When I booked our tickets to visit South East Asia, I was not sure what to do with kids in Singapore when you have 48 hours. Our main goal was to spend the majority if our time in Thailand, and then head over to Singapore to visit Thomas Town for a day or two. Little did I know that Thomas Town was actually in Malaysia.
If you have a child who is obsessed with trains, and not just any train but specifically Thomas The Tank Engine, then you’ve most likely done your research to find out where all the Thomas attractions are. Aiden has been to Thomas Land in Boston twice, and so in the process of planning our trip to SE Asia, it was only normal that I check to see if there was one there as well.
During my search, I found out that there is a Thomas Town in Malaysia and that with a U.S. passport a visa wasn’t necessary. I immediately got excited for Aiden and looked for tickets from Bangkok to Malaysia and from Malaysia to Phuket. I found tickets for $40 each way to fly into the airport in Singapore which I read was about an hour away. I was originally going to purchase tickets from Bangkok to Phuket, but after finding out about Thomas Town, I absolutely had to change plans. I couldn’t imagine being so close to Malaysia and not taking Aiden to Thomas Town.
After spending 4 nights in Bangkok, we got on a plane and off to Singapore we went. It was a short 2hr flight and as always, Aiden slept. There’s something about being in an airplane that puts Aiden right to sleep.
We landed at Changi Airport – Singapore at about noon, went through immigration, got our passports stamped and took Uber to our hotel (Uber for the win). I didn’t know what to expect in Singapore but I was blown away with how clean, neat and beautiful the city was.
Our plan was to be in Singapore for 1 night and 2 days. We stayed at the Hilton Singapore, such a beautiful hotel, but also expensive. We used Hilton points to pay for it thankfully, but it still costs quite a lot of points. As compared to Thailand of course.
After settling in, we went for a walk around our hotel and snapped a few pics. As you can see Aiden loves to be behind the camera. The weather was hot, but not as hot as Bangkok. There were several underground shopping stores across the street from our hotel, but decided to skip them. (I’m not a big fan of shopping, so I try to avoid malls)
he found a phone booth and said he wanted to call his cousins
beautiful Christmas tree up in November, & it was huge too
We got hungry and found a place to eat as we were walking called Uma Uma Ramen. Couldn’t figure out what to order, ended up ordering it and was not one bit impressed with the food and so we left hungry.
I looked at my watch, and figured we still had time decided to go back to the hotel and grab snacks from the lounge. One of my favorite things about being a Hilton Honors diamond member is lounge access at Hilton properties. When we got to the lounge, there was a lot more than just snacks. They had pastries, salads, steak and so much more. And even an open bar! We ate quite a bit – dinner right! Lol
I went to bed that night more excited than anything because the next day we were surprising Aiden with a trip to Thomas Town. When you have children, you get sooooooooo excited just thinking about things that will excite them. I didn’t tell Aiden anything about it because I wanted it to be a surprise.
We all woke up early, got dressed and had breakfast. Their breakfast was great with so many options. We met several people from the U.S. at breakfast. One of the couples we met had a kid Aiden’s age. They told us that their job relocated them to Singapore and they’ve been here about a week and absolutely love it so they’re not complaining. I said to my husband jokingly, “We both need jobs that can relocate us also” and we both laughed.
lots of yummy food options
After breakfast shot. So excited about his Thomas & Friends shirt, if only he knew were he was going 😛
We decided to do some sightseeing before heading to Thomas Town. Aiden was proudly showing off his Thomas shirt to everyone, little did he know where he was going to. We crossed the street and located the hop on and hop off bus. We paid, got on to the top and rode around for about an hour and a half. We didn’t get off on any of the sites, we just wanted to enjoy the beauty of the city.
Aiden the map reader
pics below taken from the top of the bus
After about an hour and half on the hop on/off bus, we got off on one of the stops. We noticed an ice cream shop nearby and decided by to get ice cream. It was our first time trying nitrogen ice cream and it was so good.
