Slow Traveling in Johor
From all the typical touristic places of Malaysia, our Slow Travels brought us to Johor.
You have heard of Slow Traveling, but have you ever heard of Johor? How did we even come to travel to Johor?
In short, golf was to blame. Yes, I know, another place where our Slow Traveling leads us to because of golf. Well, yes and no. Yes, because golf was the main reason why we travelled to Johor, the southernmost state of Malaysia. And no, because we were really curious what this unknown place would offer us. Because neither of us had ever heard of Johor, or its capital Johor Bahru, affectionately called “JB”.
And so, we packed our golf bags and made our way to Johor.
First positive surprise on arrival
We flew from Langkawi to Johor and used the services of Grab again in Johor. The journey from the airport to our residence took a relatively long time, which showed us just how big Johor is in the first place.
Tip: If you want to save a little bit of money and have the time, you can take the public bus from the airport to the city. This is a good and inexpensive way to get to the city, but unfortunately the busses don’t run very frequently. Here you can find the corresponding info-page.
After a 45-minute ride, we finally arrived at an unreal-looking neighborhood with many high-rise buildings, a small plaza, and saluting security men.
We had booked our accommodation relatively short-term and ended up in a suburb of JB called Danga Bay. The apartment, which was above our budget, had two bedrooms, which was also too large for the two of us. But it was in a relatively good location and actually less expensive than other comparable accommodations. And best of all, it had a fantastic balcony!!
After the sweltering hot weather of Kuala Lumpur, and the heavy rain in Cameron Highlands and Langkawi, it was really pleasant here. Warm, but not a sultry heat, and what we liked most, no rain. Here our mornings would start with a cup of hot coffee on the balcony while enjoying the unobstructed view of the sea in front of us and Singapore in the distance.
The next day in Johor Bahru
After our morning coffee and the overwhelming view, we went to the old town for a nice walk.
All the sights like the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, Grand Palace, State Secretariat Building etc. we had left out, and only saw them from the car window. Due to the short time we had in Johor Bahru, we only wanted to go on a stroll through the old town.
Here you will find some cool little cafes and restaurants. There is also a Chinese Museum, which we did not visit.
Tip: Because Singapore is just a stone’s throw away, Johor Bahru is very popular as a weekend destination. So, if you’re planning a short trip to JB from Singapore, or vica versa, make sure you don’t choose a weekend for it. The queues at the borders are very long, and it may well be that you lose several hours standing there.
The famous bakery in Johor
Anyone who reads about Johor Bahru will inevitably stumble upon a name: Salahuddin Bakery.
We were curious to see what it was all about and so we decided to visit this bakery.
When we entered, we felt like we were transported to another time. The Salahuddin Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in Johor, and you can see it on the vintage sign at the entrance.
Inside, the old wood-burning stove immediately caught our eyes. As did all the old family pictures on the wall.
A smiling young man stood at a counter, which, as we arrived late in the afternoon, was already quite empty.
We started chatting and learned that he was the fourth generation to own the bakery. His great-grandfather had started the bakery back in 1937.
The young man also proudly told us that he had recently become a father to a baby boy. Now his son can continue the tradition of the bakery.
We buy a bag of cookies, one of the few goodies remaining. We take a farewell photo and then drive back to our apartment where we enjoy the cookies on our cozy couch while watching Netflix.
The Golf Day
Our last day is dedicated to golf. An hour’s drive away from JB is Desaru, where we wanted to go to play The Els Club Desaru Coast.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to play The Els Club Teluk Datai while we were in Langkawi, and so I was even more excited to play this time.
But it wouldn’t turn out to be so easy. The golf course needs to be earned.
The day before we went, we faced the problem that our credit card didn’t work again, which we needed in order to rent a car. We were so happy to have found the goCar app. You register, upload your driver’s license, an identity card and a photo of yourself with your driver’s license in your hand, and you can rent a car online. It would have been especially convenient because there were GoCar cars parked in our apartment’s parking garage! How easy!
But we did not expect the problem of the bureaucracy of our credit card. After several attempts, we gave up and went the next morning to a rental car company.
This ended up being twice as much as if we had booked through GoCar.
After picking up our car, we were finally on our way to Desaru and decided to stop to eat something little. I really can’t find anything and end up taking some rice with vegetables. James opts for rice with chicken. And before I even know it, a cat jumps on me, scratches my hand, and takes off!
The day feels jinxed, and we are looking forward to get going, hoping that there is nothing else that happens to us! Thankfully we end up having a wonderful day on the golf course.
Johor is a good alternative from the more famous places like Melakka or Georgetown. We found it very good, from the weather, from our accommodation, from the cute cafes in the old town, and the fact that you can easily hop over to Singapore. We’ve been to Singapore before and decided not to go there again this time. Afterall, we don’t want to stress out while slow traveling?