Desaru 2019 Day 2/3 – Fruit Farm visit, Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast and Home Sweet Home

I got up early to do a little bit of jogging as part of my weekly regime. I had been quite impressed with the jogging program that was on offer such as providing running gear such as shoes and sports wear for loan and a trainer to jog with, coupled with a running route. As I enquired further the day before, I found out that I had to book these earlier if I am really interested and was too late to inform them the night before. Anyhow, I brought my own gear and was fine running on my own.

I got out to the street just in front of the resort and thought I would just give the route a shot. It started off nice since the road was kinda part of the resort after all and route had nice pavement. As I went around the corner, things then started to become just road and everywhere else was boring with nothing much too see. The weather was just like Singapore, hot and humid and thus I retired from the run as soon as I returned to my starting point.

Tried out the gym on the bicycle and the running track and had a good sweat out before returning to the room.

Resort facing the sea.
Panoramic view of Westin Desaru Coast
Desaru Coast
Westin’s own beach.
Continue to grind in the gym
Looking from our balcony of clouds building up in the distance

We got ready and went down for breakfast, which was already 10am. However, the buffet was opened till 11am and that was great because who would want to wake up early on a Sunday morning on a holiday? Variety was great and I was even more impressed with the egg station offering egg benedict as an option, which was a first for me.

A bit of everything
Eggs benedict
Breakfast buffet
Westin’s kids’ corner

We planned to visit the Desaru fruit farm first followed by the Adventure Waterpark. Requested to validate my credit card that I used for the carpark and it was successful this time. It was a short 15mins drive before we arrived at the side road next to a fruit stall, which we realised was not the right location. We drove in further until we see lots of cars parked at the open field and slotted into a space directed by one of the attendant.

Desaru fruit farm
Building to register for the tour

Went to register for the fruit tour that came with a box of fruits and the tour itself total of RM70. There were other options like a fruit buffet but we weren’t that keen on eating that much fruits. The tour was just about to start and we just hopped onto the back of a sheltered lorry that was modified to allow for visitors to board and disembark easily.

Our sticker tickets
Our transport to the farm


Once it was full, we were then driven a short distance to the farm and got off. The guide then started to introduce the different fruit trees as we walked on foot around the farm. There were quite a large variety of fruit plants, some we knew and not others. The annoying part of the visit though was the drizzle that came and we didn’t have a brolly with us (some umbrellas were given to the visitors but not all got it).

K wasn’t all that interested and was getting fussy at some point until we entered an old building that looked like a museum of sorts, containing various objects that could be found in the past. There were toys like the chapteh and 5 stones that modern K had not seen before but was curious to try playing with them.

At the plantation
Cocoa for choco


Bunch of bananas


Signage information about wildlife there
Hanging gardens


Museum of traditional stuff


Old school toys of chapteh and 5 stones

After exiting the building, we continued on and saw a beehive, which had tiny bees that didn’t look the honey bees that I was used to; these looked more like flying ants. After that we continued to walk towards the mini pet farm. There were 2 compounds of animals, one with goats and rabbits and the other mostly with poultry. Spent some time with the rabbits feeding them carrots and grass to the goats. K was more interested feeding the rabbits, stuffing the sliced carrots through the tiny openings of their cages.

Picturesque pond full of koi fish
This was a bee hive


Orderly planted trees in the plantation alongside walkpath






Panoramic view of the farm animal compound
Cute signage of animals of the farm


We proceeded to wait for the transportation to bring us back to the building and went to the restaurants to claim our boxes of fruits. I took only 2 boxes as I thought we wouldn’t able to finish 3. While driving back along road 90, we stopped by a row of restaurants and entered the Secret Recipe for our late lunch. After the main meal, we ate one box of fruits which I thought tasted pretty good.

Small pond beside the restaurant
Inside the store were many goods being sold


Secret Recipe restaurant for lunch


Fruits sampler which was pretty fresh

Now that the drizzle had stopped, we decided to visit Adventure Waterpark. Parked at the carpark before making our way through the Desaru Coast Riverside, a place where there were many small shops but mostly not opened. Bought our last minute tickets on the Klook app and went to claim our tickets before entering the huge water park. There were door gifts of icecream and coffee that came with the tickets for us to claim. We only had 2hours to play before the park closed at 6pm.

Need to walkthrough Riverside to reach the Adventure Waterpark
Panoramic view of the Desaru Riverside
Adventure Waterpark entrance



The place was huge and had quite a lot of people there though not crowded. After getting changed into his swim wear, K immediately moved to the section catered for kids and started exploring cautiously at first as he wasn’t really one who loved to play with water and then more adventurously after encouragement to try the slides. Thereafter he was on his own going rounds and rounds on the slide. Mommy on the other hand just sat in one of the cafe there and binge on drama.

Kids section
For the smaller kids


For the more adventurous

I brought K to explore further and we ended up getting ourselves in the huge wave pool, floating in the water with our life jackets on. It was pretty fun bobbing up and down with the water and even more when the giant wave come towards us.

Fun tidal wave pool

After that, we took a walk around and noticed that the rides section were not opened. Quickly we returned to the kids section where K did a few more rounds of slides until the park closed.

Changed out of our wet clothes and proceeded to the shop where we bought another beach ball before returning to the car. I then found out that I had lost my car tickets and was unable to get out. Tried the ticket payment machine to call for lost tickets but both didn’t have any reactions after pressing the buttons. Tried to press for another ticket at the entry but that didn’t work. Then I went to the waterpark ticketing counter to ask for help and they directed me back to the building where the payment machine was and asked me to look for the staff there. I felt stupid for missing the office and caught the person just in time before he left.

