Travel Talk

Grilled at Singapore Customs & Night Life

So yesterday, I took the bus for 39R to Singapore. Everything was cool and relaxed until I got to the Singapore border, that’s when stuff started getting stressful, the most tense ~5-10 minutes of my entire trip, let me elaborate.

First, my dad used to travel a lot when he was younger, I remember going through the US / Canada customs and never having a problem. On one of the many occasions I remember him once telling me that the only time he ever had any issues was when he was traveling alone, no real plans and slightly scruffy. I’m used to being clean cut, no facial hair (Movember is almost over) and well dressed. I’ve never had a problem anywhere, for anything, in fact, most times it’s been quite pleasant.

When you show up to a border, looking like a skid who doesn’t even resemble the photo on your passport anymore, it’s a very different scenario. I know it’s different but I can now relate to people who have had problems at borders, whether it’s for the country of origin of their passport, religious beliefs, their name, anything really.

I came into Singapore, I had no exit ticket booked and the guy was convinced I was not the gentleman pictured in my passport. The passport is 2 years old and I was heavier and very clean cut. Now, I’m thinner and well if you saw the video blog, quite scruffy if I don’t say so myself.

The guy kept looking at me and shaking his head, saying nope… He wanted to know why I was only coming for 5 days if I didn’t have a ticket booked yet. He asked me every detail he could from the passport and was just shaking his head saying … This picture does not look like you. I told him I only plan on staying for 5 days on my way to Bali because this place is expensive and yeah it is, especially if you go for a “night out on the town”.

If I did not have other ID, credit cards and the like, I think I’d still be in Malaysia. What’s weird is when we stopped at a rest stop, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror and even I remarked to myself “wow, I look different”.

Long story short he finally said, I don’t know and then just stared at me for about 30 seconds, didn’t know what to do, do I look away? At this point I was getting unnerved. Finally he said “okay” and stamp, stamp, stamp.

So I made it into Singapore. First thing I remarked was how clean and modern the place was. Right when I got dropped off I was going to jay-walk as the light was about 200M away, as I pondered it I looked up and there was a massive sign “No Jaywalking”. If you get caught discarding gum or a cigarette butt, it’s a $300 fine, second time is either $600, $1000 or community service, not sure as no one in the group I met has had that happen. That said, all of them have had a $300 offense, in fact it’s quite common.

If you go out for a “Night on the Town” be ready to bring your wallet. We went to the White Rabbit, MiMillotte(sp) and then Attica. White Rabbit was a great time and “Misty Rabbit” had come from France playing house music. The MiMillotte was dead but a super nice layout, finally we hit “Attica”.

Attica is arguably one of the funnest clubs I’ve ever been to in a while. It has 2 floors that I’m aware of, the lower one being hip-hop, the top one being house music. We went straight to the top floor and spent the rest of the night there, and a ludicrous amount of money. Drinks are $15 each, doubles $30. (Note: Talked to a local lady from here who said the place is only fun if you have a few drinks and are with a good crew, the way I was. Besides that she said it can be sleazy and lots of people go there looking to pick up or ladies looking to work. Being a germaphobe who doesn’t even like sharing drinks, I wouldn’t of noticed such things, you’ve been warned. Then again, aren’t most major night clubs like that?)

We partied with people from around the world, notably a big crew from India who were just hilarious even though there wasn’t that much talking going on.

Finally we checked out another club and when we left, it was light out. Ended the night with some breakfast and a swim. I will tell you now, going out for “drinks” in Singapore puts a new meaning to the term “better bring your wallet”. Having done it in a most egregious fashion, I don’t think I’ll go out again while here. If you’re traveling the globe you can afford to be discriminating in the activities you partake in, in different parts of the world. I.E If you want to speed, you go to Germany, if you want to dive, check out the islands in Thailand, gamble? You go to Vegas and so on…

This place has an incredibly safe and clean feel to it. That said, rent is also incredibly expensive and the majority of wages are lower than in North America and Europe. Also cars are often taxed 100%.

I could see myself living here, if I had an incredibly high paying job for a multinational corporation or say, a hedge fund. Apart from that, it’s nice to visit but it all depends on what you value. If you value clean, orderly and safe… Then it’s quite possibly heaven on earth, and isn’t it worth paying for what you value?

Either way, I plan on being here for a few days as it’s good to see an old friend again and I really like the feel to the place. On twitter and through friends I’m finding out some of the cooler things to do and see here and will investigate those.

I’m also considering going back to “Traditional Rob” aka clean cut and proper. When you’re on the thai islands, being all “out there” is good times and good fun, when in places like Singapore, you just feel like a scruff. That said, scruffy or not, how you handle yourself, how you interact with people plays a very large role as well. One can be a gentleman while looking disheveled or be a total douche bag donned in designer threads.

Good day,

P.S Always do your OWN homework, someone told me the exchange rate for Singapore dollars compared to Malaysian Ringgit and I based most purchasing decisions based on that, they were wrong, horribly wrong. Lesson learned.

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