The trip to Malaysia was unplanned, it is actually fault to Airbnb that it kept directing me to Johor Bahru when I was looking for accommodation in Singapore that wasn’t a hostel or any sharing type of accommodation, but still wouldn’t break my bank balance. The location pin kept moving further away from Singapore to a place that’s about 30 – 40 minutes away from the country, and this further curbed my curiosity and enthusiasm about this city, and it turns out that it was in Malaysia.

Getting to Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Relatively cheaper than Singapore, Johor Bahru proved that although not hot on the Asia travel list, can be quite a city for one to visit. After my arrival at Changi International Airport, immigration was swift and it came with a fair warning of watching my back as a solo female traveller, because the city tends to be rough around the edges. From the airport, I took a shuttle to Johor Bahru, Malaysia which cost S$10 which would take me to Woodlands CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) which would then need me to take a bus to Johor Bahru CIQ which was another S$1 to get my last passport stamp. I then left the Johor Bahru CIQ for my apartment at Suasanna Residences with a cab where I paid double the market cab rate, of course, I didn’t know any better and I was the gullible jet-lagged tourist who just wanted to get to her apartment.

As you may have figured out already, I ended up with Airbnb’s advice and booked an apartment in Malaysia. This decision was also motivated with being budget friendly, and Suasanna Apartments being really central to the city and about five minutes away from Johor Bahur Sentral and closer to the location of the activities that I’d planned to do.

New Experiences, New Travels

I arrived in the city around 11h45 and had some breakfast at one of the local restaurants and because I was in the city, finding an ATM to withdraw Malaysian Ringgit was no trouble at all. First mission was to go to Johor Zoo which is about about a 5 minute drive from where I lived, and cost RM2 entrance fee. Slightly underwhelmingly unkept, I did get to see the biggest lion and lioness that I’ve ever seen in my life (and this coming from an African lady, it should tell you), and for the first time, was able to see and feed a camel, and a tiger. This place also became my first experience of the Asian fascination with black skin, it became annoyingly heigtened when the pictures that were being taken were slyly taken with no consent, my tolerance and appreciation for my patience were practised severely here. From wives wanting this object of desire for their husbands to kids having a stare down with you, it comes in all shapes and manners.

The Culture of New Food

Because it was already mid-afternoon, I‘d been told that Danga Bay Country Gardens was the best lunch strip, and that I’d be doing myself a disservice if I went anywhere else. I delighted in a Wantan Soup and a Sweet and Sour Fish from a local, family eatery that tasted heavenly and was quite filling too. I paired that with a Heineken because it was the only beer that I recognised, but I swore to taste another one that I’d never had, and it was Tiger beer which was slightly sweet but enjoyable nonetheless. My driver then advised me to head over to Medan Selera Meldrum Walk which was about 5 minutes from my apartment, to grab a souvenir  and although I didn’t get anything, it lived up to the buzz and craze of what a market is supposed to be.

For my last Johor Bahru adventure in a day, I really wanted to have an early dinner at Whisky House but unfortunately jetlag got the better of me and instead decided to order from the restaurant upstairs from the apartment building a Lamb Rendand Tok, which is a traditional sow cooked spicy Malay lamb dish that’s served with steamed rice, and while I waited, took a short dip at the rooftop of the apartment building, now THAT was a way to end off an evening.

Solo Traveler in a Day?

So, Malaysia in a day you wonder? This is how I did it, with unsettling jetlag!

I definitely wish that I had more time to explore the city and even see the many other treasures that I’m sure makes Johor Bahru a city worth the exploration. 

Have you been to Johor Bahru? Or any parts of Malaysia? Id love hear from you about your Malaysian experience, solocation or not!



Read 6349 times Last modified on Friday, 15 March 2019 04:06

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Vuyolwethu Dubese is a multiple award-nominated professional in impact and inclusive development, and innovation strategy. Over the past five years, she's served as a Startup Partnerships Lead for Africa for global intelligence firm, Thomson Reuters and as an Impact Acceleration Associate at investment and advisory firm, Impact Amplifier and served on boards. During this period, she has also worked with organisations like Foundervine, World Bank Group, Standard Bank, UCT Graduate School of Business, UNDP Africa and Accenture, Seedstars World, Redbull and Global Startup Awards to mention a few through her expertise. As a moderator, she's graced the stage at multiple high-level engagements in and outside of South Africa including the USAID Global Entrepreneurship Week, and the Timeless Women's Conference and Gala Dinner in Rwanda to mention a few.


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