Malaysia: Peninsula and Borneo - July 2006
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
Farewell Tioman! The speedboat in the morning brings me back to Mersing. There is a bus for Johor Bahru, the border town in front of Singaporeat 11:30 A big city without charm any ...
I forget my "backpacker" plans
About a two-hour journey. Along the road, oil palms everywhere. I seem to remember that Malaysia is the world's leading producer of palm oil, with deforestation as a consequence.
Smooth arrival at Johor Bahru's huge bus station. Lots of stores and restaurants in the building adjoining the bus park. I test the MacDonald for lunch and then head for the cabs. I explain to the drivers that I don't know the name of my hotel, but I want some "high range" for tonight.
I want a hot shower, air conditioning, a big bed with fresh sheets... Tonight, I forget my backpacking habits!
The cab drops me off at the foot of the Puteri Pacific Hotel. Perfect! Two Frenchmen, with whom I dived in Tioman, had given me an enticing description of the establishment. They are staying with Total, for whom they work.
One guy rushes to carry my luggage, another holds me the door.
Huge hall, with piano bar, restaurant in the back and marble floor. Wealthy Asians and Westerners mingle. Businessmen and tourists. It's like being in Lost in Translation.
Gold-lettered concierge and chic reception. There's a swimming pool, gym, tennis court, conference rooms, beauty salon, spa... I ask about the nightly rate: 268RM, breakfast included. A quick calculation comes to around 55-60€. Let's get my MasterCard out!
The elevator is all glass, attached to the outer facade of the skyscraper. The ascent makes you dizzy. View of the Johor Bahru buildings from my bedroom window. It's almost a suite, with a small lounge, huge bed, marble bathroom and even... a telephone in the toilet. A far, far cry from my backpacker plans!
I'm taking advantage of the afternoon to update the blog (it's great to have a fast connection).
Back to "civilization
Johor Bahru is a big city without any charm. It's very popular with Singaporeans at weekends, who come here to have fun and go out on the cheap, given the low cost of living in Malaysia.
I dine on duck breast, with real mashed potatoes, a glass of wine, and all the staff at your service, for 30 miserable ringgits. Pfff...
Repue, I go back to my room, where I look on BBC World reports on the crisis in the Middle East. At Tioman, it's true that I was a bit cut off from the so-called civilized world...
The night will be short, and I won't even be able to enjoy breakfast, which I imagine will be sumptuous, because my plane Air Asia originally scheduled for 10.40am has been brought forward to 8am. I have to get up shortly before 6am to catch a new cab to the airport.