Balik Kampung at LEGOLAND Malaysia


LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort shares the spirit of Hari Raya Aidilfitri with a typical Malaysian Malay kampung or village ambiance from now till May 21 by presenting specially curated activities and exhibits in the resort for a fun and exciting experience.


Miniature kampung houses in an
exhibit at MINILAND

At The Beginning, I was delighted to see number of booths named Balai Raya and Anjung Seri, that welcome guests to soak in the kampung vibe and join in the activities.


At each activity, Model Citizens are on hand to guide in traditional games like Teng Teng, Capteh, Congkak, Checkers and Batu Seremban, also known as Five Stones.


The resort also prepared a range of traditional clothes in batik and songket designs for young guests to Play Dress-Up in the best Raya looks and capture more memories in fun photos.


Entertaining live dance performances

From the Opening of the resort to Closing time, guests will be entertained with live performances of traditional and modernized Malay dance.


On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, guests can look forward to more hands-on Special Raya Activities held at The Beginning that include learning the traditional art of weaving leaves into casings for ketupat and batik painting.


Guests at the Raya festivities will discover plenty of LEGO® magic as they experience Malaysian culture through inspired music, entertainment and activities with family and friends.


Hands-on activities at the Balai Raya booth

Among the attractions in the Raya Festivities to look forward to, is the Ziarah-menziarah at SEA LIFE Malaysia and to receive a little something sweet.


Just like when Malaysians balik kampung, guests can go from “Kampung” to “Kampung” at the aquarium to collect stamps and then receive a special treat.


This activity was designed to symbolise the Raya tradition of visiting families at their homes and to receiving Duit Raya.

Charming details in this LEGO kampung house

Guests may take part in an Aidilfitri Hunt at MINILAND, an educational scavenger hunt where guests can learn about the different types of Kampung House designs in Malaysia.


Guests who can name the five types of Kampung Houses located in MINILAND and find all the LEGO items designed as Wau Bulan, Chickens and Hibiscus Flowers, may win an exclusive LEGOLAND Malaysia themed prize.


“At LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort, we believe that what sets us apart from other theme parks in the region are the experiences we give guests that leverages on Malaysia’s rich multiracial character, culture and arts.


MINILAND is now covered by canopies

We have taken a page out of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s (MOTAC) book and doubled down on our uniqueness to create an authentic Hari Raya experience.


We invite everyone who is keen to learn about Hari Raya influences and traditions that Malay families practice during this celebration, to join us at the resort before 21 May,” said CS Lim, Divisional Director at LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort.

A more comfortable walkabout in MINILAND
now covered by massive canopies

Guests (like me!) who have not visited MINILAND for a while, will be delighted to discover that the mini exhibits are now covered by a massive canopy for a more comfortable walkabout in our tropical weather.


I thought this was an excellent addition to the resort as these canopies will not only provide shade to guests but will also protect the exhibits from the elements.


As I visited MINILAND – for the first time in the shade – I could not help getting a sudden flashback to 1 September 2012 when I was among the privileged few who were visiting this spanking new resort for a preview.


Welcome to Balik Kampung
at LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort

I remembered that among the issues to consider then, was ways to overcome the challenges of a resort with outdoor activities, opened in our tropical weather…


LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort has come a long way since its opening in 2012 and with the canopies now installed in MINILAND, it will certainly make a major difference in the guests’ resort experience.


Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri and welcome to Balik Kampung at LEGOLAND Malaysia.


For more information on LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort’s Back To Kampung activities, visit the official website at or LEGOLAND Malaysia social media pages on Facebook and Instagram


Downtown Johor Baru: Acknowledgements


Firstly, I wish to express my appreciation to Think City Johor Baru who provided the Downtown Johor Baru Grants Programme: Arts, Heritage and Culture, a collaboration between Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) and Think City, and supported by Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru (MBJB).


The Segget Waterway in the heart of Johor Baru

My project, My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru which spanned four months from January to April 2023 held on one Saturday each month, encouraged me to plan, prepare and successfully execute four Heritage Walks in Downtown JB followed by four Book Reading sessions hosted at four different hotels located in Downtown JB.


