Five Islands Six Eggs and Four Resorts

Sailing home from Tioman Island on the tropical east coast of Malaysia, we stayed at some deserted islands and some with resorts.  Luckily the resorts welcome visiting yachties.  It would have been a very hungry cruise if they didn’t.

Yana de Lys anchored off Pulau Tulai. Our first stop sailing home.
Yana de Lys anchored off Pulau Tulai. Our first stop sailing home.

We weighed anchor after ten idyllic days at Tekek on Tioman Island. Our next destination was Pulau Tulai (Tulai Island) An epic 7.11 NM (nautical mile) voyage.

Talk about a stunning uninhabited island.

I snorkeled the low tide coral.  Plenty of those phallic looking sea cucumbers. My chef brother in law promised to send me a recipe. But I’m still waiting. The sea cucumbers are still safe. The other captain explored the mangrove forests.

Mangroves at low tide on Tulai Island, our first anchorage sailing home
Mangroves at low tide on Tulai Island

Next morning we woke up surrounded by local fishing boats. We waved to the fisherman as we left. They didn’t wave back. Just grinned and sledged. What were they saying? “Ooh you’re obviously not a real man pulling up the anchor while your wife drives?” I’d love to know. It felt good natured but alimak! I wish my Bahasa Malaysian vocab was more extensive.

Sailing home: weighing anchor at Tulai
Weighing anchor at Tulai while the local fishermen laughed at us

Sailing home slowly

We were sailing home to Johor Bahru slowly and reluctantly.  We’d have loved to keep going north.

Our next anchorage was Pulau Seribuat. About five hours away.

By this time the other captain was starting to express his concern at our poor provisioning. Eating angst was setting in. He was counting the eggs supply and cans of tuna in the food locker on a daily basis.

Slummin it at the Rawa Island Resort

Moving right along, the following night we anchored off Pulau Rawa. The Rawa Island Resort is very posh.

We’d had a yummy expensive meal and were ready to go home.

Oopsie. Low tide. Not enough water to take the dinghy out through the coral. Waiting waiting waiting for the tide to come in.

Around 8:00 one of the guys from the resort said “You’re going to be here till 10:30 man”. Then sweetly suggested he pulls us out from the jetty using a long rope. Yay. And God bless him it worked.

The next day we continued sailing home slowly via Pulau Babi Besar (literally Big Pig Island).

No shops on Babi Besar anymore

According to our Pilot (like the Lonely Planet for sailors) there was a shop on Babi Besar.

A gorgeous walk on Babi Besar Island on our way sailing home. But no shops for supplies.
A gorgeous walk. But no shops at the end.

We walked. We looked. We hoped. We were expecting a Tesco or an Aeon or a Giant. But no. Not even a 7 Eleven. Apparently the reported shop was closed down. The other captain’s provisioning angst was quietly escalating.

So we settled for a beer at the Aseania Beach Resort.

Lovely. Cold. All you expect of a tropical resort beer.

I was looking sadly at my empty eggs container. The waiter noticed, took it from me, and came back with six eggs. Free. We had a great dinner there too.

The toilets there were special in their own special way…

Sailing home via the Aseania Beach Resort. The toilets were all marble and gold leaf.
All marble and gold leaf. Shame the toilets didn’t flush properly

Three nights on Pulau Sibu

We anchored off the north of Sibu Island. The Rimba Resort is very civilised. European style service and hospitality. Lovely snorkelling in the bay.

We heard there was a village on the other side of the island. So off we trekked in search of provisions. The jungle walk from Rimba to the uber friendly Sea Gypsy Village resort was excellent. Didn’t see any monkeys on the way but there was a big pig lurking in the jungle. I suppose they’re safe on Muslim islands.

Guess what?  No village. No mini marts. No provisions. But a delicious local lunch of nasi goreng (tasty fried rice) at the only shop.

Still sailing home slowly

Time oozes when you’re sailing. We get excited when we’re doing five knots – about ten kilometres per hour. You see the next island as an imagined mirage. Like a visual whisper. Is it really there? Then it slowly slowly materialises before your eyes.

