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.
Grandma’s House is a nice little Thai restaurant in Permas Jaya (part of Johor Bahru).
Shrimp dish with iced tea
The food is good and inexpensive. A meal is about 9 to 15 MYR (US$5).
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.
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 Red Tro Cafe is a small cafe outside the Galleria at Kotaraya which is in the CBD and old town JB.
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.
The Chingay parade is held of the 21st day of the Chinese New year. In 2014 that will be February 20th.
Here are my photos from 2013 Chingay afternoon parade. The afternoon parade starts at 11 AM or so on the previous day – so on February 19th this year) as deity statues from the Old Chinese Temple are carried out to get ready for the evening parade.
The biggest parade is the night parade but there is also a parade during the day. The evening parade covers 10 km and starts about 7 PM, I believe; it will finish after midnight.
The Johor Bahru parade is also called The Parade of the Deities as the Temple deity statues are taken on a journey from the Temple to bless the city with peace, prosperity and harmony (the Chingay parades in Singapore and Penang are non-secular as I understand it).
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
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Murugan (Kartikeya) celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). Murugan is the Hindu god of war and victory. He is the son of the lord Shiva and Parvati; his little brother is Ganesha.
I took the photos in this post last year at the festival downtown (between the Arulmigu Sri Raja Kallamman Hindu Glass Temple and the Arulmigu Thandayuthapani Temple). This year the festival is scheduled for January 17th.
On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.
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.