Bad air pollution levels have returned to Singapore and Johor in the last month. So far the recent air pollution problem has been moderate compared to June of 2013 (or Bejing). The readings have been in the “moderate” problem area but those are noticeable visually and when you are outside breathing the air is obviously more polluted than normal. I don’t usually use my air conditioning but I have the last week due to the air pollution.
The air pollution readings are published by Malaysia and Singapore. Air pollution will get a bit worse at night (assuming everything else stays the same) due to air pressure.
Air pollution has dramatic health consequences. The World Health Organization released a study last month stating that 7 million premature deaths annually are linked to air pollution.
Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.
The damage done by air pollution to health include respiratory diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, changes in lung function. There is mounting evidence that exposure to air pollution has long-term effects on lung development in children.
With effect from 1 April 2014, Singapore has moved to an integrated air quality reporting index, where PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 micros or larger) will be incorporated into the current Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) as its sixth pollutant parameter. The PSI will therefore reflect a total of six pollutants – sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3).
The 3-hour PSI will take into account PM2.5 concentrations. In addition, NEA will also publish the 1-hour PM2.5 concentrations every hour.
From the Malaysian site today (their update was dated September 2013)
DOE is in the midst of finalising the new Malaysian Air Quality Guidelines to include the standard limit of PM2.5 in the ambient air which based on World Health Organisation (WHO) 2006 Guidelines.
Tandoori Mahal is another very good Indian Restaurant in downtown Johor Bahru. It is across the street from Village Briyani Cafe and Village Countryside Cuisine, next to Zen Zeng Hotel and a block from Danga City Mall.
This Panner Tikka was great. The paneer was much “richer” than any I had tasted before. I am actually not sure if this was intentional or not but I really liked it. I ordered it another time and it was still good but much more like the normal panner (cheese) I am used to.
A meal will cost around 15 – 30 MYR (US $5 – 10) depending on what you choose.
The Grand Gem Indian Restaurant is located in the Blue Wave Hotel in the Central Business District of Johor Bahru. It is yet another good Indian Restaurant. Johor Barhu has many of good Indian restaurants a worthy choice along with many others.
I have seen swinging seats (similar to the one in the photo) in several restaurants in JB.
The Grand Gem has a very nice ambiance and the food is good. They don’t offer delivery, at this time.
The Blue Wave hotel overlooks the Straits with a view of Singapore. The restaurant is on the ground floor so you don’t have a view but the interior design is nice. The hotel is across from the old immigration site (to be a condo or hotel sometime soon, I believe) and near the new CIQ and City Square Mall.
Today is the Chinese New Year holiday (the first day of 2 weeks of celebrations). At Midnight (this morning) the sky was ablaze with fireworks. There are fireworks with huge visual displays that are all over the city. There are several huge “official” fireworks but there are dozen more with very large visual explosions that I could see from my balcony.
For lunch today I went to Sweetwater Mediterranean Restaurant and enjoyed an excellent lunch. I walked around downtown after that and it was like walking in a nearly abandoned city. Over 90% of the retail stores were closed along with most restaurants. The foot traffic was minuscule and there were hardly any cars on the road.
Spiral stairways in alley between houses. This is an old photo of the area I walked in (Tamen Pelangi), I didn’t bring a camera today.
It reminded me of walking outside on Christmas when I was a kid. The roads were abandoned like no other day. Now the traffic is a bit lighter on Christmas but it is nothing like the otherworldly experience it used to be. Today in JB was like that, it wasn’t far from turning into a ghost town. It was actually interesting walking around like that.
The first day of the Chinese New Year is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. It is a traditional practice to light fireworks, burn bamboo sticks and firecrackers and to make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil spirits. You can read much more about it on Wikipedia.
The Chingay Parade will take place on February 20th in Johor Bahru this year.
Related: Basketball Courts in Downtown JB – Big Lizards in Johor Bahru CBD – Arulmigu Sri Raja Kallamman Indian Hindu Glass Temple in Johor Bahru
Carabao Thai Restaurant is located in Johor Bahru’s CBD, next to the New York Hotel.
The restaurant has only outdoor seating. They spray mists of water and use shade and fans to help keep things relatively cool. I think the setting is the best reason to chose Carabao, as the food is only decent as is the service.
Even though it is downtown they do a nice job of situating the restaurant on the back of the lot with some shade trees so you do get a bit of a feel of escaping the city. They also have a large parking lot.