Our next stop was Jasons Bay. We held our nerve so we could be as protected from the rolly swell as possible and anchored with 1.5 metres under our keel. Lucky it was good mud holding. A storm raged around us almost immediately.

Our final stop before returning to Senibong Cove Marina was Tanjung Pengileh. We ate out of date two minute noodles for dinner. I don’t think they can kill you. If I don’t write any more blogs you’ll know I’m wrong.


Anchorage waypoints

Pulau Tioman, just north of the ferry jetty
N 02 49.333 E 104 09.563

Pulau Tulai
N 02 54.813  E 104 06.042 in 13 M sand
Pulau Sribuat
N  02 41.919  E 103 53.877 in 11 M sand
Pulau Rawa
N 02 31.291  E 103 58.318 in 7 M sand
Pulau Babi Besar
N 02 14.080  E 104 03.484 in 8 M sand
Jasons Bay (Tuluk Mahkota)
N 01 51.383  E 104 08.571 in 3.5 M mud
Tanjung Pengileh
N 01 22.820  E 104 05.543 in 6 M mud

Ten days in Tekek. And How We Missed the Waterfall on Tioman Island

An idyllic anchorage in front of the village of Tekek. Clean clear water. Great snorkeling. Duty free booze. We chilled out on Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island Malaysia).  Ten days had flown past before we even noticed.

Tekek is a quiet little town on Tioman Island Malaysia
Tekek Esplanade. These guys have been riding motorbikes since they were five.

Tekek is the “capital village” of Tioman Island Malaysia

Bats in the belfry at Tekek, on Tioman Island Malaysia
Bats in the belfry at Tekek
Capital village? Well I guess you can’t call it the capital city. You’ll find one marina, three duty free grog shops and three mini marts in the two street town of Tekek on Tioman Island Malaysia.And a million bats.

We were laying bets on the minimum age for motorcycle riders in Tekek. Maybe six years old? Or perhaps it’s a height thing? If you can reach the pedals you’re legal. Helmets might be illegal in Tekek though. I didn’t see one. Unless you count head scarfs?

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna miss the waterfall

We’d been told about the jungle walk to the waterfall.

We got directions from the guys at the Tekek Information Centre. Go right after the first mosque, then was it left after the second mosque? No signage of course. We were lost after the first 20 minutes. No one to ask. It’s a quiet little town.

After a few wrong turns we found the trail. Two and a half hours of mostly uphill climbing we found ourselves in Juara on the other side of the island. Alimak! How did we miss the waterfall?

We saw monkeys, butterflies, a spectacular frill necked lizard showing off in all its camouflaged glory. It was an amazing walk. But no waterfall.

As mentioned in my blog about climbing Frenchmans Peak, I never said I was fit, just up for it. So it wasn’t a hard decision to take a ride back to Tekek. I talked the driver into stopping so we could check out the waterfall on the way back. Underwhelming. Water but no fall. But I wouldn’t have missed that jungle walk for anything. Despite the way my leg muscles complained for the next three days.

The waterfall after the walk from Tekek on Tioman Island Malaysia was more of puddle than a waterfall
More of puddle than a waterfall

Don’t backpackers know how to party anymore?

I mentioned Tekek is a quiet town. There are no bars. The deal is you buy your duty free wine or beer or whatever and drink it at the table outside the bottle shop, or take it and drink it with your meal at one of the cafes.

Air Batang or ABC is a three km walk from Tekek. There are bars and backpacker joints for the people who come for diving holidays.

The other captain and I thought it might be time for a party night. You know, hit the reggae bars, a few cocktails… It was so quiet we nearly fell asleep! Young backpackers whispering over their bottles of water.

Different to when we were there 27 years ago for our honeymoon.

Well I think it was ABC. But I guess it could have been another part of the island.

We were in Mersing and the locals suggested we visit the island where they shot the 1958 movie South Pacific. I believe this urban legend is now disputed, but we believed them.

Eight hours later, on a slow boat with locals and chickens and goats, we landed at rickety jetty with a backpackers bar. Our accommodation was simple A frame hut for $2 per night. The “ablution facility” was a waterfall, complete with monkeys. But that backpackers bar rocked!

