The Johor-Singapore Causeway is a perennial link between Singapore and Malaysia, and is known to be one of the world’s busiest border crossings. Situated in Woodlands (on the most northern end of Singapore), it is known to Singaporeans simply as the “Causeway”. However, a worldwide pandemic has literally stopped countries from functioning properly and causing lockdowns. As such, the Causeway closed down on 18 March 2020, effectively preventing anyone from travelling to and from Singapore. We took the opportunity to visit the Causeway shortly after it had closed, and we were treated to a sight never seen before in history.
It is estimated that about 350,000 people cross the checkpoint every day, and for various reasons; many Malaysians work in Singapore but prefer to stay with their families in Johor, and would have to wake up very early just to queue up at the immigration customs to come into Singapore. For Singaporeans, it is often an opportunity to get away from the bustling city life, to engage in feasting (Johor has many cuisines to tuck oneself into!) and shopping as well.
As such, when the Malaysia lockdown was announced, people were naturally worried for the situation, as many commuted to Singapore on a daily basis for work. On the other hand, Malaysians who lived in Singapore also wished to return to their home. As a result, the day before the lockdown was to begin, the Causeway saw massive queues and jams.
After the closure of the immigration customs, the Causeway was an eerie, strangely empty crossing, and this had never happened in its history. However, it was not completely shut down as imagined, as critical supplies would continue to move between both countries.
Given this historic moment, we decided to head down to Woodlands (in the north of Singapore) to try and catch a glimpse ourselves. We had our trusty Fujifilm GFX50R, the Mamiya RB67 with modified CB67 (Polaroid) back, and a camera which we have not yet featured on our website until now, a modified Kodak No. 2A Folding Autographic Brownie (“Kodak Brownie“), which is able to shoot Fujifilm Instax Wide film. Let’s carry on with our journey below!
We had to search for a public housing flat that was high enough and which had the perfect view of the Causeway. On our first try, we found it!
We decided to walk around the neighbourhood and see if we could capture a different perspective of the Causeway. Our findings were surprising, to say the least!
At this time, it suddenly rained, so we proceeded to the nearest housing flat and went upstairs to the highest floor. Lo and behold, it started pouring!
Since we were in Woodlands, we decided to visit the nearby Woodlands Jetty, which is part of the Woodlands Waterfront Park! From the jetty, we were able to see parts of Johor, and is in fact the nearest point to our neighbours.
With the current pandemic affecting the entire world, we can only hope and pray that in time, we will start to see life return to normal. For now, we made do with quite a remarkable sight: a virtually empty Causeway, with no one allowed to pass through it.
Separately, since 7 April 2020, Singapore has instituted a “soft lockdown”, restricting movement of Singaporeans, closing most workplaces and all recreational sites. We are affected by these measures, and therefore most of our entries from April onwards will be dated i.e. not actually occurring before or near the time when they are actually posted/updated. We also urge all Singaporeans to stay safe and abide by these measures, as they are key to minimising the impact of the virus. To everyone else from abroad, we too urge that you stay safe and do your part in containing the spread of this contagious virus.
Till next time,