Monday, January 30, 2012

My Daily Affairs.

Everyday, before I start to post, I would first check my emails, read, write replies, watch videos and after having done all that, I will then start on browsing Facebook, just like my mails, so many interesting articles, photos and videos to go through, so, by the time I am finished, it is two to three hours spent and mind you, its really tiring and time passes by too quickly.

This has been a daily sort of 'ritual' for me each time I sit down and face my computer. There is no fixed time when I start to write a post. It can happen as soon as I reach home, maybe after watching TV movies or whilst having snacks or as soon as I get up from bed. Usually in between sips of my coffee and enjoying my variety of titbits, I start to begin recalling, trying to remember and picture immediate and recent encounters, chit chats, meals, get together with other cabbies, or any happenings, incidents and whatever after finishing my workday. This process takes at least a couple of hours and there are times when my thoughts get too congested I simply cannot focus or get to start typing a post. In such times, I have to call it a day, forego what I wanted to do and to write the next day. It is no easy task, but I enjoy indulging in my pastime very much.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back To Normal.

The increase in taxi fares has yielded an average additional income of about $20 to $30 for taxi drivers as far as I am concerned. This additional amount has been a great help in off setting the high cost of diesel fuel. For longer trips, an increase in the metered fare is more visible, whereas in shorter trips, the difference is quite negligible.

Nowadays, there is hardly any talk about the fare hikes and it seems like it is now generally accepted by commuters. Ever since the increase, I have had only three minor comments from passengers whom I sense are very occasional cab users. Anyway, it is good that the talk about the increase in fares has died down which makes both the drivers and passengers feel more at ease and comfortable during the trips.

Chinese New Year celebrations is still on and commuters are aplenty. I find it easy and not much of a hassle getting passengers which makes for pleasant workdays. Fridays and Saturdays are always very busy and hectic workdays for us and none would think much about resting or taking leave from driving. Today being a Saturday and I am already eagerly looking forward to start after a good day's rest.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Big Notes for Short Distances.

Yesterday was another good workday for me. There were commuters everywhere I went. The only difference was that all trips were for short distances except for one, a young Chinese man and his two women companions going from Peoples Park Complex to Tanah Merah Ferry Point near Changi Coast Road, the metered fare came to $23.00 and from there, a man, a woman and child board my cab to go to Tampines Street 82, their fare came to $11.70 and that was the second highest amount I had collected for the whole day.

After ferrying my third passenger, the rest of my next five passengers gave me $50.00 notes each for fares which were less than $10.00 consecutively and so when the 6th passenger, a middleaged woman also wanted to give me a $50.00 note for the metered fare of $7.50, I had to apologise to her for not having enough small change but when I suggested going to the nearest 7/11 store or petrol station to try to get some small change, she hesitated and asked me to hang on while she searched her handbag for some loose cash, and what do you know, she managed to scrape up $7.20 short of 30 cents. I told her it was alright and not to worry. We thanked each other for being able to avoid unnecessary inconveniences and bade farewell as she started to alight.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

7 Hours Non-Stop Drive.

This is the third day of CNY celebrations and last night after hectic days of activities begin to slow down, I started driving from 7.00pm after laying off and away from the roads for the past three days.

After picking up my first passenger, it was then a continuous non-stop and busy evening of work for me ferrying passengers here and there all over the island. People were everywhere, when one alights another immediately boards no matter where. It was a very good day and how I wish it can be like this always.

It was also a very tiring workday as I concentrated more on my driving albeit only wishing my passengers the 'magic words' "Gong Xi Fa Cai" and "Happy New Year" to everyone, locals, foreigners and visiting tourists.

It was also a marathon driving session as I drove without any breaks at all, that means from 7.00pm right till I stopped at 2.00am this morning, a total of 7 hours continuous non-stop driving. You can just imagine how sore my legs were and my back, it aches. Overall, apart from the aches and pain, I still truly enjoyed this special CNY adventure.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Let Us Altogether Celebrate CNY !!!

Dear Friends, I will not be putting up any posts during this Chinese Lunar New Year Celebrations until after Tuesday 24th of January.

Once again, I wish you all "Happy Holidays" and "Gong Xi Fa Cai",

Uncle Frank.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Changing Times Of Peak Hours.

The peak hour has been changed to start from 6.00pm to midnight, one hour later but continues till midnight. With the change, we notice nowadays that there are long queues of commuters at taxi stands between 5.00pm to 6.00pm and very few taxis around. Soon, there will be complaints of taxis shying away or hiding till the clock strikes 6.00pm.

The case of the missing taxis just before midnight was similar until the imposition of the midnight charge of an additional 50% of the fare. I suppose taxi drivers possess some sort of bargaining powers to enhance their daily earnings.