Huge flag on Tekek Beach, Merdeka (Independence) Day at Tekek on Tioman Island Malaysia
Huge flag on Tekek Beach, Merdeka (Independence) Day

Anchorage Waypoint

Pulau Tioman, just north of the ferry jetty
N 02 49.333 E 104 09.563 Sand in achingly clear blue water.

Are We Nearly There Yet? Sailing to Tioman Island


The Tiny Captain asleep on watch during our sailing adventures on the way to Tioman Island Malaysia
The Tiny Captain asleep on watch. Again.

Four anchorages.  Five people on board.  Cruising in company with a catamaran.  Join our sailing adventures to Tioman Island Malaysia on Yana de Lys.

Are we nearly there yet? Oh yeah, sailing adventures are always slow travel

We sailed with our friends Tina, Adrian and their eight year old, Chloe who live in the residential community at Senibong Cove.  They liked the idea of sailing, but wanted to experience real sailing adventures.
Tina won the World’s Best Galley Slave award.  Her meals and OCD inspired cleaning were legendary.
Adrian took to the wheel like a duck to water.  The other captain didn’t have the heart to turn the autopilot on.  Didn’t want to spoil his fun.

I suggested Chloe was the boat boy.  But she wouldn’t have it.  “I’m not a boy.  I’m the Tiny Captain. Are we nearly there yet?”

Our first leg was 20 NM (nautical miles) from the Senibong Cove Marina to Tanjung Pengileh.

We were five minutes out into the Johor Strait when two things happened.  Chloe asked “Are we nearly there yet?” for the first time.

And the other captain reported a hose leak in the engine room.  Alamak!  Not nearly as serious as when the drive shaft broke.

The other captain spent the time at our first anchorage replacing the leaking hose.  Kindly supplied, with free advice and reassurance from Adam on Soggy Moggy, (did you guess she’s a catamaran?) our cruising companion.

Adrian fished.

Tina cooked a spectacular dinner.

Chloe wanted to know how long it would be before we got to Tioman.

Tanjung Pengileh to Desaru. Still a long way to Tioman Island Malaysia

We set off early the next day.  At one point I counted 101 vessels in the shipping lane.  A safety boat stalked us.
We’d steamed clear of Lima Pass and North Rock when the hose broke.  Again.  So we sailed most of the way to Desaru in a sloppy swell with the wind directly behind us.
The anchorage was very rolly.  All night.
Our sailing adventure companions were close to mutiny.  Chloe wanted to take a speed boat to Tioman.  Adrian was seasick.  But Tina was fine and managed to cook up a sensational Teriyaki Beef and Rice.

Resort with no beer

The other captain briefly popping his head out of the engine room during our sailing adventures on the way to Tioman Island Malaysia
The other captain briefly popping his head out of the engine room


We made good time on our 40 NM leg to Pulau Sibu Tengah.  And anchored out of the swell behind the resort‘s sea wall. Yay.  No more talk of mutiny.
We mistook the call to prayer for the call to beer at the resort.  Dreaming of cocktails and ice cold beer we rocked up to find an empty resort which didn’t sell alcohol.
Plenty of deer, pooping around the pool.  But no beer.
Kay from Soggy Moggy must have known something we didn’t.  Kay declined to come ashore.  Citing a good book.  Our hamburgers we deesgusting.  “Nasty” according to the Tiny Captain.
The pool looked okay, but naturally the swim up bar wasn’t operating.  I was afraid of catching a disease from simply looking at the skanky service area.

Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island Malaysia)

Day four was all plain (motor) sailing to our idyllic anchorage at Pulau Tioman.  40 NM at an average of 5.4 knots.

Tioman Island Malaysia from our anchorage during our sailing adventures
Tioman Island from our anchorage

The other captain and I were here on our honeymoon 27 years ago.  I’ll tell you about Tioman Island Malaysia in my next blog.  I have to go snorkeling now.

Meanwhile feel free to share my sailing adventures blog!


Anchorage waypoints

Tanjung Pengileh
N 01 22.810  E 104 05.506  Excellent holding in mud.
N 01  33.519  E 104  16.222  Sand, very rolly
Pulau Sibu Tengah
N 02  11.064  E 104 05.667  Well protected behind the resort’s seawall
Pulau Tiomam
N 02.49.333  E 104 09.563  Sand in achingly clear blue water.