He was very helpful and getting me another ticket but for a discounted penalty, and I was just thankful that I could get out of the carpark finally.

Dry rides not in operation
Other sections unexplored


Pirate ship
Waterpark store



Back at the resort, I found the carpark slots all taken up and had to just park my car near to the wall to avoid blocking any other cars. We bathed and got dressed before going to the restaurant (where we had breakfast) below to have our dinner. It was also buffet at night but they had more stalls out in the open, mostly dealing with BBQ like satays and fried kuay teow. After the filling our tummies, we retired to the room with the usual night routine before going to bed.

Satay and Fried kuay teow

Day 3 Home Sweet Home

The last day began without much improvement to the weather, with the clouds hanging low in the distance and eventually didn’t get a good view of sunrise. We got up about the same time as the day before and went to our breakfast late as usual. After that, we proceeded to explore the beach to see how it was like before checking out. Wary of arriving at the checkpoint late could get us stuck at the 2nd link, we were on our way back around noon. It was in fact perfect timing as we arrived at the crossing with light traffic after topping up petrol at the gas station.

Cloudy sunrise


Breakfast with my egg benedict again
Beach with a gentle wave


Beach club offering rental of some equipment


Pool with a view

This short getaway gave us some time to get away and enjoy a little bit of nature and fruit farms up north with a little bit of luxury staying in Westin. The soft launch period was a good time since there weren’t many people as when it would be fully opened, but that also meant having some parts of the places not in operations as well. With some planning on time, we could avoid the long wait at the causeway and that changed my mind about driving up north. Not sure if it would be soon enough though.


Johor 2019 Day 1 – Drive into Johor and Firefly leisure park

It was a Saturday and on typical getaways during a Saturday, we would have woken up really early in order to avoid the morning traffic, especially when it was a long weekend. For this Vesak day long weekend, we decided to continue with our usual Saturday routine which involved sending K for his morning lessons. We have changed our strategy this time from getting out early to getting out much later since we would have spent the time in a jam anyways, might as well make good use of the time in Singapore.

I had been contemplating on visiting Desaru Coast, especially after the horrible experience of getting stuck in a jam for 4hours. But adverts on FB was so effective that we decided to give it another shot. There was another way to get to Desaru Coast without the need to drive but that involved a boat trip from Tanah Merah (which had pretty bad timings) and some form of transportation arrangements from the port to the hotels in Desaru Coast. We decided to go on wheels but changing the strategy to drive in much later.

By the time we left for the 2nd link, it was almost 3pm after our lunch and a visit to IMM to look for some outlet sports shoes. The traffic at the 2nd link had eased tremendously, and looking for at the live camera on, we were certain it was not too bad. We crossed both checkpoints in under an hour and were then on a 2hours journey to the Firefly leisure park at Kota Tinggi.

The drive there was pretty straight forward, going past a couple of tolls along the way. A break from the main highway into a smaller road and later onto some rough dirt tracks, we finally arrived at the carpark Firefly leisure park. We were initially concerned leaving our luggage in the boot of our car but the carpark was just next to the entrance and so it was safe enough.

Went to the reception that was meant by the staff busy with business administration and finally got ourselves registered for later cruise at 815 one since the first trip out at 730pm was fully booked. The mini farm was closing at 6pm but the staff said that they could extend the opening hours. We decided against going to Desaru Coast for check in first and returning since that trip would potentially take 2 hr in total and would be quite a rush to do so.

Firefly Leisure Park entrance
Indoor playground for the kids available
Mini farm

We were given some fish feed and animal feed and entered the farm. The mini farm was not a big compound and there were many animals mostly in cages while the bigger ones were in compounds. There was a bridge that we could walk across to another section where the goats were after visiting those nearer the entrance. There we fed the goats the feed.

Monitor lizard
Turtle came out of the water to meet us
Feeding goat
Many goats to feed


After the goats, we walked over to a house over waters and fed the fishes there. Throwing the feed into the water would cause a frenzy of fishes splashing about which was quite a sight, and K was more than happy to feed the fishes much more than the goat.

Pier for boarding for the night cruise
Fishes in a frenzy from the food
A little house above the waters where the fishes were
Not sure what this is

We spent some time over at the playground where there were swings and see-saws and unfortunately some mosquitoes too. Persuaded K to leave for the restaurant which we had requested dinner to be served by 7pm (ordered and arranged at the same time of the purchase of tickets) since we knew K would take a while to eat and that we were afraid that the food might not come on time.

Our dinner

Food was ok and arrived on time. We had our fills and even had enough time until I went to pay and was informed that we could actually take the earlier cruise if we wanted. It was of course a welcomed idea since that meant that we could return to the hotel earlier too. Quickly we went over to pick up our life jackets and walked towards the pier, which could be reached walking along the carpark and towards the waters where a Chinese temple was facing. Soon we were then boarding the little cruise boat enough for about 30 people after the dos and don’ts from the guide.

Boarding the cruise
Temple overlooking the river

As it wasn’t particularly pitch dark yet, the fireflies light was at first faint and not too many around the trees close to the pier. But it only got better the deeper we went. Unfortunately we weren’t allow to take any photos since light source would “scare” the fireflies. I tried with my phone camera and couldn’t capture anything. It was generally a calm and quiet cruise down the river, with a guide introducing the fireflies and the area, and we were even shown a bunker that was used during the war at one of the side streams. K found it interesting for most of the trip.

Almost pitch black
Firefly Leisure Park signboard

Getting off the cruise, we headed towards the carpark, passing the next group of visitors for their turn to board. It was a 1hr drive which wasn’t difficult though it was expectedly more dark on the roads then Singapore. We soon arrived at the newly minted Desaru coast area, and following the GPS, we found ourselves at the carpark of The Westin Desaru Coast Resort. Used my credit card to scan before entering and managed to find one lot at the small single storey carpark (the lower basement was still closed for work).

