Previously, the Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Programme (a programme organised by Gaya Travel Magazine in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia’s Domestic Marketing Division) travelled to Perak and Pahang. The next destination then was Johor, the state located at the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia.

Johor is one of the more industrially and commercially advanced states in Malaysia. It also boasts unique tourism products and attractions that visitors should not miss. From homestay experience to premium shopping and herbal garden visits, Johor does not disappoint travellers. In this issue, Gaya Travel shares with our readers the products and attractions available in Johor are abound to enrich tourists travel experience.

LC Catering Restaurant

LC Catering is one of the giant catering service providers in Johore and it has been the caterer for weddings, events, annual dinners and many other occasions for the individuals and corporate clients in Johore. The LC Catering Restaurant is located in Taman Melodies residential area on Jalan Tebrau, one of Johor Bahru’s major roads. The restaurant is not only popular for catering but also for its ala carte dishes when walk-in customers can simply come for breakfast, lunch, hi-tea or dinner.

This modestly decorated restaurant serves up mouth-watering traditional Malay dishes, especially, ayam penyet (loosely translated as compacted fried chicken). Apart from serving local fare, Western dishes are also served to suit customers’ range of appetites.

Claiming themselves as a premier and upscale one-stop full-service catering and event planning company, LC Catering is able to provide catering service for corporate, government and social clients from small gatherings as small as ten persons up to as large as 1,000 guests or more at one time. LC Catering also serves clients who are based within 350 kilometres radius such as those in Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan.

Website LC Catering : http://www.lc-catering.com/

Homestay Kampung Sri Paya

After a hearty lunch at LC Catering Restaurant, participants of KCC1M Johor proceeded to Kampung Sri Paya Homestay, located about 20 kilometres away from Johor Bahru in Kulai district. This serene and tranquil village was founded over 50 years ago comprising residents of Javanese descent. Nowadays, Kampung Sri Paya, as in most villages in Johor, cultivates palm oil for its main income.

Upon arrival, the KCC1M Johor participants were welcomed by the kampung headman cum Chairman of the village’s Homestay programme – Mr. Mohd. Lazim – together with Kampung Sri Paya residents with the performance of silat (Malay traditional martial art) and reverberation of the kompang (traditional Malay handheld percussion).

Website Kampung Sri Paya  : http://kgsripayahomestay.blogspot.com/2009

Currently, 29 homes in Kamping Sri Paya participate in this homestay programme, all registered under Johor Homestay Association and required to follow the guidelines set by the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Rural Development.

After settling down, the participants were introduced to items unique to Kampung Sri Paya such as traditional dishes like thiwol and ketuk ubi (both made out of tapioca), including tempe (famous Javanese dish made out of soy); ornament, crafts and home accessories made from pandanus flower and palm leaves; including kuda kepang, the famously mystical traditional dance of Javanese origin performed by the local youths, which were then tried out by KCC1M participants. Apart from kuda kepang, another dance that visitors should try learning when being in Johor is zapin, which is synonymous to the state and performed during many significant functions and events, believed to have originated from the Middle East but now part of Johor heritage.

Some of the activities that guests can experience in Kampung Sri Paya are climbing coconut trees, playing gambus, tapping rubber and mendekut (an activity of trying to lure the wak wak bird into the trap made from fishing line by blowing a special bamboo whistle), which is normally carried out at night because the bird is not be able to see the trap that time. Another activity worth noting is learning about mushroom cultivation in a farm that is run by the family of Mr. Zainodin. The farm successfully cultivates mushrooms that are exported to Singapore, this boosting the local economy. Most of the machines and tools used in the process of mushroom cultivation and production such as the mushroom block, shelf and block compressing machine are all made by the villagers themselves.

Nasuha Herbs & Spices Paradise

Nasuha is actually the name of the owner of the attraction, Tuan Haji Nasuha, who has toiled the land for almost 40 years, which was formerly a catchment area owned by British officers back in 1903. Covering 3,200 acres of land, there are more than 6,000 species of herbs and spices that are cultivated for the production of supplements, medications, ointments and cooking spices, all are processed and packaged here. Nasuha Herbs & Spices Paradise even has its own group of researchers who continuously study on high potential herbs and spices as cure for many chronic and mild ailments considering herbs contain organic nutrients and natural remedial properties that effectively reduce side effects compared to the synthetic drugs.

Tuan Haji Nasuha himself welcomed the KCC1M Johor participants and introduced to the whole group about the place, the herbs and spices available here and their benefits. This place has been receiving many tourists, both local and foreign. Most of the foreign tourists are from Europe and they come here to find out about the herbs and their effectiveness, apart from indulging in bird-watching, especially eagles, which can be spotted here. Tuan Haji Nasuha later offered to personally examine the participants’ cholesterol levels by simply analysing their palm and finger tips, then offering advice on ways to achieve a more balanced cholesterol level and improve health.

