Overnight stay at Swiss Inn, Johor Bahru

<a href="http://”>http://

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.

Kuching Trip in 2019

Kuching, Sarawak is an annual destination for my family. This year we decided to use our yearly Waran tickets for Hari Raya Haji. Since it coincides with the school holidays, there was naturally a price hike for all hotel rooms and transport. Hence, I booked a Homestay which I found on Instagram : homestaymuslimkuching

20190811_091011-018558413418013830369.jpeg

My rented home has 3 air-conditioned rooms, 2 bathrooms and basic amenities in the kitchen like a stove, some pans, plates,utensils, cups, a kettle, blender and there was even a washing machine. The home has a rate of  RM250/night. Since I will be there for at least 5 days 4 nights, we were eligible for a discount of just being charged RM210/night. I paid a 50% deposit online to the owner, to lock the date and completed the payment with cash upon arrival at the homestay. We also had to pay a RM150 security deposit when checking in which is later returned upon checking out.

The homestay is located in Matang Jaya, where the residents are predominantly Bumiputra of which there is a balance between muslims and non muslims in the area. Matang Jaya is situated across the other side of the bridge away from the city. Nevertheless there are plenty of activities and places to go. The shopping malls may be less grand as compared to the ones in the city but it is easier to find Halal food/ restaurants within this vicinity including places heading towards Petra Jaya/ Semariang.

Homestays are generally cheaper if we are traveling in a large group. Of course, it may not be as luxurious and comfortable compared to our usual state of living at home. We missed a few things from home such as;

  1. The microwave – we had to reheat our food using pots and pans on the stove
  2. Comforters – each room was provided with a very thin blanket. I suppose it is a technique so that we increase the temperature while we sleep. In a way less energy is used to cool the room to ‘extreme’ temperatures. Hence conserve electricity and reduces the bill.
  3. Coway water filter machine – given the easy access to clean water at home, boiling hot water can be a chore. Ha ha. Thankfully, there is a NINSO nearby for us to buy drinking water in abundance. The 1.5 litre bottles were sold at only RM2.30 for 3 bottles.
  4. Night lights/ bedside lamps – I was so glad that I brought my doTERRA LUMO diffuser. It doubles up as my lamp throughout the night as I set it to 10 hours of usage. If I did not bring it, I’d have to resort to a totally dark room or sleep with the doors open. 20190810_141932-019203051808957857482.jpeg
  5. The many available wall sockets – Each room has only 1 wall socket. Therefore, it is advisable to bring your own extensions.
  6. The assorted shower gels/shampoo & toothpaste -the homestay provided one basic solution for shampoo and body foam which is totally acceptable. I miss having the many choices like we do at home. Hence, it is wise to bring pre-packed toiletries too.

ACTIVITIES

Our flight was damn early at 0750AM. The kids did not bath and we performed our Subuh prayers at KLIA. Check in at KLIA was easy as there are plenty of self check in machines available. Once we’ve printed the luggage tags , we baggage dropped our things at the respective counters.

In-flight menu was OK although we personally prefer Air Asia’s nasi lemak. Even the kids pancakes taste funny.

We touched down at Kuching International Airport (KIA) 10 mins earlier than scheduled and had to wait for our rented car to come which took hours. So we had lunch at SUGAR BUN, in the airport which was freaking expensive. Our rented car is an Axia at RM90/day.

20190810_100858-012177544285897767525.jpeg

This time around for raya haji, we would be visiting our relatives. We do not have the luxury to do other tourist-ish stuff like we normally do. So Santubong Damai Beach and museum visits were not part of the schedule. Some of the little things we manage to do include;

COFFEE AT BELALAK ADDICTED

This roadside stall was once famous for its Turkish like brewed coffee. Nowadays however, perhaps because its time consuming, they have removed that extra unique element and replaced it with other coffee varieties on top of selling fried food/critters for tea. I ordered Kopi Let which is a mixture of coffee with cocoa. It is very sweet though but the coffee taste still come out strong. Price : RM4.90

20190810_131052-017122108806383399983.jpeg

RECITING YASSIN AND TAHLIL FOR THE DEceased

This was a get together on my moms side. We sedekah our recitations to those we love and hope Allah will ease their sufferings, if any, in alam barzakh. Then we had food. Lost of food. My sister and I brought chocolate cake all the way from Selangor for the occasion.

img-20190811-wa0017-016818388299099054727.jpeg

FOOD HUNTING

There is no doubt that the queen of Laksa Sarawak is still Moms Laksa. The broth is super delicious and the closest restaurant to replicate its taste is here in Melaka, Kolok Vs Laksa restaurant located along the SPA Highway.

20190816_143500-collage-018163183006899122687.jpeg

A bowl of delicious mi kolok is harder to find because everyone’s recommendations differs greatly as to how they decide that mi kolok is nyaman. The last time I had a delicious mi kolok was at Kets Kitchen in Matang Jaya. Now rebranded as POpular Food Court. Till now, it was so difficult to get hold of the pakcik who makes the mi kolok.

Sotong Kangkung from LOCK ANN is a must. It has now relocated just opposite Matang Mall.

