Hold at Immigration Office Changi Airport, Singapore
After I resigned from my last company, I searched for new company just a few minutes ride from my previous one. At first it has a lot to do for interview and some in-house training as company policy. After completing all the documents, the company called that I have already clearance to board the ship, happy and excited for the moment. I was briefed that the ship is in Singapore, I’m late to join when it was in Subic, Philippines after long time anchorage due to shipping market crisis.
I’m travelling alone this time and I said to myself that I can manage this, I have experience before so maybe it will work right. The flight took in from Manila to Hong-Kong, HK to Singapore. As I step out the plane, felt proud and nervous as I walk through the exit. I notice that there are plenty of people waiting outside the exit door holding some wheel chair and placards with some names written on it. I ignore them since I’m expecting my agent is waiting outside the airport after the immigration counter.
While walking inside the airport, I’m amazed how clean and beautiful this Singapore airport. They have carpeted hallway, some fountain and plants surrounded by benches for travelers can sit when exhausted and these duty free stores. I unpack from my camera from the backpack to take some shots inside and capture this popular airport construction and design without knowing the problem lies ahead.
I can see other travelers in a long line while the others filling up the immigration form so I get one to sign also. After my turn to an immigration officer, he refuse and pointed his finger to the other side near the elevator, they have separate immigration counter for seafarers like me. Moved my luggage to the right side with this long immigration table and couch in front of them. I saw some of the seafarers sat waiting to be called their names and I noticed that they were the same company with me because the color of their envelopes is the same. We talk a little bit to ease my nervous that I’m not alone here, they have completed their papers by the help of this uniformed women and take them directly to luggage scanner before they left the airport.
Not it’s my turn, showed them my documents to immigration officer then he ask me where is the other paper. What paper? I ask. He is looking this guarantee letter together with the visa on arrival sort of. I searched my envelope for a piece of paper that my company gave me during the dispatch and one by one I showed it to officer but he cannot find what he’s looking for. I sat is the couch, and trying to remember all the things from my briefing in the office, search again all my documents while my heart is in a rush of pumping blood to my veins that I can’t think anymore what to do.
Maybe the officer noticed me worried because I’m alone in that area for a few hours, he gave me an advice to call my agent. Wow, why I didn’t think of that. It was written outside my envelope whom to contact in case of any problem. My red face settle down a bit, go back to second floor to search for any telephone booth and money changer to trade my US$20 pocket money. After the lady change to Singapore dollar, I ask where the nearest telephone booth is, he asks why. I told her that I can’t pass the immigration so I’m about to call my agent here in Singapore. She was surprised and replies immediately that it’s free to call from this airport to any local numbers here in Singapore. If I’ve known earlier, I wouldn’t change my money but it’s past already, my mind is to seek this agent of mine.
Dialing to the telephone of my agent’s number, it just keep ringing with no answer. When I ask why to myself, what is the time now why he is not answering my call? When I checked my watch, its 2 o’clock in the morning, before losing hope, I re-dialed 3 times with no answer. I returned to the couch now without the immigration officer from his desk, maybe break-time. While my mind is wondering, I haven’t noticed him when he came back, maybe he was kind worry about me, and he dialed from his desk telephone and talk to someone.
After a few minutes, a lady walks in front of me and ask my name and my ship. She hand over a paper to immigration officer, called in front of the officer for face verification and I’m cleared. I thanked a lot that immigration officer before I left his desk. This lady is like agent also inside the airport for another agent of company, he ask me why I didn’t notice her from the exit door when she holding a paper printed my name, I told her I didn’t notice and expect that someone is waiting for me inside the airport and it’s my fault to ignore them.
We past trough to luggage x-ray check again for final exit then wait from the lobby for the service of my agent. From there, he transferred me to the port immigration for legal papers and saw my ship just alongside the pier. All worries has gone, I can relaxed now and excited for my new job.
To other seafarers especially travelling alone or for the first time, always read all the papers with a printed letters holding by people standing near the exits. Maybe your name is one of them, you don’t want to be the same experience with me.
Do you also have experience like that? Share with me.
PS: Excuse my grammar, my English is bad. 🙂