Thursday, December 26, 2013

Food in Johor Bahru- Tan Hiok Nee Road and Eight Lido

Tan Hiok Nee was a rich and famous person in Johor Bahru (JB). Born in 1827, he had a humble beginning as a small textile retailer but his turned to be the most prominent businessman after sultan of Johor granted several concessions to him. Well, we are not going to have a history class here. You can find more information about Tan at Wikipedia

One of the streets at the center of Johor Bahru has been named Tan Hiok Nee Road to commemorate his contribution to the state. Tan Hiok Nee Road is located at the southern end of Wong Ah Fook Road, around 400 meters south from JB City Square. Streets nearby are Dhoby Road, Pahang Road, Trus Road, and Segget Road. Parking our car was the biggest problem around the area. The streets were always congested and we had to park our car a few streets away. Illegal parking might be risky as we noticed frequent policemen patrol around the area. A feast ended with a fine ticket on the windscreen was the last thing that we wished. In our last visit to JB, we went to the street two consecutive days for food and we would like to share what we found at Tan Hiok Nee Road.

Tan Hiok Nee Road has been transformed into a Chinese cultural and heritage street.

The street was well decorated. We saw a few people did some drawing in front of the shop lot (lower left). A wall with the words "It is more blessed to give than to receive"- a verse taken from the Holy Bible (lower right).

The arch of Tan Hiok Nee Road was flanked by two kopitiam. By random, we visited the left one- Kedai Makan Old Street Corner (upper left). The kopitiam had enough ceiling fans to keep us cool in the middle of the day (upper right), and served several traditional Chinese delicacies which for us, up to the standard to be recommended to all of you. By the way, the coffee served, both hot and cold were really good.

The shop next to Old Street Corner- Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit Factory attracted our attention with the people gathered outside of the shop (upper left). Well, the bakery was unique with the baking done by a big brick-made oven heated by firewood (upper right). Yes, wood! The old-fashioned oven was so big that it took up more than half of the shop (lower right). Well, we were lucky to grab ourselves one box of banana cakes (with RM8). The taste- excellent! As the factory only bake the bread once in a day, so we will see the queue only when the bread is almost done during the noon time. For the rest of the time, we can get other products such as buns and cakes quite easily. Hiap Joo which operated since 1919 was rated 5 out of 5 in Tripadvisor. The location- 13 Tan Hiok Nee Road.

We tried the noodle with beef tripe (lower left) and beef (lower right) at Triple K. Both were excellent. Well, one down side- the shop was warm even with the air-conditioners on. The shop seemed to be renovated, but the back side of the shop looked unappealing. Recommended? Yes, but be prepared to be sweaty. Anyway, the shop is located at the opposite side of Hiap Joo Bakery at 65, Tan Hiok Nee Road. Price per person was about RM10.

The shop was old. The owner had been cooking Teow Chew noodle there since 1969. According to the newspaper cutting, the soup for the noodle was cooked with firewood. We tried the dry noodle and noodle with soup. The noodle was good, but the overall taste were not what we had expected. The soup was a bit tasteless (for us). Well, that's Teow Chew noodle. If you wish to try some, please visit Kedai Makanan Sang Heng at 7, Tan Hiok Nee Road (beside HSBC Bank). Price per person was around RM5.

IT Roo was crowdy during lunch hours. The air-conditioning room was fully occupied during our visit. No choice, we took a table outside the shop. It was warm. Dubbed itself as "the best chicken chop in town", haha, it could be more appropriate to state as "the cheapest" with the price range from RM15 - RM25 per serving.

The air conditioned room was fully occupied (upper left), with some decorations on the wall (upper right). We tried steak with black pepper gravy (lower left) and roasted chicken chop with mushroom. The taste, to be frank, second upper. However, by putting the price and the location into our consideration, we might visit it again. IT Roo is located at 17, Dhoby Road (corner lot at the junction with Pahang Road).

If you happen to make a brief stop at JB, we would recommend that you grab some banana cakes from Hiap Joo Bakery and take a cup of coffee at Old Street Corner. If you opt for a more filling meal, then Triple K is a good choice. How about IT Roo? A big yes if you are fancy about western food, particularly chicken chop with fair price. Anyway, frankly speaking, we can get nice chicken chop all over Malaysia (price is another story), so in case you have travelled a thousand miles to JB, we would suggest that you should try something more "indigenous". You can find out more about our sharing on nice food in JB here.

