Monday, December 26th, 2016
Crossing from Malaysia to Singapore turns out to be a lot harder than it looks on the map. The change from one country to another is dramatic; kind of like Tijuana to San Diego, poor to rich in a kilometer.
I end up on the highway again in the morning. It seems nigh impossible to navigate Johor Bahru without ending up on a highway at some point. I get off as soon as I can, hoping I can find some way closer to the waterfront to get to the border crossing. Bad idea. I just end up boxing myself in on one-way streets. I have to backtrack against traffic, then get on the highway again, then eventually to the border crossing. All of this effort is severely hampered by the fact that no signs mention Singapore. What's up with that? The signs say "Woodlands", which means fuck-all to me since I'm not from here. I get into the motorcycle lane which splits into little tollbooth-like lanes with border agents in huts. They take the little piece of paper taped into my passport, give it a stamp, then I'm on my way across the causeway.
The Singapore side of the causeway is more chaotic. They hold traffic at a gate before the immigration building, which allows a big scrum of motorcycles to build up around me. They open the gate just enough for one motorcycle at a time to pass through - people are bumping into each other and I see a few heated exchanges. I have to force my way through otherwise I would have sat there all day. Next up: Singapore immigration. As soon as the agent in my lane sees me he hits a red button which means he's not taking anyone after me. Big groan from the people behind me. Tough shit guys, I'm not feeling much sympathy after the gate incident. So the agent closes down because I have to fill out a form, answer his questions, and show proof of onward travel from Singapore. It takes about 10 minutes, then I go through the customs area. Agents are searching motorcycles and telling everyone to open their bags and compartments. They just wave me through, thankfully. Then I'm on the highway heading into Singapore.
I make it a leisurely ride through the city. My Mexican buddies won't be arriving until this evening so I've got time to kill. I check out the Fort Channing Park, the Clark Quay area, and have a delicious cheeseburger and fries at a pub. It all feels very first world after where I've been lately. First world, with first world prices. The burger, fries, and drink runs me about 20 dollars US. The most expensive meal I've had since Taiwan.