Edit Blog Post
Published: December 31st 2006
After a full day of bus adventures we made it to Singapore safe and sound. We had quite a number of close calls that nearly prevented us from getting here, but we prevailed in the end! It all started in the morning, when we were getting to the bus station just a couple minutes before our bus was supposed to leave and we had trouble figuring out which bus we were actually supposed to board (there were only 2, but it wasn't clear). Then the luggage compartments were either missing a bottom (so they were open to the road) or full of giant cardboard boxes. We managed to squeeze our stuff in to the cardboard box compartments and get on the right bus, and eventually we were off. After about a billion completely unnecessary "rest stops" we finally made it in to Kuala Lumpur. At one of the stops there were monkeys playing with the garbage in a dumpster! Unfortunately, though, we only noticed that as we were pulling away, so we spent that stop just sitting bored in the bus.
Once in the bus station in KL we immediately set to work trying to find a bus to Singapore. They fill up early, and we couldn't find any online site to pre-book our tickets so we were taking a risk that we would be able to get one at all. After trying a few counters, we finally managed to get a ticket for a bus in 5 hours, at 5:30pm. So we had some time to kill before boarding. We decided to go back to the Traveller's Home hostel that we'd stayed at for Christmas, because they loved us, and see if we could leave our bags there for the afternoon. They let us! And the owner even remembered my name! The boys went back to Rennaissance for a swim and shower, but I was determined to take advantage of my last time in KL and see some of the city. I'd noticed a beautiful fountain and park area before when we drove in on the bus, so I set out to go find it. I'm really glad I did, because I got to see some important sites to Malasia's history, like a massive flag pole where the first Malay flag was raised in 1957 to commemorate Malaysia's independence from British rule. I also found the National Museum! It wasn't the best museum ever in terms of exhibits, but I was able to learn a lot about Malasian history, which was great. They've had a really turbulent history in recent times (excluding the past 40 years or so), but you'd never know it by looking at their infrastructure and society today. The people are so friendly, and the buildings, both old and modern, have been crafted with skill and attention to detail, particularly in KL. The city planners did a great job here. I love all the trees, flowers, and bushes living all the roads and everything. I love the city! (I had a much more detailed description of my love of the city, but Mark just accidently told the internet guy to log us all out so I lost all the work I'd put in to the entry. Sorry!) I found this article earlier and I think he really sums up KL at Christmas quite well: http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=8300
At 5:00pm we grabbed our bags and headed back to the bus station, where more confusion ensued. The bus was already full, but there was another busload of people waiting on the platform to get on. It seems there had been a major communications screwup with the ticketing company. After a bit of waiting and a lot of radioing by the drivers, however, it all seemed sorted out so we got the bus in the end. We just sat wherever because the seating numbers were all screwed up. Oh, and the luggage compartments weren't open so I took the iniative to open them myself and was immediately swarmed by every other passenger shoving their bags in! We barely got our stuff in at all! Things were better after the other passengers got off, though.
We were only 15minutes late leaving the terminal and settled in for the journey to our 8th country of the trip: Singapore. I nearly didn't make it. At our only rest stop I got off to use the bathroom, only to encounter the longest bathroom line I've seen in a long time. It was 2 lines out the door. I waited patiently, figuring that everyone else was in the same boat. Apparntly not, though, becuase when I emerged again I saw my bus pulling away--without ME! I ran up to it and jumped on the moving vehicle. Yikes. I think the driver was a bit shook up about it because he did another head count after I got on, but it was too close for me. Derek said he wouldn't have let them leave without me, but the bus was already moving.... Border crossing was slightly confusing and we almost didn't find our same bus after crossing the Malaysian border, but we made it OK in the end. The Singapore customs check was probably the most intimidating we've faced since entering the US, but one of the officials complimented my hat so it was all good =) What a difference between the Malaysian border and the the Singapore border--wow. The Malaysian border was an unorderly mass of people pressing forward then quickly getting stamped through. The Singapore border station was very modern, like an airport, with much signage everywhere. We could tell immediately that we were entering a different country.
So far we've been really careful not to break any rules in Singapore and we've been on our best behaviour because we're not really sure what all the rules are. We won't cross against the light, we're making sure we don't swear (apparantly it's a criminal offence) and I'm just basically not taking pictures because we already got in trouble for trying to take a picture of the National Libray (which was closed on account of New Years. Darn!! It's huge and looked amazing. Plus we were hoping for free internet)
Today we saw public recycling bins!!! It very nearly brought a tear to my eye. I want to go buy a bottle of water just so I can recycle it.
New Year's should be pretty good tonight, if all goes as planned. We're going to a HUGE MTV/Billabong sponsored party at a beach on a private resort island thing. Hehehe. It's going to be amazing. I'm way more looking forward to it than the full moon party because you know it will be clean and safe and really well done. Plus, everyone speaks great English here and has been really helpful. Other than the fear of breaking some kind of rule, Singapore has been great to us thus far! Not that we've really seen any of it, though. So I'd better log out and start exploring.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Tot: 0.95s; Tpl: 0.015s; cc: 9; qc: 55; dbt: 0.011s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb