Seng Steam Fish Restaurant in JB – Johor Bahru 

I’ve rested exactly 2 weeks after I returned my taxi on 2 Feb 17. I’m looking forward to my new job tomorrow. During this time, I was inundated with invitations from friends for lunch, dinner, drinks or simply coffee. Just last Sat, I was invited by Rodney to his Hill Top Garden. Before that, I had lunch in little India with a local celebrity and the very next day I spent the whole day in JB with my ex-colleagues and friends. In between such “bonding” – (Enche’s favorite term when he met his friends for bonding), I still carry on with my 5 km brisk walking, push-up and sit-up morning routine lasting one hour at Pasir Ris park. I’ll talk about the importance of regular exercise other time.

On 8 Feb, five of us piggy backed Dark Knight’s bone shaker over to JB. It’s the last trip we made on his bone shaker. I just heard that it’s gone kaput even though there is another year of COE left. Before incarcerated in my own taxi, I used to go JB for food, shopping and entertainment. After 3 full years, I could finally go over to JB again. That also due to Dark Knight’s initiative when he realized that I’m now free and available. He and many others especially Wilson used to invite me for short trips either to the North or South but I was not able to break free from my incarceration! What a langgar situation!

We left Pasir Ris around 11.30am for JB. Before 1pm, we were already seated at Seng Steam Fish Restaurant at the end of Jln Keris in Taman Sri Tebrau, JB. That’s our favorite eatery. We never got tired of the place. 3 yrs ago I also visited this place. As the name says it, their speciality is fresh steam fish. We know that if the fish is not fresh, it can’t be steamed. Usually, we only deep fry fish that are not fresh. The place was crowded as usual. We quickly ordered our food including 2 fish dishes. The boss personally came to serve us insisting that we try their “Orange Rough Fin” or 长寿鱼. As typical Singaporeans we only know groupa, promfrets, sea bass or red snappers etc but not heard of this fish. The boss said money back guaranteed if that fish is not to our liking. Cost of the fish quoted was RM180! We settled for half of it

The bill for 8 dishes plus free flow of Chinese tea came to about RM220 (S$70). Divide that amount by 5 of us is only $14. Even after so many years after I re-visited this place the prices still remain the same. You can never expect the same back home. Before CNY and after CNY, prices of cooked food usually jump northwards and difficult to come down. It happens on every CNY and after few yrs, suddenly you realize your typical bowl of mee in a coffeeshop costs $3.50. With the recent increases on electricity tariffs, gas and water, cooked food will definitely going to cost higher! That’s the stark reality we facing in the near future economy lah! 

After our lunch, we then proceeded to the shopping malls in the area on a spending spree. Dark Knight bought a month supply of groceries from Giant and “Little India” in the old JB town centre. We had our dinner at the restaurant just opposite the Indian Temple there. We took tons of roti prata, tosai, Ah Pom, Masala chicken, potatoes etc with hot Teh Tarik until our tummy about to explode! When the bill came, it was RM53 (S$17). Divide that amount by 5 is only S$3.50! Now you know why no matter how much toll fee or levy imposed by the Johore govt or no matter how they target Singaporeans, we still mati mati must go JB to eat, drink and shop!

Just before coming back, we decided to drop by at my friend’s pub for a drink. We reached De’Mirage at No:25 Jalan Persia, Taman Sri Terbau exactly opposite Crystal Crown Hotel before the big tyre shop at the corner. The pub is owned by my friend Dave. He’s running his own transport company. About 2 yrs ago, he invested in the pub. The rental is only RM1,700 with 2 full time staff at only RM50 each. The operating costs are so low that he said he could never afford to run a pub back home. The pub was quite cosy with nice antique old school furniture but not many patrons. Maybe it’s a weekday. After few drinks, we decided to leave for home cuz the next day is Thaipusam. Dark Knight had to report to the temple to say his prayers!

The return trip was also smooth plain sailing. No jam at all. Straight back to Pasir Ris where most of us live. It was wonderful trip bonding with my good friends after more than 3 yrs since my last incarceration and only recently managed to break free.

Posted in Langgar | 2 Comments

Cheap motorcycle repair in JB – Johor Bahru

I regretted selling off my 6 year old Yamaha YBR 125cc in Jan 2015. It was left in the carpark collecting dust. I couldn’t even start the bike due to flat battery. When someone offered to buy it at $3K, I was too glad to let it go. No sooner had I sold off the very well taken care bike, I deeply regretted it. In Jan 2016, I acquired this Honda Wave 125cc after much scouting around. The COE will expire on 19 April 2017.