During check-in, we had our welcome drinks and I tried to scan the same credit card that I used initially for the carpark but the staff was unable to link it up for my discounted parking. They advised to try again the next day before exiting.

A staff that brought us to our room some walking distance away.

The reception of Westin Desaru coast

The new room was luxurious, typical of Westin’s hotels but it was also pretty spacious. K took to liking the room pretty quickly, and was attracted to the hotel introduction channel on TV where it had a catchy tune that K would dance too.

King bed in a modern cosy room
Big TV
Shower and toilet

It was bathtime in the nice big tub followed by bedtime in the comfortable big bed.

Escape Plan to Desaru Coast May 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Desaru Coast:

Total duration 3D2N
Singapore is in the same timezone as Malaysia.

Desaru Coast can be reached by car.

Day 1 – Drive into Johor and Firefly leisure park
Day 2 – Fruit Farm visit and Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast
Day 3 – Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was the another attempt of visiting our neighbouring country Malaysia for a long weekend getaway on Vesak day 2019. This was after swearing not to drive in ever again. I still hated wasting my life in a traffic jam but what changed? We tried to avoid the jam by getting across late and getting back early!

Budget nature: Not too bad since it was still soft launch

Singapore high exchange rate coupled with a soft launch of the Desaru Coast area meant that we it wasn’t too expensive to do this trip.

Complexity: Medium

The only complexity I thought was navigating the jam at the crossing and checking on the latest fees which might be confusing if not following the news. There was supposedly VEP implementation in Q3 2019 so we weren’t really impacted.

Rawa Island 2018 Day 3 – Aeon Mall and Home Sweet Home

There were a few instances of sleep talking otherwise all seemed fine. I woke up with the alarm sounding off and prepared milk for K before going out to take a jog. Remembering that there was a sunrise viewpoint, I jogged in that direction. The route was initially normal but later I came to an extension that didn’t looked complete. Walked carefully to the edge and found that there wasn’t any view at all. Reversed and made my journey upwards the same route we took to the cactus garden the day earlier. Again, the steep slope killed whatever stamina I had. Eventually I just walked upwards and passed the owl house yesterday.

Unfinished deck to sunrise view.

While on the way to hilly viewpoint I saw the same ladies I met yesterday, while passing them they also commented “it’s you again”. There weren’t anything much to see at all and the steepness wasn’t helping in jogging, going downhill was just as difficult as climbing. Made the steps to the viewpoint and was shown a cloudy sunrise again. Went downhill and was disappointed to see the main restaurant still closed. We were running out of water in the room and I couldn’t get more from the unopened restaurant. Without much of a choice, I strolled back to the room.

Missing sun at sunrise.

Once back, I stayed at the patio to watch the sea life in the incoming high tide. Managed to see a stingray and even a shark (wasn’t fast enough to take a shot). Then I tried bullet time again, for the last time before leaving the Island – still not epic.


Stingray spotted.

Once I entered the bathroom to wash up, I was met with an army of mosquitoes swarming around. I swore I killed at least 5 while in there. I tried to smack as many as possible while brushing my teeth.

Had to wake K up at 8 to have an early breakfast so as to give time for digestion before hitting the seas on the speedboat. It was not too difficult to get him out today and we were at the restaurant in no time. The breakfast was similar with the exceptions of Nasi Lemak which I had some. K had a good amount of breakfast before he met up with L at the pinball machine. There was a couple of fun play, running around, and they tried playing the pinball machine as a team (50cents per play, changeable at the reception) before we went back to the room to pack.

Nasi Lemak breakfast.

I was informed at the reception that we could leave our luggage outside at 10am so we packed and left the luggage only at 1015, at which time the buggy had also arrived coincidentally to load up. We settled the bill of 136RM at the reception by card, picked up our passports and stayed in the airconditioned kids room 5mins before schedule.

We boarded the speed boat with a few families, amongst them L’s family. The boat trip was no drama and soon we arrived back at Mersing. K and L spent their last time together before going to the toilet and then leaving.

Arrived at Jetty

Goodbye Mersing.

Drove towards Aeon mall, 1hr45mins drive and K felt asleep while on the way there. By the time we arrived, it was already 1pm. The carpark was quite packed and thankfully there was underground parking to avoid the hot sun.

Arriving at Aeon Mall.

Aeon mall.

We first went to the top floor Japan Village to have ramen for lunch, at Ichiban Ramen. Ordered tomato beef ramen and the original one and some drinks. K was throughly entertained by playing Pogo and ate to his fill. Paid around RM70 and left to get some pastries at the bakery opposite.

Japan Village.

Japanese theme design.

Ichiban Ramen.

Ramen set for lunch.

Beef tomato soup ramen.

Sour plum.

Matcha latte.

Later we spent some time at Padini Concept store and while mommy bought something for herself, we also managed to get K some clothing, that was pretty affordable.

We left paying the 1RM carpark fees and we drove towards Woodlands causeway. Pumped petrol at Shell, bought a new touch n go card (maybe that’s why I had issue coming in the first time around) and then some 10mins drive into an abhorrent traffic jam. It was so bad that my wife could walked to the toilet at the petrol station some hundreds of meters away and come back with the car moving only inches.

The lanes converged to only 2 lanes and eventually, we cleared the Johor immigrations by 745pm and later, another but smaller jam at the Singapore side which we only cleared by 8ish. 4hrs of life, wasted.

Rainbow during the gloomy jam.

Single lane causing jams.