Prawn Fishing in Permas Jaya


Captain Rod with his rod, indoor pond fishing in Permas Jaya
Captain Rod with his rod

Indoor pond fishing

Prawn fishing in Permas Jaya, in Malaysia’s Johor state, is an indoor pond fishing sport. Very popular with the locals. Hilarious for someone who grew up in coastal south western Australia, where all forms of fishing are done in the wild.

 The other captain told me he’d seen the new prawn fishing shop in Permas Jaya. I’d seen the fish fishing ponds. They’re outdoors. But the prawn fishing shop?

Sure enough it’s in one of the Permas Jaya side street shop houses. There’s a fishing pond inside, a rack of rods and an attendant.

We checked it out. Asked some people who were prawn fishing at the time how it works. One of them was a self-proclaimed fish whisperer. We pumped her for all the information she could give us and decided to give it a go.

A quirky, fun thing to do in Permas Jaya

Prawn fishing pond shop front in Permas Jaya
Prawn fishing pond shop front in Permas Jaya
This is how it works. You pay RM45. You get bait, an ash tray, a fishing rod with one meter of fishing line and a float attached, and an hour of fishing for your investment. Plus you get to take your catch home.


Squirmy worms

Pond fishing for prawns in Permas Jaya is not for the faint hearted
Not for the faint hearted

The bait comes in a small round takeaway food container full of little lumps of mud.

At first I thought the pooh shaped bits of mud were the bait LOL. The attendant didn’t exactly crack up when he showed me the squirmy worms hiding under the mud. But he took pity on me and my ignorance and demonstrated how to bait up.

First he cut off a piece of wriggling worm with the rusty pocket knife provided. Then threaded it, writhing, on to the hook. Tricky. It took me a few goes to get the hang of it.


Result! I caught a prawn I caught a prawn in the indoor fishing pond, Permas Jaya
Result! I caught a prawn I caught a prawn

Between us the other captain and I caught eight prawns. A local also gave us his catch of four. We ate them back on Yana de Lys.  Footie snacks watching our team win their Australian Football League game.  Yum.

I couldn’t help thinking about the times we went king prawn fishing under the Fremantle bridge in the Swan River with our friend Rover.  Man that was an entirely different fishing experience.

Have you ever been prawn fishing?  Indoor pond fishing? What was it like?  BTW I would love you to Google+ and share my blog!


Johor Who? Three things I love about this dirty old town

Revealing a Hidden Temple in the Jungle


Ganesh, dressed to thrill, in the hidden temple.
Ganesh, dressed to thrill, in the hidden temple.


I could smell incense. I thought I could see a hidden temple. So I parked my motorbike on the side of the road. And carefully threaded my way down the treacherous slope.
I crossed the dodgy bridge to where I glimpsed some buildings in the jungle.

It’s a Hindu hidden temple

Aah I thought so.  A Hindu temple.  Run down.  With empty Tiger beer cans, crushed cigarette packs and other rubbish lying around.  I like the lack of reverence.  Opposite to my strict Catholic upbringing.

“Sshhh don’t talk during mass or you won’t get an ice cream after”.

In Hindu tradition, there is no dividing line between the secular and the sacred.

Ganesh on my radar


As I wandered around the hidden temple I recognised Ganesh, the elephant-headed god.  He is the god of wisdom and learning.
I keep a small statue of him on top of our radar on Yana de Lys.  His job description is “remover of obstacles”.  I’m not sure if I have our relationship right though because I can’t get my radar to work.
This week I had a local Moslem guy helping me with the trouble shooting.  When he saw Ganesh there he said “That’s why it cannot on”.    (“Cannot on” is the technical term in SE Asia for anything that won’t work).
I have an email pen friend at the Furuno office in Singapore.  He’s been giving me troubleshooting ideas.   His latest advice is to bring the unit in for his people to check out.  Looks like another trip to Singapore coming up.  Any suggestions for art galleries to visit?

