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  1. Rigval

    Pit Stop - Johor Premium Outlet

    Southern Johor is a nice place to be if you love motoring. With the rapid development of the Iskandar region comes a whole slew of projects from government offices, business centers, residential and commercial projects dot the whole landscape throughout Nusajaya (near Johor Bahru), Kulai, Senai Pasir Gudang and all the way to Pontian. Now with these developments come roads. These roads are actually fun as while development is ongoing, these roads are quite empty most of the time and are actually quite nice if one wants to just enjoy the simple pleasures of motoring. Of course most of you would need a reason to travel all the way to South Johor and if this is the case then might I suggest a pit stop or a detour
  2. This is a little 'public service announcement' for those motorists from the Lion City who frequent the Klang Valley area in Malaysia. Those that aren't sure what the Klang Valley area it can be said that it includes Selayang/Rawang to the North, Gombak/Ampang to the East, Kajang/Serdang/Puchong to the South and Shah Alam/Klang to the South. So if your car battery goes bust over there especially during odd hours one can call the mobile battery assist service conducted by Century Monolite Battery Malaysia Sdn Bhd ('Century Batteries'). This is a battery brand/company that has been in the battery business in Malaysia for over 40 years. The Century Battery Assist service provides Klang Valley motorists a convenience that a when a motorist gets stricken by the sudden demise of their car battery they can dial a toll free number at 1-800-BATTERY (22-88379). That's 1-800-22-88379 for those who can't decypher what 'BATTERY' stands for. Such a service would basically give the consumer less worries as it provides free delivery and installation 24/7, 365 days a year within the Klang Valley by decent and friendly looking chaps on motorcycles. Now this service is applicable to all motorists and not limited to users of Century batteries. This means that you can have your ABCD Branded battery battery die on you and still call Century Battery Assist at any time anywhere in the Klang Valley. Great isn't it? It also means that you could be stuck at your hotel in the middle of the night and still get a battery. The Century maintenance batteries sold, delivered and installed by this service have nationwide warranty. Once the battery assist staff arrives, he will perform a complimentary check on the car charging system to make sure that the alternator is working. Plugging in a new battery will still not solve anything if the car has a faulty charging system. If that is so, they also provide a service by recommending towing or workshop services if and when required. The Century maintenance free batteries provided in this service scheme is the Century Marathon battery, which is Century Batteries' mid-tier battery out of a line-up of three. But one should also note that this service is a cash on delivery (COD) service
  3. It's about that time of the year again. The end of the year where it just seems natural for most of us to take a break from the normal routine, finish off one's annual leave and go on a holiday. Since this is a motoring blog, a drive to holiday destination is what I will be featuring (as usual and as always). Those that have been following MyAutoBlog would notice that I have been writing about road trips in and around Peninsular Malaysia and what you can do when you get to that Malaysian destination. This latest 'drive-to destination' takes us to Kuala Selangor, Malaysia. Kuala Selangor is a quaint old town situated on the West Coast of Malaysia in the state of Selangor. This sleepy hollow is basically an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur or a good five hours or so from the Causeway(s). You could use the ELITE (Nilai-KLIA-Shah Alam) Highway and head towards Klang before heading north towards Kuala Selangor but I would suggest getting to Kuala Selangor using the Guthrie highway, which you can basically reach from the Federal Highway's first exit after the Federal Highway's Shah Alam toll booth. Upon entering the Guthrie Highway head towards Ijok. At the Ijok interchange/exit, head on towards Ijok and onwards to Kuala Selangor. The reason for this not so straight forward route is that the scenery is much better instead of passing lots of workshops, factory lots and used car lots along Kapar/Meru Road. Furthermore, the road is slightly more challenging instead of just a straight line. Once you reach Kuala Selangor you'll note that this little town is indeed a sleepy hollow. Kuala Selangor was once the capital of the State of Selangor and it is fillied with history. I have to say that it is one of the better preserved historical spots in Peninsular Malaysia, up there with Malacca and even Penang. Bukit Melawati, or Melawati Hill holds a heck of