For the time being, I am just comfortable and enjoying doing my job.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Unforgettable Lovely Lady Passengers.

Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of ferrying two kind and lovely ladies to their residences. The first one that I fetched was from Takashimaya and she wanted to go to Shunfu Road where she lived. She was from Indonesia where she was born but grew up in Melbourne and Brisbane where she also met and married her husband, a Singaporean. She has been living here for the past 12 years and still loving it. I detected a bit of accent when she spoke and thats how we came about chatting and laughing throughout the journey to her destination. After she paid the metered fare of $12.00, we thanked and wished each other Happy New Year but just before alighting, she handed me a paperbag containing two pieces of chocolate cakes, my favourites, at first I refused to accept but she was persistent and kept insisting, saying "I have a few more in my other bag, please, please I want you to have them". I finally relented, "Thank you so much, you are very kind". Later during my break, I ate the two pieces of cakes and I tell you, it was really good and I really enjoyed them.

The second pretty lady whom I fetched was from Novena Taxi stand and she was going home to her apartment at Fernvale near Jalan Kayu Road. Coincidentally, she too was from Indonesia, also married to a Singaporean and has been living here for the past 10 years. She spoke in flawless English, telling me that she had recently tendered her resignation from her job. I asked why she did that and she told me, she has two lovely children, a daughter who is 5 years old and a 1 year old son. Her son has a slight medical problem and she wants to personally care for him till he is well. We were chatting away along the CTE and to my horror, I missed the left turn into Yio Chu Kang Road, that means I had to take a big round, exit into the SLE and into Jalan Kayu. I kept apoligizing and promised to deduct whatever additions incurred. She was not at all angry nor annoyed and said "Not to worry, its alright". I felt very bad and so when we reach her destination, the metered fare showed $20.50, inclusive of the surcharge of $4.00, I immediately said "Just pay me less the surcharge amount which is $16.00 will do, its my mistake, I'm so sorry". She answered, "No, no its was just an honest mistake, no,cannot" She then paid me exactly the metered fare of $20.50 no less and insisted she wants no change at all from me. She thanked me for having such a pleasant and enjoyable ride home and I did the same. We wished each other Happy New Year as she happily alighted.

What sweet and delightful journeys they had been with such excellent, kind and caring passengers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Busy Days Ahead For Cabbies.

The Chinese New Year celebrations, year in and year out, continues with scenes of flocks of shopping and marketing commuters with tons of shopping bags, individual trolleys queueing up at all taxi stands in the popular shopping centres and eateries once again.

This is a very busy and hectic week for all taxi drivers till the family re-union dinner date thereafter, a noticeable calm and quietness will set in with the disappearance of taxis on the roads as most Chinese drivers stay home to celebrate and spend time with their families and friends.

For myself, I will most probably take a few days off away from the roads and just relax and enjoy the family gatherings and of course, what else, food. Oh no, I nearly forgot, I still have to work rightaway and maybe sweat a bit first, hahaha. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Friendly Vietnamese Passenger.

Yesterday after midnight, on my way home, I picked up a young Vietnamese guy near Lakeside MRT station. "Uncle, Queenstown Strathmore please, I just missed the last train" he told me. I said, "You should have checked the time of the last train, its already past midnight now". "I know, but I was with my friend, still chatting and forgot about the time" he answered. "Well, because you were carried away and forgotten time, you will have to pay a taxi fare now and not only that, it means, plus an extra 50%  midnight charge also, hahaha, unlucky for you but good for me". I spoke jokingly and we both laughed.

This young man from Vietnam, speaks good English, had been studying in Singapore for the past three years, just graduated in Marketing and presently working in his first job here for about two to three months already. He simply loves our lifestyle and hopes to live here for good, adding also that he has a Chinese girlfriend from Malaysia who is still studying here. He has begun taking up a course in Mandarin lessons.

We continued chatting and joking happily throughout the whole journey. The trip cost him $15.60, he gave me $16.00 and to keep the change. He was kind, informative and had a very friendly disposition.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Gong Xi Fa Cai".

Folks, I am not able to put up any post today because I am going shopping to buy myself a pair of shoes, socks, a belt, a wallet, a shirt and a pair of pants for my own Chinese New Year presents. This yearly exercise usually takes up a bit of time and my cab will be for own personal use only for today. My transportation cost will be the taxi rental amount.

I would also like to take this opportunity in advance to wish you all, my Friends, Blog Followers and Viewers, "A Happy, Healthy And Prosperous CHINESE NEW YEAR 2012 !!!".

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Daily Traffic Jams.

