Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Holidays

My packs were ready (packs as in backpacks, not as in 6-pack-abs). Annual leave approved. Off I went on the bus to the rendezvous point.

Day 1 (23/12/2008) - Bus ride
Or rather buses rides. Thinking that I could rest in the bus, I decided to leave my car in the office. I was greatly mistaken. What could have been at most two hours drive turned into four hours rides in two buses and a train. That's what would happen if you don't have direct bus to your destination in Malaysia. By the time I reached the rendezvous point, I was too tired to continue traveling.

Day 2 (24/12/2008) - The drive
We left around noon. And three hours later, we reached our destination - Johor Bahru. It would have taken the whole morning and noon to get to Johor Bahru had we chosen the public transport.

We checked in Mutiara Hotel, Johor Bahru. Our room had been upgraded to "Executive Suite"! The room was spacious. The bed was comfy. There were complimentary fruits. A DVD player was also provided. Too bad I forgot to take photos of the room.

We would be spending a night at JB before crossing over to Singapore. But it was not meant to be. At mid night we were awaken by the shivering of a travel companion. We had to send him to the nearest hospital. As fate would have it, he puked in the examination room. He had to be admitted to the ward. And thus, we all spent the night in the hospital on the hard chair - forgoing the comfy bed at the hotel room!

Day 3 (25/12/2008) - Yet another day
I woke up early. Or rather I hardly slept. The chill-to-the-bone centralized air-cond and snoring from other people in the ward didn’t exactly help me to sleep.

I returned to the hotel while the other two remained in the hospital. I passed by the coffee house. The allure of freshly cooked breakfast was too much to bear. I fastened my pace and reached the room in no time. I quickly freshened up and went for a breakfast in the coffee house.

Tiredness caught up with me. Soon after breakfast, I dozed off in the comfy bed. Around noon, I took a taxi to the hospital. Note to travelers in JB, taxi might have meter but the taxi driver hardly use them. Negotiating the price before getting into the taxi is a good idea. For the two days traveling to and fro the hospital, I got fares that ranged from RM 5 to RM 7. One taxi driver asked for RM 8 and wouldn’t budge. Needless to say, I didn’t get into his taxi.

Our traveling companion was to be warded for one more night. His body temperature did not stabilized. So they need to monitor him.

Thanks to the invention of smaller microchips, I was able to bring a laptop and a PSP to kill time. Not to forget, thanks to Celcom 3G, I was able to play online game!

Day 4 (26/12/2008) – Leaving

Finally the doctor allowed our traveling companion to be discharged. However, looking at the hospital bill, I was thinking that it was more of “miss-charged”. Thanks to a thin rectangular plastic called credit card, I settled the bill. We left the hospital after lunch. Actually I ate the lunch since my travel companion had no appetite.

At the hotel, we quickly packed our things and got ready to cross the border. We waited for our taxi at the lobby. After a while the doorman called us. We put our bags in the black Proton Perdana. It wasn’t really a taxi. It was more like a limousine service.

I was glad we decided to take the limo service and not the normal public bus. That saved us from having to get down from the bus to have our passport stamped and luggage checked. We just sat at the back seat and showed our face at the drive-thru’ counter.

It was around 6 pm when we finally checked in the hotel at Balestier Road. Everyone was tired and decided to just stay in. I was tasked into buying dinner. I went for an evening walk along the Balestier Road. I found Shaw Plaza, right next to legendary “Jalan Ampas”. Shaw Brothers were the legendary filmmaker during the heyday of “Jalan Ampas” studio.

Day 5 (27/12/2008) – Staying in and going out

We were joined by fourth travel companion who was flying in from a business trip in Jakarta. Our feverish companion was too weak to travel. Our fourth companion was also tired from the flight. So they decided to stay in and rest.

While they rest, I decided to go for a walk. I went to the “Jalan Ampas”. A few years ago there was a furor over the demolition of historical site “Studio Jalan Ampas”. This studio was were many legendary Malay film actor, actress, and directors was born. I was surprise to find the building in No 8 Jalan Ampas was still very much in tact (even though it was in a sorry state). The lot is now use by a Singaporean company as a storage area.

Next I proceed to “Jalan Boon Teck”. According to the information ‘stone’ in front of No 8 Jalan Ampas, the actor/actress quarters used to be in this road. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the said building.

In the evening, when our feverish companion’s condition improved, we went out to the shopping district: Orchard Road. With the Christmas sales and abundance of shopping complexes, Orchard Road would most probably be a shopping heaven for shop-aholics. Original branded goods (imagine Gucci, Prada, Bonia etc) were sold at great discount.

Me, being me, didn’t shop at all. I did, however, enjoyed the sight and sound at the area.

There were even buskers along the street. What I enjoyed most was this group of percussionist. These youngsters were performing on the street for charity. They were lively bunch of kids.

Day 6 (28/12/2008) – Adam’s Food court
We took taxi to Adam Road. I was told that there is a famously delicious “Nasi Lemak” sold there. The stall that we bought the “Nasi Lemak” had all sort of certificates displayed to certified that the food were indeed delicious. Unfortunately, my taste buds couldn’t agree with who ever that awarded those certificates. Having tasted far more delicious authentic “kampung style nasi lemak”, the Adam’s “Nasi Lemak” was nothing special to my taste buds.

Later that day, we caught a taxi from the hotel to a taxi station across town. Apparently, the taxies to Johor Bahru are not allowed to pick up passengers at other places except at the station. We had to cut our trip short. Our feverish companion was still feverish.

We spent one more night in Johor Bahru before returning home the next day.

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