I was pleased to partner with the four hotels in the locations that matched with the themes planned for each month and grateful for their generous support which provided the venues and refreshments for my Book Reading sessions.


For instance, in January the Heritage Walk on the Segget Waterway ended with my Book Reading session held at the Amari Johor Baru, a hotel situated next to Sungai Segget, a site with its own heritage story in the heart of the city.


Charm, having fun in taking a we-fie of
the participants in the Walk: Teochew Heritage

In February, the Heritage Walk that featured Heritage Traders, many of them third-generation traders who are still doing the businesses started by their forefathers, the Reading session was held at the Holiday Inn Johor Baru City Centre.


The Walk in March to discover more on this city’s Teochew Heritage ended at Jalan Ngee Heng and the Reading session was held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru, a hotel located on this very road.


Finally in April, after we explored Kampong Wong Ah Fook to learn more about the Cantonese Heritage here, our Reading session was held at the GBW Hotel Johor Baru on nearby Bukit Meldrum.


When I shared the reasons why I picked these venues, the hotels understood that it was mutually beneficial for participants to experience their premises and enjoy a taste of their hospitality, some for the very first time.


Book Reading: Heritage Traders held at
the Holiday Inn Johor Baru City Centre

It was particularly meaningful for me to explore Downtown JB again, this time leading a group of participants to introduce them to the various destinations and then complete the outdoor experience with an indoor session in a fun, casual and interactive time as I read them excerpts from My Johor Stories books.


My activities for the My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru were executed in partnership with BrandCulture PR Marketing and Communications, particularly in the digital aspect of sharing information on the Instagram and Facebook platforms.


While BrandCulture PR Marketing and Communications provided professional support in the preparation of digital material for online publishing according to the themes each month, I planned the routes and personally conducted each of the Heritage Walks and Book Reading sessions.


Charm, taking a we-fie of our meeting at
Think City with Mohd Shahril Abd Manan

Team BrandCulture also provided the necessary support in the online registrations for the Walks and Reading sessions and updated info to registered participants for the smooth execution of each activity.


I’m ever grateful for the partnership of Charmayne Naveena, fondly known as Charm, with coordinating and updating participants, in helping with managing the participants during the Walks as well as with the digital aspects of my presentations at each Reading session.


I also wish to acknowledge the commitment of videographer, Chong Han Sun of JB Twenty-Twenty, who captured some significant moments from our Walks and compiled them into short but interesting videos.


Participants walking through the old
short-cut in the heart of the city

One of the best ways to ascertain the participants’ thoughts was to ask for feedback. So, let me share a couple of comments below.


From Priya Kaur, a member of the JB International Women’s Association, who joined the Walk to discover our Heritage Traders:


“It was a really lovely day. Everything was very well organised. It was like Peggy’s stories came alive!


There were so many free gifts at every spot! The biggest treat for me was the photo studio.


I really wished there was a brief chit-chat session before we finished, possibly there was at the Book Reading session, which I unfortunately could not join.”


[Yes, the Reading session provided plenty of opportunity for participants to share their own Johor stories, ask questions and interact with the other participants over refreshments.]


Road sign at the
Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk

From Ms Johnson Nga after she joined the Walk and Reading on Teochew Heritage:


“I thoroughly enjoyed my Heritage Walk on Saturday. My late mum was a Teochew, so I went down Memory Lane as I remembered the places she frequented in that area.


The Walk was only marred by the roadworks going on and the potholes along the road.


Kudos for organizing such a much-needed event to endear Johoreans and those out of Johor, to their home state, Johor – Tanah ku.”


[The above was gleaned from her very detailed list of feedback comments!]


Book Reading: Heritage Traders held at
Holiday Inn Johor Baru City Centre

A Heritage Walk participant whom, I in jest, asked to summarise his comments about his experience in one line, spontaneously replied:


“Little treasures hidden in plain sight!”


Thanks, Timothy Tan, for your phrase which aptly describes what I aim to share with participants/readers through My Johor Stories.


