Friday, February 24, 2017

Introducing the Jewel of Malaysia — Johor Bahru

Known as the Jewel of Malaysia, Johor Bahru takes the rank of being the second most densely populated city right after Kuala Lumpur. It is the state capital of Johor and lies just across the Causeway from Singapore. While some many argue that the city has very few attractions to offer to passing-by travelers, it is simply not true!

Being the hub of manufacturing and regional transport, Johor Bahru offers many things to do and see in a single day. And the best part is that traveling to Johor is easy from Singapore due to fantastic bus connectivity. Taking bus from Singapore to Johor is relatively easy when you can either board the bus directly at the bus terminal or book your ticket online via sites like Easybook.

How to reach Johor Bahru from Singapore?

Johor is Malaysia’s closest city to Singapore that sees thousands of commuters traveling between both the countries via the Causeway Link. Even though one may take a train or a ferry, the most popular form of transport are the buses, which the traveler may avail from either the Larkin bus terminal on the Kota Raya Bus Terminal/CIQ.

Facilities for online booking are also available to make things easier for the travelers who may prefer booking in advance. All the buses are highly comfortable express vehicles that charge very nominal rates for tickets. Once you experience the convenience of going to and fro Johor by a bus, you won’t want to avail any other form of transport.

Places to see in Johor Bahru

Apart from numerous options for entertainment and shopping centers, the city plays host to various natural attractions like Tioman Island, Endau Rompin National Park, and Kukup. Due to the city’s proximity to Singapore, it sees a steady influx of Singaporean tourists throughout the year. Tourism is also responsible for rapid growth of the economy.

Once you are tired of shopping and dining, you may either retire to the hotel to relax, or engage in a myriad of cultural activities located within the city. Some of the best places you can visit here are the following:

1. Legoland Malaysia: This is perhaps the best place to have fun with the kids as Legoland Malaysia offers a variety of fun-filled activities. Even though the park does not have extreme rides, adults who are a fan of Lego will enjoy the variety of sights and sounds this place has to offer. From exciting exhibits to thrilling roller coasters, this theme park has it all!

2. Sultan Abu Bakar mosque: For those with an unquenchable knack for culture, the Sultan Abu Bakr mosque will be a great place to visit. The historical monument is very large and spacious, well-guided tours are available to learn about the heritage and history of the Sultan of Johor. See the works of Islamic architecture at its finest and seek blessings in this place of worship.

3. Kuso Art Gallery: If you’re an admirer of magic shows and perception-bending works of art, dropping by the Kuso Trick Art Gallery would be an excellent way to spend an evening in Johor Bahru. The kids love this place as it is full of illusion and 3D drawings, fun-filled activities, and photo opportunities led by the helpful and friendly staff.

4. Pulai Waterfall: Looking for a quick day trip to refresh and your senses? Head over to Pulai Waterfall to enjoy its breathtaking view and even go on hiking in the surrounding areas. The hiking route will take you approximately 3 to 3.5 hours to complete, and in the meantime, you can enjoy the local scenery or have a picnic with your companions.

5. Chinese Heritage Museum: This little three-storey museum welcomes you to learn about the ancient cultures and customs of the Chinese immigrants in Malaysia. This beautiful location will also teach you a lot of things about Johor Bahru’s history and various events that shaped the city to be what it is today. This beautiful museum is worth a visit.

Make the most of your time!

Of course the list can go on and on and most probably you will not get tired of visiting Johor Bahru. While Johor Bahru is certainly not a “touristy” destination in any sense of the word, you can make the most out of your time here on or from your way to Singapore. The city will give you a glimpse into a rather chaotic lifestyle, which is rather in stark contrast to the organized lifestyle of Singaporeans.  Come and experience the Jewel of Malaysia like you’ve never done before.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tea Verandah @ Atria Shopping Gallery

A tea lounge has always attracted me with its posh, elegant setting but the ridiculously high price often lets it down. Until recently I bump into Tea Verandah, I couldn't be more excited than enjoying my afternoon tea without burning a hole in the pocket! 

TEA Verandah serves a wide variety of tea beverages, contemporary fusion snacks and desserts under a cozy, open-concept lounge setting. And most importantly, it emphasizes on the value for money, hence the menu pricing is from RM9.90 to RM40.60, which is just a fraction of the price tags in many hotel lounges or tea houses.

