Thursday, 18 October 2018

JB trip

I decided to share about weekend trip to Johor Bahru (JB) as I almost visit JB every month since Aug18. I used to drag going to JB as I hated the horrendous weekend jam but this changes after I start to travel to JB by train. This page will be updated when there are .

Transport to and from JB
When I went to JB in early September, I took bus as this was an impromptu trip and the train tickets were sold out one month earlier. I took bus 170 from Kranji MRT and was stuck in the jam for 1hr before I reached Singapore custom. Lesson learnt: Either take bus 170X or alight at the train station bus stop and walk to the Singapore custom if taking bus 160 or 170. It took me almost 1.5hr to clear both custom, clearing Singapore custom was quite fast which took about 20min, then stuck in the causeway for 15min and another 45min to clear Malaysia custom. Returning was much smoother as we had early dinner on Sunday and reached the Malaysia custom at 7pm. It took us 45min to clear but the causeway and Singapore custom were smooth sailing. At the Malaysia custom, we saw long queue snaking at bus 160/170 yet there wasn't many people queueing for bus 950. It doesn't matter taking bus 160/170/950 as all will alight at the Singapore custom. Other options include taking the yellow CW bus or AC7 bus or the private blue bus which only accept cash. 

Train tickets are available for booking on KTM official website exactly 30 days in advance  (another method of counting the days is 1 month + 1 day e.g. Today is 12 Oct 18 (Fri) and 10 Nov 18 (Sat) train ticket is being release) and the tickets are release at 8.30am daily.  I tried using Easybook and KTM but both websites were down for quite a while in early September and I could not book tickets at all. I resorted to buying tickets at JB Sentral train station when I went in by bus. My ex-colleague recommend me Easybook as there is shopback cashback for booking via this website but the tickets at easybook are not released at 8.30am exactly. As the train tickets are limited, I rather forgo the cashback and buy directly from KTM official website. Weekends tickets are extremely popular especially these timing: Saturday to JB 8.30am, 9.40am, 10.50am and Sunday from JB 7pm, 8.10pm and 9.20pm. From my observation, these tickets are usually sold out within half an hour after it is release at 8.30am. Hence the only way of booking these timing is to wake up early and book at 8.30am.

Transport around JB
I always plan to stay at the hotel near the places which I want to explore to minimise travelling. In the event if the distance are far apart, I will take Grab and rate starts from RM5 ~ S$2 which is so cheap. Taking grab is the main reason why I purchased a Malaysia SIM card.

Prepaid SIM card
I bought a Digi SIM card when I went to Miri. I didn't know that the SIM card can be extended with RM1 until my ex-colleague shared with me. I have heard from friends who discard their SIM card and buy a new one whenever they went to JB. Although buying a new SIM card is not very expensive but there is cheaper way to maintain the validity of the existing SIM card. 

After I'm back in Singapore after my Miri trip, I download the app "MyDigi" into my phone, insert the Digi SIM card and connect using wifi to create the new account. After the account is successfully created, the credit balance and the expiry date will be shown. As long as the SIM card is reload or extend the validity within 75 days, the SIM card will not be terminated. If there is credit balance in the account, simply click the extend validity which will deduct RM1 from the credit balance and volia, the SIM card is valid for 1 day use and the inactive period will be further extended by 75 days. I found these 2 post in HWZ very useful: Post 4014 & Post 6757.

There are few reload methods, the most convenient one are online top up using credit card or buy the reload vouchers from digi store beforehand. On the day when I'm travelling to JB, I insert the Digi SIM card and open MyDigi app using wifi at home first. If my credit balance is less than RM2, I'll key in the 16 digit top up code under "Reload -> PIN" to top up the credit balance. However if I have > RM2 credit balance, I will click "Extend validity -> 1 day" to reactivate it. I prefer topping up in Singapore and avoid topping up at the digi store so that I can start using the SIM card once I reach Malaysia custom.

-Custom & JB old town area
Belllo Hotel is located just opposite JB Sentral and within walking distance from City Square and the old town where many cafes are located. It is a no frill hotel which is good for a night stay. I booked through Agoda as the rate is cheaper than booking direct from the hotel website. I paid S$59 for a deluxe room and was upgrade to the premier room as the deluxe room was not available when I checked in early at 11am. The premier room don't seem to be much larger than the deluxe room. 

-KSL area
I choose to stay at The Marion Hotel which is 5min drive to KSL as it's cheap, a premier room cost RM130 ~ S$43 per night. It's located within walking distance from Seven Oaks and Lavender bakery. I booked directly through the website as the rate is the same as agoda and payment is upon check in. 

-SQ Foot bath & Spa at City Square
We took the 60min body massage and 60min foot reflexology RM120 ~ S$40 as we wanted to save time and not travel out of City Square. The massage is mediocre so we will not return again.

-D Asia Massage Therapy at KSL
My ex-colleague brought us there and I find the service quite good and value for money. I visited the 2nd time with WB and I booked our session using whatsapp Hp: +60 14 317 9989. I like their D Asia Totality which includes 60min body massage and 60min foot reflexology. Currently they are offering member price as promo hence we only pay RM110. They have a loyalty card where a stamp is earn for every RM80 spent, accumulate 8 stamps to get RM80 off.

As there are many blogs on JB food, I'll only list down those that I consider as worth recommending.

-Jang Won Restaurant Korea BBQ (Add: K3-211, Block C, Perniagaan Stulang Laut, Jalan Ibrahim Sultan, 80300 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia, Opening hours: 11am - 11pm)
Super value for money as it only cost RM78 ~ S$25 for 2 pax! We ordered Set A which comes with 10 banchan, Dwaeji Galbi (grilled pork spare ribs), Samgyeopsal (pork belly), Gyeran Jjim (Korean steamed egg) and Kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew).

-Hiap Joo Bakery's Banana cakes (Opening hours: Mon - Sat 8am - 6pm, banana cakes are ready baked by noon and queue starts from 11.30am)

-Warakuya Japanese Garden (3 outlets in JB: Taman Pelangi, Sutera Utama & Austin Heights). Good quality and nicely plated japanese food at very affordable price, my friend reckon that this is Malaysia Sushi Tei. There's free drinks and fruits available while queueing which reminds me of Hai Di Lao. We ordered 9 dishes (Tempura zaru, Salmon belly sashimi, Dobin mushi, Geki kara ramen, Ebi Mentai Maki, Green tea crepe, Hamaguri sakamushi, Ikura Chawamushi, Salmon Mentai Nigiri) which only cost RM220 ~ S$73 for 4 pax. All the dishes we ordered are equally good.