Roaming to Malaysia, pt.1
We were fortunate enough to have a friend of a friend living in Malaysia so we decided to head straight to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore. We spent a full day hanging out in our host's apartment trying to lock down the logistics of crossing the border into Malaysia and yet, somehow, we still managed to come up short. We read somewhere online that there was a public bus that takes locals back and forth across the border, so we packed our bags and caught a cab to the bus station.
First mistake, not knowing exactly which bus it was. All we knew from online was that it was yellow, unfortunately, they were all yellow. No signs, no arrows, and no one that appears to be working. I pick the first guy that makes eye contact with me and tell him I'm trying to get to Malaysia. He kindly points me to the end of a freaky long line, smiles, and goes back to his phone just as a small yellow bus pulls up. Unfortunately, now wasn't a good time for pleasantries. This was the only bus I knew of and missing it wasn't an option. I grab Eliana and rush to the front of the line, playing the "dumb American, I'm sorry I don't understand" card the whole way. By the way, keep that card handy, it's crazy useful.
Without our bags it would've been a tight squeeze, so with 2 bags the size of chubby 4 year olds people weren't too happy. The key is to just keep smiling at no one in particular. Soon the bus joins a long line of buses entering the immigration building. As it stops, a guy forces the back door open and people start pouring out of the bus. Again, no signs, no arrows. The bus lurches forward another 50 feet and people wait for it to stop before hopping off. At this point, I tell Eliana we should just follow the crowd. We followed as a hoard of people entered an immigration hall, essentially a sea of people being slowly bottlenecked into 6 different queues. We get our passport stamps (always satisfying), cross into Malaysia, and again, immediately have no clue where to go. All the English of Singapore is now suddenly all in Malay. We wandered around for a bit until we found another mass of people waiting for buses. Apparently, folks hopped off the bus early because they fully understood what was happening. After leaving the bus, it slowly pulls through a tunnel under the immigration office and it was my job to get through the immigration process quick enough to hop back on the same bus before it left. Looking at that crowd, I knew I had failed. Yet another situation with too many people getting on too small of a bus and me with this one bus as our only option. Lucky for us, I didn't put away the "dumb American" card. Playing it twice in one day is pushing it, but if any situation calls for it, it's a border crossing. We apologetically maneuvered our way back onto the same bus we came on, now in Malaysia, 6 hours from Kuala Lumpur, and discussed mistake number two... not having a clue as to what came next.