MYSIN Trip 5 - Singapore - The Crossing

Somehow some of those days we look forward to happens to be together and doubles the joy of it. It was so with the 24th and 25th of August. While the first one is the day we got hitched, the second one is the day the live wire of our family, Vanathy was born. It is always a joy to have a daughter in the house and it is double the joy to have one like ours.

There are somethings that makes a place enduring enough to keep talking about it. Singapore is one such place. There are a lot of things that are good and a few that are bad as well. The uniformity of the place is one such thing. But the good ones first.

When you travel with a family of four, you find out, pretty fast that traveling around in taxis cost about as much as the public transportation. This is at least true in Singapore (definitely not in Malaysia!). This we found out on our first day and ever since, took taxis more times than the MRT or bus. And chatting up the taxi drivers reveal things about the place more than anything else.

Almost all the taxi drivers we came across, all of them Chinese, were courteous and were willing to talk about Singapore and the happenings in the city. That's how we ended up riding through the Singapore night life festival and at least had a glimpse of it. That is how we also ended in going to the Chinatown and had a quick look at the beautiful decorations done for the Mid-Autumn festival celebrations.

Almost every one of the drivers were trying to tell how the different races, the Chinese, Malays and Indians, live happily together and how they have many Indian friends or the Dosas they've eaten etc. Without the specter of the race riots that happened a few months ago, I wouldn't have given second thought to it. But knowing that, I was always thinking whether they are trying to talk about the riots without really talking about it.

And there was a one old Chinese driver, who kept muttering during the ride, jumped a couple of signals (it was late in the night) and was not really willing to talk. So there is always an exception to the rule.

But once you start looking at the other side of the straits, you understand the difference.

Day  7

Birthday Cake
Today  (August 25) was Vanathy's birthday. So myself and Sibi got up early and went around to find a good cake to celebrate. We found it in the nearby departmental store. A Marble cake for the Mid-Autumn festival. It is a nice way to celebrate the birthday as well as the festival. So the new dresses were put on, cake cut and ready for the River Safari day.

If you've time to go to only one place in your Singapore visit, River Safari should be in the top of the list.  Not because it is fun or anything but that it is educative, it has beautiful exhibits covering the different river systems of the world and for kids, it has a couple of fantastic river rides.
And instead of the 2 hours we planned, we ended up spending twice the amount of time there. The other attraction of the River safari are the two Giant Pandas. Though we've seen the Giant Panda's in an exhibit in the Atlanta Zoo some time back, here it it more closer and with no glass wall in between, it was fun to watch. Again, the kids had loads of fun here with not much crowd, we could hang around for whatever time we wished to be around.

Rain started coming down in force for 15 minutes now and we started back for our crossing back into Malaysia. This time, it will be by road.

To cross into Malaysia, by road, via the Woodlands CIQ and the Causeway, you can take a bus, get down and walk through the immigration and then hop onto another bus. Given that we've had our luggage to  carry around, we chose the taxi. Again, you can take the Malaysian taxi in the Johor taxi stand in Queen's street and drive right through the immigration, without having to get down at all and get dropped in the Johor taxi stand. For a little extra, the driver was willing to drop us in the hotel itself.

But it was a wet day and with heavy traffic at the border, it was tiring as well. But everything went well and we got dropped in our hotel. Checking into the room at the 25th floor of the hotel brought some sanity into the day of border crossings and incessant rain.

Doubletree hotel
Opposite to the Doubletree hotel we've stayed in Johor, there is a Restoran Amma, written in Tamil as well as 'அம்மா உணவகம்'. Turned out the owner of the place was a die-hard MGR fan with special reverence for Amma. Hence the name and the food was excellent eating as we did listening to old MGR songs.

The Menu card
While inside, it was hard to feel that you are in a forsaken corner of Malaysia. For that was what Johor amounted to. At least the places we went around. It was run-down, looking like a cheaper version on Singapore with none of the neatness or the glitz associated with Singapore.

So, the next day dawned.

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