a lot of history and a fabulous view to boot. This I believe is a very good reason to spend a couple of days at this sleepy little hamlet. Private cars aren't allowed up the hill. You can either walk up (which won't kill you as it is only a few hundred meters up via a tarred road) or take the passenger tram (which is actually a tractor badly disguised as a train) for a small fee. At the peak, there is a lighthouse, remnants of a fort with the actual cannons, a royal mausoleum (where a supposedly sacred and mystical cannon covered in yellow cloth stands guard), a chopping block which was actually used to chop people's heads off and a museum covering the history of Kuala Selangor. You could actually spend a whole day exploring the hill if you took your time. Now the town itself is pretty cool too. There are pre-war buildings that would capture your sight, a clock tower commemorating Malaysia's independence and other odd bits here and there
  4. [extract] One of the things about Peninsular Malaysia that I totally dig is the fact that there are highland roads. These roads cut through the Titiwangsa Mountain Range which sits right in the middle of the peninsular. This mountain range allows for roads that cut and carve through the hills, mountains and valleys and on these roads is where motoring enthusiasts from all around the peninsular flock to. A drive up Cameron Highlands, Fraser's Hill or even up to Genting Highlands is usually a memorable one and for me, it is home. One to these destinations is someplace which I would love to retire to someday
  5. When most of us end up going for trips around Peninsular Malaysia a lot of us end up at holiday destinations located along the North-South Highway. Most end up in Malacca, Port Dickson, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Taiping and all the way up North to Penang, Alor Setar and even Bukit Kayu Hitam which borders Thailand. Nearly everyone forgets that there is a highway leading to the East Coast of the Peninsular these days and a trip to the East Coast, aside from the shorter trips to Desaru in Johor is as viable as a trip to Penang. I was in Kuantan, Pahang for a weekend and it was a pretty good drive-to destination. As usual, you have to hit Kuala Lumpur if you're coming from down South (or if you're a little adventerous you could skip the highway and use the coastal road all the way from Johor through Mersing and head upwards. But if you're into highway driving and want to make good time, head up towards the Karak Highway and continue towards Kuantan instead of stopping at the casino at Genting for that round of blackjack. If you're heading towards Kuantan on a normal non-holiday weekend, traffic on the East Coast Highway isn't as heavy as you'd find on the North-South Highway. In fact at around noon its pretty empty. There are ample rest stops and after you cross over the Titiwangsa mountain range its mostly a straight two and a bit more hour drive to Kuantan. - Keropok lekor Mok Su off the Tanjung Lumpur main road- one of the best Keropok Lekor I've tasted - In Kuantan, you can do various stuff, like eat. Food, especially those that come from the sea is abundant. You can get local stuff like 'keropok ikan' or fish crackers in both the 'keropok lekor'
  6. One iconic landmark around Arab Street/North Bridge road aside from the Sultan Mosque is Singapore ZamZam Restaurant and its neighbour Victory Restaurant. Both Indian Muslim restaurants serve affordable cooked food like the roti prata, fried noodles, biryani rice and the murtabak. It is the last item that both restaurants are actually famous for, the Singapore styled murtabak. This is slightly different from the regular type of murtabak which usually has its ingredients (of egg, onions and minced beef) on the outside of the prata-type dough instead of being wrapped within it. Anyway, the ZamZam Restaurant has actually spread its wings outside of Singapore, with an outlet in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. If you're ever been to ZamZam or Victory Restaurant along North Bridge Road you'd find people driving up in their cars and stopping right in front of the restaurant to order the murtabak. You don't even have to get out of your cars and the waiters from both restaurants will take your order. Usually it takes less than five minutes for the take away order to be ready as the restaurants are basically cooking the murtabak non-stop. This is quite a motoring experience that most take for granted as its like a McDonald's drive through window, but it's not. Its something closer to home and more traditional in nature. And so if you drove down to Kuala Lumpur and headed to Tunku Abdul Rahman Road (Jalan TAR in short) you will also see a ZamZam Restaurant (located close to the famed Coliseum Cafe along the same road
