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2-Hour Detention at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority August 8, 2016

2-Hour Detention at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority

GPS waypoint: 1°17'02.5"N 103°51'34.7"E
Location: Singapore

From Malacca, I wanted to proceed to Singapore for a few reasons:

  1. I lost my phone in Malacca and needed to get another one
  2. I needed a direct flight to Davao, Philippines and Singapore is the only international destination connecting Davao
  3. It would be good seeing Eunice again, a strong yogini I met in Bali
  4. I love Singapore having lived a magical 30 days here a year ago
2-Hour Detention at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority
alighting in Bugis, getting my bearings

The Snag
The bus trip from Malacca Sentral Bus Terminal to exiting Malaysia was painless and went smoothly like clockwork. However, at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), it hit a snag. For the life of me, I completely forgot to book a hotel and an onward flight, although I was spending the last few days looking for the cheapest deal.

Not surprisingly, I was detained for 2 hours causing me to be left by my bus. Although unnerving, I welcomed the experience - because it's a new experience. I wasn't nervous. There was nothing to be nervous about - I didn't steal, lie or kill. I just arrived with no booking. That's hardly a crime. After explaining myself to the immigration officer, I was immediately released. They're smart and quick to tell that I was not a threat in any way. I took another bus that brought me to Bugis District where I had to start the new challenge of finding a cheap hotel.

Change of Feelings?
But I would like to focus on what happened at Immigration. I returned to Singapore because I sincerely admire and love this country. It's the one destination that impressed me the most in Southeast Asia. And now, I get detained and had to scurry for a bus to the main city, having lost precious time. How do I feel now about Singapore?

Respect and Admiration
It may seem odd, but this incident only fortified my admiration and respect for the country and the people who run it. Here's why:

  1. I didn't do my job. It was really my bad and had nothing to do with them. They were just doing their jobs.
  2. being non-compliant to their rules, I was vulnerable. In other countries, the officials would have applied the 'squeeze' to pressure me into bribing them. Or, perhaps play God and power trip on me. But ICA was respectful the entire time, even managing a pleasant smile at times. There was absolutely no power play. They were the consummate professionals.
  3. as punishment, they detained me for 2 hours and made the bus leave without me as a consequence. Honestly? I think my slap-on-the-wrist punishment fits the low-level crime. Again, they could have given stiffer penalties, like an overnight jail time or be sent back to Malaysia. They could have made that as policy. But no, they just gave me enough punishment to teach me a lesson. In fact, if I were in their shoes and I have to be fair but act from a position of power, I would have done exactly the same - teach the guy a lesson without brutalizing him.

Ending Thoughts
Working at ICA is probably a thankless job - you bear the brunt of everyone who has been detained, delayed, interrogated, let alone whose contraband has been confiscated or those committng illegal entries. All this aggravation when you're just doing your job. Compare this in sharp contrast to a country club manager whose job is to ensure people are having the best times of their lives. In return, they get thanked, gifted, friended and invited to be hosted when visiting the traveler's hometown, etc. But just the same, they were just doing their jobs. Something to ponder about.

This experience certainly adds dimension to Singapore for me - an unpleasant but needed one. The more I know about Singapore, the more I admire it. I can't wait to see what else is in store for me.

--- TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Immigration & Checkpoints AuthorityImmigration & Checkpoints Authority
(Aug 17, 2016) Hi Gigit, thank you for sharing your experience and understanding the need for additional checks. Wish you a very pleasant stay in Singapore!
(Aug 19, 2016) Man gets detained in Singapore for 2 hours, somehow ends up becoming the best spokesman for ICA! (FB shares)

Sheryl NivagSheryl Nivag
(Aug 19, 2016) Hats off. A tourist understanding us.

Perpetua NgPerpetua Ng
(Aug 19, 2016) most would be angry and be upset at the perceived 'strictness' of our country.... but this guy is calm and collected and rational enough to understand why our Guardians do what they do.

Kelwin KohKelwin Koh
(Aug 19, 2016) They work at a thankless job so that we stay safe. Thanks guys & gals in ICA.

Brandon LinBrandon Lin
(Aug 19, 2016) What does he expect?! As a guest into the country, the host need to know when you are leaving. Having a cashless, helpless and stranded guest is not something pleasant. Pre-planned your trip, with the heighten security climate he might denied entry

Nis RazaliNis Razali
(Aug 19, 2016) Great article...

Roselyn MerlinRoselyn Merlin
(Aug 15, 2016) You are really blessed.

Andrew MitchellAndrew Mitchell
(Aug 15, 2016) Sounds like you handled yourself very well in a potentially frightening situation. I like your positive attitude about it.