We went to a new place this year. MAMI CENDOL. It sells cendol, shaved ice with toppings, rojak buah, sotong kangkung and mi belacan. We thought it was a bit odd though to tapau self service but we went along with the system. The taste was alright.

20190813_104148-016776005135708774405.jpeg

20190817_201553-011079313813205264187.jpeg

We had our seafood fix as usual at TOPSPOT. It is open at night and we usually patron stall no 25. I recommend ordering their butter prawn. Damn delicious!

20190813_190232-016342764014149406606.jpeg

20190817_202027-017011320452231788411.jpeg

20190817_2021382717343394591675970.jpg

If you yearn for seafood during the day, then TELAGA AIR is the place for you. It is equally cheap. They serve the dishes buffet style but they are still freshly cooked. Telaga Air is situated about 35 – 40 minutes from Matang Jaya.

20190812_1300284523513144838267998.jpg

BUYING SOUVENIRS

I bring back kuih lapis and butter cake back to Melaka every year without fail. It is sad though that nowadays kuih lapis has become so commercialized that its lost its unique value during Hari Raya. I  also get my Sarawak orientated kain pasang from main bazaar or India Street for my working baju kurung. I plan to enrich my wardrobe with baju kurung that has a Sarawakian or Terengganu motive to it. Ha ha.

20190813_203645-016099812290275340576.jpeg

A SPECIAL VISIT TO MASJID AL GHAZALI

This masjid is located just 6 minutes from our homestay. Al Ghazali is special because it was built with the compensation money the relatives received with regards to this whole family who died in the MH17 crash. InsyaAllah as long as people keep the masjid alive, it will be a continuous supply of good deeds for the dead.

20190813_135134-018507952737755283880.jpeg

img-20190813-wa0014-01698758909630905457.jpeg

I hope to spend longer time in Kuching next year. Our family will be going through transitions in our everyday routine next month as we ponder and wait for where Mr Husband will be deployed for his specialist gazzettement.

I hope it is in a state where the weekends are the same as in Melaka.

Bayou Lagoon Park Resort, Melaka

20190607_163133-012788238721400549541.jpeg

We booked a Studio during our stay at this resort. It has 2 single beds which we pushed closed together and towards the wall to accommodate the 4 of us. Mr Husband paid RM293.50 for a 3D2N stay including breakfast , tax and 2 adult entrance ticket to the waterpark for FREE. We still have to pay RM20 tourism fee upon checking in. 

3D2N = RM 293.50

The hotel was understandably packed as it was the long holidays. Our breakfast on the 1st morning had to be held at the convention centre because of the huge number of people. It was only the second day did we get to sit in the coffee house.

Breakfast selection was acceptable for the price you’re paying. You have the rice/noodle option, toasts with jam/ butter, porridge, fruits, basic cereals and coffee/tea. It was OK. 

Checking in was a breeze. This resort uses a ticketing system to serve their customers. Service was fast. Our room was located on the 8th floor in the Amari Villa. Despite the large volume of people staying in the resort, there was no difficulty (for us) to get into a lift. Bayou Lagoon has an in house convenience store just in front of the elevators which was convenient when you’re desperate. Otherwise, replenish your supplies elsewhere. 

20190609_162019-collage-018619560007352512936.jpeg

Our room has a strong WIFI connection, a mini fridge and complementary beverages. To us, having a fridge is a blessing. We are not allowed to bring the room towels to the water park, so either bring your own from home or rent one in the park itself. 

Our tickets came with the price of the room. Otherwise, the fees are as below;

20190617_212449-014982675570770685525.jpeg

As you can see, there are other attractions available but because of time constraints ( we still have a few houses to visit for Eid), we just went into the water park. 

img-20190608-wa0017-014728112915864725601.jpeg

Bayou Lagoon is a relatively small water park compared to the bigger ones out there. Families with young kids would enjoy this place. Teenagers and young adults? Maybe, depending on what thrill you’re looking for. What I loved about the place is that they don’t scrutinize your swimwear. Meaning, it is ok to wear a clean T-shirt and pants. One need not wear a burkini for instance. Janji pakai baju. 

img-20190608-wa0013-013863179477178828354.jpeg

This place does not have lifeguards. So swim and play at own risk. There is an eatery inside. You can reload your tag with RM50 at the entrance and once you’re in the park, transactions are scanned through your bracelet. I am not sure if you could collect any balance from the counter once you’ve exit the park. That perhaps, is a question other visitors can answer. 

img-20190608-wa0007-016910904984798983345.jpeg

Ee enjoyed going down the water slides. He is a lot more braver the last time we brought him to play in a park. Ninie on the hand, occupied and entertained herself by scooping water into her little bowl. Occasionally, I would give her duck float a little push around the ankle pool. In case, you’re wondering, she is not butt-nàkéd. She is wearing a diaper. But we don’t let her take a dip into the pool for hygiene purposes. 