Going green

I drive past the temple entrance on my way home from Permas Jaya town to Senibong Cove Marina nearly every day.
Recently I was intrigued to see a frenzy of motorbikes and cars parked there as I rode past. This went on for some weeks.  A work party.  They’ve chopped down the jungle which gave it atmosphere.  It’s not a hidden temple anymore.  Everything is in plain view.  And painted a nauseous shade of green!  Oh dear.

Hidden temple in the jungle before..
Hidden temple in the jungle before…

Hidden temple in the jungle after...
…and after

 Moving right along…or not

While I was meditating at the no longer hidden temple in the jungle, I started thinking about my blog.  (I have to admit I didn’t meditate long.  I was attacked by a swarm of non vegetarian mosquitoes.)
Are my readers disappointed that my adventures are all “Land trips on the side” lately?  Rather than sailing on Yana de Lys?  I’m still living on Yana de Lys.   Still living the dream, still loving living in Malaysia. Just waiting to get my ducks in a row before crossing the South China Sea to Borneo…

Ganesh on my radar, not in the hidden temple
Ganesh on my radar which cannot on


Road Trip to Malacca: Flat Tyres, Food and Fun.

Our first delay on the way to the city of Malacca, Malaysia
Our first delay on the way to the city of Malacca, Malaysia


Malacca, Malaysia is charming, fun and delicious.

When we sailed past last year, we didn’t stop because there were no good anchorages.  It’s been burning a hole in our bucket list since then.

So we decided to ride the Yarley there.

Flat tyres

I guess 125cc Yamaha scooters aren’t made for 300+ km road trips for driver, pillion passenger, two wine bottles of spare fuel and two backpacks.

Why?  Because we had our first flat tyre about 50km down the road.   We had to roll our bike 5km, hot and sweaty and constantly asking myself “are we nearly there yet?” to have the tyre replaced.

(The tyre was trashed.)  Later we learnt you can use the help phones on the side of the motorway.  Don’t you love hindsight?

We had the second flat tyre on our way home.  Apparently (according to a kind Malaysia truck driver) the new tyre was made in Malaysia, therefore not destined to last.

I tried using the motorway help phone.  I was wondering what to do next after five minutes of listening to “Please hold the line” when a kind truck driver stopped.  He offered to take us and our moto to the next town to have the tyre replaced.  With a tyre made in Vietnam.  RM5 cheaper but better quality, so we’re told.

Eat, drink, pray and visit museums in Malacca, Malaysia

Tandoori ovens in Malacca Malaysia
The tandoori ovens running hot

Naan makers in Malacca Malaysia
Naan makers are kept busy

The food in Malacca is fabulous.  The tandoori chicken and naan bread at Pak Putra is sensational.

The Portuguese chicken dish at Eleven Bistro was delicious.

Also I discovered why everyone raves about Malacca’s famous chicken rice balls and steamed chicken. Yum.

Buying wine was a bit tricky, but we managed.  On the first night we found a supermarket selling reasonably priced red wine as we headed out to dinner.  It was okay so on our way back to our hotel we decided to get a second bottle.  The checkout chick in headscarf, asked me if I had finished the first bottle already.  “No no this one is for tomorrow” I said.  Headscarf smiled.

Malacca’s long history is visible in the variety of places of worship from a Catholic church to a temple sponsored by Guinness and Tiger beer.  Well that’s what it looked like anyway.  The columns featured advertising for both beverages.

Maritime Museum, Malacca Malaysia
Maritime Museum

There are more museums than you can poke a stick at.  Wikipedia lists 38.  We visited two.  The Maritime Museum, housed in a replica of the Portugues Flor de la Mar, a 400 ton nau or carrack (sailing vessel) from the 16th century.

And St Paul’s Hill.  A ruined church with a spectacular view.  Famous for being the temporary resting place for St Francis Xavier’s body enroute to India.

There are churches, mosques and temples everywhere.

A trifecta of temples

Jalan Tokong, AKA Harmony Street, features three temples and a mosque.  You can get your multicultural spiritual fix in one short walk.

The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Malacca Malaysia
The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple,

The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia. Another trifecta here: It’s for devotees of the Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.
Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia.