Not to forget one more place that we visited for nice Spanish food- Eight Lido. Our friend Chia En recommended us to visit the nice British-style bungalow at Lido Beach for its nice environment. Well, she was right, that place was excellently decorated on the inside and well landscaped on the outside. But we almost left immediately after we knew that it served Spanish food. Come on, going to JB for Spanish food just didn't make sense to us. 

However, after a short discussion, Kelly urged us to stay, as she mentioned that if we wish to just take a try on Spanish food, that will be our best chance, for the price for the same type of food minus the nice environment in Kuala Lumpur cost double the figures in the menu. Well, too bad, we stayed and took Spanish food in JB.

Alright, the price was half compared to Kuala Lumpur, how about the quality? We had never tried Spanish food before but Kelly did, for a few times. Her comment- excellent. The food tasted authentic with unbeatable freshness. 

 The smoking section of Lido Eight. The non-smoking section was fully occupied during our visit.

 The outdoor dining area facing the strait.

Food for our dinner- Costilla de res estofada en salsa de vino tinto (braised beef ribs in red wine sauce) (upper left), Paella arruz negros (Rice and seafood with squid ink) (upper right), Gambas frescas con chile ajo y aceite de oliva (fresh prawns with chilli pepper, garlic and olive oil) (lower left), and Croquettes de pollo y queso (chicken and cheese croquettes with honey mustard). Together with the drinks, we spent around RM50 per person for the first-time-in-our-life spanish dinner. If you wish to try something not local to JB, such as Spanish food, then Eight Lido is definitely the place for you! The location, 8, Skudai Road (facing the strait). Open time was 6 pm onwards. We would like to thank Allan, the owner of Eight Lido and his crew for the great services. 

More about our experience in Johor Bahru can be found in our previous posts:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Universal Studio Singapore

We started our journey to Universal Studio Singapore (USS) from Johor Bahru (JB). The bus ticket was available at the ground floor of Merlin Tower. A few bus companies were operational, but we only managed to find one with the bus departed at 8:30 am (707 Travel Group). We bought two-way tickets with RM10 per person. The ticket from USS back to Johor Bahru was sold at SD5 at the ticket counter at USS, instead of RM5. So, it was more worthy to buy the return ticket at JB. We parked our car at the basement of City Square with the rate of RM25 per day- expensive but safer choice.

Merlin Tower, 8:15 am, most of the counters were still closed (upper left), with only Nusantara 707 Travel Group provided bus to USS at 8:30 am (upper right). We boarded the bus in front of the old Johor Bahru train station opposite of Merlin Tower (lower left). The bus was new and very comfortable.

As we traveled on weekday at non peak hour, we just experienced minor congestion at Singapore. The whole journey to USS from Merlin Tower took us around 1 hour 40 minutes. 10:10 am, we reached the front door of USS. Our cousin at Singapore helped us to buy the tickets a day earlier, so we didn't face much problem at the ticket counter.

Photo with our cousin Mia Ming and our sister Kelly (first and second from the left) in front of Universal Studio.

With Kelly's extensive planning, we went straight to Transformer The Ride (delayed one to two minutes by the Sesame Street Stage Shows), followed by Revenge of the Mummy. After the thrilling rides, we buffered ourselves by slow-paced Treasure Hunter ride. Our queuing time for all three rides were remarkably short- 15 minutes for Transformer and Treasure Hunter each, and we were actually the first few to enter the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster ride, with zero waiting time.

Autobot model standing on the street opposite of Sci-Fi City (left). The queue was quite long for the ride, but we managed to get to our turn in 15 minutes (middle). While waiting for our turn to hoop onto the ride, we enjoyed the transformer themed surrounding and the videos showing the background of the world of robots.

The Ancient Egypt is well themed with giant statues. It is next to Sci-Fi City.

The entrance to Revenge of the Mummy ride. It is a roller coaster with most of the time, moving with high speed and twisting in the dark. As people can't see anything around, it is advised to keep the our head to the headrest. The dark surrounding diminished the thrill and increased the possibility of walking out with a strained neck due to its unpredictable and out-of-expectation motion.

Time was running fast. We went straight to the WaterWorld live show at around 12 pm. The show ended 20 minutes later with lots of gun fires and explosions. Then, we went to The Lost World where we took the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure and Canopy Flyer, with less than 15 minutes of waiting time respectively.

