It is common for people to visit the biggest and newest mall in town. Many old malls that were built many years ago in Johor Bahru look worn out or at best forgotten. However some of the old malls do still offer value for shoppers in respect of their merchandise available there; and Plaza Seni is one such mall. Plaza Seni is located in a prime location, just opposite the beautiful City Square Mall. All you need to do is to walk out of the City Square Mall and cross the road, you will find a old building that is honey light brown in color – that is Plaza Seni.
Perhaps the reason why the locals in Johor Bahru still visit Plaza Seni is the it can offer a different range of merchandise and services not found in big mall such as the City Square Mall. If you can keen in buying leather belts, bags and imitation brands of leather goods, you can find it here. There is a small store just outside the main entrance which sells traditional Malay and Indonesian products such as Jamu, toiletries and traditional herbs and medicine. For food, there is a fruit stall just outside the entrance that sells cut fruits at a very reasonable price; and there is also a Rojak stall there. There are also food outlets at Plaza Seni and nearby is the Nasi Kandar food outlet which is open 24 hours. For young teens that love bright and ‘loud’ T-shirts, you can go up to the 2nd level and there is a small shop that sells a variety of T-shirts meant of teens and youths.
Prices of merchandise and services in Plaza Seni is much cheaper as compared to the large beautiful malls and you get more personalized service too. Formerly I often skip Plaza Seni whenever I am in City Square, but now I try to make it a point to visit this mall which is just 5 minutes walk away. There are times where I can pick up interesting wallets or products which are beautiful, useful and at reasonable prices. The shopping environment here is very local, informal and disorganized – which is why it still can attract smart and informal shoppers looking for bargains. Oh yes, strangely enough there is a large dental clinic on the second level. I couldn’t remember the name of the dental clinic in Plaza Seni but I saw that it was quite crowded with patients. so business must be good. Perhaps if I there again, I will find out how much it cost to clean and polish my teeth.
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There are plenty of Indian shops in Johor Bahru city and they are located not far from the Custom and Immigration Building ( CIQ ). If you care to walk, it takes about 15 minutes to reach the stretch of road leading to the Arulmigu Raja Mariamman Devasthanam Temple. Before you arrive at the Indian temple, you would have passed by an old cinema which features Indian movies from Bollywood. The name of the cinema is called Pawagam Broadway and it looks old and worn out. But I guess it provides cheap entertainment to many foreign Indian workers in Johor Bahru. You can see many Indians hanging around the cinema, parks and along the stretch of Indian shops especially on the weekends which probably are their day off.
If you are keen in buying spices, flowers, perfumes, incense, costume jewelry, beverages, or organic soaps and oils, then you should make a trip to these Indian shops. They sell a wide variety of products from India; and these products are not found in your modern supermarket or malls. There are also a couple of Indian beauty salons that offers facial and body scrubs and other beauty treatments for the ladies. I guess the prices of the beauty treatment over here would be much cheaper comparing it to Singapore And if you are hungry, don’t worry as there are plenty of Indian restaurants and coffee shops around. As I was there, the main entrance of the Arulmigu Raja Mariamman Devasthanam Temple was under renovation; and the main gate leading to the temple was closed. Besides the variety of Indian shops, you can also see street vendors plying their wares on the pavements. But some of these street vendors are unable to communicate in English but they do speak the Malay language. It is good to learn a few conversation sentences in Malay language if you are visiting Malaysia, as I find it very useful. I normally speak the Malay language to the street vendors and older folks who are either Malay or Indian.
If you are going out to try Indian food, my recommendation are Indian Vegetarian Thali, Roti prata, Curry Fish Head, Mee and Nasi Goreng and also their special Ginger Tea. There are so many variety of Indian food to choose and they fall mainly into two categories – the Northern and Southern Indian food. So what to try first will depend on what is your preference. My friend loved the Indian Mutton Soup ( Soup Kambing ) but I must say that though it is delicious, it is also very high in cholesterol. The wonderful thing about eating Indian food in these food outlets in Johor Bahru is that the prices are very reasonable – definitely it will not burn a hole in your pocket.
I have also written a blog on the Indian Community in Johor Bahru, if you are keen to read it, just follow the link below:-