Saturday, January 07, 2006

Christmas in Singapore

The rest of Dec 2005 flashed by just like that! A lot has happened since my last entry. We went to Singapore to celebrate Christmas with Patrick's brother and his family. Believe it or not, we didn't see Orchard at night!

Our holiday was almost screwed before we arrive at the Aeroline bus terminal in Singapore. At the Singapore Immigration, our luggage was scanned. I had packed Christmas presents for folks in Singapore, of which was a bottle of wine for my bro-in-law. The customs officer asked me to open my bag to check. When I told them I had a bottle of wine with me as a present for my bro-in-law, he summoned me into the Customs Office! Yikes!

In the office, the customs officer explained that I did not declare the bottle of wine in my bag, of which duty had to be paid. The customs officer asked if I was paying by credit card or cash. This is Singapore, where efficiency is in everything! The duty came up to S$8, which is not much. Phew! I had to wait a short while for the receipt to be printed. Apparently, the computer was online with the customs officer elsewhere and my receipt was being printed at another terminal. The customs officer apologised several times for the delay. A couple of minutes later, I had the receipt in my hand and I was on my way in the bus again. My family waited for me in the bus. I didn't make eye contact with anyone in the bus, as I'm sure I was glared at for delaying the bus!

On arrival at the bus terminal, we proceeded to collect our luggage from the bus. Patrick looked at me and asked, "Where's my laptop?". GASP!! I'd left the laptop bag in the customs office! The bus attendant (as opposed to flight attendant) on board our bus, Fifi, was very helpful. She brought me to the Aeroline bus counter to get the phone number for the Immigration and Customs office at Tuas. I called the number given to me, after a few rings, someone picked up the phone. I explained why I called and immediately, the person I spoke to knew what I was talking about! Very impressive! The IAC officer I spoke to, Latifah, told me that the laptop bag has been handed to the police. She asked if I was going to collect the bag that day. If so, to go directly to see her and she will assist me in getting the laptop bag back. As it turned out, I didn't manage to collect the bag the same day. When I called back to inform Latifah I wasn't going to collect the bag, someone else picked up the phone and said that she wasn't at the office. I explained why I called and the person I spoke with also knew what I was talking about! I was not passed to another person in another department nor asked to call another number to speak to someone else and I did not have to explain over and over again that I had lost my laptop bag.

The next day, my bro-in-law drove me to Tuas to collect the laptop bag. We followed the signs and found ourselves at the checkpoint counter. I went into the nearest IAC office to see if we were at the right place. The officer on duty, Teo, made one phone call and proceeded to tell me where the laptop bag was and what I needed to do to collect the bag. He arranged for an auxiliary police to escort me to the police station to collect the bag. At the same time, his colleague arranged for a space for my bro-in-law to park his car so he can wait for me.

At the police station, I was required to write down the item I was collecting. I guess this is to verify that I was the genuine owner of the bag. Then she escorted me back to the car, all the while arranging on the walkie-talkie with other auxiliary police to be on stand by to open up the barriers for us to turn back into Singapore.

All the officers who attended to me were very helpful and polite. I am very impressed with the efficiency of the IAC and Cisco Auxiliary Police officers. I can't thank them enough for their assistance.


Blogger Adriene said...

wow, that's an impressive story of true service. well done to all those singaporean officers involved.

2:30 am  
Blogger Eternity said...

you're lucky to get your laptop back! and oh, you didn't miss much of the orchard road christmas lights. i wasn't impressed.

3:09 pm  

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