"Johor Bahru is 40% cheaper than Singapore, so in the weekend the many shopping centers are completely full of all expensive branded items. Rolex, Ray-Ban ect. Are sold when we go to the mall we have our bikes cleaned in the meantime we still have to sell them.
At the first hotel we were outside the center, we are now in the middle of it, a Chinese neighbourhood and an Indian neighbourhood. This afternoon in the Indian quarter let us be pampered with a face mask (was necessary after all that sun). This afternoon we ate sushi and ate in the Indian
neighbourhood mie goreng. Tonight there was a market, we have done another round here, it is now half past eight to go to the hotel."
Often erroneously perceived as just a transit point to Singapore, Johor in fact has a lot to offer visitors. Johor Bahru, the
capital, boasts of several dazzling shopping malls; a plethora of night spots; and Zon, the largest duty-free shopping complex in Malaysia. Just an hour's
drive away lies the golden beach of Desaru, dubbed the "Last Unspoilt Corner of South East Asia". The pristine islands of
Pulau Besar, Pulau Sibu,
Pulau Rawa, Pulau Aur and several others are perfect
destinations for scuba diving and snorkelling. The Endau Rompin National Park is
a haven for rare species of flora and fauna, and there are six others recreational forests to boot. Johor is also a golfer's paradise as it is the state with the most golf courses.
Johor was founded in the early 16th century by the son of Sultan Mahmud Shah, the last Sultan of Melaka when the capital was captured by the Portuguese. At
its peak, the Johor empire stretched to the Riau Archipelago. In the 18th century, the Bugis of Celebes and the Minangkabaus of Sumatra controlled the
political powers in the Johor-Riau empire, but in the early 19th century, Malay and Bugis rivalry dominated the scene. Even today, Johor, and Riau lie on the strategic sea route passing from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, through the Straits of Malacca.
In 1819, Stamford Raffles capitalised on their inter-faction rivalry to acquire Singapore for the British. As a result, the Johor-Riau empire was broken into mainland Johor, controlled by
the Temenggong, and the Sultanate of Riau-Lingga, controlled by the Bugis. In 1886, Temenggong Abu Bakar elevated himself to Sultan. He was succeeded by his
son, Sultan Ibrahim. In 1914, the British Adviser to administer Johor until the Japanese Occupation in 1945. In 1957, Johor joined the federation of Malaya.
Note: the Riau Archipelago comprises three main islands - Batam , Bintan and Bulan. Batam is just 20 kilometres from Singapore and 415 km2 in size.
Sultan Abu Bakar
Johor's economy is based on a mix of agriculture, manufacturing, commerce, and tourism. It is the nation's major
producer of palm oil, rubber, pineapples, and bananas. Bauxite is mined in Pengerang, and Pasir Gudang is growing into an important international port.
Many industrial estates are found in and around Johor Bahru and other major towns. Here, the factories produce electrical appliances, furniture, textiles and petrochemical products.
The eastern coast of Johor has a string of beautiful islands fit for scuba diving and snorkelling. One island that is
easily reached is Pulau Sibu, just two-and-a-half hours by boat from Mersing. A faster way to reach Pulau Sibu is from Tanjung Leman, 20 km south of Mersing.
Apart from Pulau Sibu, the other islands with accomodation are
Pulau Rawa, Pulau Pemanggil,
Pulau Tengah and Pulau Aur. Closer to the shore, Pulau Hujung and Pulau Tengah are visited mostly by day-trippers.
For back-to-nature experiences, one can venture to several recreational forests around the state. The most popular is
Gunung Ladang Recreational Forest, the site of Johor's highest mountain, Gunung Ladang. Challenging treks to the summit of the
mountain and overnight stays at the impressive Sagil Waterfall are main activities here. At the base of the waterfall are camping sites, changing rooms
and the Gunung Ledang Resort. According to the legend, Gunung Ledang was the home of a Johor princess who was wooed by the Sultan of Melaka in the 15th century. About 30 km northwest of Johor Bahru is the Gunung Pulai Recreational Forest
which has several waterfalls, and also jungle trails leading to Mount Pulai, 654 metres high. Other recreatinal forests include the Gunung Arong Recreational Forest, Gunung
Berlumut Recreational Forest, Gunung Lambak Recreational Forest and Sungai Pencarang Recreational Forest.