On May 2005, we went to Desaru, Johor. Desaru is a beach resort on the eastern part of the Johor state, and even though you cannot compare the beach with the ones in Bali or Phuket, but at least the beach is better than the ones in Singapore.
We drove from Singapore to Desaru via Johor Bahru and Kota Tinggi, and the journey took about 2-3 hours, including the time spent in causeway. Different from the road to Kuala Lumpur, which is expressway all the way, the road to Desaru goes via normal two-way single-carriageway highway, except the roads around Johor Bahru which usually are dual-carriageway highways. Once we passed the immigration checkpoint, we immediately U-turn back to the busy Jalan Wong Ah Fook, before taking the route 3 highway towards Kota Tinggi. After hitting the Kota Tinggi Bypass, we turned right on the traffic light junction to hit the route 92 highway towards Desaru. It's quite an exciting ride passing through oil palm plantations along the route 92 between Kota Tinggi bypass and Desaru.
We checked in at Desaru Golden Beach Resort, quite OK for accommodation even though we were a bit dissapointed since it's a bit run down. We encountered bad experience when Irza inadvertently closed and locked the door while we were all on the balcony and was shocked to find out that we were not able to open the door from outside, causing all of us to be trapped in the balcony. We had to ask the hotel's staff to open the door for us, and it took more than an hour before the hotel staff managed to get us out of the balcony trap. What a day!
However, we found out that the beach is good, in fact we found that Desaru is one of the best beaches we have visited in Malaysia, and it's definitely much better than the beaches in Singapore, such as Sentosa or East Coast Park. It's quite fun and exciting to swim on the beach, and the kids were also having fun swimming and playing with the sands, including sand-castle building.
We also made some tour around Desaru. We visited Sungai Rengit, a small town south of Desaru and had a lunch on a food court (medan selera) there, despite having it under a heavy rain. On our way back to Singapore, we also visited Desaru Fruit Farm, a fruit plantation along the route 92 just near the T-junction to Desaru.
We really enjoyed our trip to Desaru. Even though were were a bit disappointed with the hotel, we might just want to come back there again, to enjoy the beach. Anyway, this is the closest "good" beach we can get near Singapore. Next time, we might want to stay in Pulai Desaru Beach Resort instead, which reports said that it's one of the better hotels there in Desaru.