Tuesday 1st July – Friday 4th July. Johor Bahru (J.B.)

So, on Michael’s advice I decided to head to Malaysia to the island paradise. 


I left Singapore slightly later than planned as I got a bit distracted by “Little India” and Indian food, amongst other things.  I then spent far too long wandering round to find the bus and then got on without the correct change.  Honestly, everyone else was getting on with their Oyster card type gadgets and I was standing there fumbling with a handful of coins and several notes.  The driver didn’t look too amused and eventually figured out that I didn’t have enough money to get to where I wanted to go.  I asked that he tell me when I had to get off (so to speak) and he said he would.   I was hopeful here that he would forget and thankfully he did.  Either that or he couldn’t bear another conversation with the stupid English girl.  For much of the journey a Malaysian woman spoke to me and informed me that I should have already changed my money and that it was a -long- way to Tioman island. 


When we got to the border I went through and saw the biggest queue ever.  Having queued for some time there was this kind of bundle from behind and a massive number of people managed to get infront of me which was somewhat irksome.  When I finally got through the border I almost wished I hadn’t as there was either a massive queue for a bus or a walk along a -long- causeway.  I was told that it was a one kilometre walk but my bag suddenly appeared to have swallowed half the population of China and the prospect was so not appealing.  So I started the journey with a face like death (for a change).  A kind local man began chatting to me and actually offered to carry my bag.  I feel a bit bad actually as I don’t think I was overly polite in my telling him it was heavy and that I could, indeed, manage by myself.


Eventually, after several stops, cursing and tutting I got across the causeway and someone offered me a taxi.  When I got to the taxi not only was it clearly just some bloke’s car but it had a really dodgy repair of the rear triangle window.  I spent all of five seconds wondering if he was the one who had put the window in and then gave up and decided to get in the (possibly stolen) car.  I told the “taxi driver” that I wanted to go to a cheap hotel and he took me to a “guesthouse” out of town.  Actually I don’t think it was that sinister but there were no shops or anything around it.  I pointed this out and said that I wanted to be more central and he helpfully pointed to the Esso garage for me.  He eventally got the idea (decided to waive his comission) and took me to another hotel, the “Grand paradise” hotel.  Now with a name like that, and the fact that the place looked like a multi-storey car park, you know you’re onto a winner right?  So I went in, asked how much it was, had absolutely no idea what the currency conversion was, agreed, paid and went to my room. 


The lift itself was somewhat concerning and I thought more than once about plunging to my death.  I didn’t and when I got out on the fourth floor I was greeted by a windowless hallway with bright turquoise carpets (well bright where they weren’t stained) and red writing on the walls which red “Keluar”.   This immediately made me think of White Russians but, having seen it since, I actually think it means exit or fire escape or something.  When I got to my room I opened the door and was actually amazingly pleasantly surprised.  The room was really big with a double bed and a single bed and one entire wall was big windows with a view of the city scape.  Admittedly it wasn’t in the best decorative order and I wouldn’t be using the bath for anything other than showering, but I kind of liked it.  The room was really retro with the coolest 70s type control box next to the bed.  I later checked exchange rates online and found out that the room was costing me the princely sum of around thirteen pounds.


The following morning I expored the town a bit more and spent an insane amount of time online uploading pictures.  I also discovered that the street restaurant opposite my hotel not only did great food but the most amazing shakes.  My favourite was the blueberry ice blend.  Mmmm, actually that’s making me want one now thinking about it.  In the evening I wandered around the street-side parks and received a fair few unwanted comments, some from one particular man were so obscene that I’m not going to write them.  Honestly, I was shocked!  Can’t people see how sweet and innocent and easily offended I am?  At one point I was taking photos of a fountain and another man, who had also made suggestions and invitations which I wasn’t overly ready to accept, proceeded to undo his flies.  I wasn’t sure if he was about to relieve himself, actually I was but I wasn’t sure which version of relief he was about to apply, so I quickly walked away deciding that I had slightly preferable things to take photos of.  Okay, sorry about that one, I’ll move on.


So……….on the Thursday I was still in Johor Bahru and was quickly realising that I either needed to leave for Tioman island sharpish or have no time in Singapore at all.  Despite the somewhat strange attention I liked Johor Bahru.  It had a good atmosphere, great food and the area I was staying in was bustling with food stalls, street vendors and cafes, late into the night.  I decided that I would chill out, drink more shakes and do boring things like sort my laundry out and then head back to Singapore for two full days. 