Even though I was driving taxi everyday in my previous life, I still feel compelled to ride my ride once in a while for the fun of it especially if I need to get to a place fast. From the age of 19 yrs till now, I have never stopped riding a motorcycle. I’ve driven no less than 8 bikes in my lifetime. This old bone shaker could be my last bike before calling it a day when I’m too old to ride anymore. Of course, I’ll need to renew the COE at $3.2K for another 5 yrs or pay $6.4K for another 10 yrs! I’m still considering the available options. But first, I had to do up the bike.

When I bought this nearly 9 year old bike at $1,800, it needed some fixing up especially the front wheel alignment which is a little out. When I test drive the bike, I found that the engine was in tip top condition. It was smooth and easy with the throttle. The owner had changed many things such as both tyres and the bike cover-set. He told me that he had the clutch plates changed too. The price I paid for this bike is slightly higher than the market price but I was satisfied with its overall performance.

Since I was driving taxi almost everyday, I did not really ride the bike much. It’s parked in the carpark most of the time. I only rode it on weekends or in the nights after my day shift taxi driving. I’ve asked a few motor shops whenever I passed by in my taxi to enquire about the front wheel alignment. Almost all of them quoted me between $100 to $150 to get it done. I also had to leave it in the workshop for a couple of days.

After returning my taxi on 2 Feb 2017, my first priority was to go to JB to fix it. Soon after I acquired this bike, I told Douglas of my intention of going to a workshop in JB to fix the problem. Douglas asked his security officer from JB and the latter recommended a workshop in JB with quotations to change the front fork. That was more than 1 yr ago. At last on 9 Feb 2017 (Thu), @0930 hrs, I managed to ride my bike to JB. It was a smooth ride with no jam across the border which took me about 30 mins to reach the checkpoint.

Once I crossed over to the other side, I simply asked some of the bikers around how to get to the workshop at Jln Tun Abdul Razak, Susur 4? Just entered via the centre road inside the tunnel (just after the Msian checkpoint) and follow the road all the way to the highway. “When you see Danga City Mall, keep left and filtered out. At the traffic junction just after you filtered out turn right and keep left. After a short distance, just turn in to the slip road and you should be there!”, that young Malaysian biker instructed me in Malay.

I managed to locate the said workshop but it was closed. 10.30am the shop is closed? Later I found out that the owner of the workshop is an Indian and that day was Thaipusum. Oh dear, I didn’t realize that. When I was wondering what to do, one middle-aged Malay mechanic from the next door workshop in overalls greeted me with a wide smile. I explained to him my bike problem. Without a word, he took over my bike and rode off before I could even protest. He came back after a while and started rattling off his assessment of my bike in Malay.

Luckily, I could understand what he was saying. Basically, he told me that my bike’s out of alignment not to due to the front fork. Even if he were to change the front fork, the same mis-alignment would remain. It’s actually the top part of the fork that needed to be “pressed” to align it back. He had to dismantle the entire front fork assembly and send it to another specialized workshop to straighten it. That would take about one hour! He also told me that the engine of my bike is in excellent condition. Maybe, I just need to change the sprocket & chain set.

Since that Indian workshop is celebrating Thaipusum, I had no choice but to let that friendly Malay mechanic from the next workshop handle my bike.

I did the following on my 9 year old plus bike.

a) Re-alignment of front fork RM95,
b) One set of sprocket and solid O ring chain. The best of the 3 options given to me. RM95, (RM55, RM75 and RM95)
c) Fully synthetic Castrol engine oil one litre RM35
d) Rear brake pad RM18
e) spark plug RM12
d) 4 pieces of rubber bush inside rear tyre hub RM13

Total is RM268. Convert to Singapore Dollar only $85!

Just alignment of front fork here will set me back by more than S$100! With only S$85, I could do so many things for my bike! When I was waiting for my bike to be repaired (about 2 hours), I ordered a packet of Nasi Lemak wrapped with fresh banana leaf and newspaper with fried fish, cucumber plus hot chilli washed down with a hot glass of ginger Teh Tarik at the road side Sarabat stall. When I called for the bill. Only RM3. Less than S$1!

The above illustrates the vast differences in our costs of living separated by only a narrow waterway. I can hear that some of you shouting their pay is so much lower than us. Well that’s true. My friend Walter from EM ever told us that his wife’s niece, a fresh graduate from KL university earning around RM2,800 working in an office which is even less than our cleaners earning more than S$1,000. What about the other lesser universities or those without any university education? Wonder no more why so many of them are crossing the border each day to seek employment here.