The architecture of the Kampung Kling Mosque is a combination of Sumatran, Chinese, Hindu and Malay styles.

I lit incense in the Xiang Lin Si Temple which is run by Buddhist nuns.

The river at night, Malacca Malaysia
The river at night. Guess what? There’s a church in the background.

On the Sunday I had planned to go to mass at the historic St. Francis Xavier Church.  I have very catholic spiritual tastes and admit I am more lapsed than Catholic.


Wet wet wet: flooding in Malacca Malaysia
Wet wet wet
 It was bucketing rain.  The streets were flooded.  So I borrowed an umbrella from the hotel and had a cappuccino and croissant just round the corner instead.  Divine.  So good it was almost a religious  experience.


It was lucky the deluge ended before we headed home.  Another flat tyre in the pouring rain might not have been much fun.


Have you visited Malacca Malaysia?  What were your impressions?  Or maybe you have suggestions for other places worth visiting?  And BTW if you enjoy reading my travel stories I would love you to share my blog!

5 reasons I like visiting Singapore

Visiting Singapore is easy for me because it's so close. Sembawang Port is part of my backyard.
Visiting Singapore is easy for me because it’s so close. Sembawang Port is part of my backyard.

I like visiting Singapore because it is so totally different to Johor Bahru, which is where I’ve bee staying on my boat Yana de Lys.

Singapore is just 0.8 nautical miles away from our berth in the Senibong Cove Marina.

Here are five reasons I appreciate having Singapore in my backyard.

1. Visiting Singapore is easy

Visiting Singapore is easy for me.  Getting there from Senibong Cove Marina is quick, cheap and simple.  

I take the Yarley, my 125 cc Yamaha moto (scooter) into town.  Park just under the stairs to the Customs and Immigration Building.  Take the bus from Johor Bahru in Malaysia to Woodlands, Singapore.  A border crossing bargain at $1.70. I get a ninety day visa for free.  

If there are no traffic jams on the causeway l can be there in less than an hour.

2.  It’s easy to get around

On my last visit to Singapore a, taxi driver told me “A blind man could make his way around Singapore on the MRT”.  (He also told me Singapore has no crime.)

Hmm.  Well the MRT is easy to navigate.  And I haven’t been the victim of any crimes in Singapore either.

3.  Art and culture

When I’m visiting Singapore I always try to get an art fix by visiting a gallery or two.

I found the feast of galleries in the Old Hill Street Police Station.   One of my favourite exhibits was an Andy Warhol style treatment of  Lee Kuan Yew by local artist Sukeshi Sondhi.

Visiting Singapore, I find Singapore's art embraces its history, modernity and multiracial culture
Singapore’s art embraces its history, modernity and multiracial culture

4. Shopping

I’m not talking about the designer brands in Orchard Road.  High heels and haute couture are irrelevant on a cruising yacht.  I’m talking about a genuine chandlers.

I once made the trip just to buy some teak cleaner and an anode.

5. Food Glorious Food

Yeah yeah I know.  It’s always about the food.

A couple of my favourite eating experiences are:

  • Free flow Verve Cliquot and as much five star local, regional and international dishes as you can eat at the Pan Pacific Hotel’s Edge Sunday brunch.  What’s not to love?
  • A chapatti set with mango lassi in Little India.  A satisfying and delicious feast for $4.50.

Visiting Singapore, I love having lunch in Little India
Lunch in Little India
I’m interested hearing why you like (or don’t like) visiting Singapore.  Feel free to leave your comments below.


Under the Radar Singapore Art Secrets

Victim of a Crime in Johor Bahru Malaysia

100 Best Things to do in Singapore

12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Singapore

Victim of a Crime in Johor Bahru Malaysia

This is the spot where I was a victim of crime
The scene of the crime

My bag was snatched.  It happened in an instant. I was a victim of crime.

How I became a victim of crime

The other captain and I were riding our motorbike on Jalan Harimau, not far from KSL. 

I was the passenger. 

We were about to park and I had taken my backpack off to check the time on my phone.  I was holding the bag in my lap.

There were two people on the crime bike too.  One was the snatcher, the other the getaway driver. 

