Left at the Border in Singapore

Left at the Border in Singapore

While in Kuala Lumpur, a trip to Singapore was up for discussion between Cory, Federico, and me. We knew we would only have a short time for any visit, as our days in SE Asia were growing fewer, and there was still a lot we wanted to do up the West Coast of Thailand.  On the one hand, we thought we couldn’t have come this far and NOT go to Singapore- all of us really wanted to visit the city-state and see what the buzz was all about, but on the other hand, we knew it would be an expensive excursion, and may not be worth the money spent for the short time we would be able to spend there. Federico was already coming up against his budget for the trip, and we still had about 2 weeks or so to get through. After much debate, Cory and decided that we were going to spend a whirl-wind 24 hours in Singapore while Federico headed back to Thailand. We would rendezvous on Koh Lanta, an island off the West Coast, and continue our trip from there. After the decision was made, Cory and I set about making arrangements for our day trip to Singapore.

The plan was to take the overnight bus from Kuala Lumpur to downtown Singapore, drop our bags at the hostel, and depending on what time it was when we got there, either get out into the city right away, or, if possible, get a little rest before heading out. We knew what parts of the city we wanted to see, a few choice things we wanted to do (Hunting down the infamous Singapore Sling being one of them), and had a rough idea of what we were going to get up to during our 24-hour tour. As always, so go the best laid plans…

We hopped on the bus in Kuala Lumpur for the short 6-hour ride to Singapore. We arrived at the border crossing before we knew it, grabbed our backpacks, and filed into the massive Customs Hall at the Singapore border. Passports stamped, we headed back outside to get back on board our bus, only to find that it was nowhere to be seen.  Curious, we looked around for some familiar faces of other passengers we recognized from the bus, and ran into a few who were in the same position as we were. There was a long line of buses coming through the queue, so we figured that ours just hadn’t made it through yet. After waiting for over an hour, we all came to the realization that we had been left at the border. Crazy, I know, and to this day, we still don’t know what happened- was the bus only intended to get us to the border, leaving us to figure the rest of the trip out, or had we in fact just been left behind? Who knows, but the reality was that we found ourselves having to figure out how to make our own way into the city. A friendly driver on a local bus gave us a ride to the nearest train station, and we made our way onto one of the commuter trains that was heading into the city.

It was an interesting trip- on the train with all the suburban commuters heading into work, and there we were, with our backpacks and everything else, trying to figure out the maps and stops to make sure we were going the right way. Of course, by that time, we were seasoned travelers, and figured it out… Then we sat back and watched Singapore’s daily routine unfold before our eyes- people on cell phones, quietly talking business in the early morning; students in uniforms, listening to iPods on their way to school; fellow tourists poring over maps and through guidebooks, hashing out their plan for the day. After the chaos of the bus ride and getting left at the border, order returned to the universe.

We got to our hostel around 6am, so had a couple of hours to crash before our foray into the city of Singapore. Thankful for a bit of rest, we dropped our bags on the floor, and then dropped ourselves onto our beds for a quick nap before our 24-hour adventure in Singapore began.

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