My books are in Amari Johor Baru

If you were born or brought up in Johor Baru in the 1960s, you may have fond memories of walking down Jalan Trus or Jalan Wong Ah Fook, while your nostrils were assailed by the putrid pong from the open sewage known as Sungai Segget.

My books, Book One and Book Two, are in Amari JB
Some of you may also remember going to the cinemas to watch shows at Rex or Lido.

These two landmark cinema halls no longer exist and in its former site, stands the towering structure that houses Hotel Amari Johor Baru, Suasana Suites Johor Baru and the Zenith Lifestyle Centre.

The landscape here is not recognizable especially as the infamous Sungai Segget is no longer visible and in its place, are covered pedestrian footpaths.

Amari JB is accessible from Jalan Wong Ah Fook by elevator and escalator while vehicles should drive via Jalan Trus to park comfortably within its covered carpark.

The wall mural by Mulo that was inspired by Rex and Lido
When I first met Area General Manager, Dean Rossilli, I pointed out that the Amari JB has the unique heritage of being situated on the site of these former landmark cinemas and that the hotel also overlooks Johor Baru’s Street of Harmony where places of worship of our multi-racial community, are located.

In addition to my memories of old cinemas in, Escape to the movies, a heritage piece on Johor Baru’s Street of Harmony is also featured in my book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.

So this book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage along with its sequel, My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People are provided in selected suites for room guests to read and get to know more about the place they are staying in.

Autographing my books for Amari Johor Baru
Dean and his team agree that travelers would enjoy staying in a place with a story and I believe that after reading about the attractions in our Street of Harmony, guests may even venture to explore further to see these sights for themselves!

I’m at the drop-off porch of the ground level hotel lobby off Jalan Trus and my eyes are riveted on the cream-coloured wall of its neighbouring building where a giant mural evokes memories of Rex and Lido.

Local artist, Mulo, told me that when he was commissioned for this job, he did online research and stumbled upon my stories on Rex and Lido in my blog, My Johor Stories (

Autographed books are in selected suites for the
guests' reading pleasure and to know more about Johor
Distracted by the painted figures that strongly resemble local movie icons, P. Ramlee and Saloma, I walk closer for a look at the details painted in this mural and can identify with the old-fashioned movie billboards and familiar pieces of old movie tickets!

In those days, Rex was one of the landmark, stand-alone cinemas where locals would go to watch a movie, seated on flip-up-and-down wooden seats and were cooled by ceiling fans.

Much later, Lido, a modern cinema was built on the adjacent site and this was preferred against Rex because it was not only new and had cushioned seats but was also air-conditioned!

Locals who can relate to my story, have experiences of their own and they told me about the times when high tides coincided with rain and the water level in Sungai Segget would suddenly rise…

It was my pleasure to present my signed books to
Dean and Amari JB for their guests' reading pleasure
Guys, who used to wear flip-flop slippers, had the bad habit of removing their footwear and folding up their legs on the seats to get comfortable and watch the show.

Unaware of the rising water that overflowed the banks of Sungai Segget, the flood water would reach inside the old cinema and silently lift up and float the rubber footwear away…

Maybe the guys were caught up with the exciting movie but when the show was over and they were ready to leave, the guys were shocked to discover that their footwear had disappeared and they had to walk home bare-footed!

I’m sure movie-goers at Rex and Lido have their own movie-watching memories and reading this may trigger off their own recollection of experiences, both good and bad.

These stand-alone cinemas or theatres remain in our memories now because they are quite unlike the multiple movie halls located within high-tech cineplexes of today.

When modern movie theatres started to open within shopping malls, the stand-alone theatres lost out to the newer options.

One for the album, Dean Rossili and the team at Amari Johor Baru with my books, Book One and Book Two.
When they ceased to be viable to operate, these cinemas were closed. Now, Broadway is the only stand-alone cinema in JB that remains in business.

It’s my pleasure to be at the hotel again to meet with Dean and the team to autograph my books before they were placed in their hotel rooms and suites.

Everyone is busy checking out my books!
With the skillful help of a professional photographer, we have fun while being “shot at” from various angles and at selected sites in the hotel, to capture a few photo mementoes of this special occasion.

As the Lunar New Year is just around the corner, I know Amari JB is gearing up to host the stay of (mostly repeat!) guests who have made advance reservations to stay with the hotel during the Johor Chingay season.

They are still busy checking out my books, by the pool...
They know that the hotel’s location commands a distinctive advantage with a panoramic view of the Johor Old Temple or Gu Miao on Jalan Trus, the site where the action starts and ends for this three-day annual street parade.

While the Johor Chingay began as a religious festival, it has evolved into a tourist attraction where visitors both local and abroad, will converge upon JB to watch this colourful night parade that happens of the 21st night of the first lunar month.

A light moment with Dean and my book,
My Johor Stories 2:
Interesting Places and Inspirational People
Traffic will virtually be at a standstill because some roads would be closed to facilitate the street parade. Schools and businesses will close early because everyone wants to be part of this exciting event.

In recent years, Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim has graced the event from the royal platform set up in front of Johor Baru City Centre or JBCC Mall, which is strategically located directly opposite the Amari JB.

So Amari guests have the best of both views as they can watch the parade from street level or from above, in the comfort of their rooms.

My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage and My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, are available from MPH bookstores nationwide and online via

Amari Johor Baru is at No. 82-C Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Baru, with it reception desk on Level Six. Tel: 607 – 266 8888.

Visit website: for special promotions at the hotel and restaurants.

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