  7. [extract] Putrajaya is the federal administrative center of Malaysia and is one heck of a unique place to drive around on the weekends. Now if any of you readers plan to visit Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings be sure to head over there for a surreal driving experience. You may ask how surreal and why is it surreal? It
  8. Peninsular Malaysia is a great place to travel and do some motoring. Some would do motoring for sightseeing, some would do it to reach their holiday destination, some for the thrill of driving and some for food hunting. I know of some friends who would hit the Causeway or the Second Link in Tuas early in the morning for some fishball noodles at Yong Peng or for some Biryani Gam Rice in Batu Pahat. Both towns are located in the neighbouring Malaysian state of Johor. One other Johor delicacy that is worth mentioning is Asam Pedas. Asam Pedas is a spicy fish stew-like dish made with tamarind (asam) fruit juice. Now without sounding too much like Gordon Ramsay the cooking process involves soaking the pulp of the fruit until it is soft and then squeezing out the juice for cooking the fish. Various vegetables such as brinjals, lady fingers and tomatoes are added. Fish (such as mackerel or red snapper) is added to make a spicy and tart fish stew. It is important that the fish remain intact for serving so generally the fish is added last. Note that there are various styles of preparation, the Johor Malay version, the Johor version by the local Chinese and the Baba Nyonya (or Melaka) version. I won't go into detail as this isn't Now enough with the cooking lesson and on with the article. The thing with asam pedas is that it usually is difficult to find properly tasting ones like those you find in traditional Malaysian households of the races mentioned above. One nice place to try asam pedas and soak in some rustic rural Malaysian environment is in Parit Jawa in Muar. Muar is a town that is located on the North-Western Tip of Johor and close to Malacca. It should be about two hours away from the Causeways and you can take the Pagoh or the Yong Peng North exit and make your way towards Muar. Parit Jawa is located on the Muar-Batu Pahat trunk road and is one of the older settlements in the state of Johor. You can even find pre-war shophouses (photo above) lining its small town center. So once you reach Parit Jawa you will see signboards pointing the way to 'Medan Asam Pedas Parit Jawa'. The local council has basically seen the demand for freshly cooked asam pedas and has actually built a food court specially catering for asam pedas. And what makes Parit Jawa a pretty good place to have asam pedas is the fact that it is a traditional Malaysian fishing village. This means that the fish is extremely fresh. The asam pedas food court is located right beside a fishing village complete with a water lock (for irrigation in the nearby crop plantations), fishing boats all lined up and an authentic Malaysian village (kampung) environment for you to soak in while eating some fish stew. I was there on a Johor state public holiday and only some of the stalls in the food court were open. I'd recommend the 'warung' or stall under the name' Mak Pon' for pretty authentic Malay style asam pedas. I am sorry I didn't take any pictures of the actual dish as I was pretty captivated with the fishing boats and all. I was thinking about being in a scene of the Deadliest Catch (albeit a very tame and localized version without the rough seas and all) as I was more enthralled about the boats and water lock. It must be the kid in me being more interested in machinery and engineering stuff and all. So what did I drive throughout this trip then? A Suzuki Swift 1.5automatic with about 55,000km on the clock. It felt beautifully taut on all the roads it encountered. On a couple of occasions I let it stray to beyond 160km/h and it felt solid at those higher than average speeds. On the B-roads around Muar, namely the Tangkak to Muar road its suspension deftly handled the bumps and undulations. Its 185/60/15 tires may not have the grip of the slightly wider 195/50/16 tires of the Swift Sport (it understeers earlier and isn't as snappy like the Sport) but if you learn to drive within its limitations it is a pretty great hatchback for B roads. The beam axle at the rear felts nicely tied down and the sideways movement that you often feel in cars with this sort of rear suspension is very limited. It must be the fact that the car's overall weight is only slightly above 1,000kg so there is a lack of inertia compared to larger beam axle equipped cars like, say the Latio hatchback or the Pug 308. Bombing down the sweeping corners and twisties that are also full of undulations in a very well made little hatchback shows that it isn't necessary to have an extremely powerful or fast car to enjoy motoring. Of course it'll help if you do, but if you cannot afford all the power and speed, then there is always a small Suzuki to fall back onto. Let's hope that the next generation Swift drives as well as this one.
