Weekend in Kluang, Johore, Malaysia (24-25 May 08)
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As Johore Bahru is very near to Singapore, my friend (Zen) and I decided to go up to Kluang (110 km from Johore Bahru) on Sat, 24 May 08, staying overnight and attend a friend's wedding ceremony/lunch on Sun, 25 May 08. As there is a direct train from Singapore to Kluang, we decided to take the train instead of a bus from Johore Bahru.
Before boarding the train at 07.40am, there was passport clearance at Keppel Station, which went smoothly. At Woodlands Train Checkpoint, we had to get out to get through the Singapore Immigration and re-board the train.
On arrival, the canteen at the station with the sign "Kluang Rail Coffee" caught my eyes. I had read about the popular home-roasted Kluang coffee, so we stepped in. I ordered 1 Kopi Susu (coffee with milk), 1 slice toasted bread, 2 soft-boiled eyes while Zen ordered 2 slices toasted bread. On the table, there was a plate of mini-sized packets of nasi lemak. Zen and I ate 1 packet and the other Malay folks eating at the same table, commented that 1 packet was not enough. I totally agreed. Unlike the commercial nasi lemak in Singapore, this is the plain traditional nasi lemak - only rice and chilli paste with ikan bilis/nuts.
We stayed overnight in Ailang Hotel, which is within walking distance from Kluang Rail Station - about 10-15 mins. The hotel room is clean and air-conditioned and the price is reasonable at RM58 per night, with numerous eateries nearby. There is a dim sum restaurant behind the hotel, where we had our dinner.
Not far from the hotel, is MB Complex/Plaza K - where we shopped and later caught the latest Indiana Jones Movie (Kingdom of Crystal Skull) at RM9 - a bargain, as compared to Singapore's S$9.50 (weekend ticket).
The bus terminal is just a stone throw away from MB Complex, separated by the river. As the 4pm bus tickets for 25 May 08 were sold out, we decided to take the train back again.
The following day (Sunday), we were surprised to see the surrounding area and road deserted - no cars, no people ! It was 7.15am when we went out to look for breakfast. But one local coffee shop opposite the hotel was opened. We were the first people to walk in. Some minutes later, other local people in groups appeared.....
After a quick breakfast, we took a taxi to our friend's parents' home for the wedding ceremony. A few round tables with snacks and drinks, filled up the patio. Relatives and friends were there waiting for the groom to pick up the bride from the hotel. A prayer table in front of the main door was set up for the ceremony for the couple.
After some minutes, loud continuous horns were heard..... the groom and bride were on the way. Excitement among the family and relatives could be seen on their faces. They arrived and before they could enter the house, they prayed to the God and ancestors. Later the groom (our friend) came out to entertain the guests, while the bride was having her late breakfast in the room.... The bride looked radiant in her topless off-white wedding dress!
Later they came out to take photos with each group of relatives and friends.
Another friend, Javier kindly drove us to our hotel to pick our luggage before going to the Train Station. On the way, we detoured to try the local Bak Kut Teh (Pork spare ribs soup) - unlike Singapore's version (light-coloured soup), the soup here is much darker. Javier brought us to see his new house (under renovation) and other new houses under construction. We also went to see the 2 show houses - spacious and beautifully done up, indeed.
Finally at the Train Station, the train departure at 12.30pm was delayed to 1.40pm ! This was not the only delay, as we reached Keppel Station at 6.45pm, instead of the scheduled 3.00pm, because of the stop in Johore Bahru for passports check.