Monday, July 27, 2009

Driving from Singapore to Sibu Island's ferry terminal

After getting our car in Singapore, we set off to travel to Sibu Island. Because we had some little ones with us, we decided to stay on the mainland rather than on the island. Our experience staying on Malaysia's islands has been pretty broad over the years, so we knew that getting a reliable, comfortable hotel for kids (one is below 2 years) could be a little iffy. You can get great places, but you can also be unlucky enough to get spots that don't have water or electricity for some reason or another. If you're on the mainland, you've always got the choice to drive on until you find a nice spot to stay. Taht isn't true on the islands.

So, we decided to drive to Tajung Leman and stay there, taking a boat out just for snorkeling during the day. Our drive was fairly smooth, but there were three little hiccups along the way.

The first came at customs, where we were stopped and the 4 members of our party who were carrying US passports were asked to go have their temperature taken because of the H1N1 scare. All had been in Singapore for more than a month, and one had not been in the US since 2008. But still, that was the requirement. (Never mind that one of the Singapore-passport-holders had been in the US more recently — she was exempted!) It was not a big deal, but did slow us down a little.

The second obstacle we met was a very heavy rain. Traffic was pretty slow, and the downpour was very heavy. Nothing much you can do about the weather, but it, again, put us coming in later than we had hoped.

The third thing was the most irritating of the 3. I had found road directions online, and they said that the signs from Singapore to Tanjong Leman were clearly marked. That is true, except for in one spot where the signs direct you to turn off earlier than you should. There are actually 3-4 different spots where you can turn off from the main highway and get to Tanjong Leman, and the first one (coming from Singapore) seems to take the longest. We ended up turning into a palm oil plantation and having quite a long drive (much of it in the rain). It doesn't have to be that way, as the later turnoff is really good.

Anyway, the trip from Singapore should take roughly 2 1/2 - 3 hours, and we stretched it up to around 4 because of these 3 hiccups. Not a bad trip, but a part of the journey that could have been a little smoother. We were able to make the trip home much more quickly, so it is possible.

If you head up that way from Singapore, do check out the best directions you can get. And beware of the tricky signs on the highway.

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