All posts by curiouscat

If You Visit Kuching Eat at Tribal Stove

Tribal Stove is absolutely wonderful

Yes it has great food, which thankfully there is a a great deal of in many place. What makes Tribal Stove someplace not to miss is it is the rare combination of great and generally inaccessible food.

I often find great restaurants in tourist destinations. And sometimes it is even local in a sense – but nearly always (not all, but almost) I can get very similar good dishes in any large city across the globe.

Tribal Stove had truly distinctive dishes that were also great. They have quite a few dishes, some of my favorite are wild jungle salad and tapioca leaves. The restaurant serves cuisine from Kelabit Highlands in Sarawak.

photo of great Kelabit Highlands food

Maybe my all time favorite meal. The 3 sample items were great.

The set menu (photo above) of tea, a meat dish with 2 vegetable sides, soup and rice that was US$5 (15 MYR). It was amazing. It would be great at $20. I happened to be lucky enough to get my favorite vegetable there with my first order.

The meet dish in the triple was very good, the rice I didn’t care for. But the two vegetable dishes were amazing – truly great. One the right is Lamud Busaq Keluduh (Bario Wild Flower Salad) – wild ginger flower, petai and wild chives flavored with Bario Higland salt. I believe the dish on the left was Udung Ubih (Wild Tapioca Leaf) – cassava or tapioca leaf pounded and shredded and cooked to perfection over a slow heat. The middle dish was, I believe, beef with crisp vegetables.

Menu - Tribal Stove, Kuching

I have been trying other dishes which are also great but those 2 are not to be missed (you can get “small” dishes of those for $3, see photo below – two pretty easily make a meal in my opinion). If the prices triple this place is still not to be missed.

There is no restaurant I recommend to travels more strongly than I recommend Tribal Stove. If I could have one restaurant transplanted to my location so I could eat their in my home town it would be Tribal Stove. There is nothing remotely close.

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11th Annual Johor Bahru Arts Festival 5 September to 4 October

The 11th Annual JB Arts Festival is presented by The Johor Society For The Performing Arts. Once again a wide variety of artists will perform, providing many opportunities for fans to enjoy new artists and past favorites.

There are also new additions this year including the white box (The Art Gallery will not only features framed art and installations but will also feature artists at work) and black box presentation spaces at Danga City Mall. These spaces include many workshops for attendees.

See the full schedule of schedule of events. The embedded webcasts in this post showcase some of the performers scheduled for the month long festival.

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Siew San Teng (Tau Pek Kong) Temple and Chinese History Museum, Kuching

photo of temple doors

The Siew San Teng (Tau Pek Kong) Temple in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia has retained this spot since 1770. It is across the street from the Kuching river walk (and the small Chinese history museum). The temple itself has been renovated and rebuilt many times.

photo looking toward the river

View of the river from Siew San Teng Temple. The museum is visible on the left of the photo.

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Street Art, Large Mural on Jalan Tan Hiok Nee in Johor Bahru

Large view of the mural including door

September 2013

A large mural has been taking shape on Jalan Tan Hiok Nee for over a year. The first photo shows it near the beginning, September 2013.

photo of large mural street art

March 2014

Large paintings have also been added along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee near the mural. It is quite a nice addition of street art to the historical JB walk. A new post with photos of those will be added soon. (Update: In turns out it was a temporary display, the paintings are not there now).

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Treehouse, Permai Rainforest Resort, Damai (outside Kuching), Borneo

I very much enjoyed the treehouse cabin at the Permai Rainforest Resort. The reviews on Agoda for the ground level lodgings there were not great, but I was extremely pleased with the treetop cabin I stayed at. The Permai Rainforest Resort is in Damai, about 30 km outside Kuching.

photo of Treetop Cabin, Permai Rainforest Resort

The treehouses all are along the forest edge where it meets the beach. You hear the wonderful sound of waves crashing and winds rushing through the forest trees.

photo inside of the Treetop Cabin, Permai Rainforest Resort

The rooms have a full bath and electricity.

They were quite cool, with the shade and wind, but also offered AC if you wished to use it. The cafeteria wasn’t anything fancy but offered tasty food and a decent wifi connection (no wifi is available in the rooms).

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Masjid Bahagian Kuching

The Bahagian Mosque (“Divisional Mosque”) is located just past the river walk in Kuching. Also known as Kuching City Mosque, the mosque was built in the late 1960s to replace the original State Mosque that was erected on the same site in the mid-19th century.

Kuching City Mosque, Sarawak

The mosque is surrounded by a Muslim cemetary.

The pink mosque is Kuching’s largest and stands as an important historical landmark in the city. Its magnificent gilded Mughal-style domes are its most distinct trademark, rising high above the city’s skyline. Gilded half-domes that match the domes on its roof grace its windows.

Masjid Bahagian Kuching, Malaysia

Masjid Bahagian Kuching is believed to be the state’s oldest and first-ever mosque, a memento from the time when Islam first arrived in Sarawak. It can accommodate up to 4,000 worshippers at a time.

Masjid Bahagian Kuching

Related: Sultan Abu Baker Mosque, Johor BahruMasjid Jamek, Kuala LumpurNational Mosque of Malaysia in KL

Forced to Accept Unreliable Service

Sadly one of the features of living in Johor Bahru is having to accept unreliable service.

