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  • Writer's pictureRick

West Malaysia Day 3: A Glutton from Kluang to Batu Pahat

I pondered on several options for breakfast the night before sleeping. After being awoken at 6am by other guests again, I had to re-evaluate my options as most of them would not be opening until 9am. I decided on Yi Jian Xiao Mian (壹見小麵) again since it opened at 8am and a very short walking distance from Milano Hotel.

8:30am, I was seated in Yi Jian Xiao Mian and placed orders for some dim sum dishes: a mixed-filling chee cheong fun, shrimp dumplings, egg-plant stuffed with fish cake and a cup of kopi-o kosong. I tried not to eat too much as I intended to go for some coffee later at Kaki Lima Cafe before check-out.

Yi Jian Xiao Mian: Dim Sum

Before heading back to the hotel to pack my stuff, I detoured to Kluang Bus Terminal, hoping to get a time schedule of Johore Motor Bus 56. I found the unmanned counter of Johore Super Express on the second level with a schedule for Bus 56 to Ayer Hitam and Batu Pahat pasted on its glass panel. It showed the serviicefrequency as 20-minute intervals, but I heavily discounted it. I had waited more than 40 minutes at Ayer Hitam when coming to Kluang.

Johore Motor Bus 56 schedule

When would be the best time to move between towns? Between 12pm to 2pm. Because check-out time at Milano Hotel was 12pm and check-in time at the hotel in Batu Pahat was 2pm. This would minimise the time that I would need to move around with my backpack.

After check-out at 10:30am, I deposited my backpack at the front desk and went off to Kaki Lima Cafe in Kluang's longest lane of street arts. But, the cafe was closed from 2nd to 4th April. The dessert shop in the same lane, Old Alley, was not opened yet. Since I was at the arts lane (again), I checked for new artworks.

Kluang Street Arts

The art lane was not able to keep me occupied for 20 minutes and I ended up in Kluang Rail Coffee again with another cup of kopi-o kosong, two soft-boiled kampung eggs and another of its bun bakar series — bun sambal special.

Kluang Rail Coffee: Bun Sambal, eggs, coffee

It was time to set-off. I picked up my backpack from the hotel, bid goodbye to the staff and made a beeline for Kluang Bus Terminal.

A Johore Motor Bus 56 was already waiting in the bus bay. I boarded the bus with my ManjaLink card in hand but the card machine was spoilt — or intentionally turned off? — and I paid RM6 for the RM5.60 fare to Batu Pahat without change. In Malaysia, small notes and coins were king! I really needed to keep some RM1 notes and shillings in reserve.

Seated in the motionless non-air-conditioned bus was like simmering in a sauna with sweat pouring profusely throughout the whole body. It lasted for 10 minutes till the bus departed the bus terminal at 12:15pm.

Goodbye, Kluang!

Once the Johore Motor Bus 56 started moving, the heat was blown away. The bus sped towards Ayer Hitam, arrived at 12:53pm and departed at 12:55pm — it was touch-and-go. At 1:55pm, the bus ended its journey at Batu Pahat Express Bus Terminal — it took 1 hour and 40 minutes from Kluang.

I walked past Restoran Nasi Pakistan No. 1. I had tried their lamb shank before and was hoping to try their sup tulang merah (red bone soup) but it was closed for Ramadan. Room.V Boutique Hotel was just beside the restaurant.

A swift checked-in to Room.V Boutique Hotel and I got my standard double room. It was very spacious but a full-width window faced the road outside the hotel — not what I would really like. The room was painted dark green which was a perfect hiding place for mosquitoes. After putting down my backpack, I went out to look for lunch.

Room. V Hotel with standard double room

The nearest eating place that I could think of was the Glutton Street (贪吃街) along Jalan Pengkai, just 100 metres behind the hotel. The sup kambing stall that I had wanted to try was closed during Ramadan too. Outside Sin Sin Foodstuff (新新包粿食品), Long Yee stall (龙意瓦煲鸡饭) was still opened so I went in for its claypot chicken rice. It was a delicious delicacy for just RM8.

Long Yee Claypot Chicken Rice

I took a short walk around the town area, keeping my eyes peeled for any new or interesting shops, cafes, etc. There was not much to do or see in this part of Batu Pahat, just to eat, sleep, and eat again.

I also went back to the bus terminal to check on buses to Muar. The same Mayang-Sari counter — which I used to go to Pontian on my last trip here — had buses going to Muar at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. No pre-booking required. I just needed to be at the counter to buy the ticket (RM5) on the desired day, at least an hour before the desired time.

Mayang Sari counter @ Batu Pahat

In Malaysia, bus terminals were the best place to get information — accuracy aside — as most information were either not available online or published in Malay only.

Then, back to the hotel to shower, rest and plan for dinner. I decided on Soon Ji (阿顺饭店) for its pig organ soup and noodle, since Google Maps indicated that it would be opened till 8:30pm.

At 7pm, I left the hotel, walked to Soon Ji, it was closed, walked back to Glutton Street and settled at a noodle stall that sold laksa and prawn noodles. Many locals were eating at the stall.

Laksa was already sold out and left with prawn noodles. Before I could decide to go for dry or soup, the stall owner told me “last bowl”. I readily accepted and he prepared for me a dry-style prawn noodle with generous amount of prawns and a bean curd skin roll. As I ate the last bowl of prawn noodle for the day, there were still more locals coming to the stall, only to be turned away. Yes, the prawn noodle was really good and cheap.

Dry-style prawn noodle

(I did a check on the noodle stall on Google Maps after the trip, read the reviews and realised that the stall was popular for its laksa and locals called it "Batu Pahat Laksa" — I will be back!)

A short evening stroll and I was back in my room at 8pm. I got kissed by a mosquito in the night and gotten a big and itchy bump on my arm. I hoped it was not from an Aedes mosquito. Mosquitoes and dengue fever were another problem that worsen during the hot season.

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