Street Photography: Johor Bahru

Here are some photos taken along the busy Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.  There are a few budget hotels here and cook food are within easy reach.  For fast food just head for Johor Bahru City Square, that’s the mall on the right side of the pic of the woman in black and the top pic on the right column.

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Sabah – My First Time

Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu as seen form Kinabalu Park

Till now I really don’t know what is the meaning of it when it says, “Sabah, the land below the wind.”  What they meant by that?  I just have no clue and I have yet to ask.

Sabah is one of the places to go for those who love beaches, snorkeling and diving. There are many to choose from, just take your pick.  Besides, there’s the culture of the people living there.  As for me, I’m more on the wildlife side, especially the birds.  I want to photograph as many species as I could and to cover as many areas as possible in a short period of time.  Since I have yet to set my feet on Sabah, the initial trip will be just a recce trip, a getting familiar trip and I did that just recently.

I visited the state of Sabah, Malaysia for the very first time last two weeks ago.  The experience really made me more aware and conscious of what Sabah had to offer, especially to visitors.  The irony was that I had already knew roughly what was on the plate, but it was just like in the back of my mind.  Obviously it did not get any serious attention from me.  Not anymore,  I had been enlightened.

I spent five days visiting places that were near to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah where I stayed for the whole duration of my trip.  Initially I had intended to make use of the local public transport, it’s cheaper, but then it would take more time to travel far and wide.  So I rented a car for three days and visited Kota Belud, Kinabalu Park and on the third day drove from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom via Keningau.  I then made a round trip back from Tenom to Kota Kinabalu via Sipitang and Beaufort.  The trips to Kinabalu Park and Tenom were very exciting as the roads were paved on the crafted hill and mountain slopes.  It went up and down, twist and turn, seemingly endless.  But, I must say that I really enjoyed it very much.

Homeless pups

Homeless puppies outside Tune Hotel, Kota Kinabalu

Igret shot at Sabah Waterfront

Egret shot at Sabah Waterfront

Filipino Market during day time

Filipino Market during day time

This is why there's coconut trees by the beach

This is why there are coconut trees lining many beaches. Tanjung Aru Beach

Lone windsurfer at Tanjung Aru Beach

Lone windsurfer at Tanjung Aru Beach

The town of Kota Belud

The town of Kota Belud

Delivery in Kota Belud

Delivery in Kota Belud

Workmen at work installing awning for a shop in Kota Belud

Workmen at work installing awning for a shop in Kota Belud

Kinabalu Park.  There are a few lodges here

Kinabalu Park. There are a few lodges here

One of the upper streams of Silau Silau River at Kinabalu Park

One of the upper streams of Silau Silau River at Kinabalu Park

While waiting for late afternoon for the birds this happened so before leaving I made this product shot of my ride

While waiting for the birds at late afternoon then this happened, so before leaving Kinabalu Park, made this product shot of my ride

I just love driving here

I just love driving here

Scene along the highland route

The scene along the highland route

Scene along the lowland route

Scene along the lowland route

Believe me there was an egret next to it doing the same thing and same pose.  But the camera was in the bag and I had to turn around

Believe me there was an egret next to this bull doing the same thing and same pose but the camera was in the bag and I had to turn around and so this is half of the loaf

Tenom town near the railway station

Tenom town near the railway station

Pass through Sipitang on the way to Beaufort

Pass through Sipitang on the way to Beaufort

Seaside foodstalls in Sipitang

Seaside food stalls in Sipitang

Wooden shophouses in Beaufort

Wooden shophouses in Beaufort

 

Note:

I like the car rental company.  The original car that I rented was a small Perodua Viva, only that the air-conditioner was not cold enough but I didn’t mind.  Then it rained and with the windows closed, the windscreen turned opaque due to condensation.  I asked for a replacement and they duly replaced it with a better car at no additional cost.

