Overnight stay at Swiss Inn, Johor Bahru

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I captured my recent trip to JB in the vlog above. Check out my other videos on Youtube.

I was in JB a few weekends back to visit my alma mater with the Back To School (BTS) committee. I was just recently absorbed into the team to lead mini projects as they run out of hands to help out. InsyaAllah I will be handling the batch Tshirt and the ‘launch ceremony’. I am happy with my current role. Honestly, I did not expect to contribute this far. I will let you know later.

I travelled to JB alone by bus. I downloaded an app called Redbus and booked my tickets there. Nowadays, bus services are like airlines. You get a boarding pass at the station and everything is so organized now. My journey was a 3 hour ride and I arrived at JB just before 8pm. I was contemplating to have dinner first before I go to the hotel but it’s a bit dark to wander alone in a foreign state.

my Redbus code : rednyyu9

So I hailed a taxi and charged without meter, a whooping RM15. Plus an additional RM2 for parking ticket fee since the cab was parked in the stations parking place. I felt so ripped off.

Thankfully, the reception at Swiss Inn JB was so warm and friendly that I soon forget about being tired and hungry. Check in was quick. They did not require any deposit.

I booked a Cozy Single Room which has Free Wifi and breakfast for two. Other commendable facilities include Free Shuttle Service, a parking space and yezza affordable room service. It was RM140.34 including tax and service fee. As usual, I booked my room through Agoda.com. There are other room options for family and individual travelers alike. One being a Tatami room where 6 people could stay together in a room with matresses laid on the floor – very Japanese like and cosy too.

My room has the basic complimentary beverages set and towels. Separate toilet and hot shower. A bath gel and shampoo with a small bar of soap. A mini hairdryer too. You need to bring your own toothbrush and toothpaste though.

I ordered room service and started unpacking my backpack. For dinner, I had a Deluxe burger. It came in an economic plastic packaging instead of a plate. Lol. That was new. I remembered ordering room service in Kuching’s Telang Usan, they still serve meals in proper plates. Ha ha. But it’s ok. Maybe it was easier to clean up and more hygienic? *thumbs up* After my meal, I freshened up and tucked myself in early.

I was already up at 530am the next day. Sunday is a working day in JB. I went down to the 1st floor for breakfast at the restaurant. The atmosphere was cute but I did not manage to snap a lot of pictures. The options were adequate and fulfilling for a 3 star hotel. It’s not a wonder that this hotel is the accommodation of choice for small group travellers. That morning we had guests from Indonesia staying there which was refreshing. Previously I’ve only managed to see groups from China during breakfast. The ibu-ibu looks so cute and fashionable with their colourful tudung.

After a brief visit to the loo, I checked out of Swiss Inn. I wished I could stay longer. The hotel is so pretty. I could have at least explored the gym.

This time I took a Grab Car to my alma mater situated near to the bus station the night before. The fare was only RM10.

My alma mater, Sekolah Tun Fatimah is an all girls boarding school. As someone who came from a non-priviledged background, it was a life changing moment for me. It was a great opportunity for me to receive structured education in a school said to be for the creme of the creme. On top of formal learning, I also had a taste of interacting with fellow students of different social hierarchy. I was middle class. So I get to mingle or observe those girls who were from upper and of lower class than mine. It was a mind opening and humbling experience.

Despite depending fully on meals at the dining hall, my parents still give me a bit of pocket money – enough to call home on the weekend with a phone card and the occasional splurge of air kotak rumah at the co-op. There were times of course I did not have enough money to buy an RM50 jersey shirt ( I was a player in the softball team) so I quit the team quoting ridiculous reasons like ‘mak suruh belajar’ . The seniors were a disappointed but they accepted my reasons. Since then, I didn’t take up sport because to me sports required money we did not have. So I just laid low and studied. I made a few friends. I don’t recall having any personal enemies. I think. ha ha. Even the teachers have a tough time trying to remember who is this Minci. HA ha ha ha.