After we finished our ice cream, I looked at the time and said to my husband, “I think we should head to Thomas Town now”. I called Uber via the app, and when the driver showed up I told him were we were heading to – Thomas Town, Puteri Harbor. He looked at me like I was crazy and this conversation ensued:
Uber Driver: “Sorry, I can’t take you there.”
Me: (my heart sunk) “What do you mean you can’t take me there, I want to go to Thomas Town – Puteri Harbor.”
Uber Driver: “Puteri Harbor in Johor Bahru, That’s Malaysia, this is Singapore, I can’t take you to Malaysia.”
[Aiden: “Mom, are we going to Thomas Town? I want to go now Mom”]
Me: (so confused) “Do you mean Malaysia is another country?”
Uber Driver: “I don’t have license to cross the border, I cannot take you to Puteri Harbor”
Me: “Okay, thank you”
[Aiden: “Mom can we go to Thomas Town now?”]
I then cancelled the ride via the Uber app and we got out. Aiden started asking a million questions and I was sooooo worried that this surprise may end up being a fail. I quickly grabbed my phone; Hello Google to the rescue. It was at that point that I read “On 9 August 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia to become an independent and sovereign state. The separation was the result of deep political and economic differences between the ruling parties of Singapore and Malaysia”. This meant, going to Malaysia meant going to another country.
I had this awful feeling, terrible knot in my stomach that I was going to have to disappoint my son. At this time, Aiden knew we were going to Thomas Town and was expecting us to take him there. I was going to have to break it to him that it wasn’t going to be possible. I was upset at myself. How could I have possibly missed this? When I checked the nearest airport to Thomas Town, the Changi Airport in Singapore was what showed up.
Being the Mom that I am, I had to make a way, I just had to. We flew all the way to Singapore so that Aiden could go to Thomas Town and I was going to make sure that my son made it to Thomas Town. When you have a three year old who eats, breathes, sleeps … and the list goes on, Thomas & Friends, you find a way. The crazy part of it all was, our flight to Phuket, Thailand was later that evening. So I had to figure out how to get us to Thomas Town in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and make it back to Singapore on time to catch our flight. And I had to figure it out QUICK!!!
I noticed an office across the street, told my husband and Aiden to give me a second and dashed in there. I spoke to a few people and found out that there was indeed a way to get to Thomas Town. I started feeling some relief. They informed me that there are some Cab drivers who have the permit to cross the border. and also where I needed to go to find them. I thanked them and ran out very hopeful.
I had to come up with a plan quickly and pray it worked out smoothly. It was as follows; We would head back to our hotel, check out and grab all our stuff. We would then take a cab to the location were we needed to take the second cab with the special permit to cross the border. After we found a special permit cab, we would rent it for the day and ask the driver to take us to Thomas Town, and wait for us, and then take us straight to the airport when we were done.
My husband was very skeptical. He kept saying, just forget about it, another time. I looked at my sweet boy as he asked for the millionth time “Mom, where is Thomas Town? Are we going to Thomas Town now? Please Mom, can I go to Thomas Town, please Mom pleasssse” – (in his exact words). I knew right then and there that we had to go to Thomas Town and my plan HAD to work. There was no other way about it, it had to Freaking Work, lol.
As the day went on, I watched my plan become reality right before my eyes. We got to the hotel, got our stuff and checked out, took cab 1 to were we needed to catch cab 2. Found cab 2 right away and the driver agreed to take us to Thomas Town in Malaysia, wait till Aiden was done playing and then take us straight to the airport. We got into the cab, settled in and off we went. We exited the Singaporean border, showed them our passports, had it stamped for exit, rode a few minutes to the Malaysian border, showed passports and had it stamped for entry into the country. It took us about an hour and a half total. Before I knew it, we had arrived Thomas Town.
All I could think of was, YESSSS !!! My plan worked, it worked, it freaking worked!!
Well the first part of it atleast, lol.
Seeing your child light up because he is in his favorite place; Oh Myyyyyy. Words cannot express the excitement I felt for my son and I’m sure other parents can relate.
Check back soon for more on the rest of our day in Johor Bahru, Malaysia!!!
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