Lesson learnt

June 1, 2009 § 3 Comments

After spending a very exhausting 48 hours in Singapore, I have concluded that the customs people must have me on some kind of black list and are out to get me every time I cross the border. I remember the last time I was on a similar overland trip when at the customs checkpoint they decided they were going to slap a huge tax on me for a piece of jewellery that was given to me just a day before. It was going to cost something ridiculous like RM1000 to cross over with it. Then, typically Malaysian style, they said:

Boleh tolong, tapi masuk offis (I can help you but need to go into the office)

Off I went into the office after which they undiscreetly closed the door and basically demanded a bribe of RM200 instead of paying the whole RM1000. At that point the entire busload of other passengers were waiting impatiently and what did I do but pay the damn fee.

That was about 4 years ago. This time the stringy dude at customs refused to let me pass because I had forgotten the departure card. I panicked when he said he couldn’t let me through. I asked him, well, can’t I just fill out another one? Duh. Guess what he said?

Boleh tolong, tapi masuk offis (I can help you but need to go into the office)

Crap. I didn’t have any money on me. I marched myself to the dimly lit office like death row calling. I knocked on the door and faced the surprise of my life. The ‘boss’ was a bored but kindly old Malay lady who just helped me fill out another form, stamped my passport, and sent me on my way with a smile. Of course there was still that busload of impatient passengers waiting for me. Did I care? No, I did not. I don’t think I ever want to cross the border from Malaysia to go to Singapore again though.

In other happier news, I am off to Bali tonight.

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