Which is why when last year they announced to do this BTS programme, a collaboration activity with the school counsellors – I wasn’t exceptionally thrilled. I had no one in particular that I was excited to see because the ones I love, I am already seeing them or sending parcel kasih sayang from time to time. Notably, Kakjet and my Mimie. I appreciate my teachers and is forever grateful for their kind words and teaching but there is no outstanding personal moments to reminisce on, unlike my super achieving friends or the rebellious ones. I was one of those people who was not interested to join. At all.

until one day

I just felt like contributing. Part of it was driven by my personal agenda to meet Birsilah Bakar and force her to scribble an autograph in my copies of her book. hihi. And part of it is just wanting to exist as a Srikandi without feeling inferior by it. Often I had to conceal the fact that I’m a Srikandi because people expect big things from you – I’m just not keen to be likewise. It’s a personality thing. I am an introvert. Socializing or shining drains too much of my energy. lOl.

Anyway, what started as a volunteer in a mini group to sweat the little stuff led to me being upgraded as a team leader. It’s huge and gonna be one of the big things I’m organizing. So, BTS 2020 – here we go.

Getaway to Genting Highland

When we only had Ee, our firstborn, planning for a holiday is much easier. Now that he has gone for formal schooling on top of us parents shouldering more responsibilities at work plus the addition of little Ninie, it is not that simple. We have to think about his attendance at school and also our absence from work. The timing has to be right. And of course our bosses approval to take leave.

Genting Highland was the least on my mind when it comes to a family holiday as it almost always associated with the place where people gamble and have extreme fun. Interestingly, it is possible for families to have enjoy an innocent time there too. I know I did. The kids too and even my elderly mother in law was overjoyed.

We were a party of 12 people. 1 senior citizen, 6 adults, 3 kids, 2 toddlers. We departed from Melaka at 0800H and arrived at Genting Skyway by 1030H. Mind you, at this time of the year AWANA IS STILL CLOSED FOR RENOVATION. Gosh, the pain of driving up to Genting Premium Outlet (GPO) and then going down again to the original skyway is so grrrrr..

We bought a return ticket for the cable car at RM16/pax. Kids are priced at the same rate. The view from it was amazing. I love how the thick fog hugs the jungle and terrain underneath – it is so beautiful. If only, I knew how to take better photos. Temperature was a nice sort of cold. The kids did not even have to wear their jacket. takyah bawak, semak. dahlah semak, berat lak tu.

Once we arrived at the stop, we had lunch at McDonalds. My diet was naturally ruined.

Our first adventure was The Skytropolis.

An indoor fun fair if I may say. I am not really a fan of rides. Nor is Ee. Ninie had height restrictions. So Mr Husband had the most fun there while I take photos of his embarassing blood curdling screams. It’s either you pay for a combo ticket or you pay per ride, which is a freaking RM10 each. Gile. Nama pun Genting. On weekends & public holidays, the rate climbs up to RM15 per ride. So, get a combo priced at RM90 to give you access to rides in Skytropolis, the SnowWorld and an exhibition. Or any other combo of your choice.

Later we stopped by at an exhibition featuring local art and culture called Senikome Peng Heng.

Boring. No crowd. Maybe we missed the timing for the guided experience tour. So you might want to arrange your activities accordingly as you might feel that your RM9.50 admission fee a total waste. What was more jaw dropping is that my dear Ninie (who is barely 2 and understand nothing much) was also charged RM9.50. Like, wadahek.

Can you appreciate Ninie’s artistic pose for the camera? lol.. we certainly did not coach her..

SnowWorld was most fun.

Luckily Ninie was more than 73cm – so she could enter the place. We are allowed 30 mins in the dome to experience the subzero environment and play the Toboggan slide if you like. Jacket, boots and gloves were provided. They even have Ninies size. You can place your personal belongings in the locker provided too. All this at no extra charge. Inside, there will be professional photographers helping to take your photos but you can bring your own phones too. After all, they charge RM50 per photo once you collect them. It is advisable to bring your own pair of socks as the boots can be quite damp and soggy. Plus,you wouldn’t want your feet to get icy cold. Admission fee is a flat rate of RM45 for visitors as small as Ninie to someone as old as Tun Mahathir.

The fake overseas scenery.. and snow covered pavements..

