Getting into Singapore

2 May
Visiting Singapore...

Visiting Singapore...

My Citin hotel was just opposite the Puduraya bus station, so it was certainly a convenient location to buy a ticket for the bus to Singapore (5 hours, 39 Ringit). The only challenge was to choose between the dozens of bus counters/companies – and I choose wrongly. It got me into Singapore, but not as expected…

Crossing the border was another story, with the border guards making me delete the picture of the first Singaporean flag I saw. I thought they would be honoured. Nope.

To bus or not to bus

Citi Express - not express at all

Citi Express - not express at all

There is a train connection to Singapore but it only goes 3 times per day, so the bus is far easier, even though you need to know which bus company to take. The whole neighbourhood around the Puduraya bus station is crowded with ticket counters and touts trying to sell you a ticket. Being a seasoned traveler, I first asked around: price, time, etc

Changing to a local bus - no spitting allowed

Changing to a local bus - no spitting allowed

Locals had told me to check if the bus would stop en route (to take or drop passengers) and also where the bus would terminate in Singapore. After checking I bought a ticket with Citi Express: a company that did not stop along the road, and that would leave me at an MRT station (mass rapid transit – the Singapore version of a metro – more about Singapore’s love for abbreviations here). At least that’s what they told me.

Once Citi Express had sold me the ticket, nothing seemed accurate anymore. The bus did not leave at the indicated time (well, let’s call it Malaysian time, hehe). But then once we got to Johor Bahru, we had to change our lovely comfy VIP bus for a shabby bus that was born a few decades ago.

Crossing the Singaporean border

Crossing the Singapore Straits

Crossing the Singapore Straits

With only an hour or so delay we arrived at the spaghetti knot of roads leading us through the border. We first had to get off the bus with our passport to get our Malaysian exit stamp. No problem, except that I forgot to ask where our bus would be waiting on the other side of the passport building. And I could even remember less what the bus looked like, especially since we had to change to the new bus in a rush at Johor Bahru…

And everywhere in the bus were signs that the bus would only grant 30 minutes to go throught passport and customs… Yikes.

The sign says - only 30 minutes to clear immigration

The sign says - only 30 minutes to clear immigration

I did find the bus though. And we crossed the Singapore Straits over the Causeway. On the other side there was a similar spaghetti knot like on the Malaysian side. Here the procedure to go through immigration was similar, except that we had to take our luggage with us. This time I was more clever and memorized what the bus looked like to find it back in the other side of the immigration terminal.

I was all too happy to enter in Singapore, and I eagerly took some snapshots of the Singapore flag on top of the border building. That was a big mistake. Armed border guards attacked on the double, and made me delete the picture I took. When I tried to sooth the situation, telling them I was so happy to come to singpore, I only got a grunt and a finger pointed to a sign with 10 different restrictions – one of which was a forbidden photography sign.

It reads: Death penalty for drug trafficers

It reads: Death penalty for drug trafficers

Other restrictions that I can vaguely remember were: no porn, no chewing gum, no smoking, no moblile phone – oh yeah, and death penalty for drug trafficers… I would have taken a picture of the ridiculously incursive sign, but you probably get the point that this was not one of the options… Singaporeans like their rules and organization (read more here).

So I went through relatively quickly – luckily – because no sooner had I arrived, the bus left, with half of the passengers not there yet !! Well, I was lucky and happy enough to be on the bus. But once we got to Singapore, it turned out the bus dropped us off at again a different location than the 2 options I had heard before.

  • So far for Citi Express – feel free to put them on your black list.
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