The birthday getaway brought us to an exclusive island with beautiful beach. The lack of suitable activities for family with young child made the place boring, coupled with the lack of WiFi and TV, empty kids club and no pool, plus the room wasn’t luxuriously comfortable, the destination felt more suitable for young people going for dives and/or families with older children who could utilise the giant slides. Costs wise, it wasn’t too bad though the accommodation is a tad too expensive for the value of return.

The bloody jam at bridges is just utterly frustrating and I didn’t know why so many Singaporeans still choose to cross over to Malaysia to get stuck in a jam. 4hrs of waiting equals an flight equivalent to Hong Kong or at my jogging speed, probably 30km equivalent. This is the main reason why I loathed going over to Malaysia, albeit being an affordable place to go to. I would rather fly then to waste my life with the rest stuck in this ugly traffic mess.

Insta360 gave really nice 360 videos but I found little chances to use it, due to the lack of pretty 360 views or simply too lazy to bring them out. However, loaning this equipment from Leasany (a newly established company that does travel rental, such as 360 camera rental) allow me to get a taste of how this works, gave me some videos that I would like to keep and spare me the cash and storage for this equipment if I don’t utilize it every time. It would be nice to see what else is on *offer!

*For a limited time only, you can get 20% discount for rental service if you use this promo code “escapesfromthelittlereddot”. Valid till 30 Apr 2019.

Rawa Island 2018 Day 2 – Cactus garden and a walk to the owl habitat

The night was peppered with sleep interruptions as K suddenly wanted night light. Woke up to turn on my iPhone light before going back to sleep.

Awoken at around 620 by my alarm clock which i forgotten to switch off and left quietly to find sunrise. According to the map, there was supposed to be a hill trek to other site of the island where we could see the sun rises. 5mins of walking brought me to a route up and then to a long stairway up the hill side. It wasn’t a difficult climb, and I did it with slippers as I didn’t really plan to climb a hill early in the morning.

After scaling some number of steps, I found myself with another 4 people there, looking into the horizon full of clouds. It was disappointing but nature is unpredictable. Breathless due to my lack of cardio, I sat for a while before the 4 people asked me to take photos for them before I returned to the villa.

Hilltop view steps.

Steps to hilltop view.

Closer to the top.

View from the top.

Cloudy Sunrise

Standing area to watch sunrise.

Peacock morning stroll.

Beach in the morning.

Mommy was awoke by then and had already fixed and fed a bottle to K who was still asleep. Went back to bed to snooze until mommy woke me up at 9am. We had to go for breakfast already as breakfast end at 10am. While mommy went ahead to get some food for K first, I spent my time at the villa getting K ready and bringing him to the restaurant.

Upon arriving, we found the same family yesterday having breakfast next to us and K was already excited, wanting to play with L. Had to sit him down to have him finish his breakfast.

It was the same buffet table and there were the standard fare of continental breakfast and fried noodles. Nothing fantastic but was adequate. Made myself some coffee before we left.

K met up with L as we were about to leave before we went back to get ready for the beach. K wore his swimsuit and we walked back to the slides. I borrowed the life jacket for K at 9RM which we had to return by 1pm because of low tide in the afternoon and we were off to the lower blue slide and which at this time, the water level was just underneath the end of the slide.

Sea sport center was where to borrow life jacket.

I carried K and have him sat on me, whooshed down the slide, and splashed into the water. It was really deep and upon entering the water I am sure we both had a few gulps of water. K immediately said he had enough of the slide as the slide might have already frightened him but he was ok to stay in the water hugging me like a koala, cos frankly dipping inside the warm sea water felt really therapeutic.

We spent some time there moving around the waters and K later joined L with his sand presses, then these chaotic pair started to throw sand at me. They really enjoyed each other’s company and even playing close to the water with the parents watching close by. L was confident in waters, even swimming a bit while K wanted me to carry him mostly and together we went into the deeper parts.

We stayed in the water till 12pm and returned the life jacket before heading back to the villa to wash up. We returned to the restaurant past 1pm and it was still crowded. Managed to find a seat, coincidentally again next to L’s family and K showed off his favorite cartoon on iPad to L while having his lunch. I chose Asian over the pasta and K had taken his food more easily than previous times, maybe he was really hungry from the morning dip.


After lunch that we ended off with juicy cold watermelons, K went in search of his playmate L and found her at the kids room. It was filled with many older kids and they were having fun playing some sort of catch while K tried to get L’s attention with his cartoon. Realizing that she wasn’t particularly interested, K joined her in their own creative games, hiding behind tables and clapping with plastic round caps and generally in their own world of kids play. I was chatting with L’s dad as they enjoyed themselves till mommy came to get K to go.

After bidding farewell, K spent some time in front of the TV near the reception watching cartoons and then we left to explore the other parts of this island.

The only TV at the reception area.

Carrying K on my shoulder, we headed past the Rock bar and found the Padi building round the corner of the island where there was supposedly a viewpoint for sunrise. Then it was a hill climb upwards to first the cactus garden and then the owl habitat. The climb was gentle but long enough to tire us out, especially with the heat and with the weight on my shoulders.

Walking around island.

Path the dive shop.

Resting camouflage peacocks.

Upslope path.

The cactus garden had some 30m or so of cactus of different shapes and sizes. We strolled past it, pointing to some of the flowers that I had never seen before while passing. Then we walked uphill further before we came before a board showing informationf about rats and owl. Just nearby on top of a tree we saw a wooden house that seemed to be built for the owl, just that we couldn’t see the owl. We made a U-turn and walked the same way back and stopped by Rock Bar.

Arriving at the Cactus garden.

Cactus garden.

Barn owl sign.

Wooden owl house at the top of the tree.

View from the top.

