Taxi Drivers - AGAIN!

Two weeks away. Holidays. Melbourne mainly family. Ah, but then... then a weekend in Hua Hin, where there was nothing to do but try to avoid 3rd degree sunburn. Except sit in the infinity pool all by himself (low season) and read three books. The storms held off, mostly. Amble / hobble down town and pop in Bar2 for a game of pool with 7' Vin and his 4' girlfriend, mosey on up to Lolitas Bar for their speciality. Sigh.

You'd think E@L'd be relaxed, yeah?

Back in Singapore for 3 hours and he is fuming. The reason, that old hornet - the Singapore taxi driver!

It started off just fine, as he was picked up on Bukit Timah Rd by the guy with all the music paraphernalia and plastic animalcules all thorough his taxi. Spoken of before. (Fuck my old posts are good!) He put on some Paul Simon. One cool dude.

Score one for the taxi drivers.

First mistake. IKEA. E@L didn't realise the catalogue came in the mail recently. Jam packed. Some kids obviously would prefer to live in there, and some parents seem to prefer that they would. Noisy. Crap. A $3 wall clock. How good is that going to be? Not very, is the answer. E@L was looking for a reading lamp, standard (floor standing) type. OK, he saw one about $90, but how to locate it in the F-I-Y market section... A guy pretending to be a shopper with a trolley offers his card with an urgent surreptitious whisper: "Free delivery, instant." Fuck that, dude I haven't bought anything!

So, instead, E@L considers doing drinks with a friend who lives across the road at The Anchorage and who has always been onto to him to come over and check out her place. Nope, sorry, rain check (how prophetic!) she's snowed under with work.

OK, let's abandon the lamp stand and cruise on over Parklane, where E@L can pick up a guitar stand for the new axe. The Taxi queue moves pretty fast. The taxi driver E@L gets has all the outward appurtenances of a normal human being, but the crucifix dangling from his rear-vision mirror was precessing like some heavenly gyroscope, and gave a divine axis to the journey, making something so much more of it. We were tuned to some Astral Travel Radio station picking random quotations from C.S Lewis and chants from Hieldegaard of Bingen out of the stratosphere. The taxi driver said, when someone failed to allow him access to his lane, that would should forgive him. "We?" thinks E@L -

"Always live your life forward, for then you can foresee what will happen next." Or somesuch Greeting Card quality philosophy. Unless your passenger hits you from behind with a 24" wrench, thinks E@L

"This is a good station," the taxi driver continues. "It gives you many interesting sayings and thoughts during the day for you to ponder over."

"Mmm (me?)," mumbles E@L noncommittally. Must get new MP3 player.

They interrupted the chanting on the radio to give some contemporary news (E@L was expecting, "Moses tries to free the people. Weather: expect plagues descending from on high") and the top story was the death of Steve Irwin after being pierced in the side by a stingray.

E@L avoided the obvious parallels with Christ on the cross there and did not even mention his miracle of the feeding of the children - to the crocodiles.

"There's one animal the Croc Hunter couldn't control," E@L said, for politeness' sake ignoring the fact that it was a fish, not an animal, what finally done the man of leather and Crikey! in.

"It's interesting to think that back in Eden, Adam had control over all the animals in the world," mused the Taxi driver.

"Well, actually," (beware when E@L or anyone else says 'actually', it means they are lying or pretending, or both) pipes up E@L, "God allowed Adam to NAME the animals, and it was that act of naming that gave him power and dominion..." Pause. It's all about timing. "According to St Jerome." (St Marks Square? St Peter, Paul and Mary?)

Taxi driver shuts up. Score one for E@L; that's evens.

E@L gets out at Parklane Centre and buys his guitar stand cheaply at an expensive guitar shop (all Gibsons and stuff) and considers a strap so he can stand up and play, like a real rock star, if only his knee wasn't giving him unholy grief. The same strap in Melbourne was $80AUD. Here it was $50SGD. "OK, I'll take it", says E@L who thus saves a shitload. Spent $50 bucks he didn't want to in order to save it of course.

He then ventures across to a place that always looks interesting at a distance but he's never been there - Princeps Place. He was most impressed when he read that the Iranian Restaurant had cold Erdinger Dunkels Weissen. He was most unimpressed however with the "Original Persian" food. That can of lentils with french fries (refried) on top must have been from the Shah's Original Bomb Shelter Stash... Urgh. He leaves after only one beer.

Word to the wise: shiny lights in the rain do not mean GOOD FOOD SOLD HERE. Yes, E@L forgot to mention that it is now raining.


