We set the alarm and got up early Sunday morning to meet some friends for an adventure. We were going to cross the border up into Malaysia and spend the day. As we were riding the elevator down to the lobby a nice Japanese couple engaged us in conversation. Everyone usually keeps to themselves. When you do interact with someone they are perfectly nice and polite so I think it is again just an urban mind set of minding your own business but even the other tourists don’t seem to interrelate much so it was a little unusual for this couple to strike up a talk. The wife was remarking about how small the rooms were in the hotel and then in the sweetest way expressed her concern about how it must be even more difficult for us as we were so much bigger. So cute I just had to share.
Doug’s friend Len was traveling here on business too as he has many times in the past and very graciously offered to escort us over the border so that we could see some of the countryside. We met him at the MRT station and then rode on to meet his friend, Bernard who lives here in Singapore. They initiated us into bus travel and we rode to the customs and immigration point. We had to check out in Singapore then reboard the bus and cross the strait of Singapore and go through the process in Malaysia. Many people do this every day, twice a day in their commute to work. You could also drive through or even take a taxi. The weekends are usually busy with Singaporeans coming over to shop as the prices are much better in Malaysia. The crossover point is in the busy, modern city of Johor Bahru or JB. There are nice roads, malls and markets but it is more spread out with more open space than Singapore. It is the capital of the state of Johor. There are fourteen states in Malaysia and each one has a King although these are not the ruling figures. This is the palace.
This is the home country of Doug’s friend and colleague, Vash and he met us at the gate to be our honorary tour guide for the day. Our first stop was for a traditional Malay breakfast of porridge. Every restaurant has their own special family recipe so each one is different. You can choose the ingredients but we got it all. Pork ribs, liver, kidney and intestines cooked in a broth with mushrooms and served family style with rice, a pickled green, tofu and BBQ pork. It was really good. I commented on the irony that I had come all of the way around the world to eat this but had never tried menudo which I could get at home.
When we had finished our meal, Len and Bernard went to do some shopping and Doug, Vash and I went across to the mall where Doug could get his Kopi pain (iced coffee). Vash drove us to Danga Bay to the west so we could see the boats and the water. They also have beautiful beaches in Malaysia.
Everyone had decided that Doug needed to experience some foot reflexology since he was the only one who hadn’t tried it. Vash took us to a very nice spa. Much nicer than the upstairs room I had gone to in Chinatown. It was also more elaborate since it lasted for a whole hour. The ladies were from Thailand but spoke some English. The foot rub is very vigorous and designed to increase circulation. They rub their thumbs along the bottom of your foot, pound your calves and when they finish with your feet you turn around and they lean on your shoulders with their elbows. After they had finished with the left foot and started on the other, all three of us had the very strange sensation of not being able to feel our legs and feet below the knee. It was as if they had made it weightless. I guess it was the opposite of what amputees call “phantom pain” where they can still feel pain in the missing limb. Rejuvinated, we went to meet up with the rest of our party for the trip back. Thank you Vash, Len and Bernard for being so hospitable and making our visit so special.
Back to the hotel for a shower and rest before we walked down the river for dinner. We went to a brewery and restaurant where Doug found several beers he liked and we had western food for the first time. One of the best steaks, salad and potatoes I have ever had. We sat on the patio even though it was threatening to rain. Instead of moving their tables in, the restaurant had an automatic awning that they would put out. I didn’t even notice it moving but I would look up and sometimes it would be over us and sometimes retracted as the rain drops warranted. We had a visit with an Englishman at the next table who had lived in Singapore for three years. He gave us some tips but said there really aren’t a lot of discounts. He said you just have to decide what is important to spend your money on.
Here is the view from out table.