As we were preparing for our fourth and final Heritage Walk in April, I reminded Charm that this was going to be the last in the series of activities in the My Johor Stories in Downtown JB project.


Participants inside the JB
Chinese Heritage Museum

Time had certainly flown past us and Charm replied, “It feels like just yesterday that we had the meeting at Think City with Shahril, to plan out things…”


I told Charm that I had just returned from a second walkabout to recce the route around Kampong Wong Ah Fook, this time up to the coast in search of the safest path to take a closer look at the sea-gates and the site of the first industry in JB.


I told her, “The motorists around that area may have spotted one mad woman walking in the sun to that odd place by the coast which is not so scenic…”


And Charm replied, “Little do they know that the “mad” woman is the author of My Johor Stories, working hard to remind everyone of Johor Baru’s proud heritage.”


I warned Charm that after April, we may probably suffer from a bout of withdrawals because there was no longer any prep work for the next month’s Walk and Reading.


Participants at Kedai Tilam
Sin Keng Wah, Jalan Trus, JB

The activities arranged for My Johor Stories in Downtown JB was made more interesting with the support and participation of many people who, in their own way, contributed to the success of this project.


In January, the final destination in our Walk was the Johor Baru Public Toddy Shop. I wish to thank the business operator, Nagalingam Chelladurai, for his kind hospitality in providing light refreshments along with jugs of fresh toddy for us to sample.


I am grateful for the Heritage Traders who partnered with me in the Walk in February to let participants have a first-hand experience of these businesses that were established by their forefathers.


The family business at Kedai Tilam Sin Keng Wah (Mattress Makers) offered 10% discount on their products when participants produced their My Johor Stories sticker while the brothers who operate Johor Heng Photo Studio did well in capturring photographs of our group in their vintage photo studio.


Gift Vouchers presented by Renaissance
Johor Baru with their best compliments

I take this opportunity to thank President of the JB Tiong Hua Association, Ho Sow Tong, President of JB Chinese Heritage Museum Committee, Lam Tin Khiang, and Chairman of Johor Old Temple Committee, Dato Teo Shiok Lu, and their teams for accommodating our group visit to these destinations in Downtown JB on March 18.


I also wish to thank Madam Heng Luang, an amateur Teochew Opera practitioner who has a passion for the beauty and tradition of Teochew Opera, for partnering with My Johor Stories in Downtown JB, to add more colour and drama to the Teochew Heritage theme.


Similarly, I wish to acknowledge the partnership with the JB Kwong Siew Association for welcoming my group to the JB Kwong Siew Heritage Gallery on April 15 to experience a slice of Cantonese Heritage in JB.


Book Reading: Cantonese Heritage at
GBW Hotel Johor Baru

The presence of Dr Bak Jia How, who is in charge of the Heritage Gallery, to welcome our group to the Gallery, certainly enhanced our time together here.


By mid-morning, participants were probably feeling hunger pangs so the tasty Chinese snacks provided by Association Secretary, Cheng Chee Tong were very welcome and clearly much appreciated.


I also wish to thank Grace Chong from the Wanita wing of the JB Kwong Siew Association who gave participants a close-encounter experience of Cantonese Opera when she dressed up in the role of a princess. Also acknowledge the help from her instructors – at least three people – who helped her with the full dress and make-up.


Participants at the entrance to the 
JB Kwong Siew Heritage Gallery

For a better appreciation of the Cantonese Heritage, I provided participants with Gift Vouchers to dine on authentic Cantonese dim sum by New Hong Kong Restaurant and wonton noodles by Mee Ho Seng Kee, both non-Halal restaurants.


I must also acknowledge the kind generosity of the Renaissance Johor Baru for Gift Vouchers with their best compliments, that I could present to Muslim participants to dine on the Halal version of dim sum served at Wan Li Restaurant.


Finally, I must express my deep appreciation to all – you know who you are – who contributed to the project and helped me accomplish what we set out to do.


Above all, I wish to thank GOD for safety and protection, and the fine weather on each of the Saturday mornings for the Heritage Walks that allowed participants to have a meaningful and memorable experience, walking about in Downtown JB.


