Malaysia

'Family is priceless': Malaysian man in Singapore rents 2 buses so he and 60 other strangers can join their families for CNY


A bit of thinking outside the box helped one man get home for Chinese New Year — along with the 60-odd people he aided as well.

The Malaysian working in Singapore was faced with a dearth of both train and bus tickets to his hometown in Pahang and decided to take matters into his own hands. He did so by renting a bus to get back home over the lunar new year holidays, reported Sinchew on Friday (Jan 20).

Explaining his decision, the man, Lim Boon Keng, told reporters that his past experiences travelling back home had been far from convenient.

Tickets would be fully booked, he said, and many people would have to find alternative means or find someone willing to share a car ride back to their hometowns.

“For the past two years during the pandemic, many people have been unable to return home,” the Pahang native told the Malaysian news outlet. “Now that [restrictions are gone], everyone wants to go back to their hometown for the holidays and reunite with their families.”

So he came up with an idea — what if he booked his own bus and shared the cost with other travellers?

His idea was so well-received by those who came to learn about it that the one bus he had intended to book quickly became two, catering to 62 travellers wanting to head to Pahang from Johor Bahru (JB). Most of them were Malaysians working in Singapore, said Lim. 

But the plan didn’t come cheap. In fact, bus tickets usually cost about RM29 (S$8.93) each, said Lim, but he had to pay more than double of that at RM64 per ticket.

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The total cost of renting one bus was RM1,900, Lim shared.

The price was an amount that they were willing to swallow, however. He added: “Although it’s twice as expensive as the price of a public bus ticket, it’s still acceptable. After all, family is priceless.

“Being able to go back to my hometown to meet my family and have a reunion dinner — that’s something very precious.”

However, the process to get home wasn’t exactly smooth-sailing, Lim revealed.

He admitted that the process of chartering the buses was hectic, but thankfully all 62 passengers managed to get on the bus and after more than six hours on the road, arrived safely in Pahang on Friday at 4.45am.

“Our hometowns and families are the most important thing to people like us. I’m very glad that I’ve been able to help out other travellers, and also very pleased to be able to get home in time for festivities.”

As for their return trip to Singapore, it’s unlikely that the group will come together again, shared Lim, due to their varying work schedules.

Queues from Singapore to JB have revved up this festive season, with some travellers having to queue for three hours, according to a report by Channel News Asia on Friday evening.

According to the One Motoring website, traffic at both the Tuas and Woodlands Checkpoints towards JB appeared to be congested as of Saturday afternoon.

ALSO READ: For Chinese New Year tourists, retailers roll out rabbit dances, red lanterns

khooyihang@asiaone.com

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