Life Commuting 2+ Hours A Day To Singapore From JB

Life in Johor Bahru (JB) is relatively tranquil, but there’s no denying that Singapore offers more economy-wise. Plus, currency conversion means earning that much more in Singapore while living back in Malaysia.

Although JB is extremely close to Singapore, the existence of the Causeway makes travel complicated.

Imagine pouring water from a large flask into a smaller flask, with only 2 tiny slots for openings.

Only a minuscule amount of water can enter the smaller flask, no matter how large the other flask is.

That’s the daily situation in the Causeway as, according to CNA, more than 300,000 Malaysians enter Singapore daily.

And that included me.

Daily routine: waking up at 4 to 4:30am, being in bed by 11

As a Johorean working in Singapore, getting up at 4am became a way of life. Why 4am? The reasons are manifold.

Firstly, I’m a punctuality freak, so being late for work was unacceptable.

Secondly, the jams can start from 5am onwards, and that’s enough to delay the commute by at least an hour, sometimes even 1.5 hours.

Unacceptable!

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So, 4am would become the usual wake-up time. While you’re fast asleep in bed, I’m getting ready for work.

After around 45 minutes of prep time, I would head to the bus stop at Bukit Indah to await the Causeway Link bus (CW3) that’ll take me straight to Jurong East, through the Tuas Second Link.

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Unfortunately, bus frequencies are all over the place and on some days I might have to wait 40 minutes for the CW3. Bus timetables are a lie, by the way.

And that’s just step 1. We’re not even at the Causeway yet, but the wait time and commute is also time spent to catch up on social media — albeit the late-night memes my nocturnal friends would post after I’m in bed by 11pm.

Causeway or the highway

You might think that entering through the Second Link would be less of a nightmare than passing through Woodlands Checkpoint.

No, not really.

Traffic jams before and after Tuas can last an hour or longer, and that’s even before entering Customs. This is due to the high number of Malaysians working in the West area of Singapore.

By this time, social media has exhausted its purpose as a time killer because there are only so many memes. Bored, I switch to playing a mobile game instead.

After passing Customs, the journey resumes on the Causeway Link bus. At this point, I switch my SIM card.

Here’s a word of advice: don’t. A crowded bus travelling at wildly variable speeds due to frequent traffic lights ranks as among the worst places to change a SIM card, alongside a black hole and being chased by a lion in the African Savannah.

I cannot tell you the amount of time I’ve carelessly dropped my SIM card. Luckily I’ve never lost it, but I know others who have, as frequent SIM card switchers.

Boarding the bus again after passing through Customs
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30 minutes later on a good day – longer if there are jams – I reach Jurong East Interchange, and hop on to another bus, before finally arriving at work.

Ironically, because I have to leave the house so early to get to work, most days I end up being one of the first to arrive at the office.

The same cycle repeats when I get off work, except because it’s peak hours, everyone’s scrambling to return home as well. Leaving work early is really the only way to beat the incessant jams.

Exhaustion after work & lack of social life

Commuting from JB to Singapore – and the other way round – is literally travelling to another country all the time.

That’s 4+ hours of travelling a day, and it gets draining, especially with the early-to-bed mentality I have to adopt. When I’m finally back home, the sun’s already long set and the amount of time left before I have to do this all over again is so incredibly limited.

Not to mention the usual anxieties of travel – like whether I brought my work visa or wondering if the bus is late again – but experiencing it every single day.

This interchange became my friend when going to work in Singapore
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There’s no energy left for hanging out with friends either, and weekends are solely for resting.

Life with 2 SIM cards

Working in 1 country and living in another presents another challenge – phone data.

Roaming charges used to be particularly expensive, so I’d turn off my data whenever entering Singapore and switch to another SIM card. That’s 2 phone bills to pay for, which can become draining on the wallet in the long run.

Before obtaining another SIM card, I’d simply turn off my data – which these days is pretty much being cut off from all social life.

No WhatsApp, no Instagram, no Google search for “what is the best roaming data SIM plan Singapore” during toilet sessions.

And if you’re thinking this is a first-world problem – yes, yes it is.

The process is clumsy at best: removing the phone cover, fiddling for a pin to open the SIM card tray, replacing the SIM card. Both the SIM card and pin are tiny objects which are easy to lose.

Peak first-world problems: losing your SIM card ejector pin
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Having done this exact process for years, it’s gotten cumbersome. I’ve also lost several pins.

Leave your 2nd SIM behind with redONE post-paid plans – no roaming charges between Singapore and Malaysia

Times have changed since the days of obscenely expensive roaming charges.

Frequent commuters to Malaysia or vice versa will be pleased to know that redONE’s bundled data charges are exactly the same in both Singapore and Malaysia, meaning you’ll never need to change your SIM card or turn off your data when travelling to and fro.

This also means no hidden roaming charges, ensuring a stress-free commute. Gone are the days where you’d have to worry about the amount of messages you can send – I mean, 60 cents for 1 SMS? shudders

These are the postpaid plans redONE are offering:

Amazing8 ($8/month) – 3GB data, 100 mins call time, 10 free SMS
Amazing18 ($18/month) – 6GB data, 200 mins call time, 20 free SMS
Amazing28 ($28/month) – 10GB data, 300 mins call time, 30 free SMS

Even better news: redONE has a Christmas promotion from now till 31 Dec 2019 where you can get 2GB for $5 (U.P 1GB for $5). You can find out more here.

We heard that they are running a contest on Facebook on 16th December, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

One thing’s for sure: you’ll probably never lose your SIM Card or another SIM card ejector pin while fumbling about on a bus.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with redONE.

Featured image adapted from YouTube and Book My Taxi.