  9. Chinese New Year is a time for nearly everyone to stop work and enjoy a little. This is actually very true when it comes to celebrating this festive occasion in most large cities, Singapore included as well as cities around Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Georgetown, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. You can actually see people closing shop for at least a week and things in the cities mentioned above slows down to a crawl. Everyone either goes back to their hometown for the family reunion dinner or decide to take a holiday. When it comes to reunions, small towns are instead packed with families and things aren't as peaceful as it seems in these small towns. The roads are packed and people from out of town are everywhere to be seen. And unlike in the city, shops are open to cater for this. I was in and around Muar, Johor on New Year's day and the next day and the town was packed. The North-South Highway was packed but surprisingly smooth flowing and by 10.00am I was in Muar town on the first day of the Year of the Rabbit. I exited via the Tangkak exit from the North South highway and thoroughly enjoyed the fast sweeping corners on the secondary road into town. Having a stock riding car on skinny tires somehow works very well through all the undulations and potholes (due to the excessive rains that the state of Johor has been having recently). It was fun and from Tangkak, it'll take you about 15 to 20 minutes to reach Muar, if traffic permits. The other interesting thing about Muar aside from the architecture is food. And the thing I truly like about Muar is that this is the only place where you can have satay for breakfast. Even on Chinese New Year's day. But anyway, Muar is a place where satay is part of breakfast, lunch and dinner and since satay is usually a Malay specialty, there were two or three stalls open selling this good stuff. It is also the only place in the whole of Malaysia where they also serve fried banana fritters with a soy sauce based chilli paste (sambal kicap in Malay). Almost everywhere else fried banana is eaten plain, or with ice cream but here in Muar you get to eat it with something hot and spicy. I had these for tea on New Year's day. I have to say small towns really capitalize on the festive season as you still get to eat out over there. In fact, I also noted that cell phone shops, some apparel outlets and the 'mamak' or Indian Muslim restaurant/stalls were also open to capitalize on the holiday crowd. This was some crowd actually, as on day two of the New Year the town was jammed on some streets. Check out Jalan Haji Abu (Haji Abu Road) on the second day. This road could be considered the 'Chinatown' of Muar. It was slightly jammed with people buying lunch and other stuff. The cars you see around Muar were from everywhere, you see a convoy of two cars bearing Perak state plates, cars from Selangor, Kuala Lumpur (the Federal Territory) and cars from Singapore too. Some of these out of towners actually treat the town like their own, double parking and doing u-turns where they're not supposed to do so. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I suppose being in a small town during a period where most shops close is a blessing. I get to eat good food almost all the time. I was down for a family gathering where lunch was Beryani Gam, a traditional Johor way of preparing Beryani Rice (beryani rice with mutton, chicken or beef in gravy, boiled egg all mixed together with the gravy and with dhal stew and mixed vegetable acar). Dinner was also Beryani leftovers. So basically New Year's day was food heaven for me. Of course, small town nights are less interesting. Everything slows down after 10.00pm. Check out the photo of Jalan Haji Abu around 10.00pm below. And as for driving, the roads around Muar are a fabulous place to drive. The main toll free road from Muar to Batu Pahat as well as the roads perpendicular (as well as some side roads) to it are fantastic drives. Jalan Sri Tanjung is one good example. It is straight with some sweeping bends and ends at the junction where you can also head towards Parit Jawa to the right and onwards towards Batu Pahat or left (which could also bring you to Batu Pahat or Yong Peng). You can also catch a glimpse of the local 'wildlife' too and beware if any of them cross the road as you're driving by. But what I really like about this stretch of roads from Muar to Batu Pahat are the undulations, especially when there is a small bridge built to cross all the canals criss-crossing the area. 'Parit' in this context means canals, hence locales like Parit Jawa, Parit Bulat, Parit Punggor around Muar and also Batu Pahat. You see, with a stock riding car or one that's not ridiculously lowered it is actually ridiculous fun to drive around here. Some of the humps caused by the small bridges are quite severe. You can actually imitate a WRC jump even traveling at around 90-100km/h. This is something fun at speeds that are slightly less ballistic
  10. We know that citizens as well as permanent residents of Singapore get hit with an entrance fee if they want to frequent the casinos over at Resorts World Sentosa and the one at Marina Bay area. Each prospective fun-seeker would need to pay SG$100 before he or she starts losing money at one of these places. Now if you intend to spend a hundred Singapore Dollars in a slightly better way, may I suggest using that money for a drive to Genting Highlands? The hundred dollars would be used as part of the North-South highway toll charges and some for petrol. And after a good three and a half hours or so of driving on the highway as well as through the Middle Ring Road II around Kuala Lumpur you reach the first Karak Highway toll collection booth. It is here where things can be a slightly more enjoyable motoring experience if you decide to enter the slip road right (photo above) before the toll and then use enter Jalan Gombak (Gombak Road) and head towards Karak/ Bentong. This stretch of road is known as the old road to Bentong. It is actually very scenic as you firstly pass all the 'kampung' or villages along Gombak Road up to the 12th (Batu 12) mile where it also passes a aboriginal/native hospital and museum (which is also a good tourist spot to visit if you're heading towards Genting). There are also some nice picnic spots