Travel Notes from Lah Lah Land

by Nilesh Vasave (United Kingdom)

A decision that pushed me to the edge Malaysia


“4 months in a one-city country, $12000.. 40 days of trying for air tickets to anywhere (even Timbuktu) without any luck.. $10. 4 days of Chinese New Year holidays with nowhere to go… frustrating. Know that you can still get a visa for Malaysia in 1 day and go around Malaysia’s best destinations by road for 4 full days for less than $500 - Priceless.“ Malaysia - It was not my first choice, in fact it was last! But, 4 days of Chinese New Year. Every flight going out of Singapore was booked! I was desperate after 4 months in Singapore. As Singapore being a one-city country, how many times you go to the same place again and again? My colleague introduced me to one of his friend, Hiren. Told him about wanted to go to Thailand (first choice), he said he wanted to go there too! Wow, 2 are better! Big savings! So I said let’s try for tickets, if luck’s with us then we might get the high priced last minute tickets (FYI – My luck sucks!) So, we didn’t got the tickets. It was the last week before the holidays. I told him let’s try Malaysia! Went to Malaysian embassy, applied for visa and got the visa on 4th day (duh… weekend) so, Monday got the visa, called the travel agent, booked bus tickets for Kuala Lumpur, $55 per person 1 way. Was feeling like I am in heaven! Finally I am going out of Singapore for 4 full days! Well the big day arrived (Night actually) we were catching an AC bus from Lavender train station, Singapore to Johar Bahru(JB), Malaysia which was only 45 mins away from there and from JB we’re changing the bus. We boarded the bus at 10:30 from Lavender, reached Singapore border in 25 mins, the traffic was bad. took us more than 45 mins to clear customs and immigrations from both sides! It’s one bridge between Singapore and Malaysia. You cross the bridge and you are in Malaysia. We reached JB at around 12:00. Changed the bus. the Seats was really huge, almost as big as plane’s business class! The travel company gave us couple of Oranges as a good luck (I was puzzled when they gave us oranges for good luck? is the bus service and roads in Malaysia that bad that we need a good luck, instead of a good driver and decently maintained bus?) but, then I found out that in Chinese new year it’s considered as a good luck and it’s customary to give oranges to one another! Well, a lesson in Chinese culture. I was excited about the whole Malaysian experience. So! Malaysia, ready or not, here I come…