The increase in vehicle population has caused very heavy traffic flow and congestions everywhere, especially along the highways and in the city areas during peak hours. If there are vehicle breakdowns or even the slightest accidents, then we get sudden 'massive' jams. Poor road courtesy and drivers' unwillingness to give way to one another has been the main causes of accidents and clogged-up roads.

During festive seasons and cultural festivals which are continuous, numerous and endless, more heavy road congestions can be expected. For us taxi drivers, we face more difficulties and experience great stress whilst trying hard to get passengers and to be caught in jams makes it worst of all.

With the recent fare increases, we still find that our income has not risen tremendously but only very minimal or sometimes still remain the same as before. In order to earn more income, we need to work very long hours, between 12 to 14 hours a day and its tough going, this is especially so for those who have young families.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Simple And Clear Instructions Appreciated.

"Uncle, two places okay? first you go to the 'Tiara' then to 'Gallops'", one of two gentlemen commuters told me when I picked them up at Clarke Quay Taxi Stand late last night. Not sure what he meant, I said "Huh? whats that again? Please tell me where exactly". The other one replied "You don't know meh?", "I answered "No, I don't, could you tell me the names of the roads where they are?" and the first one spoke again, "Uncle, most taxi drivers know where, how come you don't know?". "Sorry, I really don't know, Just tell me the road names and maybe I'll know for sure okay?" I said, getting a bit impatient. Finally, the second guy told me that the 'Tiara' is at Kim Seng Walk and 'Gallops' off Farrer Road. I immediately understood where the locations were and eventually fetched them to their two destinations.

What a waste of time and showing a bit of arrogance I thought. I mean, they should have just given me clear directions of the common road names instead of their unfamiliar condominium names. Everyday I pass by so many new condominiums in the course of construction and when they are finally completed, they are given fanciful names which are not listed in the road directories unless exceptionally prominent. Not all taxi drivers are aware or can even remember these new names of condominiums and their locations.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting To Know Us.

It is not often that I fetch a passenger the second time, but recently there were a few. It is always fun when recalling the first trip together. Its like meeting a friend again and we start talking about the first trip, thats when I try to remember where they live, what was their occupation, interests and all these makes for another very pleasant journey once more.

Life can be drab and meaningless if we just lead our own lives without thoughts about the well being of others and only keeping to ourselves. We need to reassure and confide with one another on all kinds of issues like jobs, health, finance, family and the world around us in our present and future lives, and how to move on and carry on in life's unpredictabilities.

As I travel everywhere daily in my taxi, a competitive endeavour, I get to meet and engage with people young and old from all walks of life, getting to know and continue to learn endless new interests from them as well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy Times For "The Golden Oldies".

From Sunday night till Monday and on to Tuesday morning I had very little sleep. Woked up at 3.00pm and straightaway after my usual cup of 'kopi O' I am starting to write this special personal blog.

Monday morning I arrived at Tanglin Shopping Centre at 11.50am to meet my classmates from year '61 and a special schoolmate from '62. Many of us, eight in all and unfortunately many more were unable to attend due to personal reasons, have not met at all after we left school 51 years ago. The 8 of us eventually took a short walk to the nearby foodcourt at Orchard Towers to have coffee and lunch.

We sat together at a big round table and started chatting excitedly, recalling and exchanging our lives experiences in between coffee and meals, one by one, we took turns each telling about their interesting personal and family life stories during the past 51 years. It was truly a very enjoyable and nostalgic afternoon, full of laughter and memories of one another and before we knew it, it was already 4.00pm and we had to part.

I reached home about 6.00pm, had about half an hours rest and was back on the road plying my trade. Throughout the remainder of the night, thoughts and memories of the afternoon's event continued to linger on and on. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Very Short Workday.

Started driving at 9.00pm last night to at least earn some lost taxi rentals. It was rather quiet as usual on late sunday nights, but I still managed to cover yesterday's rental amount just before midnight.

The last passenger I fetched was an elderly man whom I picked up at Tampines Ave 5 and he wanted to go to Geylang Bahru. After sending him to his destination and feeling a bit tired and thirsty, I decided to go to DonBaasha Restaurant, a 24 hours Indian Muslim restaurant situated at nearby St. Georges Lane. This place is also new, having opened for just one and a half months ago and its getting to be another popular haunt of mine. I like their 'roti prata', mutton soup, Indian rojak and 'teh tarik'.

I happened to meet Jeffrey an old friend of mine having supper together with his wife. He asked me to join him at his table and I did just that. He told me to try a dish called the 'DonBaasha Special' and yes it was good. I had an enjoyable time chatting and laughing whilst drinking the 'teh tariks'. Time passed by so quickly and soon it was 1.15am. I was feeling tired and decided to stop working after finishing my drinks and headed for home.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Compulsory Chinese New Year Exercises.