Read about the Heritage Walks and Book Reading sessions in the My Johor Stories in Downtown JB project over the past four months, documented in My Johor Stories [].


Downtown JB: Cantonese Heritage

On Friday, the day before the fourth and final Heritage Walk and Book Reading session scheduled on Saturday, April 15, under the My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru project, I was chatting with Charmayne to finalize the list of participants when I received this message from an interested participant:


At Laman Tun Sri Lanang, with the 
Segget River behind us

“Just realized some confusion. I told my Admin person to register but just found out that she didn’t. I was in and out of meetings hence didn’t get to follow up properly.


Let me know if I can still make it.” And continued: “Let me know if I can still register. Thanks and apologies for the inconvenience.”


She seemed so keen that Charmayne and I agreed that it was a series of unfortunate circumstances that caused this potential participant from failing to register any earlier, so we decided to show grace and accept this last-minute registration.


Speaking to the participants at
 the start of the Heritage Walk 

Charmayne Naveena, fondly known as Charm, a member of Team BrandCulture PR Marketing and Communications who was supporting me in this project, had been reading my stories and was amused to learn about my working knowledge of Tamil.


When I lamented, “Such a parvarm case,” in the typically Malaysian way to substitute English words with Malay/Chinese/Tamil words or phrases to aptly describe a situation, Charm promptly replied, “Parvarm case indeed. I will look out for her registration.”


When this registration was received, the participant list was bumped up to a total of 29 people, a number way beyond our original plan. As they were all adults, we agreed that this was still a manageable number.


Setting out on the final Heritage
Walk on the promenade dubbed
Segget Walk, Jalan Wong Ah Fook

I was delighted to see that among the participants were Consul-General of Singapore in Johor Baru, Jeevan Singh and his wife, Sima, and Director of Sales & Marketing at Legoland Malaysia Resort, Ms Thila, with her daughter and her daughter’s friend.


Among the new participants were three international students from China attached to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and a few familiar names whom I was happy to welcome back as repeat participants. Mihoko Yui, however, deserves a special mention as she joined three out of my four Heritage Walks and Reading Sessions.


Once we tallied up the final number of participants, I assigned to Charm the task to buy the entrance tickets for our visit to the JB Kwong Siew Heritage Gallery, the final destination in our Heritage Walk in the theme, Cantonese Heritage.


Meanwhile, several guests who confirmed their presence at the Book Reading session that afternoon included my friends, Yvonne Loh, Sheila Grewal and Reetha Matthews as well as Grace Chiam of BrandCulture.


On Jalan Segget, near the site
of the first wet market here

With my Book Reading was arranged in partnership with GBW Hotel Johor Baru, the hotel assigned two team members to join for an experience of my Heritage Walk.


The morning of Saturday, April 15, dawned bright and warm and just as it did in the past few days, the temperature climbed higher as the hours passed.


Our meeting point was in Downtown JB, at the top of the Segget Walk and Jalan Wong Ah Fook near the “I [Heart] Segget” motif, the same rendezvous landmark for the start of my first Heritage Walk in January.


From a distance, I spotted the tall figure of Jeevan Singh clad in sports attire and when we greeted each other, “Good Morning!” he introduced his wife to me. In the next few minutes, all the registered participants had arrived for the 10am start of our Heritage Walk.


On such a sunny Saturday morning, other groups and pedestrians were also at this public area along the Segget Walk and through the crowd, my attention was drawn to a lady who had stopped and was making enquiries about our group’s activity. 


Under the highway close to
Jalan Sawmill

In response to Charm’s queries, Vinnie Low said she just arrived from Kuala Lumpur and was ready to explore Downtown JB when she happened to see us. She was clearly not a registered participant but was keen to join our activities.


As we were just about to start, I did not hesitate to extend to her our warm Johor hospitality and graciously welcomed Vinnie to join our Heritage Walk.


On this final Walk in the series, I was pleased to be back where I started at Sungai Segget, the wonder waterway that once provided the main transport system in the early development of Johor.