We followed them for a while in the hope of getting their number plate, but they were too fast and there was too much traffic.  And it had started raining.

We had just given up the pursuit when we realised we were in front of a police guard station.  One of the cops immediately said “follow me” to the central police station in town.  At 100 kmph in the pouring rain.  But we didn’t lose him.


At the Polis Diraja Malaysia ( Royal Malaysia Police ) in Johor Bahru city, my report was taken by a kind young cop.  It seemed to take forever as his English skills were only slightly better than my uber basic Malay.   And his hunt and peck typing skills were even more rudimentary than his English.

Fortunately my cheap phone, limited cash and Aussie driver’s license were the only items of value.  And more importantly at least we weren’t hurt! 

No crime in Singapore

Apparently it’s a totally different story over the causeway.

There is a lot of talk about the prevalence of crime in Johor Bahru Especially in Singapore! 

On my last visit, a taxi driver told me proudly told me Singapore is the safest city in the world. Then proceeded to go through a litany of recent JB crime:

  • Victim of crime #1. An Iraqi guy had $US3000 stolen from his hotel room safe. “Obviously an inside job. A staff syndicate.”
  • Victim of crime #2. A group of ten of his friends were playing golf when they were held up at gunpoint for all their cash. “Mostly they had credit cards on them though.”
  • Victim of crime #3. A couple of his family were shopping in JB when they had their bags snatched at knifepoint. “They were so frightened they didn’t go shopping in JB again.”

My taxi driver could probably have continued all day if we hadn’t arrived at my destination.

 When I visited an art gallery, and the attendant there told me “Malaysia is like America’s south to us.”

Police procedure

After a couple of weeks one of the inspectors from the JB central police station called me.  He reported they had set up a police block for a kilometer  around the scene of the crime. 

But they hadn’t caught the perps or found my bag. No surprises there but I was truly grateful to feel they cared enough to get back to me.

I am interested in hearing about your experience of crime in Johor Bahru in Malaysia and Singapore.  Is Singapore as crime free as the locals tell me?  Is Johor Bahru as dangerous as some people claim?


Johor Who? Three things I love about this dirty old town

Taken for a Ride by a Taxi Driver in Hanoi

Johor Bahru Is Fourth Most Dangerous City In The World

Johor Who? Three Things I love About This Dirty Old Town

Johor Bahru, the capital city of the state of Johor Malaysia isn’t exactly a popular tourist mecca.  Most travelers pass through on their way from Singapore, just over the causeway (more on that later), to Kuala Lumpur and beyond.

Tourist attractions in Johor Malaysia?

There aren’t many tourist attractions.  In fact sometimes I feel like the tourist attraction, riding around three on my motorbike with my sister and eight year old niece.

A lot of money changes hands on horse racing nights in Jalan Meldrum in Johor Malaysia
A lot of money changes hands

Three things I love about Johor Bahru

Here are just three things I love about JB in the state of Johor Malaysia:

  1. Race nights in Jalan Meldrum.  We refer to this street fondly as Jalan Molly Meldrum.  If you are mystified by this reference do yourself a favour and Google this much loved Aussie icon.

When the horse races are on in KL and Singapore the street is alive with bookies, gamblers, runners and onlookers.  No-one gets to see the races but a lot of money changes hands.

The locals are incredibly welcoming and friendly. When one of the punters was talking to me I mentioned the other captain used to be a jockey.  Somehow this has become legend and he is known as a world famous jockey there.

Better still, since he won a couple of bets one evening they figure he’s an internationally successful gambler and ask him for his tips.

The bling is almost blinding in the glass temple, in Johor Malaysia
The bling is almost blinding in the glass temple

2. The Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple.  All Bollywood bling.

One evening I attended a puja (prayer ritual) involving countless trays of chopped vegetables and stuff being thrown into a ceremonial fire, interspersed with bundles of wood and oil poured onto the fire to the soundtrack of chanting and drum beating.

At one point the priest’s pyromaniac skills slipped and the whole temple was engulfed in smoke.  I could hardly breathe but it was incredibly atmospheric.

We call this restaurant in Little India in Johor Malaysia the Giant Duck.
We call this restaurant in Little India the Giant Duck.