Apart from its lush herbs and spices garden, this place also offers accommodation for guests who wish to stay here and wake up to the freshness of nature. There are a few types of accommodation available such as log cottages and camping. Guests who stay here will get the chance to enjoy activities like canoeing, flying fox, abseiling, canopy walk, fishing and jungle-trekking, among others. This place is also one of the preferred training locations for university and college students, including corporations, for them to organise team-building activities since the place is also equipped with facilities such as amphitheatre and dormitories.

Website Nasuha Herbs & Spices Paradise : http://www.nasuhaherbsparadise.com/

Everlasting Food Industry

Tangkak is one of the places in Johor that is well-known for its booming textile industry that attracts tourists from all over the country and even from abroad to come and shop for cheap fabrics and clothing. However, little did we know that apart from textiles, Tangkak is the house for Everlasting food industry, the company that produces vast amount of organic food processed from brown rice and black beans, two food sources that are rich in iron and fibre.

Everlasting Food Industry Pte. Ltd. (ELFI) started operations since 2002 and now produces a wide range of food products that are processed from brown rice, honey and bird’s nest, including two other new products: black rice and black beans. After almost 10 years in the food processing industry, ELFI has now penetrated the international market by exporting to countries such as Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Yemen, Singapore and Brunei. The success of ELFI has proven that the food products produced at its food plant are of high quality and certified halal by the Malaysian authority, thus accepted by the Muslim countries.

ELFI line of products includes mee suah, variety of noodles, snacks, tea, coffee, honey and bird’s nest. All of these products are organic, high in nutrient and not artificially coloured and flavoured, as well as no preservative is used.

The KCC1M Johor participants were given the chance to try out the food here and visit the food processing plant. The machines used to process the food were of latest technology and the surrounding was remarkably hygienic. After tasting the snacks and the drinks, the participants enthusiastically bought the products due to their nutritional value and quality.

Website Everlasting Food Industry : http://www.everlastingfood.com/

Johor Premium Outlets

Johor’s shopping experience becomes all the more interesting with the opening of Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) centre, which is part of the Premium Outlets portfolio, the world’s largest collection of high-end outlet centres. The outlets offer high quality items but not the latest designs.

The Johor Premium Outlets centre that spans 175,000 square feet is the very first Premium Outlets portfolio in South East Asia, expected to attract shoppers from Malaysia and neighbouring South East Asian countries, including those from the Middle East.

The centre offers internationally recognised designer brands such as Burberry, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani, CK Calvin Klein, Canali Coach, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna and Brooks Brothers, among others. By offering discount between 25% and 65% – some even go as high as 80% – this place offers ardent shoppers great value for money.

For the convenience of its shoppers, JPO offers various amenities such as auto-teller machines, food & beverage outlets, information centre, strollers, wheelchairs and peace of mind security. Visitors to Johor who enjoys shopping will find Johor Premium Outlets enriching and a destination not to be missed.

Website Johor Premium Outlets : http://www.premiumoutlets.com.my/

Grand Sentosa Hotel

The first hotel that the KCC1M Johor programme participants stayed was the Grand Sentosa Hotel at Taman Sentosa, another business and shopping district in Johor Bahru. Easily can be reached via the Tebrau Highway, Grand Sentosa Hotel is a perfect location for business travellers since its location is central and close to entertainment outlets for them to unwind after a hard day’s work. Situated within the residential area of Taman Sentosa, this property is offers 260 rooms that are categorised into four types namely Family Room, Deluxe, Superior and Suite.

Grand Sentosa Hotel was developed together and linked with Plaza Sentosa, a new and upcoming hotel and retails mixed development in Johor Bahru, aimed at providing convenience to the hotel’s guests with offerings such as spa, amusement park, pharmacies, eateries, fashion retail, bars, pubs and many more. The guests of the hotel do not even have to venture out of the hotel to access Plaza Sentosa.

Website Grand Sentosa Hotel : http://www.grandsentosahotel.com/

6 Corner Seafood Restaurant at Senibong

During the night, KCC1M Johor participants had the opportunity to savour excellent seafood at Kampung Senibong, a fishing village that houses rows restaurants that serve authentic dishes within the area called Permas Jaya. When we were there, the 6 Corner Seafood Restaurant was packed not only with locals but also those who have come as far as Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and even Singapore to enjoy its tantalising dishes. The restaurant is located by the sea where visitors can see the lights coming out from the boats nearby while catching the sea breeze.