The bar just opened and we got ourselves some cold drinks, watermelon juice for me and iced milo for mommy with K drinking from both. Sat at the spacious cushion seats, enjoyed the drinks and the slight breeze before we returned to the room.

Path along island.

Inside the bar.

Resting crab on rock.

Panoramic view from bar.

We prepared for nap time and soon after the usual routine, we all fell asleep.
I awoke at 6pm and went to the patio where I was saw the sun setting in our direction but hidden behind the clouds. There wasn’t going to be a postcard sunset today. I washed up all the milk bottles and played around with the bullet time before K woke up. Dinner time was 730pm today unlike previous days of 7pm because there’s BBQ on Saturday. So we spent some time playing games with K before heading back to the restaurant. It was crowded but the staff managed to get us a table.

Cloudy sunset.

Fishes in water.

More fishes in water.

There were more bbq food like chicken and satay but there were the usual food as well. K wasn’t eating well which could be because the food was more dry than usual. But after some distractions he managed to finish a big portion of his bowl of fried rice, plus some cantaloupe and pudding.

BBQ dinner.

After dinner, we went over to the public TV. K saw L and went to look for her but both ended up sitting together to watch the Disney cartoon, showing Halloween themed cartoons. I took a walk around to see what’s around, saw 2 pool tables, a Billard table and 2 fussball tables on the second floor and there were a few groups of people using them.

Night view of reception area.

After a while, L left with her family for the night and we too made our way back to the villa. Cleaned up and packed and went to collect hot water from the Rock bar. Spent the night on usual night routine of storybook and drinking milk, then it’s off to lalaland.

Rawa Island 2018 Day 1 – Arrival in Rawa Island, Beach fun and water slide

The short getaway started as early as half past 6. With most of everything packed yesterday, we only had to pack some milk and food and we were ready to leave. K woke up early too and was excited about the trip, getting prepared without much of a problem. We left at 730am for a schedule ferry of 1130am at Mersing, as a contingency to a jam up north at the causeway.

I wasn’t expecting much of a jam on a Friday morning but I was surprised when we lined up behind a slow moving line at Woodlands checkpoint. There was a lot of people trying to get into Malaysia but fortunately our queue lasted about 15mins before we cleared Singapore immigration just before 8am.

Approaching Woodlands checkpoint.

Then crossing at the causeway was no issue since the opposite direction was more of the problem as many Malaysians make their way to Singapore for work, a lot of them choosing to cross the causeway by foot as it would be much faster than getting stuck in a jam.

We cleared the relatively short lines at the Malaysian causeway. After stamping the passports, we moved slightly forward to take pay the fees. There was 2 fees (toll of RM2.90 and road charges of RM20) to pay with the touch n go, and without looking at the big instructions over there, I just paid for the 2nd one. In the end, the barrier didn’t lift. I only realized the problem when both my cards (brought both mine and my dad’s just in case there weren’t any more funds) didn’t work and I had to read the instructions and press the intercom to get help. Even the intercom also take awhile to reset resulting in a embarrassing hold up behind.

2hrs drive to Mersing, no jam thankfully.

Then it was a 2hr drive to Mersing Jetty. It was pretty straightforward drive with the google map on with an activated Starhub data roaming (it was just one expressway number 3 all the way). K was feeling impatient along the way but soon felt asleep in mommy’s arms. The drive was fairly easy, with traffic easing once we left the towns. There were quite a few straights amidst many more bends but nothing too difficult to negotiate.

K woke up 15mins before arriving and I missed the turn to the Jetty office and turned into a carpark to recheck the destination while mommy went to the 7-11 to get some drinks. Reset the destination to Jeti Penumpang Mersing after a short 10mins break of eating packed muffins and we arrived. There was a specific secured parking area for Rawa resort parking and the collection fees of RM36 for 2 nights were collected before we were directed to park near the office.

Our rest stop.

1km more to jetty.

Left the car and while K and mommy sat at the nice waiting area, I went to checked in at a crowded reception office. It was quick as they already had the booking form on standby. I had to pay of the balance of RM120 that I settled by credit card and given an earlier boarding time of 1030am. We decided to stick to the 1130am one since we just arrived and was worried that K will feel uncomfortable and was told to return by 1115am.

Rawa Island resort parking and check in.

Carpark rates.

My parking receipt.

Big parking space.

Resting area at Mersing check in.

Rawa island reception at Mersing.

After using the toilets available there, we decided to explore the area near Mersing. Immediately outside there was the main ferry terminal to Tioman and a main parking area. Then there was a food center with a couple of stores and just behind the eating area was a small shopping area with some small shops selling water activities related items (waterproof bags, snorkeling mask) and toys. Loitered there for a while testing kids sunglasses before returning to the office to wait.

Main Mersing jetty.

Public parking at Mersing.

Shops at Mersing.

While K was still full of energy moving here and there, I got tired and left him to watch a downloaded cartoon on BBC player (smart enough to detect that we were abroad and didn’t allow us to download). We then boarded the small speed boat a while later with another couple, a vast difference from the crowd on the earlier boat.

Boarding passes to the ferry.

Jetty amongst houses.

Our transport to the island.

Boat ride was about 30mins and it was relatively smooth as the seas were gentle. Nothing much to see except for a couple of silhouette of islands that slowly come into view. We alighted at a pier dominated by the sight of a giant slide and proceeded to walk to the reception empty handed as the luggage that was checked in at the office at the Jetty was transported to the room.

Rawa island.

Most obvious structure upon arrival.

Map of island.

Beach view upon arrival.

Check in here.

Map of Rawa island.

View from reception area.

Reception area with small library.

Our rooms were ready and we walked the 5mins to the waterfront villa, one that was built on top of stilts above the water.

Sign post.

Path to our villa.