Those from across the border made their money here only to spend comfortably back home. Not us. We are different from them. Let’s look at the bike price of the latest Honda Wave 125cc. The same bike costs RM5,550 (S$1,767) in Johor Bahru and 53,000 Baht(S$2,148) in Thailand. Listen carefully, the same Honda Wave 125cc currently costs S$12,400 on our road without insurance! When I told that Malay mechanic how much a Honda Wave costs here and you’ll need to scrap it after 10 yrs (there is no COE in Msia and no scrapping of bikes), he shook his head kept saying “Gila!”

Yup, we live in the system and we are so used to such ridiculous prices tantamount to “daylight robbery!” I’m not against COE per se but at such ‘Gila’ price of more than S$12,000 for the same bike model with a 10 year life span? Come on. It’s logic defying especially when there is only ONE COE category for motorcycles when there are so many for 4 wheelers.

The limited COEs are quickly snapped up by big corporations such as Macdonalds, Piza Hut, SingPost etc etc pushing up to dizzling high levels beyond the reach of the ordinary shift workers, despatch riders or the newspaperman. In some ulu places where public transport is not easily accessible, these shift workers need to get to their work places on their bikes. What about those depending on small bikes to make an honest living. The rich will never ride a 125cc Honda Wave. They only ride big luxury bikes but pay the same amount of small bike COE. These poor workers are priced out by the rich guys and big corporations snapping up all the available bike COEs! Nobody takes notice of the little people. Maybe once in 5 yrs their existence is only recognized?

We may be earning much higher than our counterparts across the border but do we have the buying power as them? I’m only quoting bike COE and the maintenance costs to drive home my points. What about foodstuff, utilities, education, medical and housing etc. With car-lite society being the mindset now and with so many more buses choking the roads, some say that car COE will eventually hit $100K with bikes at $10K. We may be earning more than those in the north but many of us can’t even afford to buy a small motorcycle. That’s the future economy we should expect lah! 

We have changed so fast over the years. When I cross the border, I could sense the much slower pace of life. We can never go back to those good old days when our pay was low but life was quite comfortable and affordable then. When I was driving taxi, many of my pax from 1st world big cities also complained about our expensive city. It’s too expensive to visit here. They would rather go to our neighboring countries where they are so much cheaper and less restrictions. They could drink till the wee hours unlike here. No night life after 10.30pm. It becomes a dead city after that cut-off time. Wonder no more why there are tons of empty cabs roaming the streets in the middle of the night. That my friend is the future economy we will have to live with as far as common people like you and me are concerned.

Posted in Langgar | 3 Comments

Hill Top Garden @AMK Ave 4

Yesterday was the 15th day of CNY. Chinese celebrate CNY for 15 days and yesterday marked the formal closure of CNY. No more lion dancing in the coffeeshops, residences or other establishments. No more collection of red packets. I spent my last day of CNY in an interesting place – a “beer garden” created by my innovative friend Rodney. I received an invitation to visit his beer garden few days ago. He insisted that I pay him a visit. Together with Enche, we made our way there around 8pm last night.
When Enche and I reached the dimly lit carpark at Blk 171 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 on my nearly 10-year old bike, we could see the radiantly lighted enclosure. I told Enche it should be the beer garden Rodney was talking about. True enough, we found Rodney and few of his neighbors sitting at one end inside the fenced-up enclosure enjoying his beer chit-chatting kampung style! I was impressed with the set-up. Many questions came to my mind. But first let us – Enche and myself explore the surroundings with some photo shots.

According to Rodney, it’s a 50 feet by 20 feet fenced-up enclosure right below his flat gifted by Yishun Town Council. Three and half months ago, the town council merely handed over an empty enclosure with a gate to him and his partner (neighbor). It’s to be used for gardening purposes. Water is free flow from the tap at the void deck using a long rubber hose. Rodney tapped the electricity from his 2nd floor flat giving lights and radiance to the otherwise dark garden.

How did it come about? Did he apply to the town council for such a facility? I told him for the 90% of us living in HDB flats, it’s an unheard luxury to get such a big plot of land for gardening. Only those living on landed property enjoy such luxury. The best part is that it’s free. No need to pay anything for such a big plot of land to do whatever gardening he wishes. It’s indeed a surprise to learn that my good friend Rodney who is 12 yrs older than me spending so much time and effort on the garden to keep fit on his retirement years and getting immense satisfaction out of it. He has single handedly turned an empty plot of land into an impressive garden of labour and love. It’s a monument of his love for nature and outdoor with endless toil and sweat!