20190608_102459-016040698633746715801.jpeg

20190610_053103_0000-013838314266504940689.jpeg

If I could improve my trip experience any better, I would consider the following;

  • buy own bottled mineral water in advance. their convenience store is expensive. A bottle of 2L drinking water costs a freaking RM6.
  • bring a few extra blankets cause my kids, being self-centred (lol..egoistic lil brats HA HA) like to keep the blankets to themselves. They ain’t wanna share. And while you’re at it, bring personal towels that you can use inside the water park too.
  • diffuse the room with EOs of your choice. the room does smell a bit musty when we first arrived. It got better but the experience could be enriched with my doTERRA oils preferably the Wild Orange/ Peppermint. 

A daytrip to Universal Studios Singapore from Johor Bahru

We are a family of 4. I have a child in primary school and a toddler just over 14 months during the trip. We went for this short excursion during the Melaka public holiday long weekend in April.

We initially drove from Melaka and then stayed at the Hotel Sentral in JB where our bus was scheduled to pick us up the next day.

I wrote about the hotel here.

And these are the ticket prices I mentioned before in the similar blog post.

uss price

I packed my bag light but with enough supplies to keep the kids happy. Some of the things in my tote include;

  • Small thermos for hot water to prepare Ninie’s milk
  • Few empty bottles for us to drink and istinjak. There are loads of water coolers all over the place. InsyaAllah, dehydration would be the less of your worries
  • But mind you, the sun can be really hot. So bring along a mini fan or hat to cover your face
  • Apply sunscreen religiously
  • Lots of wipes.
  • Snacks for babies. Although they did not perform a bag check on us at the entrance, we thought we’d be safe and not smuggle in too much outside food. Furthermore, there are halal certified eateries inside the theme park.
  • Comfortable footwear
  • Bubble play toy. Bought those mini ones at Eco Store. 4 for RM2.10. It was a bargain.

On the day itself, we had breakfast at 7am in the hotel restaurant. I also made sure our son relieved himself as many times as he can before we got on the bus. We departed by 0815 am at our stop. To be honest, the trip from JB to USS itself is less than an hour BUT what kept us waiting were the pit stops at both Immigration offices. Malaysians getting out of Malaysia is easy, its getting into Singapore that begs a longer queue. Thankfully, our bus for that day was not full. So the wait took less than 30 mins at each stop. We were able to arrive at USS by 10am ish.

There were numerous tips online on how you wish to make use of the time there. But with kids, everything can be unpredictable. There is no order. You just venture in and pray for the best. Most of the rides have height requirements for children and Ee is at an age where it is possible to get on almost all of them.

Can babies enjoy USS?

 

Absolutely, even though they lack the memory of it. Ninie was able to enjoy the Shrek 4D cinema. In fact, we entered the premise twice. More for the cool, air conditioned surroundings. Even then, Ninie had fun experiencing the jerky movements of the chair and ‘special effects’ which complemented the short movie.

She could have also enjoyed the merry-go-round but she was fast asleep then. So only Ee and I went on the ride.

In the New York section, there is a mini behind the scene ( BTS ) cinema that Ninie could enter too. This place basically shows how , for example , a natural disaster is emulated and designed for a movie. I thought the scene presented to us LIVE was so realistic. Storm, fire, ship.. everything!

Lunchtime at Oasis Spice Cafe

This is one of the food premises certified as halal in USS. It is located just in front of The Mummy ride. Although the interior is Egypt looking – it serves briyani and the briyani reminds me of the one I had when I was a student in Manchester, UK. It was that delicious. I could actually cry because I really miss this briyani recipe.  Unlike the ones we have in Malaysia. Price kena tutup mata though.

This particular site is fantastic as it listed other Halal eateries you can try too in USS.

Here is my attempt using the Remove Unwanted Content of Photo app. Yes, the name is that long. As you could see, there are a few irregularities in the picture above.

This above photo is taken during my long queue for The Revenge of The Mummy ride in the Ancient Egypt section. The waiting line was long but the wait was fun nonetheless because the design of the area was awesome. I really did feel like I was in a lost tomb and that The Mummy could attack this mummy anytime. The ride did made me feel a tad nauseous especially after my briyani.

Prayer Room

Its a small building located between Ancient Egypt and the SciFi City. Just behind the locker area. There is a partitian for men and women. Of course visitors must be considerate of each other as each space could accommodate about 3-4 people only at one time. They provide prayer garments, mats and ablution facilities there. Telekung dia warna warni and it is a very clean space.

Scheduled Shows

We managed to enjoy the Sesame Street Anniversary Show. Unfortunately my kids do not recognize these characters since local animations have a stronger fan base in Malaysia. We have Boboiboy, Upin Ipin and Didi & Friends to name a few. If you’re not Malaysian, you should consider checking em out. Especially the 1st Boboiboy movie and the recent Upin Ipin Siamang movie.

At the Hollywood area, there was a wonderful singing stage show. They sang from melodies coming out from the jukebox. I was in awe to see those very Hollywood sort of old school cafes you see in the movies with the neon lights and big high up in the sky signboards. Those diners la where people get pancakes and coffee. Or a quick lunch.

We departed from USS at about 1730H ( I think). It has been a while. We had dinner from the food trucks near the hotel. The trip left us feeling elated and rejuvenated in a way. I have never had so much fun in a theme park. Would really want to go again. Time for another piggy bank.

If you enjoyed this post, consider  to