Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sundays from Singapore, part 2

As promised (or threatened!) part two:


Riding in a taxi is a matter of hanging on for dear life and hoping the driver knows where he's going ('cuz I sure don't!) Apparently, the lane dividing lines on the road that we Americans take as gospel are mere suggestions in Singapore. Either that or nobody operating a motorized vehicle can aim straight! They all race to be the first in queue (line) for anything and will cut each other off without care. Getting use to swinging wide for a right turn will take a while too. C keeps muttering 'This is sooo wrong" whenever they make a turn.

Taxis are plentiful and quite cheap by our standards. I think I can make it around town for the equivalent of $2.50 US. The best thing is that our apartment is right across the street, okay, and a little alley, from the Great World City Mall. Right outside... taxis! So unlike most people who have to risk their toes standing on the curb trying to flag one of these diesel maniacs down, I just have to dash across 5 lanes of traffic to the taxi stand.

However, as night wears on, the drivers get picky and will roll their window down to find out where you want to go. If they don't like it, sorry, off duty! Shift change doesn't come until 11:30 PM, but starting around 10:00, they get choosy. Considering the fact that you can get to the other side of the country in about 45 minutes, can't figure out why they wouldn't want a 10 minute fare in town, But enough of transportation.

The phone installers came today, and spoke little English (surprise), so I ended up with 2 jacks with the second line and all the rest with the first. Not too bad, except that each bedroom has 2 separate jacks side by side, and they are both the same line. That's okay, I got the second number on the most important jacks to use the fax machine.

I called Singtel to find out how much it costs to call the US and what kind of calling plans were available. They are very simple here. It costs $.39S or about $.22 US a minute to call. Anytime. That's it. Now if I want a cheaper rate, no problem, but I get to use a cheaper line and get poorer transmission quality. I tried it once, but I think I ended up ordering takeout from another instead of calling the United States of America. Oh well, at least I won't get those annoying calls asking if I want to switch plans or companies... no other company to pick.

Had the air con (not air conditioning) serviced as well today. They do it every month on schedule. Took the housing apart and washed the filters in the maid's bathroom in the "yard" (read, back service porch, 17 floors up.) I have 14 air con units... it took awhile. Every month, huh?

In this palatial apartment and most other luxury ones, there is a room and bathroom for the maid on the yard. Lest you think this might be a good way to see the world starting with Singapore, let me tell you that this maid's room won't hold a bed bigger than one of those junior size model that toddlers test drive. The room is about 7 feet square (I'm being generous,) about 11 feet high, with one louvered window directly over the washer and dryer outside. Did I mention NO air con? The luxury bath includes a sink the size of a soup bowl, toilet, shower nozzle on the wall, and a drain in the floor. Bathing ensures that the entire room (3 ft by 6 ft) gets hosed daily, or however often you can convince your maid to bathe.

Well, it looks very seriously like a storm is coming, and I want to get online before it hits. Hope you are starting to get a sense of the educational experience that is Singapore. Tonight, I will attempt Macaroni and Cheese baked in the oven! The girls incinerated a bag of microwave popcorn this afternoon (where is that manual?!?) so the house smells like charred plastic. C went to the grocery to get one of those Aim 'n Flame thingies to light a candle and came home with a gizmo that looks the same, but only sparks to light the gas appliances. Oh well!

Love to all.


Shannon Martin said...

I need some Mac and Cheese too! Comfort food to ease my pain.
Check my blog and you will know why you are s'moreless.

Celticspirit said...

I'm enjoying reading your Singapore stories. Hard to believe you survived those taxi cab rides!