Sunday, January 11, 2009

Johor Bahru New Year 09' [03/01]

We decided on the visit to Johor Bahru (JB) a week before. Around that period, I found out that a few of my old friends are staying in JB too. As they may be busy during the saturday evening, we kept to our original plan of shopping and fine dining.

The actual timing was confirmed on the day itself as I needed to help my parents with some spring cleaning. I will rendezvous with DK at 12pm. It is the first time travelling from my house at East Coast to the Woodlands Checkpoint via the Singapore-Johore Express Bus service. I left home around 10.30am and took a service 48 to Bugis. The ride was fast and I arrived at the bus terminal at 11am. After waiting around, the express bus left at 11.15am. The bus ride cost $2.40. It zipped through Singapore's major expressways and arrived at the Woodlands checkpoint at 11.35am, only 20 minutes!

The next challenge is to go through the new JB customs. Heard that it is quite confusing and visitors have to walk quite a bit to go through it. Here is the new customs. It is only serviced by a 2-lane road from the causeway. Buses and cars have to share the 2-lane resulting in much congestion.





Once past the customs, we walked through it and arrived at City Square - the first major shopping mall next to the customs. The JB customs took us 45mins to clear in all, including the congestion and the passport check.



Once there, we decided to catch a movie - Ip Man. It cost only 10RM for the tickets. As it is also lunch time, we just checked out the food court next to the cinemas. We have 20mins to settle our lunch. The Teppanyaki there looks irresistable. I ordered the seafood combi coming up to 17RM.



We proceeded to our movies. It is 3pm when it finished. Next we hopped on the cab to our shopping area - Holiday Plaza. This is our main shopping destination. Once we have finished our first shopping target for the day, I got a message from Chew Fang that she has finished work too. This is really a great coincidence. The last time I met her was almost more than 5 years back when we went for the Quan Ying camp in Taiping. But we still maintain contact once a while via msn.

We went for a tea session at one of the cafeterias. Heard she and Guo Dong will be attending a Tzu Chi concert this evening and asked us whether do we want to join in. We were momentarily torn between Tzu Chi compassionate and gratitude concert and Glorious food of Chilli crab and seafood. As I have been having seafood dining the last few weeks, we decided to go for the concert.

Chew Fang will go back home first and will come back to Holiday Plaza with Guo Dong to meet us for dinner there. Here we are at Ah Lau's Kopitiam (the name is quite funny). DK ordered a 3-layered tea. I took a short photo snap of it.

看完了電影,已經是3點鍾了。我們上了計程車,前往下一個購物站 - 假日廣場。這是我們最主要的購物地點。當我們完成第一個購物,收到秋帆的短訓,說她下了班。真是巧!最後一次會面是有5年前的時間,那時是在太平的大專佛青生活營裏。在這期間,我們還有在msn連續。




The concert timing is from 7.30pm till 10.30pm. We left Holiday Plaza at 7pm and arrived at the indoor stadium at 7.30pm. Chew Fang has some VIP entrance pass and she is allowed to park her car in the stadium. Here is the entrance to the stadium. Check out the large words - 慈悲喜舍, which means loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.



We were welcomed with songs.



They have free goodie bags for us. The green bag is actually a shopping bag and they advised us to bring it when we go shopping instead of using plastic bags.



We are sitted just in front of the stage. Here is a snapshot of the stadium. There were 5000 people in the audience.



The performance started with story-telling and singing. It is like a musical and almost magical.



Here is a Thousand-Arms Avalokiteshvara performance.



And the concluding finale performance where all the performers come in together. People from different religion and race all working for the common good of mankind.



This is the gratitude and thanks-giving scene by the organizers.



The distributing of the candle lights. The light come straight from Taiwan - from Master Cheng Yen.



My lotus candle lamp.



The entire stadium is litted up with lights.



Our group photo. From left we have me, Chew Fang, Guo Dong and DK.



We had quite a bit of an adventure at the customs. It is really confusing. Imagine driving through the customs with no U-turn and no passport. I will not share what happen here but it was fun.

I got back to Singapore around 11.45pm. Took the last train from Kranji MRT which terminates at Ang Mo Kio station. There is no one in the train carriage. From Ang Mo Kio, I took a cab back home.