This live show brought us back to the movie Water World by Kevin Costner. The whole area was covered by metal plates resembled the settlement in the movie.

The stage was not very big, but well decorated. The seats were divided into three zones- wet zone, splash zone, and dry zone. During our visit, the dry zone was only safe place to stay dry. By the way, you will not get wet during the show. The water is basically splashed purposely by the supporting actors in funny ways before the show begins.

Gun shoots, explosion, and smoke are the main attractions. The storyline however was weak.

You will get soaked in Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, especially in the last 60 seconds of the ride. You really need a raincoat. Well, you can buy a raincoat at the entrance to the ride with SD4, or you can buy a cheaper one outside. For those who travel from Malaysia, you can get a cheap disposable raincoat with RM2.50 from Seven-Eleven. Along the ride,  we can see some dinosaurs moving their heads, waving their front legs, and making some noises. The movement of dinosaurs looked unrealistic.

Canopy Flyer is a suspended roller coaster. It is nearby Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. With about two minutes of riding time, it was a bit too short for us. The photo shows a view during the ride.

Our advices- wear shoes and store all the loose items at the rack provided before riding Canopy Flyer, or your cap and flip-flops might ended up landing on the roof top of the building. 

Next station, Far Far Away. We found Shrek 4-D Adventure was interesting, and Puss-in-Boots mascot was cute. The rest like Donkey LIVE and Enchanted Airways couldn't really raise our interest to walk through the entrance. We visited Shrek's tree house before joined the street party hosted by King Julien and other characters from Madagascar at 3:15 pm. Of course, the cutest characters were the Boogie penguins! Then, we moved on with King Julien's Beach Party-Go-Round and Madagascar: A Crate Adventure.

We went back to Far Far Away to take photo with Puss-In-Boots at 4 pm. The time for photo session with the big cat was not available in the leaflet. We were lucky to receive the information from a cleaner in the theme park. Exhausted, we took a rest at Mel's Drive-in fast food restaurant at Hollywood street. There, we enjoyed french fries, cooling air, sipping Coke, and watching the show from the Street Party entertainers- Mel's Dinettes and the Cruisers!

Entrance to the Far Far Away.

House of Shrek (upper left) and castle of Princess Fiona (upper right), along with few shops and food stalls along the street.

Photo session with Puss-in-Boots.

"We like to move it move it!" energized the hot afternoon.

Excellent performance by the Cruisers at Hollywood's street stage. Watch their performance at Youtube by secretayu21.

Recharged, we went back to New York street to pick up the leftovers- Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase and Light, Camera, Action. To our surprise, Light, Camera, Action! hosted by Steven Spielberg was a stunning show that really gave us the "Hollywood" feel. We watched the Monster Rock at Pantages Hollywood Theater before we started shopping around.

Light, Camera, Action! is a must visit in USS. It is located at New York Street (upper left). Although the 5 minutes show was stunning, the visitors were not many during our visit (upper right). By the way, the first row of spectators might get wet due to the splash caused by the falling building at the right side of the stage. Spaghetti Space Chase is a Sesame Street themed ride. It is a gentle and cozy ride.

Hollywood street houses many souvenir shops.

New York street is around 50 meters long, with a few eateries and rides.

We were lucky to visit USS at none peak season. There were not many visitors in the park. The longest queuing time was encountered at the Canopy Flyer, and the shortest was the Revenge of the Mummy. Well, none of them exceeded 15 minutes. We went straight into a few shows and ride as well with almost zero waiting time (Shrek 4-D, The Revenge of the Mummy, Party-Go-Round, A Crate Adventure, and Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase).

Plan ahead and be early. Go straight to the most interesting rides as early as possible before the queue forms. Do not go around the park theme by theme (although that is more systematic). For us, we have four main targets- the Transformer 4-D Adventure, Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park Rapid Adventure, and the WaterWorld Live Show, which we completed all of them before 1 pm. Then, we went around with slower pace, picking up the "leftover" rides and shows later.

The food and beverages are expensive, at least for us. Converting SD1 to RM2.50, a simple meal with burger plus fries and Coke can be RM42++. So, bringing some snacks, bread and sandwiches might be helpful to save some money. A milk shake at Far Far Away costs RM17.50 but it costs around 1/3 at Mel's Drive-in. So, if you really wish to take something in the park, do go around and survey the price of the food, of course only if you mind about the price. How about the drink? Worry not, the drinking water fountains are available at all the entrance of the restrooms to keep us well hydrated.

