My Biggest Travel Mistake (So Far)
Travel is the greatest teacher. It opens the mind. It teaches you about new places and new people. It teaches you about yourself. But not all travel lessons are fluffy and warm and rainbows. Sometimes they are learned the hard way.
Singapore is one of the world’s most organized countries. They love rules, and they love to enforce them. The streets are clean, public transport runs on time, and people uphold high moral standards.
Or at least that is my preconceived impression of Singapore.
I wouldn’t actually know if this is true or not – because I did not go to Singapore. Well – actually, I was not allowed into Singapore.
Travel Lesson : Many countries will not let you enter the country if your passport expires in 6 months or less from your entry or exit date.
Singapore is one of those countries. And Singapore loves to enforce their rules. My passport was expiring in 5 months and 30 days. And I had booked my flight to leave Singapore the very next day. That’s right – my passport was one day too old, and Singapore was not having it.
I was not allowed to enter Singapore.
I don’t know what inspired me to even look up the entry requirements for Singapore, but luckily I did so while relaxing on the Perhentian islands. After a few calls to Singapore immigration and customs, I realized it would be futile to even try rocking up at the border. So its not as if I was not allowed into Singapore – I just didn’t try. Instead of taking the night bus to Singapore after my island vacation, I instead took the bus back to Kuala Lumpur.
So how was this lesson learned the hard way? It’s not like I was turned away at the border or anything. Well, I learned this lesson the cold, hard cash way.
I had to buy a new flight home. Well not entirely. I had to buy a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, and then argue with Jetstar for two hours until they combined the two flights into one booking number so that I would not have to pass the cool scrutiny of Singapore immigration. Thanks to a hapless Jetstar employee telling me this was possible, and then my insistence that Jetstar supervisors make it happen, I was able to catch my original flight home after buying a relatively cheaply priced flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.
I was lucky this time. I only lost 50 dollars booking the new flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. And even jesters 0800 number was toll free and did not cost me anything to call from my mobile. So this whole debacle only cost me some stress, a couple hours, and 50 bucks. Not bad. It could have been worse. I could have had to buy a whole new flight to New Zealand.
The first thing I did when I got back to New Zealand was renew my passport.