Ajisai Japanese Restaurant is near Plaza Pelangi (in the same strip of shops as Furusato Japanese Restaurant, Rosmarino and Clinic Australia).
My favorite sushi special
I really like the sushi special in the photo, it includes everything you see except the fried lotus root for I think 18 MYR (super deal ~ US$6). This special might only be available at lunch. I usually get one small item with it and they have some great choices (fried quail eggs, pumpkin tempura?, sushi items etc. – the fried lotus root was actually my least favorite so far).
It is my favorite Japanese restaurant with great sushi and good prices and good service. There are really several quite good sushi restaurants, in my opinion, this is my favorite but the others are very close to the same quality and service.
My power has now been out for 48 hours. Early on I anticipated a breakdown long enough to ruin the food in my “ice box”/refrigerator (the damage was caused by a ruptured pipe and water pouring into the electrical system) shutting off power to all but the ground floor. I walked next door to a small shop and bought a couple bags of ice. I went to dinner near a 7-11 and picked up some more ice (they have great ice for this purpose – very cold and a big huge sold block).
A shop similar to this one (but the photo shows a bigger shop a bit further away)
So far it has kept things colder much better than I would have guessed. Going back to when an ice box was a box with ice works decently using a modern refrigerator. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising as the insulation on modern refrigerators is better than the old ones. Still getting and restocking ice is a bother.
It would be a good opportunity for a business to make it easy. I suggested to the condo office that they help make this process easier for tenants as a smart move to mitigate the damage to tenants but they have not done so (no surprise). Either give ice away – the management companies losing a big of cash but not much really, ice is cheap. Or the management company makes it a condo expense which means the owners just pay for it. Or at least have some company agree to schedule a truck to come at x hour and sell ice to those who want to buy it.
Update: a few hours after I posted this they actually did have ice delivered for people to use. I am not sure if they took awhile to take my suggestion to heart or if someone else came up with the idea. Either way, it was a good sign.
A bit of customer focus can help mitigate the damage customer face when things go wrong.
The people in the management office are kind. But the management company has not built a management system with a focus on encouraging employees to continually seek ways to improve and provide great service.
Related: The Customer is the Purpose of Our Work – Poor Usability for Online Plane Reservations – Great Cheap Cell Phone Plan
Update: I think we ended up being without power for just over 4 days. I found being without power really wasn’t that bad except for problems getting wifi. Luckily my building has wifi available for daily purchase and their signal was good (the power they use is separate line that is used by the elevators and stayed up the whole time). I was able to recharge my laptop in the building office (only floors 2-20 were without power). If I had been without wifi I think I would have had to move into a hotel, but as it was it was tolerable and less annoying than I would have guessed (though I still don’t want to have to deal with it again – especially since the “backup” wifi seems to have deteriorated – I have to use it occasionally when I have connectivity issues way too often – my internet connection is right on the edge of being tolerable…).
The webcast by Channel News Asia is a 22 minute look at Iskandar in Johor, Malaysia. The current population of Iskandar is 1.5 million people which is projected to grow to 3 million by 2025. Iskandar is 3 times the size of Singapore, which is the next door neighbor to Iskandar.
Two of the big focuses for Iskandar are education (for which Educity has been established in Iskandar and has brought in several British Universities to setup campuses) and medical care.
Related: Iskandar Overview Video – Iskandar Housing Real Estate Investment Considerations – The Potential of Iskandar is Very High but Investing in Iskandar has Risks
The 10th Annual JB Arts Festival kicks off September 6th and has events through October 5th.
Performances this year include:
Angels on the Hill – Angel Art and Dance Studio is an integrated art school equipped with innovative ethnic dancing skills, combining creativity with spirit and dancing principles. Established in April 2001, the school specialises and promotes traditional and cultural dance in Johor Bahru. They will be presenting 12 different dances, featuring 120 students ranging from the age of 3 to 21.
ASWARA – traditional and contemporary dances Malaysian dance company
This is my favorite bakery in JB (I like quite a few bakeries here actually). It is located in Permas Jaya, right next store to my favorite book store: Treasures n Books. Straits View condos are visible in the left background of this photo and the Renaissance hotel is a block away.
I really like these buns (shaped like a ball) that were not available the day I took the photo (I think they are some sort of Korean bun). The chiffon is also very good – blueberry especially.