We went out of the theme park around 8 pm. Although the park was closed at 7 pm, the shops continued their operation till the visitors left the premises. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Mia Ming afterward, and headed back to JB at around 9:30 pm.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kampung Morten, a Tranquil Island in the Ocean of Development

Kampung Morten, or Morten Village is a village in the middle of the city of Melaka. Named after the British Land Commissioner, F. J. Morten who had contributed to the opening of the village, the village was found around 1920 an by Othman Mohd. Noh. Surrounded by skyscrapers and highways, Melaka River is the only barrier that eludes the tranquil village from the bustle world on the opposite bank.

Retaining the traditional architecture, the peaceful village is claimed to be the living museum. Most of the residences there are fenceless, which means visitors can actually take a very close look and feel the daily living of the community. Of course, most of the families have cars and motorbikes park in their houses.

To reach the village, a walk along the walkway beside the Melaka River from Melaka Tourist Information Centre (near Stadthuys) will take around 20 - 30 minutes. If you stay in Ramada Hotel, Bayview Hotel, Orchid Hotel, and Hotel Central Melaka (formerly Continental Hotel), then the village is just one to two minutes away by foot, through a bridge beside Putra Specialist Hospital.

Kampung Morten consists of more than 50 traditional Malay residences. Beautified Melaka River draws border between the village and the city, dividing the modern and the traditional.

 Kampung Morten is surrounded by modern buildings.

The red traditional village rooftops can never be harmonized into the skyscrapers behind. The visitors on board of the cruising water taxi can feel it the best.

Nicely decorated walkway spanning from the tourist centre at the middle of the city to the village. One thing is lacking- the cover. So, umbrella is necessary for those who wish to take the journey in the middle of the day.

The bridge that connects the new and the old, the modern and the traditional, like a time machine.

A late afternoon walk in the village is definitely a leisure experience. Villagers are coming out for outdoor activities, drinking tea and coffee, chitchat with their neighbours while kids are playing around. 

"Apa khabar?" (How are you?) or simply "Hello" will yield fruitful conversation from the villagers. Even if we simply wave to the pakcik (uncle) sitting in front of the house, a replying wave and a big smile is surely followed.

Villa Sentosa is opened to public daily from 9 am - 5 pm, with one to two hours of lunch break from 1 - 3 pm. The address is 136, Kampung Morten, Malacca. Tel no.+606-2822988. Visitors can actually go into the house for a visit with resident tour guide.

Many traditional kampung houses adopt open community concept, which the fences are built for decoration, not to refrain anyone from moving freely within the compound.

 Very old-fashioned kampung house.
See, the door is open for better ventilation, with nobody at home... We can't really experience the lifestyle like this anymore nowadays in the city.

Drying clothes in an open space in the middle of the city will end up with something stolen, but not in Kampung Morten. Villagers trust the visitors, as much as they trust their own neighborhood.

5:30 pm, the sun goes down and children start coming out for their outdoor activities.

How close you can go to count how many fishes are there in the aquarium? Well, you can go as close as you wish to.

To be frank, Kampung Morten is too young to stand side by side with Stadthuys or A' Famosa. It is too quiet to be compared to Jonker Street. However, if you are in Malaysia, and have not visited any traditional Malay village yet, then Kampung Morten is definitely a worthy choice. Neither long journey nor overnight stay are required, as Kampung Morten is located right in the heart of Melaka city area. Plus, the entrance is free.
 Several homestays are available within the the village area.

 Modern and old- chairs in front of a house.

Very cute curtains.

In 1988, Melaka State Government gazetted the village as a heritage area. Well, tourists start to come, and of course, business opportunities emerge. Well, our personal opinion, grabbing the opportunity is good, but don't get it overdone.

The wooden booth built beside the road promote the souvenirs and tourism related business, while creating jobs for the villagers, but at the same time spoilt the peaceful village atmosphere.

We really appreciate nice looking village house, but this one is a bit... overdone. Well, originality is what the visitors treasure.

As the development of the surrounding area is intense, it is important for the village to be kept as close as it's original state.

