Carrie and I both got employment passes displaying stellar pictures and allowance to remain in the country for two years with no additional visas or passport clearance required. The passes also gave us clearance to open a bank account, get mobile phones, and set up television, internet, and other home amenities as required so that we are ready to move in and supposedly you get a better deal if you sign up for mobile phones, internet, tv, etc with the same carrier.
So Saturday ….
was an errand day to open a bank account and sign up for services, which started leisurely enough with us sleeping in, eating a simple breakfast followed by an efficient 10 minute subway (MRT) ride to the bank office that was open on Saturday from 9am until 12pm. Since I had my employment pass and had been told by the Ministry of Manpower that I no longer needed to carry my passport, guess what I wasn’t carrying…my passport. So I was promptly told by the banker (stupid bankers) that I couldn’t open an account without my passport. I tried to mumble something about the Ministry of Manpower, but lost all steam when I realized it was futile and was fed up with HR like processes for the week. So I trekked the 30 minutes back to our hotel room to retrieve my passport. (Please note that I still no longer carry the passport around even after this incident).
After the passport retrieval we were then hustled into the branch at 11:50am just before closing time and managed to open a bank account and were given star treatment by our wonderful banker. She even pointed Carrie to the four story Forever 21 store (shopping is a hobby and sport here in Singapore) across the street to spend the $0 in our new bank account. I still think she was a good banker though.
So with one thing off the list we headed to StarHub (one of two major providers of telecom/audio services in Singapore) to encounter the most chaotic line I have ever seen in my life. I was afraid that everyone in Singapore recently had their mobile phone service cut and this was the reason for the long line, but nope, this was a normal Saturday. It made the DMV lines in the US look like a five star hotel. So instead of waiting in line all day we grabbed some marketing brochures and headed to their competitor Singtel.
Along the way, Carrie and I saw just what we needed. A post office carrying post card stamps to send notes to loved ones back home. This you think is nothing special, we have post offices in other countries and even back in the US there are post offices and this one was similar, it had people waiting in line with numbers and was fairly inefficient. The one remarkable thing was that when you walked into the post office you had to walk past the valet who would park your car, because the post office split their space with a bar. That is right, one door opens to both the post office and a bar. Now that is genius, who doesn’t need a drink after realizing they’re number 85 and the post office counter just called number 25. If anyone needs a business idea, take that one.
We managed to get stamps and were again off to Singtel where we encountered more deadly lines but did pick up more marketing material and then sat down to compare plans between the two providers. It was dinner time now because of the efficiency of Singapore. Therefore we came home without mobile phones and I will explain how to solve world peace in a subsequent post.