Thanks to a good work buddy of Bruce’s – Tony, we got to spend the day sightseeing with a local!
Our day looked like this:
First stop was at Masjid Negeri Kota at Iskander. This is a very prominent mosque which accommodates up to 6000 worshipers at any given time. The 6 impressive towers are can be seen for miles and miles and the mosque is one of JB’s top 10 tourist destinations. The road in to the mosque leads you to the Johor State Government building – Kota Iskander. This fairly new building is built on 320 manicured acres and employees 2200 civil servants. On the same grounds is the now retired State Government building which pays homage to the deceased Sultan Ibrahim who died 1959.
|Entrance to the Mosque grounds.|
|Offices for the Mosque|
The new State Government building has won many awards both locally and internationally for its architecture. Interesting fact: 2009 marked the first sitting of the Johor Legislative assembly in the new venue after 69 years of state sittings and was only the fourth time in nearly 500 years the Johor government has been moved!
For a treat Tony took us to the current Sultan – Sultan Ibrahim (family first given name) Ismail’s palace. Public are only allowed in once a year during Chinese New Year celebrations so we could only view in awe via the gates. Even then one of the officers came out and told us to move on. Just the gates, the entrance with the crown and the grounds inside are something to behold – no budget restraints here.
|Managed a few happy snaps inside the gates before being shoo'd away by the guards.|
|This guard is asleep - not sure how much 'guarding' he is doing.|
Then we went down the freeway to Country Gardens – Danga Bay. This is an entire new precinct being built and it’s huge. They don’t mess around here when they build new places, it was a bit overwhelming to be honest. However, it is very well done and we got to see more the Strait of Johor here. The buildings and grounds were very well kept and not a spec of rubbish. Loads of ornaments with interesting features to enjoy.
|A projection of the completed project.|
|How cute are these guys!|
|Bruce and Tony discussing the buildings progress.|
On the way to meet up with Evelyn (Tony’s wife) we drove by and then stopped at the Sultans football team – the Johor Darul Ta’zim (Southern Tigers) stadium. Wow it’s very impressive. The stadium use to seat 15, 000 and when the new Sultan came to his position, being a very impressive/active businessman and lover of sport he had the Larkin Stadium refurbished for his football team. The newer stadium reopened in 2011 boasting 39,000 seats and incredibly the climate is controlled so the players can train and play in any weather conditions depending on where they are playing in the world during the season.
From here we went up to an old Royal state mosque with grand views of the Johor Strait. The mosque was commissioned for build by a previous Sultan – Sultan Abu Baker in 1892 and it took 8 years to build. It is a delightful mix of Victorian and Moorish architecture now protected under the Historical Mosque administration.
|A local artist inside the grounds of the retired building. His drawings where fantastic.|
On our way down to meet Evelyn for lunch we stopped for a quick photo shoot of the oldest palace in Johor – the Sultan Ibrahim building. Lunch was fish head curry. Honestly you’d think Bruce hadn’t eaten in days. He nearly ate the entire dish himself it was so good, even I enjoyed it! Tony bought us some curry puffs to take home for the next day which was very nice.
|They take trespassing very seriously here!|
|Surrounded by skyscrapers, these business's and houses are just surviving.|
One the way to their home we saw an interesting side street. All the apartments had spiral stairs cases. Very interesting. We also saw some very interesting street art.
Then back to their home, which is absolutely gorgeous. They have filled it with family photos and collected treasures over the years. We got to see Tony’s archery collection and were most impressed with the traditional short bow from Mongolia which he still uses. Then out came his camera & lenses – I had serious lens envy!
|Teacher and student,,,,good memories.|
After a few cold drinks and curry puffs we took off to see and walk through the only mirrored/glass Indian temple in the world. It’s hard to find words to describe the temple – it’s magnificent. We were allowed inside and could take pictures which is a first for us as most other temples ban photography, let alone allow us in. It was a treat being allowed inside during prayer time.
A drive through town and we stopped for a walk around some streets that close to traffic in the evening. Similar to China Town in other countries, including its own little India. We walked and talked for ages enjoying the cool evening air and breezes off the water. Tony gave us a few very helpful tips about how to get the best out of our camera and again we were bought treats to take home.
Some of the street art here was very impressive.
Dinner was at a local hawker center filled to the rafters with locals eating Chinese fair.
|Not a speck of rubbish.|
|This is where you buy your new ganesh!|
|The oldest Chinese Temple (well the doors anyway, it was shut) in Malaysia.|
|New sari anyone?|
What a day - 12 hours and loads of fun & adventure with wonderful hosts.