Stuif's Adventures

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Johore Visit, February 2014
In the fascinating movie The Journey an interesting procession in Johor Baru is shown, where deities are carried around the town by devotees. I had never heard about this Chingay parade, so we decided to visit JB and watch it.

On our way south we stayed overnight in Muar. I had explored this charming town last year with my friend Chadel during the Penarikan Recce and in that report I had written already that I wanted to come back...:-).

We arrived in the afternoon and after checking in our hotel and a short rest, we had a walk in the town. Muar must have been blooming during the first decades of the last century, many shop lots and colonial buildings date back to that period.

For our dinner went a bit further south, to Parit Jawah, famous for its Asam Pedas fish. As usual we irdered too much food...:-)

Our hotel in Muar

Shop lot opposite hotel

Nice architecture

The Chiang Chan clan house


A church(?)

Parit Jawa restaurant

The famous asam pedas fish

A five foot walkway


The next morning we went to Yahiya street for a very porky breakfast. Delicious. The night before we had been looking for the famous 434 coffee shop, but it was closed already. We tried again and now it was open. The Friday mosque, completed in 1930, is a nice example of British colonial architecture, more attractive than its big brother, Masjid Sultan Ismail, on the other side of the river. There are many interesting buildings in Muar.

But we had to go on to Johor Baru, where we had booked a room in the J.A. Residences hotel, in the center of the town and along the route of the Chingay parade, later that night.

Very porky..:-)

The Muar clock tower

Another 5-foot walkway

The Teoh Chew temple

The Customs office

The famous 434 coffeeshop

Inside the shop

Nice coffee!

More nice architecture

The pork market

The Police station

Tanjung Emas recreation area

Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim

Main prayer hall

Ablution hall

Masjid Sultan Ismail

District office


J.A. Residences hotel

Our room

We had a late lunch in one of JB's landmark Kopitiams, the Hua Mui restaurant. Opened in 1948, it is famous for its Hainanese Chicken shop. There is a nice dining room upstairs with an interesting contraption in the kitchen to transport food to the first floor (a dumbwaiter).

After a rest we prepared for the parade. The five deities carried around belong to five different dialects/clans: Hainanese, Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien and Teochew. Each clan is wearing a different color t-shirt and to fit in with the crowd, our JB friend had given us two Hakka shirts. At first I was shy to wear it...:-).

The deities are usually "living" in the Old Temple, but one day before the parade they are carried to the Deities' Depot in Jalan Ulu Air Molek. We decided to go there on foot, quite a long walk, but interesting because there was already a lot to see. Near the Depot, it became more and more crowded and animated, mostly youngsters, many of them carrying big joss sticks.
We found a good spot to watch the procession

Hua Mui Kopitiam

Upstairs dining room

Kitchen with dumbwaiter

The Old Temple

Giant puppets

Giant joss sticks

Big crowds

Many youngsters

The deities start from here

A gentle giant

Aric in Hakka disguise

The procession started around 7 pm. One after another the deities were passing us. They have been firmly fixed to the sedan chairs, because the bearers are often jostling and tussling the deities, while the devotees will clasp their palms in prayer and yell Heng-ah or Huat-ah.

Strangely fascinating, in spite of the carnivalesque atmosphere you can feel the religious undertones

Waiting for the deities

"Our" deity passes

The Hainanese deity

The black/red one (Cantonese?)

Jostling and tossing the sedan

The Hokkien deity


Hokkien devotees

The Teochew deity comes last

After the last deity had passed us, we walked back and, taking a shortcut, managed to see the whole parade again. Quite different, because interspersed between the sedans with the deities there was now an amazing amount of entertainment. Giant puppets, lion and dragon dancers, floats.
A popular one was the float of ASTRO dedicated to the Journey movie, with main actor Frankie on his motorbike.

Satisfied, but tired, we found a quiet restaurant for our dinner, opposite the (now empty) Old Temple. We went back to our hotel where the parade was still in full swing. Our room was on the 15th floor, so we had a helicopter view of the crowds below. With a beer it was a perfect end of a nice day.

The most popular one

Lion dancers

Dragon dancers

Flag Carriers

Giant puppets

Walking on sticks

Riding a bicycle

A lorry with tanglongs

The Journey float

With Frankie

Late dinner opposite the Old Temple

Back in our hotel room

The parade passing our hotel

Relaxing with a beer

View from our 15th floor room

The next morning we decided to leave JB for a next visit and instead visit the Tanjung Piai National Park, proudly presenting itself as the southernmost tip of mainland Asia. A walkway through the mangrove forest leads to a platform with a monumental globe. After that it was still a long way back home.

We heard from friends that many people are regular visitors of the Chingay festival in JB, and we understand now why. Probably we will also be back next year!

Tanjung Piai National Park

Walkway in the mangrove forest

Mangrove roots

One for the album

Mangrove flowers

The souternmost point of mainland Asia

I was there!

Oysters, yummie...:-)

lightlingmk2 wrote on Mar 21, 2014:
I saw this show.This the same motorbike, right ?

Kwai Loh wrote on Mar 22, 2014:
I think so, yes..:-)

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