The Great Malaysia Road Trip: Just Bouncing Around in JB!

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Our final location of the Great Malaysia Road Trip is one that will resonate with many Singaporeans: Johor Bahru, or affectionately known as JB.

As the capital city of Malaysia’s southernmost state, JB presents a kaleidoscope of attractions and activities for the whole family to indulge in. From simple pleasures like grocery shopping to fine dining, the city has put smiles on the faces of many Singaporeans and as such, we felt that it would be the perfect closure to our exciting road trip.

We’d like to thank our title sponsor DirectAsia for being with us at every step of our long journey, and for keeping us safe! We’d also like to thank YHI for equipping our ride with the excellent Yokohama Advan tyres to weather the storms and potholes effectively.

Bread-y, Steady, Go!

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First on our list of places to visit is Salahuddin Bakery, situated among a row of shophouses along Jalan Dhoby. This bakery stands out from the others due to its rich heritage, with operations beginning as far back as 1937! 

The family-run business provides both locals and tourists with freshly made bread, puffs, and pastries, all made directly from an old-school coal-fired oven housed prominently inside the shop space.

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Most of their delicious bread products are displayed near the vintage-looking entrance, and it was nice to see people of all backgrounds already patronising the shop even though we arrived there early in the morning! This should come as no surprise, as Salahuddin Bakery opens their doors at 9AM, with their bread all hot and ready for eager customers looking for a hearty morning bite.

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Our hosts and the crew sampled some of their curry puffs and soft pastries, which were delicious and brought back childhood memories! The puffs are crispy with delicious flakey crusts, and once you bite into them, the warmth from the potato and minced meat fillings bring sheer delight to your taste buds. 

Those yearning for a taste of the good old days can also purchase buttery buns that can easily go toe to toe with Roti Boy, or even entire loaves of wholemeal bread. 

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Displayed proudly on the walls of Salahuddin Bakery are past awards and media features from all over Malaysia, showing just how much it means to the Malaysian people. And after tasting their buns, we’ve also become a fan of theirs!

The Salahuddin family still runs the shop, and their friendly and relaxed demeanour makes the shopping experience feel all the more intimate, transporting you back to a time where customer-shop owner relationships were less transactional and more about building strong bonds.

Address: No. 26, Jalan Dhoby, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Opening Hours: 9AM - 6PM (Mon to Sun, closed every Fri)

Finding Time for Peace and Meditation

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It’s nearly impossible to escape the hustle and bustle of JB, with vehicles and people coming at you from just about every direction. 

So when we pulled up at the Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple, imagine our surprise and gladness when the chaos and external noises simply faded away despite it being surrounded by commercial buildings and dense traffic.

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Located a stone’s throw away from City Square and Pasar Karat, the temple provides worshippers and visitors with peace and tranquillity that you’d otherwise struggle to find just outside its majestic gates. It makes sense too, as the ancient building (dating back to the late 1800s!) was designed primarily to provide a common place of worship for the major Chinese clans who were feuding at the time.

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Its founder, prominent businessman and Kapitan Cina Tan Hiok Nee, unified the Chinese community there by naming it as simply the Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple, and also allowed the five major clans to place their main deities within the compounds.

As we explored the place of worship, it became clear that its devotees take great pride in keeping it as beautiful and well-kept as possible. Water wells and other artefacts from generations ago have been preserved and are on display. The temple itself was restored about 30 years ago, with donors from all walks of life contributing to the renovation costs.

Address: Lot 653, Jalan Trus, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Opening Hours: 7AM - 5PM (Mon to Sun)

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Walking around the city under the sweltering heat took a toll on our stomachs, and so we entered the cool confines of City Square to enjoy the cold AC, before settling for lunch at Ho Seng Kee.

The restaurant is known most for their wanton mee, with wheat flour noodles that are freshly made by hand every day. Giving way to the hype almost immediately (perhaps it was because of our already-growling tummies), we settled for the dishes and sides that included duck strips and fish balls.

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Our food was delivered to us via a server robot, which added to the novel dining experience! And once everything was served, it was time to dig in. Suffice it to say, the hype was real.

The noodles were springy yet textured enough to crunch a bit when you bite into them. Flavourful would be the best way of describing them, as they tasted somewhat egg-like and definitely filling. The accompanying fish and duck side dishes were equally delicious, and the portions were very generous for the asking price. It came to no surprise that our hosts were all-smiles onced lunch had concluded. 

Located on Level 6 of City Square, the restaurant provides more than adequate space for you to have a hearty meal with your family and even your extended relatives, should you wish to have a gathering! 

Address: Johor Bahru City Square, Lot J6-07, J6-07A, J6-08 & J6-08A, Level 6, No. 106, 108, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Opening Hours: 10AM - 8PM (Mon to Sun)

Hip, Hip(ster) Aesthetics

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To wrap our JB segment – and our Great Malaysia Road Trip, by extension – we decided that a paying a visit to a trendy dessert spot was in order, and so we zoomed our way to Bev C’afe!

Located just a minute away from Salahuddin Bakery, this hip cafe-cum-apparel shop resembles artisan shops that you might find in the heart of Tokyo, with the rustic brick wall motif and warm lighting. Walk through the doors and you’re greeted with rows upon rows of stylish clothes, all tastefully curated and designed with individualism in mind.

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It was founded in 2013, and has since grown into much more than a clothing label, now pushing a lifestyle concept that complements very well with their fashion-focused beginnings. The industrial-looking first floor reveals a metal staircase just past its boutique, which leads patrons up to the main cafe space.

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There, you can sample some of their delicious beverages and desserts as you take a seat at the small yet cosy dining area, overlooking the street outside. Our hosts tried their signature Earl Grey Dark Chocolate dome cake together with their iced coffee. The cake looked quite divine, with a swirly multi-coloured texture that coated the dark chocolate and peanut butter filling, delivering an interesting and yummy taste!

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More than that, you can even pick up a book from their eclectic collection found all around the cafe, and spend the afternoon reading while enjoying their food options. Talk about time well-spent!

Address: 54, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia, Malaysia

Opening Hours: 10AM - 6PM (Mon to Sun, closed every Wed)

Farewell Malaysia
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With our hearts and tummies full, we made our final journey back to Singapore, thus marking the end of the Great Malaysia Road Trip.

It would not have been possible without our title sponsor DirectAsia and supporting sponsor YHI Singapore, who greatly helped us in more ways than one! We'd also like to thank SGRentaCar for providing us with a smooth and reliable Honda support vehicle for the crew that made this trip possible.

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