The villa was the size of a room with a king size bed and a small living room space and a patio with sun beds above the water. The interior was simple, didn’t have a TV but thankfully had aircon. K spent some time out in the patio watching fishes through the clear waters, where we even spotted a small stingray underneath our neighbors villa.

Waterfront room number.

Waterfront villa door.



Room deck.

Long fish spotted.

We proceeded to lunch at the main restaurant, paid under the full board scheme and found the area crowded with a lot of people. We only managed to find a table empty and sat there first. Mommy went to the buffet table to get food while I entertained K. It was western cuisine for lunch, with fries and nuggets and onion rings complimented with pasta of penne and spaghetti and portions of chicken and vegetables. Watermelons and honeydews were fruits after lunch and we bought a Haagen das ice cream to end the meal, something to cool us down from the heat.


Buffet lunch.


Our next stop was the souvenir shop where we bought a green frisbee RM12 and K a beach pants RM25 so that we could go play in the sand sometime later in the day. Then we went back to the villa to spend the afternoon there away from the heat.

Since there wasn’t much for K to play, we provided the entertainment in the form of electronic devices, toys and books that we brought from home and he finally was coerced to take an afternoon nap after a long tiring battle.

We woke at 6ish and I brought K to the nearby beach to play. With my newly loaned Insta360 that I got from Leasany, a company that rents electronic and/or photography gears for your travel needs (First time rental, didn’t even know such a service exists!), I started to play with it taking smooth 360 videos and photos while strolling to the beach. While at the beach, I tried to activate bullet time with K throwing sand but was unsuccessful and K was quickly uncomfortable with sand in his feet and wanted me to carry him to the slides (he wasn’t even going to play the frisbee!).

Sandy white beach between jetty and our place.

Mommy joined us at the beach and we proceeded to the slides. Mommy sat at one of the lounge seats looking after the gears and watching her shows on iPad while I brought K to the waters which was at low tide. The end of the lower blue slide was actually quite high (about 1.5m above the ground) and I think it could only be played during high tide. Carrying K who didn’t want to stand in the water, we walked into the water attempting to see if there were any fishes. There weren’t any and it was a little disappointing but the water was nice and warm. I let K climbed the blue slide from the end point and catch him as he came down, giggling along the way. Then a couple more dips in the water and slide fun, we left for the villa to get washed up.

There was a small tap just outside the villa but the water pressure was too small (and k was butt naked as he didn’t want to wear the shorts as they were full of sand and I didn’t want mosquitoes to bite him while waiting for water to wash down) so we just got into the shower to wash down. The bad thing about the shower was there was only a rain shower and no flexible shower as an alternate. That meant water coming straight down from the top and washing the sand away wasn’t easy from top down, especially with a toddler that whined when water gets in his eyes.

After all the washing was completed, we went to the same restaurant to have dinner and similarly, K and I sat at the table while mommy brought back food. There was rice and spaghetti and lasagna, with chicken and cabbage. Had to struggle with K to get him to eat. The variety wasn’t fantastic and we just have our fill, ending the meal with watermelon fruits.

After dinner, I encouraged K to go play with a Caucasian girl, L, whom was about his age and they hit it off from there! She showed him the kids room and while it was basically a room with many tables but nothing else, they just went crazy moving around, jumping around and climbing over tables. K seemed to be the instigator of the carnage but great to see him being friendly with other kids and having fun. The playtime ended when L had to return back to the room and K bade farewell, telling her that it was late and time to drink milk, read book and night night (his own routine).

Nothing much there.


I carried K back on my shoulders as he didn’t want to walk in the dark and the night activities were mostly iPad cartoons and books while I tinkered with the 360 videos. Soon we were all in bed, K was always reluctant but eventually ended up asleep on my arm, an end to the relaxing day on Rawa Island.

Escape to Rawa Island October 2018

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Rawa Island 2018:

Total duration 3D2N
Rawa Island is in the same timezone as Singapore. Transfer to Mersing takes about 2hrs and ferry time is 30mins on private transfer ferry from Mersing to Rawa Island. Return is the same in reverse, time depending on jam at crossing.

Ferry from Mersing to Rawa Island at 1130am, arriving at 12noon in Rawa Island. Return ferry from Rawa Island to Mersing is at 1230pm and arriving in Mersing at 1pm.

Day 1 – Arrival in Rawa Island, Beach fun and water slide
Day 2 – Cactus garden and a walk to the owl habitat
Day 3 – Aeon Mall and Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned as a getaway birthday trip for me. It was planned closer to my birthday in November but we pushed it earlier as we had hijacked 1st week of November with a USA trip.

Budget – Affordable by standard of private island.

Total package of accommodation plus ferries and full board for 2 adults came up to RM3000 which in my opinion was affordable. We didn’t go for the water activities such as diving though.

Complexity – Easy except the jam

Travelling was pretty easy with a car. Driving to Mersing followed by private carpark and thereafter a short ferry to the island was simple enough! I am often confused about how much to pay while crossing the borders and thankfully with 2 Touch N Go cards, I didn’t have to figure out where to top up (since the Touch N Go was in Singapore). But the jam was horrendous on the way back and I swore never to go back into Malaysia via car ever again.

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Johor Bahru 2017 Day Trip – Thomas Town, Hello Kitty Town and Puteri Harbour

It was a typical weekend but we decided on impulse to visit our neighbor Malaysia for some getaway fun for our boy, specifically Thomas Land. After spending some time online to compare the various deals (online promo was RM88 for Hello Kitty and Thomas town but earliest tix available was the next day, Klook was slightly cheaper than a day tix, Mileslife only had Hello kitty in return for giving more miles on top of card miles and finally Maybank had one promo till end of the year, 30% off 2 parks tickets), we were on our way. Went over to forex for some SGD$100 at 3.07 rate at the market, we drove to the 2nd link after topping up my petrol to 3/4 tank.

