17 Hours in Singapore

Before we moved to Malaysia, we were all quite excited about the prospect of visiting Singapore on a regular basis. After all, it is a mere 15-minute drive away.  It’s so close we can even see it from just about anywhere in our part of the city. We became quickly disinterested, however, when we learned that because of the high congestion of Singaporeans and Malaysians commuting back and forth, it can take anywhere from one to five hours to cross the border.  Therefore, our first real trip to the city was on New Year’s Day on a short layover before we headed to Nepal.  We have also refrained from going because we have been in what is affectionately known as ‘tax jail’.  If you are a foreigner living in Malaysia, you have to spend 185 consecutive days in the country, or you pay double the taxes.  Needless to say, we have stayed put, thank you very much.  Our jail time officially ended January 1st, so off on an adventure we went!

Our 17 hours in Singapore started with an hour and a half stop at the Malaysian checkpoint.  There was very little traffic because of New Year’s Day and it looked as though we might make it through quickly.  When we handed the immigration officer our passports at the drive through booth, things started to go awry.  After ten minutes, the immigration officer told us there was a problem with one of our passports and she would be back.  She then proceeded to leave her booth and walk to the main office.  Fifteen minutes later she emerged and told us to pull over and wait.  She gave us no indication of what was wrong and disappeared into the office once more. One hour later she emerged and told us that Marty had the wrong size ‘chop’.  A chop is a stamp and apparently when Marty made a quick run with a hired driver last week to pick up our visiting friends from California, they gave him the wrong chop.  Go figure.  Long story short, they returned the passport and we were on our way over the bridge to Singapore.

We sat in the Singapore customs line for another 30 minutes.  Finally, we were on the highway making our way to the hotel I had booked for the night.  Our short visit to Singapore was quite fun.  It was great to see people walking everywhere with lots of public transportation options. After dropping off our bags, we ate lunch at a hand-pulled noodle house we stumbled upon outside of our hotel. It was truly the best beef noodle soup I have ever eaten, which is saying a lot.  We then caught a Grab (equivalent of Uber) to downtown Singapore to the Gardens by the Bay.  These iconic outdoor gardens are famous and quite amazing.  We spent a few hours walking around taking in the sights and ended up at the Marina Bay Hotel with the giant ‘boat’ perched on top. Singapore is crazy expensive and the wealth is astounding, but it’s nice to spend a few days and explore.  We will certainly be back.

It was a lovely evening spent with my family and a great way to celebrate the first day of the New Year.  I feel like I am getting more sentimental the closer I get to ‘losing my girls to adulthood’.  I am starting to be more conscious of slowing down and enjoying each moment I have with them.  Taking them on trips is the best way I know to give them life experience and knowledge, while at the same time stealing them away for a bit and spending time together.

Next stop… Kathmandu, Nepal.

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