For a start, I encouraged participants to use their imagination to picture how this river was once deep enough for small boats to sail up-river from its mouth that opened into the Johor Straits.


In this Walk, I would share essential info on the heritage quarter known as the former Kampong Wong Ah Fook and the Cantonese’s contribution to social, cultural and educational development in Johor.


The walled-up entrance/exit to
the disused underpass crossing

In a short walk along Jalan Segget to Jalan Sawmill, it gave me much pleasure to share with participants, the relevant sites downtown that included established Chinese businesses like traditional medical hall and herb shop, Thye Hoe Tong, along with the first wet market and the first industry in Johor Baru.


Along the route, I introduced the two established banks – OCBC and HSBC – located on the opposite ends of the Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk, that had supported the Chinese community here for generations.


As the early Chinese immigrants worked hard to seek their fortunes, these banking services were essential for them to transfer funds to their families in the homeland.


On our walk towards the edge of the coast to the Johor Straits, we had a closer look at the sea-gate which helps to control the flow and volume of water in Sungai Segget.


Along this route, I had the opportunity to point out the site of the former Jalan Tangga Duke and why the roads in this area were so named.


The Police Central Station at the 
corner of Jalan Meldrum and
Jalan Sawmill in Johor Baru

I pointed out that that much of the present-day coast was reclaimed land and even though we did not have a clear view of the site for the former immigration checkpoint into Singapore, we saw the causeway and could estimate its position at the mouth of Sungai Segget.


This was because before the old checkpoint was built, it was the site of the Johor Steam Sawmill, Johor Baru’s first industry, established by Scotsman, James Meldrum in 1860.


Then our walk took us under the highway, now named Jalan Ismail Sultan, that was once a smaller road formerly known as Jalan Bukit Meldrum.


As we paused to figure out the entrance to the former immigration checkpoint into Singapore, I drew the group’s attention to a small windowless building structure that looked isolated and disused, situated next to the Johor Baru Police Central Station.


When I asked them to guess what that building was, several answers were volunteered and I was pleased to hear a few accurate replies derived from their own personal experience.


Restaurant name, Onn Lok Yuen, is a
fine example of a Cantonese business in
the former Kampong Wong Ah Fook

It was interesting to note that this small building housed the entry/exit to the tunnel underpass that provided a safe crossing of busy roads from the city to the former immigration checkpoint into Singapore.


I reminded participants that we were standing above that tunnel which opened across the road, close to the former immigration checkpoint.


For those who were interested, I advised them to get a view of its walled-up entrance from Jalan Siew Nam. The clue to its purpose may be seen from a small peeled-off sign above its walled-up entrance which spelled, TEROWO… (PEDEST… [Partial spelling for TEROWONG in Malay for PEDESTRIAN UNDERPASS/TUNNEL.]


Our walk continued to Jalan Sawmill, a road that preserves the legacy of Johor Baru’s first industry, and to Jalan Meldrum, a road named after James Meldrum which cuts across the area formerly known as Kampong Wong Ah Fook.


Portrait of Wong Ah Fook in the
JB Kwong Siew Heritage Gallery

The main road through our city-centre was named after Wong Ah Fook, the carpenter-turned-builder and successful entrepreneur, who is credited for building landmarks such as the magnificent Istana Besar or Grand Palace, Istana ZahariahBalai Zahariah and the Johor Baru Prison.


In 1892, ten lots of land here were granted to Wong Ah Fook, by Royal Command and which earned its name as Kampong Ah Fook.


The plot spanned an area between present-day Jalan Sawmill to the opposite end of Jalan Wong Ah Fook near the Johor Baru City Centre Mall, on one side of the Segget River but the British later reclaimed the land up to Jalan Station.  


In the upstairs Gallery

As the hardworking Chinese prospered, Kampong Wong Ah Fook became the centre for leisure and entertainment, with clubs, restaurants, gambling houses, opium dens and brothels – vices that invariably follow immigrants wherever they settled – and secret society activities also flourished.  


At that time, gambling houses and opium dens were regarded as forms of investment and sources of much needed revenue in a developing town. 


