“The only time I regret my decision to not fly” or “Why not flying makes the travelling more real“
I was not sure how to name this post… anyway, I think the title together with the subtitles makes the subject of this blog clear. For those of you who are wondering why I haven’t written about Malaysia, well, I don’t think I have much to write about, since I was already pretty burned out at this point, not doing much nor taking many pictures. I might add some photos later. This is also the reason why this blog is a little more ‘complaining’, although I stayed rather calm during the trip (maybe because of my meditation course?) and could laugh about it as ‘just another day of travelling in Asia’. So here’s the story.
I thought I had seen the biggest and busiest bus station when I was in Guangzhou, China but I think Kuala Lumpur’s TBS actually wins. It might be because it was a Saturday and a long weekend… but jeeez when I walked in that train station I just had no idea where to start. I saw people everywhere, standing in different lines for ticket counters of hundreds of different bus companies, check-in lines, boarding lines. I thought I was a little used to travelling by now but I honestly had no idea where to go. Luckily here (not like in China) the people at the info counters speak English so it turned out I didn’t have to queue up (ooohf because I didn’t calculate that much time for ‘just getting a bus’…) and I had to print my ticket I bought online at the service desk and then I could quickly check in and get my “boarding pass”. When I had my ticket and went through the security to the gates I was so impressed with the massive size of this departure hall (with only half of the gates, 1 to 13), I wanted to make a picture… It was then I found out I lost my phone. I must have forgotten it at the printer upstairs, when checking my booking code. I still had 20 minutes so I panicked my way through the mass of people queuing up (again) and found my phone, still lying next to the computer. THANK GOD. And I made it down again to the bus, where I luckily had a front row seat (in the first bus…) A journey of only 350 kilometers which was supposed to take about 4 to 5 hours became 12.
Firstly, there we traffic jams every 15 minutes. Then, when we were finally making some kilometers, the bus driver stopped and said we had to change bus. After half an hour of waiting a similar looking crappy bus arrived, I assume it was returning from Singapore. And I also assumed that both drives wanted to get home the same evening, because we didn’t only change bus, but also bus drivers. This whole process took about an hour. I entered the bus latest since I went to the toilet and apparently people didn’t care about the seat numbers anymore and I lost my front row seat… I had to sit all in the back where the air-conditioning was way too cold and my seat couldn’t recline. But I didn’t want to make trouble, since I thought it was only going to be another (maximum) 2 hours. But the traffic jams kept popping up, especially now it was raining and thundering (again) outside. Then we stopped again in the last big city of Malaysia, to drop off some passengers and apparently to wait for another bus to bring more passengers to Singapore. When we kept on going after another 30 minutes we only drove 2 minutes to make another stop at a gas station… Where the driver must have been drinking a coffee or something because he disappeared for another 15 minutes or so.
Next up: 2 border crossings. Malaysia was as simple as when I arrived. The contrast with the Singaporean border control was huge: From a Malaysian officer who asked if I had injured myself while kissing, pointing at my cold sore, I went to a Singaporean officer who asked me a lot of security questions: if I was travelling alone, where I would go next, (not because he was interested) and if I definitely had no cigarettes, liquor, e-sigarets or anything else to declare with me. At the Singaporean customs it also took literally an hour to wait in line because every person took so much time (as far as I could see, non-Western people got to answer a lot more questions than I had). When we finally got back to the bus terminal, our bus was not there. Apparently the Chinese couple in our bus forgot to take out their luggage to go through security and the bus driver got in trouble. When he finally came it was past 11pm.
Then we made 2 (!!) other stops in the city to drop off different passengers and then we arrived, finally, at little India, Singapore. To discover that my hostel didn’t check in people after 7PM and they seemed a little pissed that I arrived that late without letting them know. I didn’t have any way to tell them though, since I didn’t have wi-fi or a working phone number. A short version of this story helped to make the owner a little nicer and he checked me in in one of the weirdest and ugliest hostels I’ve been to, with 3 dorms separated by curtains, mattress covered in plastic and no blankets provided. And the breakfast for hostel guests was provided in another cafe two blocks away, only until 9h30 am. Just for getting some white toast with butter and jam, which is the common provided hostel breakfast in practically whole South East Asia. So I decided to sleep in. I guess you should spend at least 20 dollars for getting a proper hostel in Singapore haha. But I was happy to have a bed and I slept like a baby.