Folks, I am not posting any blogs on Fri, Sat and maybe Sunday because of some spring cleaning and house painting exercises with Chinese New Year just around the corner.

Be back so stay tuned.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Enjoy Befriending Strangers.

It is so easy to make friends with strangers as a Taxi Driver. First of all, there is this endless opportunity to meet total strangers as we are service providers. We get to greet each other as soon as we meet when the strangers board our cabs. We start talking straightaway about going to a certain place and by which nearest route. Then, as we begin on our journey, we can easily enquire or ask the stranger whether he or she is on the way home or maybe if they had their dinner yet and so on. From the way they answer and reply, we will watch 'body language' and reactions, then continue and try to initiate a conversation by asking if they had a good or busy day or about the weather and also about popular local news such as train breakdowns, floodings and traffic jams. You can always be assured that these statements or remarks will immediately get you responses.

Other than the above, for instance, if I were to introduce myself as Singapore's first Taxi Blogger, this usually triggers the start of an exciting and enthusiastic conversation, and from then on, we would really start chatting as if we were friends already and depending on subjects spoken, we can both easily criticise, exclaim or just break into laughter together at the same time feeling comfortable about it.

The above has been my 'trademark' style of befriending a total stranger. I have always been a friendly person with a happy disposition and most importantly of all, I have the 'gift of the gab' which gives me an advantage in being able to make friends easily as a Cabbie.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Five In One.

On New Year's Eve I drove into Novena taxi stand and there were lots of commuters anxiously waiting for taxis, I guess it was much easier taking a train to Novena to enhance their chances of catching a cab after celebrating the 2012 Count Down at Marina Bay.

As soon as I stopped, five teenage girls quickly slipped into my cab. I turned to them and said "Hello, I'm so sorry, but I can only fetch four of you". They looked bewildered and surprised but did not say a word. I repeated and added "You did not even ask me if I could allow five of you to board, its against the law you know", to which one of them softly pleaded, "Uncle, please, we are just going nearby to Balestier Road hotel, please". All of them appeared resigned and tired and they looked so young, I just could not say no to them although its against the rules and regulations, anyway, its so nearby and I obliged.

I found out that they were young Indonesian students, three of them studying here and the other two were visitors. They alighted near Value Hotel just off Thomson Road which is about two bus stops away. The one sitting next to me, smiled and paid me $5.00 (metered fare was $4.20), "Uncle, keep the change", and as they alighted, one by one thanked and wished me Happy New Year loud and clear. I wished them the same in return and felt happy about it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Demand Greater Than Supply.

This is the third day into year 2012 and no passengers ferried by me spoke up about the new Taxi Fare Hikes, not even small talk except for a very minor comment made by a woman commuter on a very short trip over her metered fare of $4.80 which still remains the lowest fare I have collected so far.

The end of two long holiday weekends and with the new school term starting today, taxi usage will slow down a bit, maybe for a short while and pick up swiftly again with the Chinese Lunar New Year just around the corner. Shopping and eating out remains the top activities during this coming festive season.

Brace yourselves for a huge shortage of taxis come Chinese New Year as most Chinese taxi drivers take long breaks during this period to spend time with family and friends which in turn will definitely see a great demand for taxis. Each year as usual, the minority Nationals manning their taxis enjoy great 'Field Days' with pocketful of "Ang Pows".


Monday, January 2, 2012

Continuous Vibrant Festive Celebrations Into 2012.

Chinatown, swarmed with 'Dragons' together with a host of activities, was 'lighted' up last night and this signals the start of a fresh series in festivals 'Light Up' rituals in Singapore, to be followed by many more new and exciting ones to come for Year 2012. These 'Lighting Up' events are expected features in Singapore's style of welcoming and celebrating its numerous cultural and religious festivals with elaborate decorations and colourful lightings covering over large popular stretches of roads all over the island throughout the whole year.

Its during these periods of celebrations that Taxi Drivers enjoy a substantial increase in their take home pay. Huge crowds of people from all walks of life including foreign workers and the continuous influx of tourists from all over the world have contributed to making life slightly easier and more rewarding for all cabbies.

This Christmas and New Year have brought on unprecedented hugh gatherings everywhere, in shopping centres, food courts, Orchard Road, Resorts World Sentosa and especially at the Marina Bay area. Throngs of holiday makers celebrating and welcoming the New Year Countdown and the spectacular fireworks display have created such a fabulous and vibrant atmosphere and not only that, the excitement, the hectic activities of ushering in the Chinese Lunar New Year have already begun.

It is truly a 'Bonanza' period, together with the recent newly implemented Fare Hikes this time of year, albeit very hard and tedious work for all active Taxi Drivers.