GreenMatrix Car Rental

For Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, contact this number: 012 921 4242

 

Accommodations & Getting Around Singapore and Beyond

Cavenagh Bridge and Fullerton Building (presently being used as a hotel), two of the old icons of Singapore

Singapore is an island city state that it is possible to visit various locations in a day thanks to the excellent public transport. All you need is just an EZ-Link Card to travel around by the local buses and trains services. These trains services are termed the Mass Rapid Transit, or the MRT for short. The EZ-Link Card can be bought at any 7-Eleven convenience store or any train station for S$10 or S$12 with an initial value of S$5 or S$7 respectively. You need to top-up the stored value for another S$10 at least if not more. It depends on the frequency of your ride and note that if you top-up at 7-Eleven store there will be a service charge of S$0.50 as of this writing and no additional charge if you top it up at any train station. Past midnight you only have taxis for transport and there is a surcharge of 50% on top of the meter reading.

Robinson Rd not busy as Orchard Rd. Exit at Tanjong Pagar MRT Station

There is a new dormitory hostel that I had just found out called City Backpackers in Chinatown area. Previously I only knew of the one in Bencoolen Street which has been around for ages. For budget hotels, go look for it at Changi Road. These hotels are a walking distance to the train station plus you can find many local eateries nearby and some open past midnight if not 24 hours. There are many budget hotels in Geylang Road just after Changi Road towards the city but look for one near the junction of Paya Lebar Road (near the Paya Lebar MRT Station.) The other hotels in Geylang Road further down the road between Lorong 1 and Lorong 22 may be attractive to some. They are in a district associated with a certain colour and besides the full daily rental they also rent out the room for 3 hours for lesser amount. It is not for transit passengers and I think you get the idea. Many budget and reasonable hotels can also be found around the famous Mustafa Shopping Centre (there’s a supermaket too) which opens 24 hours daily at Serangoon Road area otherwise known as Little India. Quite a number are found at Jalan Besar just east of Bencoolen Street and a walking distance to Mustafa Shopping Centre. Still, if you want to stretch your dollars further, then stay in budget hotel in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and come to visit Singapore in the daytime and return to Johor Bahru by night.

Hotel 81 and Tristar Inn, a walking distance from Paya Lebar MRT Station

Another hotel along Changi Road, near to Eunos MRT Station

What about premium hotels? I don’t have to mention it, they are in abundance and mostly in the city and business district area, the popular tourist shopping belt of Orchard Road.

Typical settlement in Riau Archipelago, Indonesia

From Singapore, you can go travelling to the neighbouring regions. There are ferry services to Riau Archipelago, Indonesia at Tanah Merah and Harbour Front ferry terminals. You can go to Peninsula Malaysia (West Malaysia) by train, bus or taxi. There is a bus and taxi terminal at one of the ends of Queen Street that creates a T-junction with Arab Street. The other end meets Bras Basah Road. Here you can choose to go to Johor Bahru, Malaysia via express or non-express bus or taxi. Or, you can take the MRT and go north closer to the border to Kranji MRT Station where there are buses operated by two different companies that will take you across the causeway to Johor Bahru. The alternative to Kranji MRT Station is to go to Woodlands MRT Station and beneath the station there is a bus terminal, look for bus service number 950 to Johor Bahru. Please note that once you are done with the Singapore Immigration and Customs checks make sure you board the same bus (service number) or at least the bus operated by the same company. Failing to do so you will be charged for the fare again.

Queen Street Bus Terminal

Kranji MRT Station. The railing on the left is where the queue for the buses. There are two railings one for each of the two bus operators

Woodlands MRT Station. Below is a bus terminal. The railing ahead of the bus pictured here is where the queue for service 950 to Johor Bahru

There are other express bus terminals with buses that go to other states in Malaysia which you can read here. But frankly if you are on a budget it is best to go to Larkin Bus Terminal in Johor Bahru for express bus services to other states in Peninsula Malaysia. Not only there are more choices, it is cheaper too.

