’t feel a strong connection. But it was good to talk to a local about the food and the sight-seeing opportunities in Malaysia.

The next morning I checked out. I was lucky that I didn’t stay in Singapore for too long since Nate told me the hostel prices have gone up to over $100 per night due to the Taylor Swift concert that’s occurring on March 2.

I waited for the T13 bus to Larkin Sentral bus terminal, but it never came. I ended up taking a Grab to get there. At the terminal, I bought a 11:30 AM bus ticket to Malacca for 22 MYR (~$4.50) and waited at the gate for the bus. I watched the departure monitor carefully and my bus never appeared. Finally, I asked the agent where is my bus. He told me that there was an announcement and the bus had already left. I was in disbelief. This was the first time on this trip that I missed my transport. I didn’t understand the announcement because it was in Malay. I ended up spending another 22 MYR for the 12:30 PM bus. At least the bus ticket isn’t that expensive. This time I asked the agent several times to check for my bus and got on the Malacca bus on time.

There’s something interesting about coming into JB and leaving JB. Both times I was deterred and in the end everything worked out. I guess the lesson is to not get too frustrated and impatient, which is hard to do for me sometimes. I view these unfortunate events as tests of my character.

I arrived in Malacca around 4:30 PM yesterday. I had planned to stay for two night, but I might stay for three. I have plenty of time in Malaysia since I can stay a maximum of 90 days without a visa. I think three weeks or so is enough to see most things.

View of Johor Bahru

Don't know what this sign means, but it looks funny.

Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple

Some kind of an event in Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple

Musicians inside the temple

Less crowded part of the temple

One of many statues

Even Jesus is represented.

Johor Ancient Temple

So many people preparing for a festival.

Sultan Ibrahim Building

Sculptures at a garden

Zaharah Botanic Gardens is closed to the public. Sultan only.

Mee Goreng

Asam Laksa



  1. The food is always amazing in Malaysia. Try to sample Char Kway Teow. Are you going to Penang or Phuket?

    1. There are a lot of food that I ate but don't remember the name. Lol! Yes, I'll be going to George Town (Penang) and Phuket later.


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