Molly MallariMolly Mallari
(Aug 15, 2016) Good for you Git. The last time I went thru Sg immigration it was not a very good experience. :(

Vince CruzVince Cruz
(Aug 15, 2016) Security without terror. Buti nakauwi ka din ng maayos Gigit. Ay hahaha oki. ingats big brother is watching lol

Leona DinopolLeona Dinopol
(Aug 15, 2016) I had the same experience. Detained for about half an hour because I failed to provide a hotel booking (even though my onward flight was just 5 hours away). They even asked how much cash I was carrying, and asked to see it. Haha gotta love Sg. And that's why they now have an Olympic gold medal. Because they actually do their jobs

Minerva BenzonanMinerva Benzonan
(Aug 15, 2016) My niece got detained at the border going to KL Kay nag selfie.... lol

Nichole KerleNichole Kerle
(Aug 15, 2016) Love your attitude! It makes something that could be upsetting, tolerable. Mostly love that you claim your own personal responsibility.

Next stop: Getting my Xiaomi Redmi Note3 Smart Phone

Google Map Singapore

tourist attractions in Singapore tourist attractions
  • Little India Little India - Little India is the main tourism hub in Singapore. Friday and Saturday nights become animated with the night market
  • Chinatown Chinatown -colorful and animated with Chinese ware shopping, sumptuous street food and hawker-style eats, try Ah Balling Peanut Soup
  • Orchard Road Orchard Road - upscale shopping and glitzy night life
  • Arab Street Arab Street - backpacker dorms, shisha smoking with Middle Eastern atmosphere
  • Singapore Zoo Singapore Zoo - experience the night zoo, S$38
  • Fountain of Wealth Fountain of Wealth - at Suntec City, largest fountain in the world (Guinness Book of Records in 1998), shop-til-you-drop
  • The Southern Ridges The Southern Ridges - best trekking trails in Singapore extending 10kms through lush forest canopy. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat
  • Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery - biggest Buddhist temple in Singapore
  • Marina Bay Sands Marina Bay Sands - Singapore's most iconic building and most expensive at US$5.5B. Imagine a surf board on top of three skyscrapers
hotels in Singapore hotel
  • Arcadia Hotel Arcadia Hotel - stylish, modern, urbane, cool and confident. Jalan Besar district
    32 Hamilton Road, Singapore 209201
    +65 6718 0700 | | 1°18'42.0"N 103°51'41.1"E
  • 7 Wonders Hostel 7 Wonders Hostel - backpacker community, sleeping capsules, free wifi, complimentary breakfast, live English Premier League, dining, motion sensor lighting, alfresco outdoor sitting area
    257 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208930
    tel: (+65) 6291 3774 | 1°18'36.2"N 103°51'29.8"E
  • Meadows Hostel Meadows Hostel - newly opened, all new and clean, backpacker capsule beds, central Lavender District location, 24/7 compli tea and coffee, wifi, compli breakfast
    7A Hamilton Road, Kallang, Singapore, Singapore 209178
    tel: 6298.1323 | 1°18'40.2"N 103°51'38.0"E

More Information about Singapore

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Singapore Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. Mini-Life in Singapore August 8-22, 2016
  2. Peoplescape of Singapore Aug. 8-22, 2016
  3. Discovering the Neighborhood Cafes of Singapore Aug 8-22, 2016
  4. Biological Cell Regulation (BCR) Therapy at Chang Wellness Aug 16, 2016
  5. Getting my Xiaomi Redmi Note3 Smart Phone Aug. 9, 2016
  6. A Roof Over my Head in Singapore Aug. 8-22, 2016
  7. 2-Hour Detention at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority August 8, 2016
  8. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew Mar 23, 2015
  9. Life Hacking in Singapore Mar 22, 2015
  10. Exploring More of Singapore Feb 21 - Mar 22, 2015
  11. Power Yoga Class at Yoga Inc., Singapore Mar 21, 2015
  12. Touring Marina Bay Sands Mar 17, 2015
  13. The Singapore Magic Mar 16, 2015
  14. Singapore Yoga at Yoga Inc. Mar 8, 2015
  15. Singapore on a Shoe String Feb 20, 2015
  16. Things to do in Singapore Oct 20, 2013
  17. Singapore Girl July 21, 2013
  18. Lee Kuan Yew and Ferdinand Marcos Jan 26, 2003

»» next story: Getting my Xiaomi Redmi Note3 Smart Phone
»» next Traveling story: A Roof Over my Head in Singapore
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