For its popularity as a destination for leisure and entertainment, Kampong Wong Ah Fook was even dubbed the “Asian Monte Carlo” by English writer, Florence Caddy (1837 – 1923).


The three parallel roads adjacent to Jalan Meldrum were named after Wong Ah Fook’s three oldest sons, Siu Koon, Siu Nam and Siu Chin.


In a brief exploration of Jalan Meldrum, we saw businesses that bore evidence of its Cantonese origins at old restaurants named, Wong Ah Fook and Onn Lok Yuen, simply translated from Cantonese to mean, Hall of Comfort.


Entrance to the JB Kwong
Siew Heritage Gallery

A recently repainted pre-war shophouse for a restaurant named, Tempat Lama or Old Place in Malay, had 1855 painted artistically on the side wall to preserve its proud heritage.


Our final destination was the JB Kwong Siew Heritage Gallery, housed in the former Cantonese clan house at Jalan Siew Nam which occupies a double-story shop-unit that was built in 1906 and donated by Wong Ah Fook.


If the walls could speak, what tales it will tell because this clan house was traditionally the transit point for early immigrants who arrived here to receive help with job placements. 


There was even a hospital upstairs for immigrants to recuperate if they were ill and when they retired, elderly immigrants were welcome to stay. At their demise, they were assured of a proper send-off with a wake held in the funeral parlour in the adjacent building. 


Founded in 1907, the Yok Choy School, the first Chinese school in Johor Baru, used to occupy the upper floor of the clan house. This school, however, catered exclusively to the Cantonese community so boys from other dialect groups could not register.  


It took more than two people
to help dress-up our
Cantonese Opera actor

In 1911 when the Qing Dynasty in China was overthrown by the revolution led by Dr Sun Yat Sen, the Chinese in JB held a celebration procession and the outstanding performance by the Yok Choy School band caught the attention of the community leaders.


The Chinese leaders were so impressed by students of the Yok Choy School that they started discussions on the formation of a school that will be open to all Chinese.


In 1913, Wong Hee Coo and Luo Yu Sheng, along with Tan Ying Siang and Tay Ah Kit, founded Foon Yew School. Wong Ah Fook was appointed Head of the School Board with Lim Ah Siang as his deputy while Wong Hee Coo held various important roles in the Board over 40 years. 


It was good to share about the birth of the renowned Foon Yew School which developed from strength to strength and established itself as a reputable educational institution here.


As participants browsed around the Gallery for the Cantonese in JB, they saw a wide range of artefacts that showcased the lifestyle, culture and leisure pursuits as well as the trades of the Cantonese who settled in Johor.


Joanne Chia nee Wong in front of
the lady's traditional costume, kwa
that belonged to her grandmother

The Gallery also preserved information on prominent Cantonese leaders as well as Wong Ah Fook and his extended family, the descendants of whom may have settled abroad while many still reside here.


I was pleased to share about my family’s link through the nephew of Wong Ah Fook, Wong Kwong Yam, who married two of our grandmother’s aunts, Mak Qui Tong and Mak Pek Ngiew, the mothers of the Wong family in Johor.


I shared that when Wong Ah Fook had established himself as a builder and contractor in Johor, he returned to his village in China where he adopted his nephew, Kwong Yam, the son of his only brother, Wing Kee, who had died young.


In Johor, Kwong Yam went to a Malay school and became conversant in the language. Known to locals as Towkay Ah Yam, he was Wong Ah Fook’s Business Manager who successfully conducted their family business here.


Among the children of Kwong Yam who were featured in the Gallery were his sons, Wong Peng Soon, a renowned world-class badminton player, and Dato Wong Peng Long, the father of our present-day Mejar Cina Dato David Wong Khong Soon.


Charm [Left] and I with Cantonese
Opera actor, Grace Chong

Incidentally, two participants in our group were members of the Wong family in JB; the daughter of Wong Peng Kow, Joanne Chia nee Wong and her daughter, Gwendoline Chia.


