June 07, 2011

Immigrants...

If you're going to go through immigration. You might as well go all out.

My parents flew into Singapore (and we were WAY late picking them up because we had the time all wrong). Singapore is an island. Singapore is actually another country, so we had to "leave the country" to go pick them up as Singapore's airport is closer than our capital city's airport.

After picking them up, it took us about 30 minutes of driving on the tiny nation-state-island of Singapore to find a gas station. Not sure why, one was just hard to find.  We needed a little extra to get us home as the grandparents were wanting showers after their day and a half of traveling.  Then we only had $10 Sing Dollars on us to get gas.  Instead of going through the trouble of getting some from the ATM, or taking even MORE time to find a money-changer and exchange currency, we just chose to get what little gas we could and fill up once we crossed the border.  I believe something like this was said as we noted what little gas we had, and what little gas we just added as we were leaving the gas station...

"Yeah, and every Singaporean car has to have at least 3/4 tank of gas in order to leave the country so that they don't just cross the border and fill up at our stations, which are subsidised by the gov't and way cheaper. SO glad we're not driving a Singaporean car!"

THEN we decided to take "The 2nd Link."  There are 2 bridges to exit the country of Singapore. One is the older, more traditionally used bridge which is usually more crowded, but crosses right over into our city and is only about 10 minutes from our house.  The "2nd Link" is the newer crossing, but it's farther out, so we've never taken it. But several of our friends said, "Oh! 2nd link is SOOOOO much faster! You NEVER have to wait. There are never any lines through immigration." And since we weren't in any huge hurry and were in a good mood to finally have the grandparents in the car, we took the 2nd link to avoid the Saturday traffic (takes about an hour of sitting on the traditional bridge in line). Or so we thought.

We exited through the Singapore Immigration station with ease. No lines. At about 12:00noon.

That's when the day took a very long turn for the more interesting.

You see, the Tradtional Bridge isn't very long... from exiting Singapore's immigration station to entering the immigration station over here, it's maybe 1/2 mile.

The "2nd Link" bridge is about 4 kilometers (2 miles?) from station to station.

About 1 kilometer in, traffic was piled up and not moving.  The next FOUR hours we waited in line to enter the immigration station on our country's side. With the car literally on "E" the entire time.

The rest can be told with the help of pictures...
Because we were technically in "no mans land" between the 2 borders, there was a fence lining the road.  When Isaiah started crying, we all really felt like we were trapped beside the Tyrannosaurus Paddock in Jurassic Park with a screaming Velociraptor in the car.
...Velociraptor. They don't like staying seated. Especially not when Daddy and Mama left the portable DVD player at home. But Grandmama helped saved the lunch-less car ride with a box of Pop-tarts, fresh from America.
While crawling at a snail's pace (mostly sitting for about 10-15 minutes at a time, then moving up a couple car spaces then sitting again) some passengers in the car found a way to escape their seats.
This was taken about 3 hours into the wait. That many-roofed building up there is the immigration station.  By this point there were many plans made for shin-kicking all those people who ever said "The 2nd Link is SO much faster."
Then we ran out of gas. This is my dad and I walking back from seeing if there was anyone at the immigration building who might be able to help. There wasn't. Big Surprise. So seeing as how we were in between two international borders and it would be difficult for any Roadside Service truck to come help us, we just stayed in traffic and Anthony and Daddy PUSHED the car the last hour or so through the line. That's right. PUSHED. As a Floridian who has seen their share of news stories of folks arriving on our shores on whatever they can find that floats, I now understand a bit better that if you don't make it happen in these situations, no one else is going to make it happen for you.
So then my mom and I took the boys to wait at the station in the shade instead of the no-longer-air-conditioned-car.  Along the walk up there, Isaiah lost a shoe. Would it be appropriate to push your car through an immigration line and someone not be barefoot? I think not. Thanks Zay for keeping it real.
Then this man appeared. This is a tried-to-be hero from Singapore who offered to siphon the gas from his tank and who gave us a Nalgene bottle to fill it up with. This man who had also waited 4 hours in his car and then delayed his journey even longer to help us out. He ALMOST saved the day. But even after some pretty intense martial arts breathing techniques (really, would the day be complete without some???) he couldn't muster the courage to suck the gas. If only Justin Stephens had been there. Nice Singaporean Man at least left us with the Nalgene bottle, the hose, and some well-wishes.
This was taken just after we had all gathered outside the car and stood in front of the immigration booth (everyone just usually sits in their car and it's like a drive thru, but they stamp your passport instead of give you french fries). We then pushed the car to the side and flagged down one of the many motorcycles zooming by (many work in Singapore factories and commute everyday).  One guy stopped to help. We handed him some money, our Nalgene bottle, and he gave us his word he'd go get some gas and bring it back up to the immigration building...so we waited about 20 more minutes....
...and that's just what he did.  He came back with a Nalgene full of gas.  He even refused to take a big thank you gift of money for his help.