The Singapore checkpoint at the 2nd link was slightly busy but we managed to clear in about 15mins. It was about 1215pm then, when we met with a massive jam, apparently so many people were going to Malaysia at this time (and it wasn’t even the long weekend). We had stayed on the no mans land for some 2hrs, reaching the immigrations at past 2pm. While on the way struggling towards the checkpoint, to save us some time, K had his lunch in the car.

GPS indicated 29mins additional – understatement!

Traffic jam.

All the way till the Johor checkpoint.

Because I didn’t have the Touch N Go card with me, I had to purchase one as there was a VEP fee to pay using that card. The officer at the counter told me to get out of the car and walk to VEP counter to buy the card. Leaving the car (which felt a little awkward and a little sorry for the car behind me), I went to the VEP counter where there were a few people who was at the auto machine, either buying a card or topping up. I bought the card for RM10 and topped up another RM50 at the same machine that luckily had English and a staff there to help, I hurried back to the car where the officer was done with our passports, tapped for a RM20 VEP fee before driving on.

The drive was the same route to Legoland and it was a short 15mins to Puteri harbour, passing one toll gantry where we had to pay RM7.50 toll before exiting at 312. Further down the road past Legoland, we soon arrived at a building where hotel Jen and Thomas town was. Drove down two levels and parked there, apparently without a need for carpark tickets or fees (at our time of visit).

At Puteri Harbour

At the theme park entrance

While mommy visited the toilet after holding it in for the whole journey, I went to the ticketing to get the tickets, a Maybank promo of RM175 for 2 adults for 2 parks as K was under 3 and thus free. There was a Safra card promo too but since I didn’t have it with me and was there for the Maybank promo (which the staff didn’t know about and thankfully I screen shot it).

The ticketing counter inside the building

Two tickets for the adults

Giant Hello Kitty design

We were given the wrist band and after a bag check, we took the lift to the 3rd floor. Thomas Town occupied the entire 3rd floor with a cafe and the rests were rides and a huge indoor playground. K got on top of the Bertie the bus ride before taking a Thomas train then went round the small track 2 times before indulging in the huge indoor playground (it was meant for 4 and older but I followed closely) for a good half an hour of climbing and sliding while mommy went for lunch.

Bertie Bus ride that went round and round

Thomas Town Panorama

Knapford station, all aboard Thomas the train

Thomas the train ride

Parent’s lounge area, to take a break from all the fun

Thomas and the other trains within the indoor playground

Obstacles in the playground

And tight lanes that were sometimes difficult to squeeze pass, as an adult

Slides of course

Game coupons for Hello Kitty town

When mommy came and took K to rest at the parents lounge and have milk, I went to the cafe there for some Mee Goreng for RM17, and proceeded to 2nd floor to see what’s there. To my surprise, there were many other playground there meant for K’s age and even a small stage for shows. At that time, Bob the builder was also having a show where parents and kids all gathered in front of the stage to watch sitting on comfy bean bags. There was also an arcade area.

Mee Goreng plus egg lunch

Bob the builder show

At the 2nd level

Indoor playground meant for smaller kids

Pingu the penguin

Arcade inside

Mini maze at Barney’s

I proceeded to the first floor and walked around the Hello Kitty Town. By comparison, it was a lot quieter in the sense of the activities, where it was more suited for kids preferring less physical activities. There was a Hello Kitty photo session ongoing and a show about to start with a queue forming. There was a cafe there too. I didn’t spend a lot of time there before joining the sleeping duo at the third floor. I managed to get online for awhile with my phone catching a whiff on hotel Jen wifi signal (no free wifi in Thomas town) before ending up on the couch back at Thomas town, typing this note while waiting for K to finish napping.

Hello Kitty Town entrance

Hello Kitty Town engulfed in pink

Indoor playground in Hello Kitty Town

Cinnamon roll cafe in Hello Kitty Town

A quick 1.5 hrs nap and he woke up. A little dazed, his little engine kickstarted quickly when I mentioned that there is more to see one level below. After changing out his diapers in public, we went down one level where the assorted characters of Bob the builder, Barney and Pingu could be found. With only 45mins to closing, we went to the indoor playground of Bob the builder, a playground meant for 3 to 12, more suited to K’s age. He immediately went for the ball pool, moving half submerged through and climbed for the slides. A couple more times at the slides and he had enough. There were giant puzzles to play with but he wasn’t interested. Barney characters were out and about for photos and we took a family pic before having a go at Barneys maze. The last stop at this level was at Pingu arcade where the games were for free. K wasn’t interested in most, though the parents had a little fun with the basketball while he was trying to do the rolling bowling.

Barney the mascots

10mins left and we went to level 1 where Hello Kitty town was. Almost everything was close and K was disappointed not being able to go to the indoor playground there (again!). We lined up at the shooting game in the last bit to utilize the coupons (using a toy gun to shoot at targets and win some stuff) but was too late as they had to do a hard stop at 6pm. We pleaded for the staff to let K shoot one shot as he was looking forward to it and cried when we said the game stall had closed. He did shoot once but it wasn’t on target.

We got to the ground floor and walked through the souvenir store, again being rushed to leave the place. There was quite a big section of Hello Kitty merchandise and a small section of Thomas the Train but we didn’t had much time anyway to shop, not to mention buy.

Thomas the train section in the store

The much bigger Hello Kitty section

Outside, there seemed to be programs of some sort going on but we weren’t participating due to the Mid-Autumn festival. Walked to the waterfront where rows of stalls were put up for bazaar but really not much to see. The view was also a typical yacht harbour.