The dinner was exquisite with fresh and authentic aquatic creatures being cooked and grilled to perfection. This place offers an absolute satisfaction to seafood enthusiasts who like to enjoy fresh mussels, prawns, squids, fishes and other exotic food that you can think of at reasonable price. It came to no surprise to the KCC1M Johor delegates that this place has been featured and accredited by the famous national food program on Malaysia’s TV3 called ‘Jalan-jalan Cari Makan’.

Cafe Enampuluhan (The 60’s Café)

This uniquely named cafe is located in Stulang Laut, just a few minutes away from Johor Bahru city centre. The exterior of this cafe is modest and unassuming, making one not quite sure of its specialty. However, visitors will surely be enthralled to know that this cafe is famous with its broth noodle, which is made up of hot boiling soup filled with visitor’s choice of chicken or beef and sprinkling of spring and fried onions. Other dishes also being offered here are fried noodle, vermicelli, fried rice with Thai-style fried chicken and soto (traditional Javanese food), among others.

Cafe Enampuluhan is indeed the perfect place for supper not only due to its hearty menu but also for the view of Singapore across the Tebrau Strait.

Kacang Pool Haji

The word ‘pool’ may always be associated with a game but this time, the word ‘pool’ is associated with a type of food that originated from the Middle East. Kacang Pool is actually the name of the food that the owner of the café, who is referred to as Haji (loosely meant the male who has performed hajj), discovered when he was in Mecca. Captivated by the taste of Kacang Pool, Haji decided to bring the recipe back and set up a café selling it in Medan Selera Larkin (Larkin Food Court), a residential area in Johor Bahru. Haji learned how to prepare the dish from the Middle Eastern cooks. and up until today, he still mixes the special ingredients using special spices on his own to maintain the taste of the food even he has his family to help him out. Kacang means nuts, used as the main ingredient for making the gravy together with spices, chunks of beef and calamansi. The gravy is eaten with slices of bread with fried egg on top.

Though it is just a simple meal, it has wonderful taste and in one day, almost a thousand loafs of bread are gobbled down by Haji’s customers from 7:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. morning daily. This place has also been recognised by ‘Jalan-jalan Cari Makan’ as a place that should not be missed by food lovers when they happen to be in Johor Bahru.

Website Kacang Pool Haji : http://jbfoodclub.com/2010/

Damai Seafood Village

Damai Seafood Village, located in Kampung Sungai Danga, is another eating place in Johor where gastronomic lovers congregate to savour delicious and freshly cooked seafood. The restaurant is surrounded by lush greenery that blends well with its bucolic concept. There are is also a pond that the guests can sit by and catch a breather after eating.

Damai Seafood Village’s boasts a wide range of menu that includes Western food, Chinese seafood and Malay traditional food in order to give more choices to its customers. The special menu that was served to the KCC1M delegates was the mouth-watering black pepper crab cooked with chilly. Other dishes worth trying here are stir fried tofu, chicken soup, buttered prawns and sweet sour sea bass.

Website Damai Seafood Village : http://www.coolpare.com/pop/damaiseafood/12.html

JB Night City Tour

In order to know Johor Bahru more intimately, visitors are welcome to explore the city by following the JB Night City Tour offered by Prima Sierra Holidays, based at Segget (formerly known as Seagate), an area that has lots of stalls selling shoes, handbags, accessories, clothes, electrical appliances, gadgets, home appliances, exotic pets and many more. The visitors who participate in this tour will be taken around JB during the night on nicely decorated trishaws.

There are six trishaws operating at one time and the trishaws are actually made from old bicycles that were bought in Japan. Unlike the trishaws in Penang and Malacca, the Johor trishaw has the image of kuda kepang embellished on the sides of the trishaws, indicating Johor’s strong Malay Javanese influence. The trishaw night city tour offers employment opportunity to Johor Bahru youths, allowing them to use their time optimally. Some of the cyclers who Prima Sierra Holidays engages as part timers are college and university students, including those from disadvantaged background, as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility program.

Website Prima Sierra Holidays : http://www.psholidays.com/

Nusajaya

Located at the tip of Malaysia Peninsular, Nusajaya draws its inspiration from Putrajaya, Malaysia’s centre of administration and become the catalyst for the special economic corridor earmarked for Johor called Iskandar Malaysia. Nusajaya is a fully-integrated urban development that aims to stimulate economic growth in the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia. Nusajaya’s strategic location in South East Asia and even Asia endows it with many advantages in terms of transportation, be it sea, air or land. Nusajaya will soon house all government bodies and administrative agencies when completed. The residential development that is planned and currently executed will make this area an enviably well integrated and liveable city that boasts world class facilities such as hospitals, schools, universities and many more to suite the modern lifestyle of its residents.

Website Nusajaya  : http://www.nusajayacity.com/

About the Author