We spent 5 hours in Genting Highland without the visit to the premium outlet and there is still so much more to explore. Personally, I feel a trip here would be more happening if I were to go with my friends and do more adult-like activities such as the Void, listen to a symphony and such.

We spent 2 nights at a 3 star hotel outside Genting called S Damansara. It is because after Genting we had other mini trips as well in nearby areas.

It was a comfortable hotel which also caters for group tourists. We opted to have in house breakfast as well and I feel that the spread was adequate. The options are pretty much like what we had at Silka Cheras.

Our rooms were a Superior Twin with no windows and we were lucky to have interconnecting rooms close to each other. Price wise can go as low as RM92 per night and up to RM150 for bigger rooms. The most expensive room they have is the VIP Suite which can amount up to RM500/night which could appeal to larger family groups. There is also FREE WIFI access in every room.

The kids find the vendor machine so fascinating..

The trip to Genting was fun yet tiring. We were on our feet for the whole day but I was glad to burn some calories. On another note, I feel this years themed holiday is Tempat Perjudian considering our earlier family vacation was to Macau.

After Genting, it was to Kidzania and Petrosains. That is another blog entry.

Hotel Sentral Johor Bahru

We stayed at Hotel Sentral Johor Bahru. This is not to be confused with JB Central Hotel as this is a different place altogether.

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Ours is a budget, 3 star hotel with just enough facilities to bring about a restful day. It is at Tanjung Puteri and a few minutes walk away from the R&F Mall JB. The hotel is a comfortable place for you to have a quick breakfast, a comfortable bed to sleep in after a tiring day at USS. If you find this hotel not to your liking, then there are nearby hotels – practically a doorstep away such as Erica Hotel, Erya by Suria and GBW Hotel.

We booked a Family Room for 2 Nights. It came to a total of just below RM 350 without tax. Breakfast included. The room has a single bed and a double bed.

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I specifically mention these hotels because they are walking distance from each other and are in collaboration with Pakej USS dot Com (yes, the name of the agency is that straight forward) in terms of pickup and group movement.

The day trip is done daily and it offers ticket prices as below; (as of April 2019)

Adult   : RM 265 / Children : RM 215/ Senior : RM 175

This will include the entrance ticket for USS as well. Nice, right? Will write about USS later.

Back to the hotel, it was OK. At night, they have food trucks near the lobby and the food sold there were great. We really enjoyed the Mac & Cheese. Breakfast at the hotel was adequate. You have the toast section, noodles, nasi lemak (of course), cereals, fruits & salad and your juice with beverages. Kira OKlah with what you pay.

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Then, there is a swimming pool located on the second floor. Unfortunately, the changing room was not open, so you kinda have to wipe yourself really dry before entering the lift or find a spot and change to a drier outfit.

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The toiletries were at its minimum – meaning no toothbrush or toothpaste. So bring your own – it is not that difficult if you are a frequent traveler. The hot shower was great, water pressure nice.

Most importantly, every floor has a Cuckoo water dispenser machine. Imagine the joy of free flow hot and cold water. Especially when the machine  is standing just 2 doors a way. No need for boiling hot water for Ninie’s milk.

Since this hotel was booked by Mr Husband, I will put any small discomforts to rest. Like the broken furniture, limited parking space and ragged looking towels. If it was up to me though, I’d probably upgrade my room or choose another hotel. However since we were tired after a long day at USS, these small glitches just doesn’t matter anymore as it was drowned in our snores.

 

 

 

Pic taken with Samsung A7

Krabi 2018 : Timber House Ao Nang

Previously, we stayed at Ananta Burin Resort (2014) and Ibis Styles Hotel (2016) for our Krabi getaway. this year we tried Timber House Ao Nang. 

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Timber House is a 3 star family friendly resort with commendable facilities and staff. It is walking distance to the beach and most importantly, near Halal eateries for Muslim tourists.