 3. Food glorious food.  There is endless variety, and the local food is not expensive. My absolute favourites include roast duck, and crispy pork and Sup Kambing (conveniently supplied with straws to suck out the marrow).

Bone sucking. The food in Johor Malaysia is sensational.
Bone sucking

Since the Danga Bay Marina was closing we have moved our yacht Yana de Lys to the Senibong Cove Marina near Permas Jaya.

A causeway is a road not a bridge

I’d done a quick Navionics electronic navigation calculation on my phone while I was eating lunch one day.

Despite not having signed up to be a solo sailor, I figured I could sail the ten or twelve miles on my own.  I know I’m not the first and certainly won’t be the last person to make this dumb mistake.  I wondered why there was no Air Height shown on the chart for the bridge to Singapore.  Doh!  That’s why its called a causeway – it’s basically a road not a bridge.

I called the other captain back from Australia for the 90 mile circumnavigation of Singapore. Meanwhile I get to enjoy eating and exploring this dirty old town of Johor Malaysia.


A snake in the sink and other fun at Danga Bay

The Pogues – Dirty Old Town

A Snake in the Sink and Other Fun at Danga Bay Johor Bahru

Sailing up the Johor Straits to Danga Bay Johor

Sailing up the western arm of the Johor Straits to Danga Bay Johor was an education in the stark contrasts between Malaysia to our port and Singapore to starboard.

Wonky stilt houses and untidy fish farms on one side, manicured parks and gardens on the other.

At one stage I remarked to the other captain it seemed they were blowing up the golf course on the Singapore side. Until I saw the sign identifying the Singapore armed forces site, warning us to stay clear as they practice using explosives there.

Steering clear of the invisible line

I made sure to steer well over the imaginary line delineating the border because we hadn’t cleared into Singapore and a Singapore customs boat plus two Sing police boats stalked us and kept a very very close eye on our progress.

Danga Bay Marina

The marina at Danga Bay Johor is now closed. It was built as a photo opportunity for the potential buyers of the condos planned for the site.

The marina at Danga Bay Johor.
Danga Bay Marina in May 2014. You can see the barges at work in the background. By October the wet area was all landfill.

An almighty thud

There were huge barges constantly filling in the Strait in readiness for construction.  One evening I heard some shouting from my boat.  Then an almighty thud.  A barge had bashed into our jetty. No people were hurt but the damage was extensive.

Damage to the jetty at the marina in Danga Bay Johor Bahru

A snake in the sink

Another of my more memorable experiences in the marina at Danga Bay Johor was when I discovered a snake in my galley sink.

I was on my own as the other captain had gone back to Australia to work. One morning I lifted the lid on my sink cover and saw a snake slithering round.  I immediately dropped the lid back down.  I’m pretty sure it was as surprised to see me as I was to see it.

And honestly I think it shat itself with the shock because it stunk seriously in there.  I peeked in one more time to check I wasn’t hallucinating before deciding to do the girlie thing and ask for help to get rid of it.

Asking for help

I asked some of the staff who were hanging out on one of the boats on my jetty, but they couldn’t help because they told me “We’re scared of snakes too”.
Then one of my neighbours, the Sultan of Darwin, offered to sort my problem. He came on board and calmly picked up the writhing snake with the multigrips he was using at the time.
I asked him to show the squirming monster to the staff. The staff were suitably scared.
The last I saw of my uninvited guest was when my obliging neighbour took it down below in his own boat to show his wife.

The Sultan of Johor

Speaking of Sultans, the Sultan of Johor Bahru’s residence is just over the road from the marina.  I walked past the grounds and the huge great blinking bling crown at the entrance regularly but was never tempted to trespass on account of the scary signage.

Sign outside the Sultan's residence, Danga Bay Johor
I guess the Sultan of Johor doesn’t want visitors

I have absolutely fallen in love with Johor Bahru.  After more than three years of resort islands its grittiness and purely unpretentious localness is incredibly refreshing.   But I couldn’t stay in Danga Bay Johor because the marina was closing down…


Johor Who? Three Things I love About This Dirty Old Town

Victim of a Crime in Johor Bahru Malaysia

Johor Tourism