Saturday, February 17, 2007

Getting home for Chinese New Year

Ever experienced trying to escape the police when you're in a bus full of passenger and the driver knows we'll get into trouble just because we don't have a tour guide? That's what happened.

I just recently learned that getting home for Chinese New Year from Singapore is a big thing. Apparently, all kiasu Malaysian booked their transportation back to their hometown way in advance before New Year, not CNY but New Year. It was until the last week before CNY that I started actively looking for transport. It has to be "actively" because it's not easy to get one at all. Anyway, a friend from AIESEC told me that the University NUS has their own student transportation back to Malaysia at a decent price. So I tried my luck on it and got a confirmed ticket back to KL.

Okay, it wasn't as simple as that really. The bus I was assigned is going to Ipoh and they intend to drop me off somewhere near Sungai Buloh, some place called Restaurant Jejantas where you get all the fast food restaurants on the bridge. I thought, fine okay.

I arrived in Prince George Park's foyer at 6 o'clock, waited till 7.30pm when people starts to gather. The bus arrived at around 8.30pm and went to pick up NTU dudes around 9.30pm We arrive at the Singapore customs around 10.30pm, stuck in a terrible traffic jam and managed to arrive at the Johor Bahru second link customs around 12.00am. Then we were stuck in the JB customs till 3am before departing.

Yeah, we depart the JB customs at 3am CNY eve. Why? Because we didn't have a tour guide. The Malaysian government were camping right outside the customs waiting to catch Bus Persiaran (recreation bus) who are carrying passengers for long haul journeys. On the spot fine of RM1000 and the bus driver's working permit will be taken. Like every other police-related activities, we can bribe our way through, but who's going to pay up? This bus is full of students (when we say student, we mean people who are supposed to be poor but they can afford expensive tech gadgets and clothing.)

So basically, we waited till the "highway patrol" camp close-shop before moving. And even so, the bus drivers were very terrified to the point that they were wary when starting their engines.

Anyway, I managed to arrive home at 9am thanks to some generous and cool dudes from NTU who let us hitchhike on their car.

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