I like walking around cities to see how things feel as you walk around. I like walking in the touristy areas (often I do anyway) and also the non-touristy areas. One of the problems in walking in non-touristy areas is if they are not meant to be walked around (cars are expected) then it can be pretty boring. But if locals walk around it can be quite nice.
The cat monument is hardly impressive but it is a popular photo spot nevertheless. Kuching means cat in Malay (Bahasa Sarawak is the dialect of Malay spoken in Sarawak). Kucing is the word for cat in Bahasa Malay but in Bahasa Sarawak the word is pusak. There is some dispute how the name came to be but the city has adopted the cat city nickname.
The Kuching Esplanade is in the foreground with a view of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly building across the river (Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak).
Nice wall and window on a street near the Kuching riverwalk/esplanade. The Kuching riverwalk and a bit of surrounding area are nice for tourists (and locals) to walk around and enjoy.
Tanjung Piai National Park is the Southernmost point in mainland Asia – located in Johor, Malaysia. The park is about 80 km from Johor Bahru.
The video shows my view as I walked through a mangrove forest and emerging onto the Johor Straits. The video zooms in to see part of Singapore (since Singapore is an island off of Asia this point is the southernmost point on mainland Asia instead of Singapore). And if some in Singapore try to claim that title, which some do, then why not Indonesia?
I agree, JB has much to offer tourists and room to improve. Making locations like Jalan Tan Hiok Nee attractive to tourists is important. That location can provide a distinctive JB feel (not just one of 1,000+ malls all over SE Asia that really are all basically the same). Peppering it with small shops and art galleries and food and museum and street art is great.
And obviously what is desired is a nice walkable place that has history. JB is trying to do the same with the new “riverwalk.” But if you then allow people to park cars and motorcycles and vendors to block the sidewalk you severely degrade the user experience. You can retain those that hate malls and will put up with anything to avoid malls. But if people can’t walk without dodging all sorts of obstacles they will just go to malls and go to other cities. They won’t tell their friends about this nice old town they should visit.
Building up tourism often doesn’t take very brilliant ideas. What it does take is attention to detail; and continued effort to create a great experience. You see wonderful drawing of what new developments will be they always have people walking on clear sidewalks. Then go walk around downtown JB and you will find sidewalks are often blocked. Still JB is much better in this aspect than Penang. A big reason I decided not to live in Penang is you couldn’t walk around with ease.
Patience and a desire to make an effort to follow up and keep streets walkable is something most locations don’t have. And it is one big reason malls do well, they make it easy for people to walk around (though actually KSL mall has jammed in so many vendors in some narrow locations they even mess up walking inside a mall which is not easy to mess up). But if JB (or other locations) pay attention to making the experience enjoyable for tourists they will benefit.
The current economic conditions make tourism even more important for Malaysia. Tourists bring in foreign currency, buying the Malaysian Ringitt (and thus supporting the currency which has been getting crushed).
My single most amazing experience during several years in Malaysia was watching Rhinoceros Hornbills fly around on my hike on Mount Santubong on Borneo in Malaysia. I stayed in a treehouse cabin at treehouse cabin, Permai Rainforest Resort (in Damai about 45 minutes from Kuching). From there it was a 15 minute ride to the trailhead.
The hike of Mount Santubong was amazing itself, and I will post more about it later. It was the longest most vertical hike I have been on. At what I think was the first overlook I stopped and ate a snack and drank some water. And during my stop hornbills started flying around.
I didn’t remember that Bornean Hornbills (Rhinoceros Hornbills) were huge and it was quite surprising how large they were. The Rhinoceros Hornbill grows to 90–120 cm long and weighing 2–3 kg. In captivity it can live for up to 90 years. It is the state bird of Sarawak and the National bird of Malaysia.
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.
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.
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).
The Sultan Abu Baker Mosque was constructed upon a hill overlooking the Johor Straits between 1892 and 1900 and is the state mosque for Johor. The mosque can accommodate 3,000 worshippers.
Sultan Abu Baker Mosque. All photos are by John Hunter.
I recommended taking a short trip to visit and walking around the grounds. You can walk to old town from without much trouble (I would guess it is less than 2 km from old town), obviously you can drive or take a taxi if you prefer.
This square building and two large rectangular buildings of the same style sit on the non-Straits side of the Mosque.
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 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).
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.
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.