I am not kidding when speaking of the wide varieties of tea. Upon arrival, the waiter presents me with a tray of more than 24 types of tea ranging from the classic black tea, Rooibos tea to healthy, organic herbs tea and Europe fruits tea. Just get a good whiff of each flavour, and decide which to go for. 

TEA Verandah @ RM18.00 per pot / RM36.50 including tea set 
(Apple bits, lemon bits, cherries, pineapple, mango bits, papaya, hibiscus blossoms,
orange peel, rose hip peels, elderberries, peach bits, apricot bits and orange bits)

Named after the shop itself, TEA Verandah is a must-order signature tea, especially for first timers. It is my personal favourite among the Europe Fruit tea selection, because of its complex combination of dried fruits and flowers. Just brew it for 8 to 10 minutes, and let the excellent floral-fruity aroma fill the space. It tastes lightly sweet and tangy on the palate, which I think is a great choice for ladies. 

Yogurt Tea - Pinky Panther @ RM16.80 per pot / RM35.50 including tea set 
(Strawberry bits, apple bits, hibiscus blossoms, raisins,
carrot bits, yogurt bits, beetroot bits, Rhubarb bits)

For something unconventional, I'd recommended this icy concoction of Yogurt Tea! It is interesting to find that the hot fruity tea, when combined with yogurt and crushed ice, tastes extra smooth and more refreshing. The consistency is just perfect--- Slightly thick but not creamy and heavy at all. 

Regardless of which tea you pick, you can opt for: Either the serving of tea only, or complement it with a high tea set. The two-tier set comes with 3 pieces of savoury pastries on top and 4-5 pieces of sweet treats at the lower tier. 

Savouries: Tuna Filo Puff, Crabmeat Filo Puff, Sambal Hotdog Puff

If you are a huge fan of pastry like myself, you can easily lap up the huge crispy puffs on your own. I personally enjoy the huge filo pastry more as the crispy skin is generously filled with yummy chunky seafood.

Sweets: Mini Chocolate and Strawberry Tarts, Orange Poppy Seed Muffin, Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart, Scone

Among the dainty desserts, I couldn't decide which is my favourite because they are all so tasty and baked to perfection. However, unique ones such as the thick chocolate peanut butter tart is worth a special mention, because of its electrifying marriage of creamy sweet chocolate and crunchy, savoury peanut butter layers. Sinful yet satisfying!

Luck is on my side during my visit, as I get to try the homemade fruity scone which is only available on a rotational basis. The warm scone is loaded with chunks of dried orange and berries that add a nice biting pleasure to the melt-in-the-mouth scone. 

How I'd wish to have more of these! 

Fruit Tart @ RM13.80

The desserts are seriously too good that I can't help but to order another piece--- the popular Fruit Tart with a crumbly base, thick cheese filling, and fresh cream topping. I personally love this type of crust that exudes rich flavour, similar to those butter cookies.

Best served cold, the tart tastes fresh and chilly without feeling too sweet on the mouth.

Ocean Oglio Aglio @ RM25.90

Apart from light bites, Tea Verandah actually serves simple breakfast menu such as banana pancakes, poached eggs, and assorted pastries (which comes with a cup of Americano), as well as main courses such as rosemary chicken, mussels pot and pasta. If you love strong garlicky flavours, the seafood spaghetti topped with tiger prawns and mussels is a great option for its aroma and mild spiciness.

Grilled Salmon Steak @ RM25.90

Again, the thick slab of salmon steak is generously portioned and beautifully presented on a bed of mashed potato, garlic butter spinach and asparagus. Love its well-flavoured flesh with just the right amount of charness!

If you'd love to enjoy the premium tea at home, you can get your supply from Tea Verandah!

1. Ambiance wise, I totally have no complaints at all. Posh, trendy and elegant; Perfect venue to chill!
2. Thumbs up for the wide assortment of tea that wows me with unique and distinctive flavours. I think I'd consider reducing coffee and go for the healthy tea instead. 
3. Recommended: Tea Verandah, Yogurt Tea, Scone

Tea Verandah
Lot SK-1, Level 2,
ATRIA Shopping Gallery,
Jalan SS22/23,
Damansara Jaya, 
47400 Petaling Jaya,
Contact: +6 017 6699 332
Business Hours: 10am - 9.45pm daily


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