beside the road where the Gombak River winds towards Kuala Lumpur. So you get to see some rustic Malaysian locales as well as soak in the tropical rain forest up close. You can't do this if you're on the Karak Highway. Furthermore, after a long tedious highway drive you actually get a chance to do some very nice tight and twisty roads. It is almost hairpin after hairpin and at one point, you can actually see the Karak Highway from this stretch of road. Imagine yourselves using a hot hatchback or a nice all-wheel drive on this stretch of road. You'll be wringing out the engine in 2nd and 3rd gear for most of the corners (or 3rd mostly in a more powerful car) and hearing the sound of your engine bouncing off the hillside (on one side) and a ravine on the other. Yes, it may be a little intimidating as this stretch is quite narrow and occasionally you will either spend some time behind a timber carrying lorry or finding one barreling towards you from the opposite direction. But this is all part of the thrill of driving. And you may 'save' RM5 as you avoid paying the toll. (However you may spend more on fuel if you're really belting it) This short windy 20 or so km stretch of road ends up at Genting Sempah where you'll see the interchange as the first sign of civilization (above). Genting Sempah is where the highway continues all the way to Kuantan (the state capital of Pahang) and is the main transit point to Genting Highlands. There is also another extremely nice, but one with faster sweeping corners to Genting Highlands. The Ulu Yam-GohTong Jaya stretch. But that is another story that may also be told in here at a later date. Some may say that the stretch from Genting Sempah to Genting Highlands is challenging enough for them. I would agree as the inclines are much steeper. But I would also disagree on another point as here, the roads are almost three lanes wide at some points and if there was less traffic you could technically use nice wide racing lines whereas if you started from the old road to Bentong, you may think you're on a tarmac rally rain forrest stage. Belting a Swift Sport through here comes to mind. But even if I took a bone stock (and slightly dull) Toyota Vios I'd have tons of fun. I think this is a much better way to spend your hundred dollars (or more) instead of handing it over before you can even start to have fun at the places I mentioned in the opening paragraph. And while the Karak Highway (below) may be fun as it is pretty windy in some stretches it can't beat those hairpins. Period. genting highlands photo:wikipedia the rest: author's own
  11. -the Ipoh City Market Ipoh, the state capital of the state of Perak in Malaysia is a city located 200km from Kuala Lumpur. It is at least a good five and a half hours from Singapore if you intend to take a nice long drive from the Lion city. Popular opinion have stated that Ipoh is the ultimate place to retire to. There, everything moves at a pace slightly faster than a snail and it is peaceful, serene and even on a normal working day, things are pretty laidback. It is even more laid back than Perak's second largest town, Taiping as here the roads are wide and everything seems to be slightly better laid out than Taiping. Anyway, what makes a trip to Ipoh worth the drive then? The food I suppose, as everywhere you go there are shops selling famous Ipoh noodles and to a lesser extent Ipoh white coffee. But on another scale of things a motoring enthusiast may fancy something raw and rustic about Ipoh
  12. You may have read Chee Jun's posting on the countdown timer that is used at some of the traffic light junctions in Malaysia. I have to say that it is indeed very useful in assisting motorists in deciding whether they should speed up, slow down or come to a stop at a junction. Of course, there are arguments on whether the system actually helps motorists in general as some say that it does not make any difference and some say that it makes things worse. What ever the case, designer Thanva Tivawong of Thailand has come up with a new traffic light system that utilises LED technology to achieve what he calls a LED Hourglass Design Traffic Light System. The designer says that the "Sand Glass" the LED traffic lights which inspired from the hour glass, one of the original timer that we've use for over century. Easy to see the light's color and estimate how long to wait or hurry to go obviously from the dropping pixels interface like a real sand glass. The countdown number, 3-2-1, appears only while the yellow light's turn on to warn that the light's color will change in a few seconds. That's all make Sand Glass is a sensible communication design for everyone.
  13. Malacca or Melaka as it is known locally is a tourist state/city in Malaysia that is a favorite destination for tourists both local and abroad. It is a vacation hotspot for a whole lot of people around the region that wish to get away from it all yet still comes with some hustle and bustle of urban life. Now add over 600 years of history to the picture and it all comes together. Malacca is a melting pot of culture and heritage. From the days of the Malacca Sultanate, the Portuguese. the Dutch, the English, as well as Arab, Indian and Chinese (and also Baba-Nyona) influences you get the best of everything in an area somewhat double the size of Singapore. Oh yes, the food is pretty good here too. One would find authentic Baba-Nyona food intertwined with lots of other local stuff. But this needs a little exploring, and some asking around to locate some hidden treasures as due to Malacca being in a state of constant development and investment, lots of new restaurants, some of which are just in it for the money have sprouted up. So Malacca is about two hours and a bit more away from Singapore and about the same distance from Kuala Lumpur if you travel by the North South Highway. To reach the city centre it would be easier to use the Ayer Keroh Exit as the road takes you straight to the heart of Malacca City. Now being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malacca has got all sorts of historic sites and buildings to view. But since most of us are aware of the usual places of interests like the Stadhyus Building, A Famosa Fort, Bukit Cina and local tourists haunts located at Bandar Hilir I
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