Sunday, September 5, 2010

SEA Trip Wrap Up - Part 3: Singapore

Sunday, August 30, 2010 - Singapore. I've been wanting to go to Singapore for years. Heard a lot of good things about this city and have been wanting to see what it's like. I think I got a pretty good tour of it with friends from Cambridge. They were super nice and showed me around town. But first, getting to Singapore.

After eating dim sum in Melaka, I got on a bus to go to Singapore. My taxi driver from the hotel to the bus station was pretty nice and told me exactly where to go. There were several bus companies that go from Melaka to Singapore. They are all the same price: 22 ringgit. I took the Melaka 707 Express which had really nice seats. There are only 3 seats per row instead of 4 so the seats were big. We got to Johor Bahru and got through Malaysian customs fine. Didn't even have to take our things from the bus. It was pretty fast. Then we had to drive quite a bit to get to Singaporean customs. It felt kind of weird not to do them one after the other. I guess it's the same when you're flying but it felt weirder on land.

The line I stood in took super long. The guy was just really, really slow. I should have switched lines but the people in front of me were on the same bus as me so I stuck with that line. After a painfully long wait, I emerged in the bus terminal only to find that the bus had left (they only wait for 20 mins)!! Luckily, I met three other Malaysians who were in the same situation. They're all pretty young, like me, and all Chinese. They were speaking Mandarin and.... my Mandarin was just not good enough to follow. Sigh... Anyway, they speak English as well but they obviously found it weird that my Chinese was so bad. They decided to take the Causeway bus so I followed them. One of them even gave me 3 Ringgit to get on the bus. It costs 6 ringgits and I only had 3. They were really confused as to why I (an American) was taking a bus from Melaka to Singapore. I wish I talked to them a bit more but I was worried about this whole situation. My phone hadn't managed to connect with the SingTel network and I was having trouble calling my friend.

That entire situation just seemed so ridiculous and crazy but everything turned out okay, due to the help of friends and kindness of strangers. I got help from these Malaysian Chinese kids who were also traveling to Singapore. The SingTel sim card I had was given to me by a friend while I was in NYC. I managed to call up a friend from Cambridge who was back in Singapore and she picked me up from the bus station. We had dinner and she handed me over to another friend who I stayed with for a couple of nights.

Anyway, the next day (Sunday), I was taken around Singapore by a couple of friends I had met in Cambridge. The friend I stayed with spent quite a while planning out my day so that I would see everything in one day. She did a pretty good job. We went through Chinatown, Little India, walked through a housing complex and market, the waterfront, ate at hawker stores, even watched a bit of the national day rally speech when we got home. I think I blogged about how amazed  I was by the Singaporean city planning so I'll skip that here.

From Melaka

My friends were super fun to be with. Really glad they spent the time taking me around because otherwise I would've done everything a lot slower because I would have to rely on maps. Well, actually, we picked up a map at the tourist office and my friends put it to good use. They were using it quite a bit. We even lost our way trying to get to the waterfront to see the Merlion. We were tempted to ask the tourists next to us who were also trying to find their way. haha.

I flew out Monday morning and pretty much the entire family was at work by the time I got up. I don't know how I managed to sleep past all of them getting up. One of my friend's brothers got up and called a taxi for me. I think I can manage to call a taxi myself but they insisted that he get out of bed and help me. I was grateful for all this help of course because I wouldn't have been able to tell the driver how to get to the house. Anyway, they live really close to the airport and even with the rush hour surcharge, the taxi only cost S$10. It was raining and I had a lot of luggage so it was definitely worth it.

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