So THAT folks is how you immigrate when you really want to take things up a few notches. And as much as my parents think it's funny now that they went through all that after flying for 30 hours to get here, I can assure you that the Rivers will now be taking the traditional bridge across on other trips to Singapore. Every. Single. Time.

10 comments:

Julia said...

I just read this to Paul as we are driving down the road and we are laughing hysterically! We both dubbed this story as a "typical Rivers" kind of thing that always happens to you guys! Soooo funny!:D

Elizabeth said...

Oh. My. Stars.

When my parents were just here I didn't want to spend even a minute of our time together blogging, but I am SO glad you took the time to share this story. That is hysterical. And unbelievable.

And while I'm not sure if it's common or not in your corner of the world, Isaac's pit stop is entirely common here in the CR. In fact, a friend shared yesterday that she had seen an entire preschool class out on "field trip" who had all stopped to pee on the tram tracks. Seriously.

Hope the rest of your trip with your parents is fantastic!

Brandon and April said...

holy wow. your parents are such troopers!! a perfect way to say, "welcome to Asia!!" :)

Sharon's Mama said...

Well documented, Sharon, except I also took a picture of our motorcycle hero who was at the same (and nearest) stop for us to get gas!
During it all I really did feel like singing "This is the road that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on my friend..." but that would NOT have made anyone a happier camper.
I was most jealous (annoyed at actually) of all the scooters and motorcycles that could just whizzzz right on through the traffic jam tooting their little horns as if to say, "na, na, nana, na! I'm ahead of you!
Traveling is always an adventure, and having family with you makes it all just fine!

Morgan said...

That?! Was one of the craziest stories I have ever heard! Definitely an A.W.A. (Asia Wins Again) Day. Glad you eventually made it home safely!

Brad, Sara, Elijah, Anna and Brandon said...

I am so sorry for the pain and frustration involved in your journey, but I must say I laughed until I cried! :) I love you dear friends for many reasons, but today I love you for giving me a reason to laugh instead of sit here and freak out over the fact that today is our 2nd homestudy interview. Sounds relatively harmless until I mention that this time the kids have to meet her. (gulp)

Anyway, so glad you made it safe and sound.

(PS I have the exact picture of Elijah's little bare backside on the side of the road with his daddy...ah, memories.)

Emily said...

Your friends said it best - Holy Wow! A.W.A.!

Doug Jett said...

That was an amazing story! I'll admit I had to smile a time or two. Glad you all survived to tell the tale! Hope the trip isn't such a hassle the next time!

CAEN said...

That was quite the adventure!! I thought back to the many times I have been jet laggin and thought...oh, your dear, sweet parents. It made me tired just thinking about it. I was also consumed with worry thinking about if you had enough food and water, sweet preggo friend. Glad you all are safe and in your air-conditioned home. love you guys.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about all your troubles, but it's great you can laugh about it. That definitely makes everything better. Isaiah is so adorable. I wish I had been there to hold him. Miss you guys. Hope you are enjoying your new house and your parent's visit.
Love, Marylou (in Texas)