Wanderings, travel, photographs and skiing…

Getting the car ready to go to Singapore…

By on February 24, 2013 in Malaysia, Singapore

I live in Malaysia about 15 min drive from the causeway to Singapore, and that I’m planning to visit Singapore next weekend I, therefore, decided to get the car ready so that I could drive in Singapore

Getting the car ready didn’t sound too difficult, all I had to do was obtain a “pass” for driving on the roads in Singapore. This pass is like a credit card (or Oyster travel card if you line in London) that you charge up with money and which you “swipe” as you enter Singapore, and then you “swipe” again as you leave, and you get charged for the number of days that you spent on the island. This sounds like a really good idea and something that should be simple to get sorted out. Little did I know…

First, to enter Singapore, you need to go through passport control and customs. Therefore, you need to complete the appropriate paperwork, i.e. an immigration card to enter Singapore and make sure you have your passport. All fairly straightforward.

As I approached the Causeway to Singapore, I was surprised to encounter a toll booth. This I didn’t know about. To add to the complication, the tollbooth didn’t take cash and wanted me to use a “touch and go” card, which I did not possess. A woman at the toll sold me a card loaded with RM20, of which she promptly took RM10 for the card, and RM7.50 for the toll, thus leaving me with RM2.5 on the card – which is not enough to pay the toll when you come back into Malaysia (luckily, you can charge up the card at the toll booth if you ask upon your return). The question is, why not give this option on the way out?

Once I’d entered Singapore, and explained that I was just entering for a few hours to obtain a card that would allow me to drive on the road, I had to fill in some paperwork, have my car inspected, and hand-over 10 Singaporean dollars. Immediately, the card was debited for $6 for the card, thus leaving me with $4. However, the daily charge on the roads in Singapore is more than $4, so I, therefore, did not have enough dollars to get out of Singapore and back into Malaysia, and I was unable to charge up the card where I bought it. Again, why not charge a price for the card such that it doesn’t need charging straight away, or give the driver the option add extra money to it there and then?

To get out of Singapore, I was told that I could drive down the road into Singapore and as I left the customs/immigration area that I should keep to the left and follow signs to the charging station. This I did. It was not easy to do, and it was quite difficult to spot the route I needed to take, but I managed to spot the signs as I left, and took the appropriate route, and executed the U-turn required at the traffic lights.

At the charging station, I loaded the card, got charged $.50 for the privilege, and returned to Malaysia. That was when I discovered that the “touch and go” card didn’t have enough money on it to let me back into Malaysia!

Surely, this process could be made easier simply by allowing drivers to charge up cards with sufficient funds when they get the cards so that they can easily move, at least for the first time, between Malaysia and Singapore?

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
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  1. Jane says:

    I'd have blown a head gasket…