Our bus ride from Penang to Singapore was quite exciting in an oh-my-gawd-oh-hell-no-oh-okay way. What do I mean by that? Here's what happened.
We learned pretty quickly that SE Asian bus companies don't tell you squat. You never know whether you''ll have to transfer, where you transfer, what you transfer to, or where you'll ultimately be dropped off. Nope. You're supposed to just figure it out along the way.
On our trip to Singapore, we encountered all of the above. First, our bus never showed up. Apparently it was delayed and we had to get on another bus, which would meet up with the original bus at some stop somewhere.
The first transfer wasn't too bad. Someone came aboard the bus and called out "Singapore" so we knew to get off. The second transfer wasn't so smooth.
First of all, we didn't know we had to transfer again. So when our bus stopped in the middle of nowhere and everyone else got off, the two of us sat there like idiots. We tried to ask someone where we were, but what came out of his mouth sounded nothing like Singapore.
Finally, some guy came aboard the bus and waved us down. Our luggage had already been unloaded and he shoved the two of us in the direction of another bus. Upon boarding, the driver asked us if we were going to Woodlands. I said yes, because that's what the people at the bus company told us.
We thought things would be pretty easy from there on out. Singapore has a great public transportation service and from my online research, the Woodlands stop was supposed to be linked to the MRT.
Once we reached the border, we did the usual immigration checkpoint routine: get off the bus, leave luggage behind, get stamped out of Malaysia, get back on the bus, cross the Singaporean border, get off the bus, take our luggage this time, get stamped into Singapore.
Coming out of customs, we were just in time to see our bus pull away without us. What. The. Hell.
We panicked for a few minutes, ranted a bit, and then luckily were able to find two police officers nice enough to explain to us what bus to take and where to exchange money.
Later on we figured out that the border checkpoint WAS Woodlands, so the bus driver wasn't wrong in leaving without us. We just wished he'd given us a heads up.
That wasn't the end of our adventure though. Oh no. The local bus we took didn't drop us off where the officer told us we would be dropped off. Rather than try our luck with yet another bus, we grabbed a taxi and gave the address of a guesthouse I'd found online. We arrived there only to discover that the guesthouse was closed. (Take down your website if you're closed, man!)
There was a hostel next door, but the accommodations weren't what we were comfortable with, so we borrowed their computer and booked a hotel room nearby. Then we proceeded to drag our luggage through the heat to Hotel 81 Elegance.
At the front counter, we found out that our reservation hadn't come through yet. And that an available room wouldn't open up for a few hours. We were advised to leave our luggage and explore the area a bit. The concierge gave us directions to their sister hotel, V Hotel, where we could exchange money and get a map of Singapore.
It took us a while to find the V Hotel, but almost no time at all to spot its food court, Kopitiam:
The place was super packed:
CK and I split up to get our own food. I wanted something basic, so I went with nasi lemak, which is coconut rice with anchovy chili sauce and fried chicken:
The chili sauce was spi-cay, but so fragrant that I couldn't stop eating. I just made sure each spoonful of rice was paired with a teeny tiny drop of chili sauce. The chicken itself wasn't as memorable.
Overall, not the best meal to start Singapore off with, but we weren't worried. We knew things could only go uphill from there. And they did.
Kopitiam @ V Hotel
70 Jellicoe Rd
Lavendar, Singapore 200811