June 05, 2002 GMT

Johor Bahru (01-06-2002) till Johor Bahru (05-06-2002)

On the other side there was also a separate motorcycle lane but to get there we had to cross 5 lanes of waiting traffic, which was fairly easy. Passing Immigration was not too bad although we had to fill out a form while everyone else just got a stamp so we were holding up the line. Customs was more complicated and when we showed our Carnets we had to wait in a small office.

Route through Singapore; 01-06-2002 / 05-06-2002
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Route through Singapore; 01-06-2002 / 05-06-2002

The Indian woman in there was so nice. She offered us her only bottle of water. She phoned a Customs officer and when he came he explained us the whole procedure. As we stayed longer than the weekend we had to leave the bikes behind at the border, go into town and get a special box for automatic payment of the toll fees, return to the border and also get an insurance. We told that we had insurance for Malaysia and Singapore. A very complicated procedure BUT he would let us through unofficially as long as we were not riding with the bike in Singapore during toll-hours (7am - 7pm, weekdays). After the queues in Johor Bahru we didn’t had this intention at all. Even our carnets were not stamped and he advised us not to stop for the police. He gave us his next-week schedule and cell phone number so we could call him and cross the border back into Malaysia during his shift.

The Goodwood Hotel
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The Goodwood Hotel

We drove straight to the Goodwood Park Hotel, a very luxurious hotel. Also a hotel with a special family story, it was a very old wish of me to stay here. The people were really surprised to see over Landers here so we got a huge discount and for a couple of days we felt like in heaven. The people in the hotel were real nice to us. They asked us a lot of questions and they were so friendly and gave all the help we needed and we could even get our really smelly motorbikes suits washed.

We forgot our motorbikes for some days and explored Singapore by foot, subway and bus. Singapore also had a extra dimension to me while Kees, Mum en Dad had lived here in the sixties so I heard a lot about it over the years and finally I was able to see it with my own eyes. We visited their old house and tried to find the former ‘Dutch School’ where Kees went to school. Although it was on our map we couldn’t find. It was not on the marked place on the map. In all the streets in the area were police checkpoints as in the Shangri-La Hotel was a conference about ‘National Defense’. All those officers couldn’t help us as we spoke to some of them and I had the opportunity to sit on police bike: a Yamaha XJ900 Diversion, the same as Martins previous bike.

Jeannette at a Yamaha XJ900 Diversion police motorbike
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Jeannette at a Yamaha XJ900 Diversion police motorbike

We ended up in the Shangri-La Hotel itself and this was a perfect shot as it turned out that the former ‘Dutch School’ now was a part of the Shangri-La Hotel. They used it now as a pavilion for special occasions. Jamie, a girl from the front desk, took us around and we were able to take some pictures.

Singapore is one of the most beautiful and cleanest cities we visited so far. It was organized although sometimes a little bit too much. There are the plenty of colonial buildings mixed with modern architecture and all in a good shape. We loved the cities architecture especially the area around the Victoria Theatre and the City Hall. We absolutely didn’t had the feeling we were in a big city. In those couple of days we walked so much around that I needed plasters to cover my blisters.

Singapore on its best
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Singapore on its best

One morning we decided to have breakfast in a bird park. We expected a kind of city park where there were some footstalls and birds but it was appeared to be a big Zoo with only birds. By the time we arrived there, by subway and bus, breakfast time was over so we had some ‘breakfast’ at the neighboring McDonalds and we spent around 4 hours in the Zoo before returning to our hotel.

Around the corner of our hotel we found a Starbucks Coffee shop so we enjoyed a good cup of coffee so much! It was nice to have some civilization around, after spending such a long time in ‘rural’ Asia but we had to move on, back to Malaysia.

According to the work schedule of our Customs officer we could only leave Singapore at nights the next couple of days. We were not pleased by driving at night and finding a hotel with good parking in Johor Bahru in the dark seemed difficult to us. But fortunately the people at our hotel gave us an alternative. They showed us a way out which avoided the toll checkpoints and while there are so many little bikes crossing the border every day we decided to give it a chance. We had a warm goodbye from the hotel staff and an old woman even gave me a hand kiss. They told us to be careful and we waved them goodbye after a smashing time in the old colonial hotel with helpful and friendly people. We were spoiled!

At the border everything went smooth and even Customs didn’t stop us. To make it more excited I decided to stop right in front of them to put my passport away as I couldn’t drive with a passport in my mouth. Martin was getting upset that I was tempting faith but I assumed that they were impressed by a girl on a big bike... and I was right!

Posted by Martin Rooiman at June 05, 2002 03:05 AM GMT

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