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While I would usually take my father’s car whenever we head to Malacca, his sedan could no longer fit the entire family after both my brother and I got married the previous year. Hence it would be the first time in a long while that I took a coach to Malacca for Chinese New Year.
As coincidence would have it, one of my colleagues hailed from Malacca and she has connections to 707, one of the more reputable coach companies between Singapore and Malacca. Through her, I managed to get S$5 off a S$45 ticket whose normal retail price is only S$25.
Basic economic rules of supply and demand are clearly in force here. It is the norm for coach ticket prices to increase during Chinese New Year due to the hordes of Malaysians working in Singapore heading back to their hometowns for the festive period. Not quite the scale of China’s 春运 but we would feel the impact during our journey.
The rest of my family would set off early at 6am in the hope of avoiding the jam and my father generously came by my place to pick up our bags so that we would have a more hassle-free coach ride. I picked a 8.30am departure and 707’s pick-up point at Queen Street was already buzzing with activities when we arrived.
The ‘check-in’ was simply by showing one of the 707 guys outside their office our confirmations and he would cross out our names on his lists and tell us which bus to go to. Despite the increased price, all seats on our 27-seater coach were taken and we set off for Tuas checkpoint right on the dot.
We got a SVIP bus which had a typical 1-2 seating arrangement found on many Malaysian coaches.
To be honest, it’s more comfortable traveling in the bus than in my father’s car.
Half an hour later after departing Queen Street, we arrived at Singapore checkpoint at Tuas. It didn’t take us too long there as we could use the auto-gates there but it would take one hour for us to clear the Malaysian immigration which weren’t operating at full capacity.
Our coach set off from Malaysian checkpoint at around 11am and only stopped once for toilet somewhere near Tangkak. The traffic was heavy around a stretch after Kulai but it cleared out mostly after that. At 3pm, our bus rolled into Melaka Sentral, 6.5 hours after departing from Singapore.
Turned out that we were the lucky ones. My family were still stuck in the jam leading up to Woodlands checkpoint at 12 noon, cleared Malaysian immigration at 2pm after waiting to use toilet for one hour and reached my grandmother’s house at only 6pm! 12 hours on the road between Singapore and Malacca was definitely a new record for us.