My 9:30 AM taxi isn’t here (after 9:50 AM). The only phone numbers online for the JB-Singapore taxis that I can find are never answered. I don’t mean like they take a long time or sometimes are not answered. I mean I have never had a call answered. Now he called and just said he isn’t going to do it I have to find some solution myself half an hour after they were suppose to be here.

FoodPanda, which is a good idea, just doesn’t deliver what you order sometimes. It is like a lottery. Maybe they will deliver maybe they won’t. Earlier this week they just didn’t.

Also earlier this week a called a local cab which just never showed up. I have tried various companies and this one is the least bad. But still will just sometimes not show up at all. That is it, you are just left stranded.

Bad service is everywhere around the globe. But in the USA you can usually avoid it other than in politically protected monopolistic companies (Comcast, Verizon etc.) and airlines. For example, you can get around normal car dealers. If you care about decent service you just don’t deal with companies that provide lousy service.

But in JB I find it very hard to do. You just are stuck with very limited options and finding those that offer reliable service is just either not possible or beyond my capabilities quite often. If anyone knows a reliable “yellow cab” from JB to Singapore please let me know.

There are many good things about living in JB. But the poor reliability of companies is tiresome.

Iskandar: Present and Future

The potential for Iskandar, and the extended Johor Bahru, region remains strong. But the lack of progress on transportation issues for getting back and forth from Singapore are a huge problem for anyone wanting to think about living in the area now. I also remain worried about the huge imbalance between a huge boom in luxury condo development and the lack of a similar visible increase in high paying jobs to afford the huge numbers of luxury condos coming on the market now, and over the next 5 years.

The imbalance between office buildings and the huge numbers of luxury condo high rises continues to be a big warning sign I think. Add to that the very poor job done thus far dealing with the very initial stage of what will soon be a flood of cross border traffic is a huge warning sign that investors should heed.

The cooling measures on real estate investment were wise, though late (I would have done it a bit differently but overall taking cooling measure was, and is, a good idea).

There needs to have been more done sooner on the cross border transportation issues – a 3rd link should have been operational last year. The MRT should be under construction now. And more focus should be on bringing in high paying jobs to fill office buildings and then getting those built.

Without much more progress on transportation and many more high paying office jobs the current number of luxury condo buildings should not have been allowed. The efforts on health care and education and the good jobs they provide, as part of the Iskandar initiative, have been good but those jobs don’t come remotely close to justifying even a small fraction of the luxury condo units under construction.

Several new big hotels are a good boost for the economy (and are great tax revenue sources). Retail efforts are good (and also good for providing lots of jobs and tax revenue) but how much more can be expected there without better paying jobs elsewhere in the local economy (basically I think this is a good focus but I think everything that can be hoped for is being done)? Theme parks are a good hope for bringing in tourists and boosting the economy (and filling up those hotels and bringing in tax revenue and providing jobs). It seems to me the very bad transportation problems over the last year in moving between Singapore and JB are a big problem for investors in this area though (if I were such an investor I wouldn’t commit more investments until the situation was much improved and there was reason to believe it wouldn’t be allowed to fall back into the situation we have been living with now). The manufacturing efforts have been decent but are not very significant thus far in producing high paying jobs.

One example of a mistake that is going to cause problems for decades is failing to install fiber in brand new luxury condo buildings. Even if developers don’t want to invest in the future I would not have approved building plans for luxury condos after 2010 that did not include wiring every unit for fiber. Fiber is the future of high tech living and not investing in it is not the way to become known as a future focused location. Economic development requires thinking of the future and not allowing shortcuts and cheap solutions today from capping the potential for the future.

The potential for Iskandar remains as strong as it is for almost any region on the globe. But the next 10 years can build a solid foundation for long term success or can result in a system that is difficult to build upon (such as a huge imbalance in real estate, toward luxury condos for example, or a bad transportation system – which are hugely costly to deal with). The next 10 years is much more challenging to do well than the last 10 years – the begging was very easy by comparison to the challenges faced now. If it is done well, I can see the Iskandar/JB region paired with Singapore in creating one of the most vibrant areas on the globe and creating great jobs and lives for those living here (Singapore will also benefit greatly from this being done well).

Related: Iskandar Housing Real Estate Investment Considerations (2011)Minimum Housing Prices for Foreigners Investing In Malaysia Rise to RM 1,000,000The Potential of Iskandar is Very High but Investing in Iskandar has Risks (2011)

Gianni’s Italian Restaurant in JB (Taman Pelangi and Permas Jaya)

photo of the interior of Gianni's Italian Restaurant in Johor Bahru

Gianni’s Trattoria has the same owner as Sweetwater Mediterranean Restaurant and both are excellent. Gianni’s in Taman Pelangi is two doors down from Sweetwater Mediterranean Restaurant and in Permas Jaya is over the pedestrian bridge from the Jusco mall.

photo of entrance to Gianni's Italian Restaurant

This is a photo of the exterior at Permas Jaya. All photos are from my visit to the Permas Jaya location. Both sites offer fixed price lunches at about 35 MYR (a bit over $10 with soup or salad, entrée and tea.

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