Tag Archives: Johor Bahru

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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Restaurant Rong Hwa in Johor Bahru

My favorite local delivery place closed months ago (or at least the phone number doesn’t work anymore): Gerai Makan Laut Chun Siang.

I found this new place that is good but I don’t have as many dishes I like. The Indonesian prawns are great. I like the samba sotong ok (in photo). Click on the menus to see larger images (so you might be able to read it). It seems to me it is Chinese food with maybe a bit of Malaysian style.

photo of Sambal sotong and bitter gourd

Sambal sotong and bitter gourd from Rong Hwa in JB.

They do have a couple nice vegetable side orders (though nothing I like as much as the fried broccoli at the old place), my favorite is baby kai lan. Bitter gourd (in photo) is strong (I like the bitter gourd in fried eggs better.

photo of Rong Hwa menu

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The Spice Kitchen Indian Restaurant in Bukit Indah, Johor Bahru

The Spice Kitchen in Bukit Indah is yet another excellent Indian Restaurant in Johor Bahru. I would eat here a great deal if I lived in Bukit Indah township in Johor Bahru.

Indian food lunch a the Spice Kitchen

The food is great and the interior is nice. It has the exposed ceilings with duct work showing that my brother loves and overall is just a nice feel.

photo of the interior of the Spice Kitchen Indian restaurant

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Grandma’s House, Thai Restaurant in Permas Jaya

Grandma’s House is a nice little Thai restaurant in Permas Jaya (part of Johor Bahru).

photo of shrimp dish

Shrimp dish with iced tea

The food is good and inexpensive. A meal is about 9 to 15 MYR (US$5).

photo of old Fish Bowl TV

The interior decoration is the best part of of the place in my opinion. This is a real old TV turned into a fish bowl with live fish swimming around.

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Tandoori Mahal – Indian Restaurant in JB

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.

photo of Paneer Tikka

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.

Tandoori Mahal Indian Restaurant menu items written on the wall

A meal will cost around 15 – 30 MYR (US $5 – 10) depending on what you choose.

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Red Tro Cafe, Galleria at Kotaraya in JB

The Red Tro Cafe is a small cafe outside the Galleria at Kotaraya which is in the CBD and old town JB.

photo of nasi goreng sotong (squid fried rice)

Nasi goreng sotong (squid fried rice)

The Nasi goring sotong was quite nice and the meal was under 10 MYR (I think) which is pretty typical (about US$3). The Red Tro Cafe is located right to the Old Chinese Temple, and across the street from the Sikh Temple.

photo of Red Top Cafe

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The Grand Gem Indian Restaurant in Johor Bahru

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.

photo of swinging seat and Grand Gem interior

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.

lunch-at-grand-gem

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.

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Empty Johor Bahru on Chinese New Year Day

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.

photo of spiral stairways in alley

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 JBBig Lizards in Johor Bahru CBDArulmigu Sri Raja Kallamman Indian Hindu Glass Temple in Johor Bahru