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.

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