The haze in Johor Bahru and Singapore has been extremely bad the last few days. It hit the worst reading since 2006 in Singapore a few days ago and today seems much worse. [June 20th update: the air pollution readings exceeded all time highs in both Singapore and JB. And Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the haze could “easily last for several weeks and quite possibly longer until the dry season ends (September or October) in Sumatra.”]
Updated photo (see the bottom of post for original photo). Haze over Johor Bahru, June 20th at 11AM.
Photo of the same scene without hazy conditions, buildings in Singapore are visible in the background.
The conditions are mainly due to Indonesian fires. It is hard to reconcile the eco-city push for the Iskandar marketing however with the continued open burning of trash in downtown Johor Bahru daily [update a day or two after the severe haze problems Malaysia seems to have banned open burning if I read press reports correctly].
Update: From the Department of Environment of Malaysia [link broken so it was removed] which publishes API* readings 3 times a day from 4 sites in Johor (as well as the rest of Malaysia). A reading above 100 is unhealthy, above 300 is hazardous. With readings of 300 and above: healthy people will experience reduced endurance in activities. There may be strong irritations and symptoms and may trigger other illnesses. Elders and the sick should remain indoors and avoid exercise. Healthy individuals should avoid out door activities. For readings of 200-250, healthy people will be noticeably affected. People with breathing or heart problems will experience reduced endurance in activities. These individuals and elders should remain indoors and restrict activities.
Sun arts and culture carnival is taking place at Bukit Layang-Layang, Pasir Gudang, Johor from the 11th to 12th May 2013 from 10am to 7pm. This free admission event, Karnival Seni Kreatif Kita, is organised by My Performing Arts Agency in collaboration with the National Department for Culture and Arts.
As their webcast says it is suitable for ages 1-109 with 300 artists giving 30 performances.
Mercer Quality of Living Survey, Worldwide Rankings, 2011. Selected cities to put Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpor’s rankings in context (in SE Asia and the world).
Rank City, Country
1 Vienna, Austria
2 Zurich, Switzerland
3 Auckland, New Zealand
4 Munich, Germany
5 Vancouver, Canada
11 Sydney, Australia
18 Melbourne, Australia
25 Singapore, Singapore
30 Paris, France
30 San Francisco, California, USA
43 Washington, DC, USA
46 Tokyo, Japan
47 New York City, NY, USA
70 Hong Kong, China 76 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
80 Seoul, South Korea
83 Athens, Greece
85 Taipei, Taiwan
88 Cape Town, South Africa
95 Shanghai, China
97 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
101 Brasilia, Brazil 101 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
109 Beijing, China
121 Bangkok, Thailand
121 Mexico City, Mexico
128 Manila, Philippines
135 Cairo, Egypt
140 Jakarta, Indonesia
141 Bangalore, India
143 New Delhi, India
147 Hanoi, Vietnam
186 Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Phnom Penh Travel information
196 Yangon, Myanmar
My favorite food delivery in Johor Bahru Central Business District (CBD) is Gerai Makan Laut Chun Siang – it is Malaysian Chinese Food.
My favorite dish is Fried Brocoli. I also really like the various sotong (squid) dishes. The long bean omelet is good also. They also have other interesting looking dishes: black pepper deer meet, red wine chicken, egg flower soup and cantonese style kuay tiao. And they have at least 1 dish I have no desire to try: pig stomach soup.
My last meal was Tom Yam Prawn – about half of the order is shown on the plate.
I needed to get a regular teeth cleaning, so I searched for a good options the way any internet user would – online. Which reminded me, yet again, that the businesses in Johor Bahru should do better using the internet to market their businesses. One option I found never replied to my email so I moved on to the next: Roland Lin DDS. Again no response to email, but I called them and got an appointment.
Exterior of Lim Dental Surgery office inside Holiday Plaza
When I was considering moving to Malaysia one of the things I tried to find were blogs and forums to learn from others what experiences they were having. And living in Johor Bahru now I still seek such information. I have a directory of Malaysian blogs and forums with quite a few good sources of information.
Moving to a new culture you have to be willing to adapt and accept things different from what you may be familiar with. Most everything in Malaysia I have no problem adapting to. The biggest thing I find very annoying consistently is noise.
Noise at my condo – loud noise from temples (very loud bells, loud sound systems), firecrackers (a alot – early in the morning at 4 AM this last week over 30 loud gunshot style ones for example, which is the worst but alot of firecrackers at less unreasonable hours too). And very loud speakers blasting on the street or in malls. But that is something that is just the way it is. I can accept it and just understand that it annoys me, but you don’t get to have everything the way you want.
My philosophy is much more that: you limit very much things you do that are inflicted on other (once what you do infringes upon others rights you make consideration for others primary). I notice in Malaysia the more primary thing seems to be the willingness to just tolerate whatever others are doing. Which is a good trait to have, if you don’t let things bother you, you are much happier. I think the in West people think of Asia in general as people being more considerate, it seems to me it is really instead people being more tolerant. Just accepting that things are the way they are and if you are not powerful you can’t expect others to worry about your desires.
