Today I travelled across the Causeway from Singapore to Johor Baru, Malaysia. Johor Baru is a massive city right next door to Singapore. Since many people work in Singapore and live in JB it is probably one of the busiest border crossings in the world, so it was very streamlined. People actually ran through customs to get back on the same public bus (fare, $1.50 to cross the border) they arrived on. I was too slow and had to wait 10 minutes for the next one.
All of a sudden I feel like I am in real Asia, not “Asia Lite” as K called Singapore. And Malaysia, like Singapore, houses three major cultures – Malay, Chinese and Indian. But here they cultures are a little more obvious. Street stalls featuring booming Tamil music and people making flower garlands for puja, carts selling Chinese claypot dinners down grimy alleyways, women in headscarfs and the occasional full veil.
I’m on my own now, having said a sad goodbye to my kiwi friend in Singapore. The change is both enlivening and a little unnerving.
I’m ready for this journey.