Puteri Harbour panorama

Right next to the harbour

Bazaar stalls with lanterns for the mid-Autumn festival

Before leaving, I took some photos, bought a white coffee from Old Town white coffee, used the hotel Jen free wifi to load the map before we headed for home. Going home was rather easy and quick, the only grouse (due to my stupidity) was I missed the petrol station to fill up, not realizing that the R&R sign was the point to turn in from the highway.

Clearing the immigrations was fast, compared to the jam in the morning, and while we were traveling through the no mans land, we saw the morning jam extended till now! What’s with the traffic I wondered. Clearance was fast at Tuas since there weren’t many cars returning.

It was a really long day trip even though the theme parks were only opened for a mere 8hrs (10am-6pm). The fatigue came from the long wait at the queue going into Johor coupled with lotsa climbing inside the indoor playground. Overall it would be worth it to just pay for a single park with the Safra discount as we didn’t have time for the Hello Kitty town. Anyhow, it wasn’t that expensive to begin with (compared to places like Pororo park) just that it would have been better if we had left early and took in the whole 8hrs. There were quite a bit of games and entertainment ongoing other than the rides on offer. Those who preferred creative activities would prefer the Hello Kitty town since there were crafts rooms and cookies baking rooms, all were missed due to lack of time. In consideration of the jammed up nonsense going in, maybe a staycation at hotel Jen might not be a bad idea.

Escape plan to Thomas Town Johor October 2017

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Thomas Town Johor 2017:

Total duration 1D
There is no time difference between Singapore and Johor.

Day 1 Thomas Town, Hello Kitty Town and Puteri Harbour

This trip was planned as a weekend activity with our boy, an impulse to leave the country for a Saturday for some fun.

Budget – pretty affordable.

Since it was a really short day trip, we didn’t manage to spend the SGD $100 that we exchanged for the trip.

Complexity – Driving took only 15mins from Tuas Checkpoint

It was a pretty straightforward drive just like the one to Legoland. Even better with a preloaded Google map. The crappy experience was only the one where we got stuck for 2hrs on no-man’s land. The causeway one might be faster option.

Kuala Lumpur 2017 Day 5 – Home Sweet Home

The last day in KL started late at 930am, where everyone slept well into the morning. I must admit the huge comfortable bed was difficult to get out of.

K managed to squeeze 2 episodes of his favorite cartoon while his parents prepared for check out, having failed the attempt for a late check out. We left the room at 11 and checked out which was done quickly but had to wait for a while for the bellboy to take our luggage for storage. We went to visit the Westin Kids Club and K and I checked in the small area that had a mini playground, some toys and books, a PS3 and mega bloks, while mommy went on for her last minute shopping. It was a little expensive, costing RM30 for the first hour and subsequent ones at RM20 but it’s fine as K amused himself going around the play stuff in this room that was occupied by only us and another staff manning the place (another much older kid joined later as his mom left him there to play PS3). She made a balloon machine gun for K who coyly took it from her but didn’t play with it much afterwards.

Inside Westin Kids Club

Mommy came back at around 1225pm, some 5mins after I paid for the subsequent hours, having checked with the free public wifi that there weren’t any other playgrounds closed by and no other options if mommy hadn’t return. The staff was kind enough to return the RM20 and we were on our way to Pavilion for lunch.

We visited a Thai restaurant Celadon that was artistically designed place and served delicious pineapple rice and iced Thai green tea. Mommy wasn’t impressed with her Phad Thai and lemongrass but I thought it was alright and it came in a huge portion. K was moving about in the huge high back cushion seat having fun and being troublesome to manage while having his meals. The costs was around RM90+, expensive for meals in KL but expected for restaurants like this.

Inside Celadon restaurant

Lemongrass drink

Iced Thai green tea

Pineapple rice

Phad Thai

We dropped by the Padini concept store to buy some clothes for myself, having known that this local brand was really having low prices. Ended up spending RM120+ for 2 polo tees, one pair of berms and 5socks, a great deal. We returned to the hotel to pick up our luggage, changed K’s diapers and got a Grab, using the free public Wifi. It was a fixed rate of RM65 with RM5 off using promo code excluding tolls.

The silver vehicle that picked us up didn’t have enough boot space and the luggage had to go on the front seat which the driver complained about the wheels that were going to puncture his seat cushion. The rest of the journey was pretty much smooth with K falling asleep and myself dozing off. The driver also started chatting to avoid dozing off himself.

We arrived at 3ish and proceeded to check in at the SilkAir counter all the way at the end. It felt a little long for our counter as people were just moving on beside us. After luggage drop, we went through immigrations and took the train to the satellite gate, the train we were initially waiting had some technical fault and couldn’t alight the passengers and we had to take another one.

The last hour was spent buying goodies from the stores (local goodies were much more expensive) and having a cheese cake and some drinks at Old Malaya kopitiam before rushing to the gate for boarding.

Fountain within the airport satellite gate

At the satellite terminal

Goodies from the Kids club

Cheese cake and drinks

Old Malaya Kopitiam

At the gate for departure

The flight back was supposed to be a quick 45mins, with a rushed drinks service but because there was a backlog of planes trying to land, we hovered in the air for 15mins and queued on the ground for another 10mins before arriving at the gate 30mins late. Mommy then sent us to the wrong belt which we made us think that our luggage was lost and we didn’t buy insurance but thankfully we rechecked and it was found at another belt.

This trip was meant to celebrate mommy’s birthday and catered mostly for her shopping interest and therefore my babysitting K for most of the trip. The rooms that we stayed were mostly comfortable and other than dealing with K’s fussiness, the main objectives of keeping both of them happy were met.