If you ask, is this kampung a must visit site in Melaka? Well, it depends on your schedule. If you have a tight schedule, then save your time for the historical sites such as A' Famosa and Stadthuys, as well as the museums and Jonker Street. If you have some time to spare, then, visiting Kampung Morten will be a great option to fill your itinerary.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Charm of Italy

Dear all readers, the following post is written by our guest writer Catherine Lavinia with the information regarding the places, food, and accomodation in Italy. Take a look and hope you will find it useful!

By: bettyandlingshing

Italy has a certain charm that seems to lure visitors year after year, especially those who can't get enough of its history and culture. Whether it’s the water banks of Venice or the sophisticated style of Milan, Italy has a lot to shout about when it comes to fascinating cities. To whet your appetite, a great range of accommodation can be found at: as well as some top deals on package holidays to Italy.

Capital Rome is a hotbed of ancient history, with its famous sights including the magnificent Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel to name just a few. Wander around the ancient buildings then relax and enjoy an espresso and a bite to eat in a shady, sun-dappled square. Italy certainly knows how to do lunch, with mouth-watering stone baked pizzas, pastas and salads and temping desserts on the menu, not forgetting the delicious wines on offer.

Venice is a great holiday destination for couples. Travelling around the city is often done via the canal - you can hop on a vaporetto (a water bus) or a gondola, and be transported up stream in a leisurely fashion whilst listening to music and enjoying a drink or a few nibbles. St Mark’s square and the Rialto Bridge are both great sights to see.

One of Italy’s well know lakes is Lake Garda; a top holiday spot for its breathtaking scenery, thrilling water sports and family friendly attractions. There are many resorts to choose from dotted around the huge lake with something to suit everyone whether you’re looking for a chilled out, relaxing break or an action packed adventure. Activities such as rock climbing, sailing, canoeing and horse riding are on offer in Italy as well as some fantastic walking trails. In short, you’re never far from splendid scenery!

Italy’s two largest islands, Sicily and Sardinia are both popular for beach holidays with gorgeous sandy beaches offering fantastic scenic backdrops. Mount Etna is Sicily’s active volcano, a fascinating visit, while the town of Taormina boasts a Greek amphitheatre with stunning views to the bay below.

Costa Smeralda in Sardinia is the place to go for an exclusive break with some superb, top class hotels on the coast. With upmarket restaurants and expensive boutiques, this place attracts some famous celebrities, not the place for a cheap getaway!

So, whichever corner of Italy takes your fancy, this is a place that’s sure to charm and leave you wanting more...
By Catherine Lavinia

Monday, September 16, 2013

Putrajaya International Fireworks Competition 2013- Page 2 of 2

We thought we have seen everything before China team stunned us on 14 Sept. Unlike the night before, we could feel the heat of the competition along the highway. Cars were moving, crowd was forming. Then, mistakenly, we took the way to Putrajaya Water Sports Complex, instead of our original destination at Persiaran Tasik. It turned to be a blessing. The water sports complex was much closer to the stage, where we could hear the music playing for the performance.

China team showed their muscles as the old master of fireworks. They cleverly arranged the explosion to be done at different height, keeping the smokes away from  blocking the view of fireworks. The fireworks formed different patterns, with great timing and precision. One thing which was bad- raining. Too bad we had brought only one umbrella. Not much photos had been taken.

 China team performed under terrible weather condition. We could see from the movement of the smokes that the wind was strong.

 Different combinations of the fireworks.

We found that the water sports complex is a good spot. We went back to the same location to see the performance of US team yesterday.

US team didn't give up easily. They dished out a few Disney themed songs, with the fireworks "danced" with the music. Without the interference of the rain, the music was loud and clear. That was really a feast of visual and audio. For those who had missed the show, one more chance in 2013- 2nd October 2013 (Wednesday). Besides Putrajaya Water Sports Complex, there are a few other strategic location to watch the show.

 Fireworks with Disney themed songs.


 Different colours with high contrast to the dark sky.

 Different patterns displayed.

And the all-out finale!

 Our photo a few minutes before the show started. Photo taken by Kelly :)

 Be early as the fireworks fans are growing.

Sitting ouside is better than sitting on the stage. However, we need to bring along our umbrella, just in case of raining.

The competition is gaining its reputation. More and more people are coming to watch the show. We were caught in traffic congestion for more than 40 minutes during China team's show. The congestion turned worse during US team's show. We took more than one hour to get home. So, we might need to mentally prepare for the heavy traffic jam after the show.

Back to Page 1.