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 [].


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4/26/2023

    Very detailed by our journalist . Did a great deal into revitalizing our heritage walk . Peggy is a narrator with something extra.