Truth be told, I have never been to JB. I have had one foot in to Johor, as far as Tangkak. But other than that, I know nuts about the state further down south.
So, when it was to happen that Mr Yoong and hubby starting planning a visit to JPO and other parts of Johor, I was thrilled. And why shouldn't I....JPO houses Kipling and I was itching to get a Kipling at a good deal. I am such a bag person.
The planning started before I even had my Singapore family holiday so I was very much outside the initial itinerary emails. And then the Yoongs had their family holidays so JB trip was out of our minds for a while. And then the weekend crept up upon us and soon I realised we were 2 days away from the trip.
So, on the fateful morning of 13 December, we made our way to Puchong, petrol station, a jam, Putrajaya and then we were enroute to Johor.
The trip to was alright. It didn't seem that long. Perhaps because we made one pit stop at Tangkak to get allergy drops for Caylee. So it did seem that we were reaching Ayer Keroh and then a short while later, we had reached our 'destination' Tangkak.
We had a little incident of a dog kidnap in Tangkak. The Samsung phone saved the day.
And then we had lunch in the only other famous beef noodles shop there. The beef noddles were so-so. I say that because I love Vietnamese beef noodles and this one was no way close to that. I know I should take it as it is. And as it is, it was pretty good. But....
The little bakery shops in Tangkak were pretty cool though. From a city-girl-who-loves-her-confectionery's perspective where bakeries are mainly air con places, the smell of an open oven emitting baked bread and cookies was lovely.
After lunch it was all the way to JPO. Mrs Yoong let us out when after a turn or 2, we did not find any parking. And then when the whole group was together, like a dog on leash, I was let go.
My initial opinion of JPO was that although they try to make it look (although in such a smaller scale) like the US outlets, the shopping satisfaction is so different. The thing is in US, store prices equates to just about Malaysia equivalent price, and sometimes even cheaper. So, when you get to the Premium Outlets and everything is 50% off, it becomes too good a deal not to get it. But here, I go to Kipling for example and there are only 2 shelves 50% off with thus limited color and style. And then I start converted it to the US equivalent and trying to remember if I were to purchase it in US, will I be able to get it? And the sad thing is, I would. Perhaps even cheaper if I get it from US. The only thing about buying from US is that I will have to wait for someone to bring it back for me. But in the few months to come I have plenty coming. It was an unfortunate fact for me that I was looking forward so much to buying a Kipling in JPO that I felt so dejected.
At any rate, I continued walking. Bought some dresses and clothes for my daughter from Cotton On. At that price I would not even say it was a good deal. But hubby exclaimed 'Cotton On woh'!
I would say the Sacoor shop perhaps had the best deals. At 75% (was it?) off, hubby bought 2 working shirts. And while we were waiting for the long queue to pay, I did buy a Kipling in the end. Just for the joy of paying for it and holding it in my hands. But I love my Kipling at any rate. Pink and beige and typical Kipling look and feel.
We were dead tired and terribly hungry after JPO. Now for the life of me, I don't know anything about the geography of Johor. So when we ended up in Skudai for dinner, I was like ok. I know Skudai town only as a name of a town in Johor, but given we were just in Kulai, how was it that I never felt I left a town to reenter another?
And that is my greatest impression of Johor. That once you reach the southern part, the smaller towns all merge together. So, I don't really know when I left one small town and when I have reached another. It reminded me of the Federal Highway linking KL to PJ and then to other towns. Very different from Kampar to Tapah to Bidor. You definitely know when you leave Kampar and wait patiently for Bidor to arrive.
We had a down-the-memory-lane drive with Mr Yoong and were then taken to the famous Skudai duck rice. It was good. Better than the PJ old town duck and much cleaner, less crowded. After dinner, it was a pit stop to take petrol, buy drinks and junk and etc. No ice cream lest you have to walk alone to the hotel.
The hotel, Le Grandeur....was the most welcoming sight after such a long day. Now, the thing about reaching a hotel late at night is that all you want to do is check in and wash up. Different from when you reach a hotel in the afternoon, then you are eager to check in and then check out the hotel. And maybe also jump into the pool. So, after checking in and getting our extra bed (which we got free thanks to John and the work he is doing), to soften the blow of unable to go swimming, the kids had tub time. And from the room, the night view of the pool looked too welcoming that we did not leave the hotel without jumping into it.
And that was what we did the next morning. After a crowded, fight for food at the breakfast buffet, the kids and I had a swim. The 2 Mr-s and Mrs Yoong relaxed, took pics. I could not resist a dip in the pool. We checked out at the appointed time to check out and then headed to Danga Bay and JB town. But before that, for all the simple pleasures in life, the Yoongs had to do an imaginary just-arriving 'wah' exclaim, just for the sake of it! Hilarious bunch!
Danga Bay. What can I say about this place. First, it would have been better if we had seen this at night. In the heat of the afternoon and without the magic of lighting, I reckon none of us were all too keen to take any pics. Also the walkway supposedly next to the sea was ruined because there wasn't anymore sea next to it. I blame it on poor planning. We have so much land, yet we choose to reclaim and reclaim. The same sorry state of Malacca. We left after perhaps 30 minutes or less.
Now, JB is another story. As we were entering JB, there were this whole row of heritage administrative buildings. It reminded me of Penang with the historical buildings and canopy like trees facing the sea front. But as I moved along slowly in the car, the feeling of JB benig similar to Penang faded. In fact there is no town that I can even say JB reminds me of. Although why I tried, I don't even know. It was narrow streets in the circle within. And then when you reach the outer loop, it was like broader roads going somewhere else. It was also unique in that the town center was established around such a hilly area. I don't think any other town, apart from Kuching has that many hilly roads in the town proper.
After a short tour, the traffic jams were horrendous, we left JB to have lunch. Convenient and simple, we had McDs on the way back home. After all that swimming, I was so ready for a grease filled lunch. The journey home was too long. Seremban and Sunday ain't a good match. And the alternate route was equally jammed. So at 7:30, we stopped by Kajang and had dinner before heading home.
Was it a good trip? Definitely, except for the leg home. I got to go to JB and it was nicer visiting a new state with Mr Yoong who has memories of the place. I love looking at the past sometimes, imagining how life used to be. And as always Mr and Mrs are always very accommodating. And their kids are the best examples my kids can have. I think half the fun would be lost without their kids. They help ever so much to keep my little ones entertained. Road trips are always good because they give you a chance to get to know someone better. And with the Yoongs, I get some time to myself too - either to be alone to rest or to engage in proper adult conversation.