The condo below me started massive heavy construction last week – without any notice. I find this incredibly inconsiderate. The effect is essentially like having someone jackhammering in the room next to you (the only different in the heavy construction being inside my condo right now I have no dust). The idea that I should be given warning of such a massive disruption to the ability to use my condo seems foreign. The condo office won’t even respond about how much longer I can expect to have similar disruption (4 days last week this happened – Thursday was fine for some reason). My rental agent just says I am suppose to keep begging the condo office and maybe eventually they will tell me something.
I don’t really understand this attitude. It just seems so silly. The construction requires advance approval from the management office. But the management office gives no warning to those that will be impacted. And they don’t even respond to requests for information.
As a first step to protect the interests of local Malaysians, the state government is proposing to increase the minimum limit for foreign purchases of all properties from the existing level of RM 500,000 to RM1 million with a higher limit of RM 2 million for landed properties only in Penang island and retaining the present RM 500,000 limit for Permanent Residents.
In 2010 and 2011 there were 774 and 890 property transactions involving foreigners. These transactions constitute only 2.98% and 2.26% respectively of the total number of transations in Penang. However to protect the interests of locals to ensure that they enjoy priority for less expensive properties, this restriction will help to provide a level playing field since foreigners have the advantage of a higher currency.
The Penang state government stresses that we welcome foreign participation in our economy including our property market. The state government feels that foreign participation can be profitable to both Penangites and foreigners in the higher end market where they can add value by helping Penang to transform itself into an international and intelligent city.
We would like to get feedback and opinions from NGOs, property developers, foreigners and the public on this proposal. The state government hopes to implement this proposal the earliest by 1 June 2012 or the latest by 1 July 2012.
It would be good to know what percentage of the sales from RM 500,000 to RM 1,000,000 for condos, and RM 2,000,000 for landed properties were purchases by foreigners. But it seems like an overly drastic measure given a 2.5% rate of foreign purchasers. To slow the rise in prices I believe increasing the downpayment requirements (including the extremely minimal downpayment requirements on housing in the process of being built. To be effective this should be done on all purchases (not just foreigners).
Without more focused data on the foreign purchases in the ranges being targeted however it is hard to determine what the impact of any measure could possibly be.
Participants in MM2H (as well as permanent residents) are permitted to buy/own 2 properties at the RM 500,000 minimum level; which could definitely increase the applications for that program. That could be one of the reasons this action was taken.
It has taken me a while to get around to figuring out the basketball court situation here. There are neighborhood associations that have what amount to neighborhood parks. Some of these have basketball courts with roofing. I imagine the courts are used for other events and the roofing really helps given how much rain there is (it also keeps you in the shade).
I wasn’t really sure if these were closed parks, or what. But the best I can tell they are basically open to the public. That is what people seem to tell me. One of the things I have noticed, after a bit of time here, is the English pronunciation is much better than English comprehension. The lack of comprehension is exacerbated by people being polite and smiling and indicating they understand when I now see they may not. So that is why even after several people saying the parks are open I am not 100% sure. Several of the parks are complete surrounded by fences (which adds to the air that they are not public).
Anyway I am glad to have been able to get some exercise myself, just shooting around. I also have once played some pickup games. I’ll try to get in a few more pick-up games.
Dewan Serbaguna Dato HJ Mohamed Khaled Nordin is what the sign in Taman Century says at the covered court right next to KSL Mall. The other one only a couple blocks from the other side of the mall is a bit smaller but also covered.
In Permas Jaya there is a recreation association court (this place even has a pool). I tried to find out if I had to pay. The board seemed to say you did, but their was also information on annual passes. After quite a bit of time I still couldn’t figure out what pay was required for. I am not sure if it was required just to reserve the court for private play, or what. If I remember right it was something like RM 4 – 8 an hour? The court is not covered. It is a maybe 2 or 3 km from Straits View Condo, Jusco Mall is on the way between the condo and the court.
Treasures and Books Store in Permas Jaya. This photo is taken as you exit McDonald's.
The Treasure Store has a new name and new location. The store has moved to Permas Jaya (where the Straits View Condos are) from the Danga City Mall in Johor Bahrus’ CBD. The new Treasures and Books Store is strait ahead as you step out of the McDonald’s. It is on the same block as the Time Hotel.
It is a great book store for anyone interested in English language books in Johor Bahru (they also have Chinese language books). Books cost quite a bit in Malaysia and Singapore. I am not exactly sure why. I would imagine maybe due to tariffs of some kind, and maybe low demand. Though the book stores seem busier than the average stores in malls, not just for browsing but for purchases. There are very few used books stores (that I have seen) which is odd (since the high new book prices should stimulate the used book market.
Inside the Treasures and Books Store
The Treasures and Books Store has a great selection of “beach reading” (light, enjoyable, escapism) and also offers many used books (which saves money). And you can return books and they will buy them back (for a bit less) so if you read quite a bit you can save a lot over buying new books and just stacking them up in your room.
The store has lots of books by authors such as: John Grishham, J. K. Rowling, Jefrey Archer, Robert Ludlum, Tess Gerritsen, James Paterson, Robert Harris, Sue Grafton, Michael Crichton, Douglas Preston, Stieg Larsson, Richard North Paterson.