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Things we loved about the place;

  1. The Room – we booked a family room which has 1 King Size bed and 1 single bed. Each unit has a private terrace complete with chairs and a table that overlooks the pool (in most places). I wished I had brought my HoboMinci for it would be an ideal place to do some journaling. Each room has the basic amenities like the fridge, hot shower, room and pool towels, daily complimentary bottled water and beverages, a kettle, a microwave (bonus!) and basic toiletries although I would recommend you bring your own shower gel.
  2. The pool – kids loved it especially when the management left a floating alligator in the pool for the kids to enjoy swimming. Pool opens from 7AM – 7PM.           wp-1535267001793..jpg
  3. The FREE BREAKFAST package – there were online reviews from fellow visitors that did not enjoy the choices. We personally think that it was alright for a 3 star hotel. Although the spread was not fully HALAL, there are safe options like the vegetarian fried noodle, the bread and HALAL butter, the fresh fruits, juices, lovely coffee from the machine. I had my fix of mocha and cappuccino almost every morning.
  4. The mini playground – the entrance is at the car park. The kids enjoyed playing the swing and the slide        wp-1535266900385..jpg
  5. Walking distance to the many places to eat – the HALAL pancakes, ice cream and hot meals are just around the corner. Take the turn up the hill towards 7 Eleven and voila, its like a Muslim street up there. It’s different from the street near the mosque but the options are just as varied and great.

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The resort did say we have access to FREE WIFi but I find the connection to be awful. So I resorted to my very own DIGI Roaming Package. It’s an RM25 package which has a 4GB Internet + 60 mins call for 3 days. Interestingly I could still settle my bills online and receive my TAC number for my transactions in Krabi.

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Would I stay here again? Yes. I think we paid for our rooms for less than RM 120 per night. And it was for 3 nights. Of course it would depend on certain variables like the season, the deals available and the number of people joining the trip. Still, it was a nice stay.

 

Langkawi 2018 : Grand Continental Langkawi Hotel

I was taken by surprise the number of foreign tourist at this hotel. China tourist. How is it that I have not come across them before? Then I realized that its got to do with the type of hotel I chose this time round, Grand Continental Langkawi HOtel. And what an interesting lot they are. HA HA.

GCL Hotel is a 3 star hotel located in Kuah near a small shopping mall which you could go to by foot in 53 seconds. A reflexology and massage service is also located beside the hotel at the same building.

I booked a Standard Triple Room which has 1 Double Bed and 1 Single Bed which costs me RM875.32 including tax for a 5D4N stay. It has a mini fridge which I liked. With its complimentary coffee and such. The toilet has both a shower and a bath tub. But I did not feel like soaking in it because the tub was old and it felt icky. My son however loved the tub and he managed to come up with a mini movie in it while playing with his figurines.

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The facilities are OK. 1 restaurant. 1 swimming pool. No gym. The staff were super friendly and helpful. The only thing that puts me off was the presence of a particular group of tourist. 2 buses of them at one time, at least. With a change of group probably every 3-4 days. They are not mean. Or evil. But they are robust and rowdy. Which can appear selfish?

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However, since they are bringing business to the hotel and also Langkawi – it is something perhaps we local tourist have to accommodate or make adjustments. Or complain. 

They can be very loud in the hallway early in the morning or late at night. To some of them, it is of a normal decibel. It is their way of communication. We learnt to shut our ears. HA ha.

Our little family also  learnt that it would not be a good idea to go for the breakfast buffet too early in the morning. We initially went down at 700AM and the crowd was just overwhelming. Thankfully there are still sensible queues at the Roti Canai and Egg Station. The slices of bread however were gone in minutes as the guests loved to pile lots of them in one plate at one go. Maybe they really like the jam.

Pushing and shoving can be normal to them so since I’m quite small sized, I avoid the crowd. After all, we were in no rush to do any activities early in the morning nor did we sign up for any tour excursions – so we could wait for them to finish before we help ourselves to the buffet. We started going for breakfast near 900 AM.

I really want to applaud the staff for they were very patient with the mess, the frequent orders by theses tourists to top up the food etc. They had smiles plastered to their face and kind words (always) when in contact with both local and foreign guests.

Despite its wonderful location and great price for facility, I might reconsider staying at his hotel in the future. For the above reason. My sister told me the situation would probably be the same for other 3 star hotels. This would mean having to choose a homestay, a boutique hotel or small resort like Tok Senik or a 4 – 5 star hotel next visit.

I look forward to suggestions.