I did not mention specifically the train service from Singapore to Johor Bahru because it is a short distance and there is no shuttle service except for the daily schedule services to Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan with stopover at Johor Bahru, but then it is cheaper to get the ticket in Johor Bahru. From Malaysia you can continue with the train journey up to Bangkok at Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia. This train travels overnight and takes about 22 hours to reach Bangkok. It sounds disheartening but at least it’s a train journey with sleepers and not a bus journey plus you save the price of a one night hotel stay. Do not expect the landscape to change dramatically once the train crossed over to Thailand because culture wise it is about the same within the border areas, the only difference is that you begin to see Thai temples come into view ever increasingly in frequency.

Hua Lamphong Train Station, Bangkok. The journey from Butterworth ends here. There are a few budget hotels along the road seen here on the right side of the picture. Picture shot from Station Hotel

If only there is a train link in Cambodia or Laos, it would then be possible to travel overland by train all the way from Singapore to Europe via China and Russia. At the moment, this is only possible if you can make it from Thailand to Vietnam via Cambodia or Thailand to China via Laos by whatever means you can overland. Its a dream that is not impossible.

Note: I write this article hopefully it will be of help to budget travelers like me. Wish you a happy and safe travels.

Update 11 October 2013

Well I have read it somewhere that they gonna built high speed rail from China right up to Singapore through Laos. It will be in phases. For starters one is from Laos to Thailand and the other from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and it will not be solely for passengers.  I don’t know if I have the chance to experience it but it is good to know it is in the pipeline. Cheers to it.

Kuala Lumpur – Kulaijaya, Johor Day 17

AirAsia

Thursday, 11 March, 2010

12:00 am

Could not sleep all the while. At times I stood at the coach door to  have a smoke. Met an English guy who came up to have a smoke too. He was heading to Singapore to catch a flight home back in England on Thursday night. He had spent two months in Thailand and a month in Malaysia. I could sense some dismay in him at the thought of going back to normal life. He said there was still snow. Yeah, the weather seems to be ABnormal nowadays. From what I knew, it seldoms snow in London, I had been there once in December.

5:35 am

Train arrived at Kulaijaya (old name was Kulai) station as scheduled. No taxi, so I just hanged around, logged on the net.

7:00 am

Left train station to have breakfast of Roti Canai or in Singapore they called it Roti Prata. It is a kind of pancake made of wheat flour. It is cooked plain or with an egg or onion or both. You eat it with curry (fish or meat) or Dalcha. In Malaysia there is another gravy called the Sambal Tumis. You cut it into small pieces and dip it in the curry or have the curry poured over it entirely, sort like soaking it. It’s a preference to one’s desire. After the breakfast, I walked to Kulai bus terminal and took a taxi home.

8:35 am

Arrived safely back home.

This trip was made possible by the cheap flight that I had to book two months in advance by AirAsia. My intention for this trip was to shoot some photographs that include some scene from up country and if possible get to the summit of Mount Lawu. On summary, I’m glad that I had made it to the summit, some photographs in Solo and lots in Jogjakarta.

As for the up country…well, there’s always be another time.

Will update the trip blog with some pics later.

On My Way to Central Java

Well, they say new broom sweeps clean. These few days, I have been very active in updating this blog. Now on my way to Solo, Indonesia.

I left the house at 6.30 pm and reached Johor Senai Airport at about 8.00 pm. Had nasi lemak at Marry Brown. The counter to KL had not opened yet so I waited a while. Later with the boarding pass in hand, went straight in and loitered around in the departure hall. Found a corner with power point, fired up the comp and start surfing while waiting for boarding.

There was about 35 minutes delay. At 11.05 pm the flight left Senai and arrived at KL LCC terminal 45 minutes later. Nice to see that the terminal is bustling with people, some leaving and some staying and hanging around. A look at the departure board I found out that there were lots of international flights departing in the morning starting at around 5.00 am. I guess they were all like me waiting for the morning flight.

Will post some pics later.

Update: Ok here is a pic of Senai Airport departure hall.

Senai Airport Departure Hall at 10:30 pm