It’s Festival Time at Puteri Harbour (8th Sept. 2018)

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For reasons which I have yet to fathom, Johor Bahru seems to have squeezed a year’s worth of cultural events into the one month of September! There was the Summertime Sadeness at 11F (7-9th Sept), and a whole month of interesting events for the 15th Johor Arts Festival. And the Johor Bahru book launch of The Sarawak Report by Clare Rewcastle-Brown on 15th Sept. at the Tropical Inn is greatly anticipated. Then at Puteri Harbour we had the Johor Arts & Heritage event (8th Sept) and the Iskandar Puteri Jazz Festival (8-9th Sept). For this report, I will focus on events at Puteri Harbour on 8th Sept, where Lawrence and I arrived at 4 pm to see our friend Carl Hinds open the Jazz Festival with a great mix of vinyl.

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As the Johor Arts & Heritage event was due to finish at 6 pm, we headed off to see what was going on there. Inside a very crowded hall, visitors were being entertained by young performers who seemed to be in competition with each other.

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It looks like there are quite a few dance groups in Johor, with many coming from the west coast. There were panels of explanation with this map image, but nothing in English and Google Translate could not cope. An English translation was provided for a display of Johor costumes (photo on left) but it did not make any sense. I have contacted JKKN (State Cultural and Art Department) to offer some help with their English translations, so we will have to wait and see….

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As the prizes were being handed out to excited performers, we headed outside to dodge the rain and get some photos around the harbour. Johor Green Market had set up a great selection of stalls, and you should head out to the Edible Park sometime if you haven’t yet discovered this place. 

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If you visit Puteri Harbour, don’t forget to wander around the back (near the open-air carpark and port facility) to see the strange wooden sculptures scattered around the place. These seem to be very popular locations for wedding photographers as I saw several bridal groups heading off in this direction.

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By now the Jazz Festival was in full swing. There were two sound stages and I particularly enjoyed the performance by Kayhan Kalhor (playing an Iranian violin) and Kiya Tabassian (playing a setar). These Iranian gentlemen are world renowned musicians, so it was an honour to be able to hear them play here in Johor just for us!

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As night fell, the music and lights got stronger and the food trucks did a roaring trade. Food truck culture is relatively new down here and their presence was appreciated by many!

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So, remember to reserve a space in your diaries for September next year and try to attend some of the amazing events which Johor has to offer.







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