In the crowded island county of Singapore regimentation is accepted. Since people are trying to get IN instead of OUT the order seems welcomed and not resented.
There are a lot of cars in Singapore and traffic is a problem. One incentive to reduce congestion is to highly tax all vehicles. Owning a car is definitely a luxury, yet the Mercedes
dealer must be one of the busiest people in town. An added duty is levied on any vehicle that enters certain areas during rush hour.
car carries an electronic device on the dash that monitors when
the restricted zone is entered and the fee is deducted from the
owners account. This works like our E-Pass for tolls, also they
have red light monitors and cameras which record speed and traffic
light infractions. I don't know what the statistics are but
we saw few accidents or traffic jams. Taxi fares reflect these extra
costs. If this wasn't enough of a deterrent to using a private
car, the parking is extremely expensive. Buses are fast and
cheap, connect with the trains and both are clean and air-conditioned.
One thing you do have to know though is which bus to ride.
We were feeling pretty smug. You know how you feel when you have just entered junior high school and you learn how to change classes, find your locker, get it open and get to
the next class on time. Well, we had the same since of accomplishment when we learned how to get around on the mass transit system.We atta boy, atta girled ourselves too soon.
We were returning to the yacht club one evening from the city, left the MRT station and boarded our bus, number 189. Of course it was 189, that was the bus we rode into the
station and back to the yacht club. After we had been riding for awhile I mentioned to Charlie, "None of this looks familiar." He agreed and went up and asked the driver if this
was the bus to the ferry terminal. The driver started laughing and said, "No, that is the other bus 189, it goes the other way. You need to get off here and catch the other bus." Now
here was a six lane divided highway, late at night and we were out in a neighborhood of high rise apartment buildings. The driver stopped and told us to cross the road to the bus stop
on the other side of the highway. We made it across without getting run over, just barely. Stopped where we thought the bus would stop but our bus driver was still yelling and
waving, "No, No, go farther, go farther." It is nice that these kind people feel responsible for the dumb foreigners that show up and fumble around. When he seemed satisfied he burned
off, leaving us standing alone in the night.
A woman, who had been watching the drama from a distance approached and said, "Do you
need help? You look like you need help." We agreed that yes, indeed we could use help. She explained that the correct bus 189 would come in a few minutes. She left and two very
small boys appeared, probably her sons, obviously brothers, and too young to be out alone late at night. I asked if they were going to ride the bus and they said, "No, we are waiting for
our daddy to come." They spoke very good English and we chatted about things you talk about with small seven and nine year old boys. Time seemed to move very slowly and no
bus appeared. It was about ten forty-five and we knew the busses stopped running in some places as early as eleven. Pretty soon a taxi appeared and stopped. The boys were
ecstatic. Daddy was home! Love is universal and wonderful to see.
We looked at each other and decided a taxi in hand was worth a possible bus on the way
and we nabbed it and were on our way back to the marina. When you start feeling too cocky, something usually sets you straight.
As I mentioned before the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club is new. Most of the taxi drivers in Singapore do not know where the new club is located. Thank goodness it is next to the
ferry terminal, but again that is not a usual destination for taxies so we had some unusual experiences. One driver even stopped, jumped out of his cab, waved another down and put
us in that one. He did not want to take any money for he was a new driver and was terribly lost. A word about the taxi drivers: 1. They must be Singaporians. 2. They must be over
thirty years of age. and 3. They must be married. This is certainly different from our experience in the US where I have not had an American taxi driver in years and English, as a
second language, is the norm.
There are further stringent rules for taxies. If you call one you pay an extra fee and that is
your taxi, you get the number and you take that taxi, not one that comes earlier. There are all kinds of signals which the locals know but we never quite mastered. Also taxies only stop
in designated places for pickups.
There are taxi cues and you cue up for a cab. The drivers do not expect a tip, in fact tipping is rarely done in Singapore.
Singapore was a marvelous experience. We enjoyed it for a long time waiting for all the repairs to be completed. The men who worked on the boat were competent and in fact very
talented. The mechanic who repaired the port engine had to do an extensive amount of work as did the company that installed the
new radar we had shipped in from the states. The only downside of the marina was the very dirty air that leaves a coating all over the boat. We will eventually get it clean but it will take
time and lots of elbow grease. Personally I am hoping that the elbow grease is supplied by someone other than Charlie and me.
Walking through one of the myriad malls of Singapore we saw a sign REFLEXOLOGIST.
Charlie always loves a foot rub so we dropped in. The waiting room and treatment area were one and the same.
The receptionist said they only had one appointment available so I deferred to Charlie and settled down to wait. I should have picked up on the facial grimaces when Ali (ho, ho, ho)
"Ali Baba" started working on Charlie's feet. Both women and men were having their feet "processed" and they had both male and female
practitioners doing the treatments. The receptionist looked over at me and said, "I have
someone free, do you want a treatment?" "Sure, why not?" I really hate to miss anything. When I had washed my feet and sat down between Charlie and another man I found out this
was not a foot massage but a treatment in pain. It must help something,, because it feels so good when they stop. All the practitioners are sight impaired, some totally blind, and some
with poor vision. They laugh and joke in Chinese and also speak some English and share some of the jokes. The gentleman on my left said, "Don't complain or jerk, then they just
press harder." He and his wife come weekly for "treatments." I don't think I could subscribe to that.
Riding on the MRT we usually struck up a conversation with someone. The pictures of the
little girl are an example. She was cute as a button, two years old and when we started snapping pictures it really got her fired up. I hope her parents were able to unwind her when they got home.
On our last day in Singapore, Thanksgiving, we went to the World Trade Center and caught the cable car and rode the entire loop. The cable car goes out to Sentosa Island, a beautiful
theme park one way and up a hill from which you can overlook the city on the other loop. We had free tickets on the "glass car" for our subscription to the phone service. The glass
car is definitely not for anyone with fear of heights but a great way to snap pictures and get a real over view of the harbor and the city. The top half of the ride goes up to Mr. Faber
where we got off looked at the skyline, the coy pool, drank some Gatorade, and rode back down. We found a another delightful Chinese restaurant and had a very non-traditional
Thanksgiving dinner of hot and sour soup and sweet and sour prawns, consumed with chop sticks. Chop sticks don't even slow us down any longer.
Tomorrow we leave Republic of Singapore Yacht Club and follow the fleet. Until later . . .