I think I can speak for my fellow Singaporeans when I say that we miss travelling to Malaysia. Forget Japan, Korea or Europe; the first place that most of us wish to travel to when travel restrictions are lifted is Malaysia. With so many amazing places to visit in Malaysia and so much good food to eat, we just can't wait to travel there again ? Although, on a more practical note, Malaysia will probably be one of the first few places that we can travel to if the Malaysia-Singapore border opens up.
18 Mar 2020: The day the borders closed
Credit: Discover ASEAN on Facebook
18 Mar 2020 was a momentous occasion - this was the day that Malaysia imposed its Movement Control Order (MCO). It was probably the first time in history that any of us had seen the Johor-Singapore Causeway empty! Seeing photos of the empty causeway flooding my social media, I felt a little sad. Never in my life would I have imagined such a situation. But like many other Singaporeans, I told myself, never mind it’s just two weeks.
Then, the MCO extended, and Singapore started our Circuit Breaker.
Before we knew it, it’s been more than 3 months!
A Malaysia-Singapore travel bubble?
Last weekend, when Malaysia announced that it has plans to open its borders to Singaporeans, naturally we were overjoyed! Yes, I know there are many details to be ironed out and that precautionary measures have to be put in place. But this still signifies a huge step in the right direction ?
(Special shoutout to Malaysians working in Singapore and all of you - both Malaysians and Singaporeans - who are separated from your loved ones! The wait will be over before you know it ?)
Things we miss about Malaysia
I'll admit, I'm not that person who travels to JB every weekend, or plan trips to Malaysia every few months. In a year, I'll usually only visit Malaysia 3-4 times a year (excluding JB trips). But this pandemic has brought my attention to something very real; that we cannot take our trips to Malaysia (or anywhere for that matter) for granted, even though it might seem like it's just a Causeway away.
Malaysia is that reliable destination we'd always return to for our vacations. Living in a country where it takes only 30-40 minutes to drive from one end to another, travelling to Malaysia is like an escape for us, a respite from our hectic schedules back home.
There are too many things we love about Malaysia, but here are some of them ❤️
We just can't get enough of yummy halal food
For Muslim travellers, of course, the bountiful halal food options await!
Whether it's fast-food chains that are not halal-certified in Singapore or the variety of halal Korean and Japanese cuisine that we can never match up to back home, we miss them all.
We love how all the good food is easily accessible. In KL alone, I can have brunch at an Instagrammable cafe, savour halal dim sum for lunch then munch on some savoury street food for dinner. Then, when the next day comes, I'll enjoy one of the many amazing halal buffets in the city, have high tea or stock up on quality pastries from KL's awesome halal bakeries.
Not to mention the delicious local hawker food in Melaka and Penang, as well as local delicacies in other parts of Malaysia ?
Ah... we could go on and on about why we'd travel to Malaysia for its food alone but you get my point!
There’s plenty of nature... but the cities are awesome too!
It won't be a stretch to say that Malaysia has something for everyone, depending on the type of getaway you're looking for. From stunning beaches and private pool villas in Langkawi to nature retreats, chilly places, hiking trails and more,
But the cities are teeming with activity too. There's always something new to discover in sprawling KL or JB while Penang, Ipoh and Melaka's laid-back vibes never fail to charm you.
There are many more underrated destinations in Malaysia that I plan to visit in future, but there are also familiar places that I'd definitely return to.
Road trips? We love them!
If you're a frequent driver in Singapore, you'd understand when I say that you can never go 10 minutes without running into heavy traffic or that there's practically no view (that's not of buildings) when you're driving on Singapore's roads. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating ?
But my point is that many of us definitely miss the road trips we used to take in Malaysia. Although it's always a pain to endure the traffic jams at immigration, once we've passed that and cruising on the highway, it's an enjoyable feeling!
Sense of familiarity
Above all, there’s always that sense of familiarity when we're vacationing in Malaysia as it makes us feel at home.
Malaysians and Singaporeans share a lot of common things - from culture to language, food and more. If anything, travelling to Malaysia means we'd get to enjoy that comforting feeling (of a vacation) but without having to step out of our comfort zones.
We'll be waiting
That's me on the Langkawi Sky Bridge last year ?
I know for sure that when the borders between Malaysia and Singapore open, us Singaporeans will be there. Even if it’s just for a day trip to JB, we just can’t wait to fuel our wanderlust.
We’ll be cherishing every moment - every foodie trip spent in JB, every long weekend in KL, every road trip on the North-South Highway and more. Even if it’s just a short flight, our attitude towards travelling to Malaysia will definitely be different. Either way, we'll learn to appreciate the little things more.
Until then, we’ll be waiting patiently in Singapore and praying for the time to come soon ?
Disclaimer: Do note that the views expressed in this article are purely those of the writer's and do not necessarily represent or reflect HHWT's views.