And when Joanne saw the kwa, a lady’s traditional Chinese costume, displayed in the Gallery, she whipped out her smartphone and found an old photograph of this same costume worn by her grandmother, the wife of Wong Kwong Yam. [This costume was donated to the Gallery as an exhibit.]


The legacy of Cantonese culture and heritage is well preserved in Johor with the practice of Cantonese Opera entertainment and a wide variety of Cantonese food including popular items like dim sum and wonton noodles.


From the Gallery we went downstairs where participants had the pleasure of a close encounter with a Cantonese Opera actor.


Our group with JB Kwong Siew Association
members and the Cantonese Opera actor 

Grace Chong from the Wanita wing of the JB Kwong Siew Association was dressed in full costume and make-up, in the role of a princess. This fun photo session with the opera actor marked the end of our Walk in the theme, Cantonese Heritage.


After a short break to freshen up, I was at the GBW Hotel JB for the start of my Book Reading session arranged in a function room on Level Six.


I was deeply encouraged to see that most of the participants from the Walk that morning was at this final Book Reading session along with my invited guests and a few of my former schoolmates.


And just as I was ready to start the Reading session, Charm told me that the file for my visual presentation had failed to open. After numerous tries, the file was found to be corrupted. So, this Reading session went on without any visual support.


To complete the Cantonese Heritage experience and to wrap up the My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru project, I was pleased to present participants with Gift Vouchers for a taste of dim sum at New Hong Kong Restaurant and wonton noodles by Mee Ho Seng Kee.


New Hong Kong Restaurant,
established in 1954

A short distance away from GBW Hotel JB, stands New Hong Kong Restaurant, renowned as the first and only banquet restaurant in JB that was established in 1954.


New Hong Kong Restaurant [Non-Halal] earned an enviable reputation for authentic Cantonese cuisine and was the Chinese restaurant of choice to host special occasions for generations of many families here.


It was heart-warming to see the connection of New Hong Kong Restaurant to wonton noodles because this fine-dine restaurant had its humble beginning as a stall for wonton noodles prepared by Mun Koo, a retired ma-jie from the sisterhood of domestic workers.


With savings earned from her wonton noodles business, Mun Koo, the original proprietor (my late grandmother was familiar with her!) bought the current premises and started the restaurant that serves quality Cantonese cuisine.


Elton Ho is the third-generation 
operator of Mee Ho Seng Kee

My friend, Elton Ho the third-generation operator of Mee Ho Seng Kee [Non-Halal] for wonton noodles made with duck’s eggs, confirmed that wonton noodles was typically Cantonese and in Hong Kong, it was available 24-hours as a staple food.


Not willing to let our Muslim participants miss out on this dim sum dining experience, I was pleased to present Gift Vouchers for the Halal version of quality dim sum served at Wan Li Restaurant in the Renaissance Johor Baru.


Even with the absence of a visual presentation, my fourth and final Book Reading session went on very well as I engaged with the participants by reading excerpts from relevant portions in My Johor Stories in a casual, fun and interactive time together.


At the Book Reading session in 
GBW Hotel Johor Baru

A day after the Book Reading, Yvonne Loh succinctly summarised her thoughts and said:


“So glad I didn’t miss the final session and witnessed all the joy of sharing among Johoreans and residents.


It was a great session and I could see that it made everyone even more proud of where and who they are, especially when everyone was chatting together at the end.”


While it was a rather gruelling experience to plan, prepare, promote and execute each Walk and Reading, it was my privilege to personally host My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru and share the proud heritage of the JB I know and love, as documented in My Johor Stories, for participants have their own Downtown JB experience with me.


A casual, fun and interactive time
with participants at Reading session

When I informed Mohd Shahril Abd Manan of Think City Johor Baru that I had successfully completed My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru on April 15, he replied: “Congrats Peggy, on the completion of the project… will look forward to your report…”


This was because the activities arranged for My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru was an initiative under the Downtown Johor Baru Grants Programme: Arts, Heritage and Culture, a collaboration between Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) and Think City, supported by Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru (MBJB).


Focusing on the heritage core of Johor Baru, the grants programme aimed to support community-based initiatives to reactivate Downtown Johor Baru.