It is raining. It is evening. It is Singapore.

That's a BAAAaaaaad combination if you want to get somewhere IN Singapore by taxi.

Say you have some bags of shopping (bags? OK I bought some books at a booksale as well - "Cinderella Story" by Bill Murray, about golf, how can ANYONE pass that up for $1?) Say you have a bung knee that is not getting any un-bungier as you hobble along. You want a taxi, right? But you're not alone in that want. You're never alone...

Because it's raining everyone coming home from work or after-work shopping and who would ordinarily walk or get a bus says, "Fuck this, Dude, I'm getting a taxi right to my freakin' doorstep!"

Because it's evening, that is a lot of people.

Because it's evening the taxi-drivers will get an extra $4 booking fee if they get a phone-order .

Because it's Singapore the taxi drivers put on their "HIRED" signs whenever it rains.

Because it's Singapore there a lots of taxis on the road.

Because it's raining some taxi-drivers turn OFF their rooftop light and go home. They have huge a insurance excess to pay if they have an accident. Accidents are more likely in rain, and exponentially more likely on a rainy evening!

Because everyone is trying to get a taxi, the queues at the taxi stands are really long.

Because the taxis are all driving by with their "HIRED" signs on (or going home), everyone in the queue is calling for a phone booking.

Because the taxis are all on phone-bookings (or pretending to be), there are no free taxis to work the queue.

Because everyone is calling for a phone-booking, the phone line is busy.

Because the phone line is busy, everybody waits in the queue.

Because it's a rainy evening in Singapore, it is normal not to be able to get a taxi although the roads are full of taxis.

Score minus a MILLION against the taxi drivers.

E@L looks up from the shiny color-reflecting wet street of Selegie Rd to the low grey clouds lit eerily and unnaturally by all this traffic and neon, clouds dropping their precipitation right on him.


He shall arise and go now, and go back to Hua Hin, to that infinity pool there where peace comes dropping slow (wrong pome?) by the beach with its low sound of lapping waters, where at ebb tide the tiny translucent crabs scurry into their holes as E@L ambles along the beach aimlessly, where the sun rises calm and serene over some monks who amble along the beach aimlessly, where the Golden Buddha gazes calm and serene over the fishermen, where there are shades of blue such as he has never seen before across the waters across the sky, as diaphanous clouds unravel silky and fine like tethered buds of cotton over the fishing boats, where he can rest in that pool by the mosquito loud glade of frangipani...

(You can go there too , via Flickr...)


(E@L saw the monks later, walking through the Khao Takiab township with their begging bowls at 7am, an entourage of streets dogs hoping for a nibble as well from the generous people.)


Instead of going back to Thailand, E@L trudges/limps up to the Sim Lim Square bus-stop and catches the 170 to his stop on B-T Rd, then limps/trudges the rest of the way home in the rain, cursing every taxi-driver ever born, made or named in Singapore.

He is not calm, not serene. But he is home, and thrashing his guitar to blazes like a real Rock Star...



Posted by: expat@large on Sep 04, 06 | 11:09 pm | Profile


BTW, Lolitas Bar do not specialise in very young women, but BJs.

Posted by: expat@large on Sep 05, 06 | 2:34 am

Welcome back to Singapore. is it with taxis...when you need one they're never around, on call, hired, lazy...when you don't need one they're all around, green signs flashing.

Posted by: VirginPornStar on Sep 05, 06 | 2:56 am

"Spent $50 bucks he didnít want to in order to save it of course." - this of course makes you much more Singaporean than you want to admit. ~grin~

Posted by: Indiana on Sep 05, 06 | 6:09 am

VPS: exactly, wtf is it with taxis, just WHAT EXACTLY IS THE FUCK with these people?

Indy, don't go teasin'... It's a well known shopaholick's disorder, believing the SALE SALE gimmick that makes you spend even more... I'm human, I fall for psychological tricks, I have human frailties.

Posted by: expat@large on Sep 05, 06 | 2:18 pm

Hey, just discovered your blog, and must say, I've been trying (quite unsuccessfully) not to laugh while seemingly engrossedin work. I'm going to trawl your archives for more reading fodder. Cheers!

Posted by: Lanfear on Sep 06, 06 | 11:06 am

Lanfear, tell your friends! Send money! Tell your friends to send money!

Mmmm (thinks): don't actually need money thanks to the fact that I am well-paid tax-exile colonialist bastard.

Send nubile young women...

Send antibiotics...

Send me back in time now that I know what to do...

No, you're right. I still don't know what to do.

Posted by: expat@large on Sep 06, 06 | 11:48 am


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