I was staying at the Dorsett Hotel in Johor Bahru and the nearest mall to this hotel is Tesco Extra Mall, which is about 10 minutes walk from the hotel. You need to cross the road and then walked along a row of brand new shop houses which is still mostly unoccupied. It would be ideal if the new shop houses are occupied as it would be safer to walk especially during the night. Johor Bahru is still known to have a higher crime rate – so try to avoid walking along deserted area; especially at night.
Tesco Extra Mall is a spacious mall with only 2 storey levels. The anchor tenant is of course the Tesco Megamart. Tesco mega store sells almost everything that you need for your home. There are groceries which you can buy in bulk, TV and electrical appliances, fresh fruits and vegetables, stationery, furniture, clothes, pharmacy, etc. During weekends, you see lots of people ( families ) coming here to buy their groceries and items that they need. I noticed that lots of people normally buy in bulk. For example, cooking oil, rice, canned drinks are sold in large cartons or containers. The prices are cheaper too if you buy items in bulk.
If you are hungry, there is a food court at the ground level, which I understand from one of the stall holder – it is run by Tesco. However, the food court seems to offer rather limited choice of food, as it does not have many food stalls unlike other malls. There seems to be a shortage of cleaning staff needed to clear the plates and clean the tables. When I was there for dinner, I couldn’t find fork or spoon which was supposed to be placed in a open counter for customers to pick up. So I have to get plastic spoon and fork from the stall holder. Tesco should seriously look into getting more staff to maintain this food court. However if you do not wish to eat at this food court, there are also plenty of fast food outlets that you can choose. Unfortunately, there is no Macdonald’s outlet.
There are many small retail outlets selling different merchandise – clothes, shoes, toys, jewelery, cookwares, gifts, etc. It seems that business is not as brisk as those malls in the city. There are people strolling in the mall, but it is not crowded even on weekends. Perhaps it is too far away from the city of Johor Bahru. For myself, I come to this mall because of my stay in Dorsett Hotel.
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After visiting and having completed writing a blog on Danga City Mall, the next best thing to do is to visit and do a write up on Danga Bay. Some of my friends are confused over Danga City Mall and Danga Bay. They seem to have an impression that these 2 developments are located in the same location; which is wrong. Danga City Mall is located in the city center in Johor Bahru- please read my blog on Danga City Mall for a complete description; whereas Danga Bay is located next to the Beach – which was formerly known as the famous Lido Beach.
How do you go to Danga Bay. Well the easiest thing to do once you are out from Johor Customs ( CIQ) is to take a cab. Do remember that taxis in Johor Bahru do not use the meter. They will tell you the rate and it is up to you to bargain it down. The taxi that I took wanted RM$15/- for the trip. The Indian cab driver told me that after sending me there, he will have to come back to the city without a passenger, so he needs to cover up for this loss. Anyway, I told him RM$12/- and he agrees after a while. However my friend told me that I could most probably get it for RM$10/- if I try harder to finding other cab drivers to take me there. Yes I could, but I am not a guy who bargain and bargain just to save a few dollars at the expense of my time. Besides, this Indian cab driver seems to be a nice guy, soft spoken and well mannered. And it turned out to be a comfortable ride and he does his best in describing Danga Bay to me along the way. Another alternative is to take the yellow bus opposite the City Square Mall. There is a bug stop there and you can just ask the bus driver whether it goes to Danga Bay. I came back from Danga Bay to City Square by bus. Bus fare is fixed and you need to tell the driver where you want to stop by pressing the bell. This is a cheap alternative but it is also convenient too.
Danga Bay is the billion dollars mega project by the Malaysian government to develop this Johor Bahru coastal city. When completed, it will stretch a total of 350 acres and it will be a self contained futuristic coastal city that the residents of Johore can be proud of. There will be luxury condominiums and landed bungalows, six star hotel as well as budget hotels, international covention/exhibition center, office towers, theme parks, ferry terminal, beautiful recreation park, shopping malls and restaurants and the list goes on. Seems to be very impressive isn’t it. But right now, it seems to be relatively quiet when I was there during the day in the weekend. I was told by the security guard over there that more people will come during the evenings. In my opinion, the developer needs to attract more people irregardless of whether it is during the day or night. The reason is because with such an ambitious project, you need lots of people to visit this place in order to drive up revenue for the business establishments – shops and restaurants that are currently operating there.
The mall which is called the Festive Street Mall at Danga Bay have many individual small retail outlets and small kiosks selling a wide range of merchandise. But it is unorganized and untidy in its layout. It simply looks like one big pasar malam ( flea market) or bazaar. Right outside this mall, you can find a flea market with many small stalls in a open concept environment. And yes it is hot during the day, so most of the stall holders will open during the evening. There is a tram that moves around Danga Bay area but its frequency should be increased. Looking at the car park space, I noticed that there are ample car park lots available.
One of the distintive feature of Danga Bay is the traditional malay kampong houses that you can see built on a wide compound. There are 10 different types of traditional malay houses that are being used as businesses for food, spa, art and crafts and event center. I have to say that these traditional houses are beautiful and I like the open space. Perhaps they could add more benches for people to just sit and relax in this compound. I have taken photos of these beautiful houses and will put them in my website – ImageSingapore.com as soon I can find the time.
For those who are always hungry and for food lovers, yes there are plenty of food outlets to choose. And there is a wide variety of food that you can indulge in. For myself, I will always try the traditional local food – which can be the traditional Malay, Chinese, or Indian food. Yes, there are western food outlets as well for those who loves western cuisine. I saw that most of the food outlets are serving food with affordable prices.
There is an interesting feature about Danga Bay and that is – there is a mini zoo if you enjoy seeing animals. When I was there, it was closed. So if you can keen, go there in the evening and visit this mini zoo. I think there are reptiles, tigers, elephants and birds at this zoo. It should be an attractive place to visit especially for young children. Now about the beach that is near the jetty. I saw quite a lot of rubbish on the sand at the beach. I do not know whether it dumped there by inconsiderate visitors or otherwise, but a clean up should be undertaken on a daily basis. The developers should look at placing more dustbins around the beach area and put up signages to inform visitors to keep the compound clean.
I sincerely hope that the Danga Bay mega project will be a success. But many more things needs to be done by the developer. You cannot just built and expect people to come. In today’s marketing concept – you need to draw the crowds and at the same time drive them there. There must be an incentive for people to visit this place – otherwise why should I come and spend money? For a start, make it convenient by providing free shuttle service from Johor Customs CIQ to Danga Bay. Hold events for the family or with a theme concept on a monthly basis. Will I visit Danga Bay again. Yes perhaps in six months time, unless there is a major event that makes it attractive for me to be there.
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