 Whilst in J.B. I spent way too much time shopping.  I was really near City Square which was an awesome shopping centre with an area at one end which was set up more like stalls and was the young and trendy place for fashion buys.  I also ventured out to a shopping mall some distance out of town which was a bit like Bluewater or Lakeside.  It was massive actually and full of “proper shops” like Topshop and Nike which didn’t appeal so much.  I also ate a lot of great food at crazily low prices.  One of my favourite meals was a kind of buffet where I had chilied mussels (I wasn’t quite aware just how hot they were when I was spooning them onto my plate), fish cake, oriental spinach and various vegetables (including some weird kind of dumpling thing) which cost me around two quid with a drink.  Another past time I adopted in J.B. was buying a magazine, a shake and retiring to my room.  Yes I know, you’re only young once right?  Anyway the magazines were hilarious.  Although a lot of the content was the same i.e. “how to please your man”, “the top tops for July” etc, there were some notable differences.  One thing which struck me in “Marie Claire Malaysia” was the number of adverts for whitening cream and the emphasis in a lot of the articles about staying out of the sun.  The magazine which caused me the greatest amusement was one called Cleo.  There was an article in the July 08 edition of this called, “Men who rape then post it on the internet”.  There was a “crimes caught on camera rapsheet” at the end of the article which stated the following:


“In Australia, May 2006:  Mobile phone footage of a group of Victorian girls viciously kicking another girl in the head was circulated on the Internet”


Now I don’t know if it’s because I’m English but I had to re-read this about three times before I got the reference to the place Victoria rather than a group of nice girls wearing pleasant hats from the Victorian era!


The article continued”

“In Malaysia, November 2005″:  A 23-year-old female Malay woman was detained at a police station was (sic) filmed doing ear squats in the nude by a policeman using a mobile phone”.


Okay, I was completely lost by this one.  Can someone please explain to me what ear squats are?


I think that the strangest thing about the whole article, which was clearly taking the whole damning how horrendous line, was a box at the end with a graphic which said, “Be safe.  Don’t leave any incriminating images or videos on your phone”.


Later in the magazine there was advice about how to phrase those difficult emails.  I particularly liked the email advice for the “You’re dumped email”.  The first is apparently what you should write:

Subject:  Don’t think it’s working out”

“Dear Darren,

I’ve been doing some thinking and, although we’ve had some great times (that roundabout after the pub springs to mind), I just don’t think it’s really happening between us – we’re just too different.  But give me a shout if you want to go for a beer in the future – just so long the stupid football isn’t on.

Take care,


Erm, is it just me or can you see some potential problems with that email?  The what not to write email was just as good:

Subject:  “So long sucker!”

“Dear Darren,

So you got off with that cow I used to call a best friend.  Well it’s your loss.  Yes, you made me cry for three days straight over a pillow that still smells of you.  But as Whitney says ‘It’s not right but it’s okay and I’m going to make it anyway.”

Hot Susan.

p.s. I hope I never, ever see you again.  Except at Bernice and Mark’s wedding next month obviously.”


Oh I would Soooo go for the second.  I mean the Whitney quote is pure genius right?


You know I asked about the libel laws in a previous blog entry?  Well, now I may need some legal advice on copyright law also.  Hey ho, I’ll just share one more delight from the ever-amusing Cleo magazine.  This one’s from the questions and answers page (they’re always so good but this one has the whole Asian gender line twist).


“Q:  After years of having my man surreptitiously use my concealer to cover skin blemishes, I recently called him on it.  He was a little shamefaced but I was totally cool with it and was really just having a laugh.  The other day, however, I noticed a new bottle of concealer in our bathroom whch I hadn’t bought.  In fact, it was one especially formulated for men.  Which I thought was, a little, well, gay to be honest.  I had no problem with him using mine, but something is odd about him buying his own.  Am I crazy to feel this way?

A:  Yes, yes and yes.  You don’t merely have double standards but may have just invented triple ones!  The fact that he was using your products obviously niggled enough to prompt a comment, so when he remedies the situation, he’s now a little gay?  Dude, check yourself.  Nothing wrong with a bit of metrosexuality.  It’s only when he starts using your eyeshadow or blush that there’s a problem.”


Well dudes and dudettes, I hope you’ve all taken note, that’s all I can say!

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