If you have overseas visitors staying with you, and you want to go out for the day, where do you go? My favourite choice is a drive out to the fishing village of Kukup on the west coast of Johor, as this provides an array of different experiences in one go.
Firstly, you get to drive through some lovely countryside without the tedium of endless fields of palm oil trees. And, because you are in the countryside, there will be plenty of roadside fruit stalls and cafes if you want a break. Head towards Pontian and take the coast road south into Kukup.
Secondly, you get to experience a unique form of park-and-ride! Kukup is also the home of an International Ferry Terminal, taking travellers to Indonesia. The road into Kukup is therefore a dead end, so traffic is restricted in the town. You will see a large car park where a minibus will miraculously appear which will drop you at the ferry terminal. You might feel like you are being kidnapped, but rest assured, this is how the park-and-ride system works here. Just remember to take a photo of the minibus as you will need it to return to your car!
Thirdly, you will get to eat some delicious seafood! If you stand facing the ferry terminal, choose one of the restaurants on your right hand side, and sit up on the second floor for a great view of the sea. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and watch the boats drift by. Now you could just drive home after this, but there is even more for you to do here.
Fourthly, take the small ferry across to Pulau Kukup Johor National Park. Just ask one of the waitresses where to find the ferry (it is near these restaurants). After paying a small entrance fee to the park, head off along the boardwalk and wander through the glorious mangrove trees. There are plaques along the way to help you make sense of what you are looking at, and just remember to look down into the mud to see the variety of animal life there. And, also do not forget to take some water and mosquito repellant. Take the ferry back to Kukup which will drop you off at a working fish farm along the way.
Finally, find the minivan, find your car, and return home pleasantly exhausted!
Helen Gray has lived and worked in Asia for over 25 years. Her passion for photography has led her to explore and record her impressions of many countries. Through her website (www.helengray.net), she provides information on places to visit in the region and focuses on the history of Johor.