Will the reopening of Lok Ma Chau, Sha Tau Kok and the other crossing points on Hong Kong’s border with Shenzhen in mainland China – whenever it happens – be quite so euphoric as the restoration of the land links between Singapore and Malaysia? At midnight on March 31, the causeway and bridge that link the two countries – normally used by about 400,000 people daily – reopened , allowing vaccinated people to cross without having to test or quarantine. The connections were fully opening for the first time in two years (and 14 days, to be exact). “Minutes before the land borders were set to reopen at 11.59pm on Thursday (March 31), the waiting crowd began to move,” reported The Straits Times . “At midnight, they streamed by foot, car and motorbike across the checkpoints in Woodlands and Tuas, many heading towards home or meeting family members who were waiting on the other side to pick them up. Seven luxury hotel chains with Hong Kong roots? It’s no accident “Cars tooted their horns as they drove into the complex, while people on foot clapped and cheered before the jubilant mood quickly settled into one of business as usual of clearing immigration checks.” The excitement had been building and this would have been a cruel April Fool’s Day trick if it had turned out to be one: “By 10.50pm, more than 200 people, mainly Malaysian, were waiting patiently at Woodlands. At Tuas, some 500 motorbike riders waited eagerly as time went by, some revving their machines in anticipation.” Channel NewsAsia devoted a blog feed to the great day and, as dawn broke, its reporters were crossing the border and giving live updates. Reporter Cheryl Lin set out from Singapore early: “Since there are no public buses operating and bus tickets for the morning have been sold out, I’m taking a private taxi to Johor. “I set off for the checkpoint at 5.45am to try to beat the morning crowd – my driver warned that leaving home at 6.30am would have been too late.” What it’s like arriving in Thailand now – tests, passes, expenses Aqil Haziq Mahmud was heading in the same direction, but with his own wheels: “Setting off in my car to Woodlands Checkpoint with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. “Anticipation because I am finally able to drive into Johor Bahru – a favourite pastime of Singaporeans until Covid-19 shut down the Causeway on March 18, 2020. Trepidation because Malaysia’s contact tracing app MySejahtera still says I am not fully vaccinated when I have been triple-jabbed, and that I have a Malaysian address when I am just visiting for the day.” Never fear, readers, he made it, although there was a minor hold-up: “Motorists have stopped by the side of the Causeway to take photos, perhaps as a keepsake to say they were here when the land borders between Singapore and Malaysia fully reopened after more than two years.” Covid cruise ship that left Hong Kong is to get its own … park? Amir Yusof rode pillion in the opposite direction: “Clearing Malaysia immigration on a motorbike was a breeze this morning. All counters were open and officials were on hand to help riders. It took less than 5 minutes to pass through Bangunan Sultan Iskandar [the immigration facility at the northern end of the causeway]. The immigration officer waved us off with a smile. “Nice sunrise as we crossed the Causeway. No congestion. Saw a few dozen travellers walking from Singapore into Malaysia, some of them waved. It has been a while since many of us travelled like this.” In Johor Bahru, Try Sutrisno Foo found a happy chappie who wasn’t on the move: “Mr Jamil Ali has been working as a car wash attendant in Malaysia for six years. The 22-year-old Pakistani told me that on a regular night, he and his co-workers wash between 50 and 70 cars. “Last night, with the borders open, the car wash saw around 100 cars – of which around 30 are Singapore-registered ones.” The little island that could have been Hong Kong Having checked to make sure Johor Bahru was still recognisable and visited Watsons – the prices of rapid antigen tests and face masks across the border now being as interesting to Singaporeans as the price of petrol – Lin had another smooth ride home: “At Singapore Customs, they did a quick check of our car, but this took no more than a few minutes. “Overall, the trip to Johor was much easier than I imagined,” she concluded. “Although the [MySejahtera] app still has not reflected my vaccination status, I did not encounter any issues with not being granted entry anywhere. The immigration clearance queues were also much shorter than any I experienced pre-pandemic.” Once back in Singapore, Mahmud came to much the same conclusion, “In all, it was an enjoyable trip. Not much has changed in terms of getting into Johor Bahru and how a day could be spent there.” And just like that, the land connection between Malaysia and Singapore returned to normal. Imagine! Hotel opens in historic Nintendo building in Japan April 1 also saw the opening of a hotel fit for Mario himself. Kyoto, Japan’s Hotel Marufukuro has opened in a building that played an important role in the history of Nintendo, the world’s largest video-game company. In 1933, the company that would become Nintendo – then a producer of playing cards – moved into this purpose-built building. In 1947, the company’s name was changed to Marufuku. In 1959, Marufuku – having outgrown the space – vacated, and the building would remain empty for decades before Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando was drafted in to add an annexe and blend “the early Showa-era aesthetic of the original building with a modern sensibility”, according to Tokyo Weekender . The magazine’s website assures readers that there are plenty of “Nintendo Easter eggs” to be found in the 18-room hotel. Destinations Known assumes that is a good thing. World’s largest electric cruise ship makes maiden voyage The Mayflower, the African Queen, the Wonder of the Seas – much romance and/or historical significance can be tied up in a colourful ship’s name. Not so much the Yangtze River Three Gorges 1. Nevertheless, that is the moniker given to the world’s largest electric cruise ship, which, according to Bloomberg, has just made its maiden voyage. It settled “back into port in Yichang in China’s central Hubei province after cruising up and down the Yangtze River”. Powered by a 7,500 kilowatt-hour marine battery, the ship will begin running sightseeing trips this month, reports the newswire. “At 100 metres long and around 16 metres wide, the Yangtze River Three Gorges 1 can carry up to 1,300 passengers. It can travel for around 100km on a single charge, saving around 530 metric tons of fuel.” Destinations Known knows that is a good thing.