Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Renovating Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque

Johor Bahru's most important mosque got a nice refresh in 2018 and now looks like a yellow jewel in its prominent location atop a hill that overlooks the Johor strait. In December of that year, the outside was finished and work was busy in the interior.

The mosque opened in 1900, designed in a combination of English Victorian and Moorish style. Elegant.


Floor polishing. The crew list for the day, match the picture.

Lobby area.


The paint shop and laundry line.

The main prayer hall, coming together.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Plastic Plant Park In Johor Bahru

There's a new park right in central Johor Bahru, right by the strait. It's got a nice layout, a central fountain, a good green space. For some reason, the master park planners decided that regular lighting would be a drag. Gotta keep it natural. So let's fake it up.

The space. Metal palm tree lights in the background. Remember the foreground plant.


So realistic, the "palm tree" has even lost a frond. On to the plant landscaping. Here's a cute tree.

Nope, fake. The park is filled with lighting disguised as small trees or plants. As if!


It must have sounded good in a meeting. It certainly looks peculiar in practice, like stepping into a model train set.

That plant in the foreground, a sickly, stickly looking thing, not even practical as a light pole.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Savoring Salahuddin Bakery In Johor Bahru

One of the best things about seeing a new city is checking out any heirloom establishments, a place that helps identify the fabric of a place. In Johor Bahru, it's the humble Salahuddin Bakery. It was opened in 1937 by an Indian immigrant and has been run by the family for several generations. Locals (and now tourists) make a pilgrimage to the place for fresh bread and other delights.

Humble, right?


The bakery sign, the epitome of handmade patina. Dough mixing area.

The fresh goods. Rack 'em.


Behind the counter, an homage to famous important Indian Muslim landmarks. Other offerings.

The secret? A coal fired wall oven. No self-cleaning gizmo here.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Abandoned In Johor Bahru

So much of Malaysia is being torn down to make way for the latest apartment building, highway, shopping mall. The country is on a growth sprint.

You can get hints about future development by seeing where current buildings have been left to rot. In the tropical climate, it doesn't take long for a piece of property to start looking like an ancient archeological site.

Office barracks at an old prison complex.


Heritage house, getting sucked back to the earth.

Abandoned hotel. Must have been swanky way back in the, what?, 1970s? Obsolescence can happen quickly in growing Asia.


A look at the hotel lobby. Around back, the vines are pulling the place apart.

Daycare center, specializing in a back to nature program. Wild.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The Glamor And The Glitz Of The Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple

South Indian Hindu temples are usually a riot of color and carvings, a religious fantasmagoria of fun. In Johor Bahru, the local devotees decided to go for broke, layering on another design element to bring the awe.

A slight hint at what's in store is on the required entrance tower, the gopuram. Looking abnormally shiny.


Bam! Step inside and it looks like a fun house gone wild. Every surface is covered with glass tile. And a cobra-wearing God has a head coming out of his hair.
Good luck trying to take it all in. It's hard just finding the perspective of the room.


More icons. Gazing at the ceiling. Or is it a wall? Am I still upright?

A needed break, a nice arrangement of flowers on a plain table. Well, not completely plain, a reflective piece of glass. There's no such thing as a matte surface at Sri Rajakaliamman glass temple.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Looking At Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru is the main Malaysian city sitting across the strait from Singapore. Think international bedroom community metropolis.

Skyline. Singapore is directly across the water in the background.


The city is starting to preserve its heritage, which includes a Chinese section and some old Colonial era architecture.

Fancy buildings dot the city. Passing by the Grand Palace of Johor.


Skyscraper growth from the 1970s. More preservation attempts, a small number of heritage houses saved and fenced off for restoration.

The old landmark of the city, the Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim. It was constructed in 1940 by the British as their administrative offices. The government has moved to new digs and the plans are to turn the building into a museum.


Monday, 11 November 2019

Desolation At Angkor

So many tourists, tour groups, vendors, vans, parking lots, moto taxis. Depending on which temple you visit, it can feel like Times Square during New Year's. With a little planning, it's possible to leave the modern world behind. Time of day, temple visited, angle chosen. Suddenly Angkor can look almost the way it did 800 years ago.

Entrance to Angkor Wat in the late afternoon.


Neak Pean. Chau Say Tevoda in the morning.

Another view of Chau Say Tevoda.


Two views of Ta Keo.

Back to Angkor Wat for dawn.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Thommanon Temple At Siem Reap

Thommanon is half of a pair of Hindu temples that mirror each other at Siem Reap, with Chau Say Tevoda sitting just across the road. They're not mirrors in design as Thommanon temple has more of a central, main design and Chau Say Tevoda is more a group of smaller structures. Quiz later!

Thommanon layout.


Two views of the central tower.

Looking east. Remember, quiz later.


Doorway and altar details.


A view of the main tower and central temple building.