Rodney told me that his place used to come under AMK Town Council. During the last election, it suddenly came under Yishun Town Council. Before AMK, it was Yishun and now it swings back to Yishun again. Yup it’s quite confusing swinging to and fro whenever there is an election. Anyway, his partner and the neighbors used to plant some flowers on that plot of land. AMK Town Council would remove and get rid of those plants and flowers painstakingly cultivated those residents. The residents would plant again and those people from the town council would also destroy them again. The tug of war went on for quite some time until those residents couldn’t take it anymore.

It so happened that some time last year, Rodney’s neighbor met the MP of the area, Henry Kwek who was on his weekend rounds at Mayflower hawker centre and market opposite their place. The neighbor let go his pent-up frustrations and complained bitterly to the MP by relating how their painstakingly cultivated flowers and plants by the residents were willfully destroyed by the town council. Henry Kwek listened sympathetically and told Rodney’s neighbor to give him 3 days to come up with a solution. The neighbor told me that he met the MP in the morning and by afternoon on the same day, a phone call came to him to say that they would be given that piece of land to plant whatever they wish!

In Rodney’s word, they have “prayed to the correct Tua Peh Kong” to get rid of senseless minions!

Needless to say the residents of the area were delighted. Now they have got an official plot of land to build their dreamed garden. True enough after three and half months, that empty plot of land is turned into a green piece of sanctuary amidst those concrete blocks of flats. When I entered the cosy enclosure, I could feel the fresh luxuriant greens and natural flagrance from the flowering plants with sounds of joyous Japanese carps swimming in the little pond. Little windmills and twirling morning glory creeping around the fencing greeted me as I entered the curved walkway towards the end of the little green sanctuary to take my seat with nearby residents gathered around there welcoming me. Their pride and satisfaction indeed! I could sense the kampung spirit and camaraderie amongst the residents gathered there.

When I examined the little garden closely, I could see the painstaking effort with much sweat and toil in creating such an impressive garden within such a short space of time – three and half months to be exact. Amongst my circle of friends, Rodney never failed to impress me with his ingenuity and resourcefulness in converting discarded rubbish into something of value. Everything – the racks, poles, ceiling, table etc within the garden is re-cycled from unwanted waste! I’ve ever blogged about him here.

Rodney – the prime motivator of the garden has big plans. He’s experimenting with many types of plants on the piece of barren land. He said that the ground is not so conducive to planting. He’ll need to pump in lots of fertilizers to grow his plants such as Chye Sim.

I suggested to him that he should plant sour soup cuz it’s so much easier and also they sell like gold in the market due to it’s anti-cancer properties. When I was a child living in a kumpung, there were sour soup trees all over the place. Now, those sour soup fruits are imported from Malaysia and they cost a bomb. He told me he already planted 3 saplings and he’s an expert on that.

The little garden is named “Hill Top Garden”. Enche and myself left the beautiful garden around 10.30pm after spending two and half hours there. Given time, by next CNY, Hill Top Garden should be much better than now. We wish them luck and success.

Read related article here.  

How to start a community garden.  

Posted in Langgar

Will traditional taxi become extinct?

​Just like any other day, I started my day driving at about 6.30am. Took an hour meal break around 10.30am. Put up changing shift to AMK around 1pm, managed to pick up a pax along Race Course Rd to Bishan. From Bishan, I headed to Sin Ming to report to CDG to return my taxi. I had given 7 working days of my intention to return my taxi scheduled at 2pm today. I was given a letter and a checklist to report to the return taxi bay at CDG.

On the 3rd day of CNY, I sent my taxi to a workshop on the 2nd floor at Auto Point to touch up dents and scratches. Today is the 6th day of CNY which is also my last day as a taxi driver. Yesterday, my good fren Lohcifer insisted on buying me lunch. I reluctantly agreed. I fetched and sent him for our lunch in town. It was a wonderful lunch. He gave me his blessings for the new job I’m looking forward to. He’s always there for me when I was at every juncture of my life milestones.

Just like so many others, notably strangers who were my pax wished me well when I told them I’d be giving up taxi. One pax when she heard that I was about to give up straightaway asked for an empty red packet. There and then she put in $6 and gave it to me wishing me luck. It started off when we were discussing about the sudden onslaught of UG (Uber and Grab) cars and the disruption in the traditional taxi industry.

When I told that lady pax that she was my last pax whilst en route to CDG at Sin Ming, she thought that I was changing shift and calling it a day. Nop. I’m returning the taxi after sending you home I told her. When she found the reason why I was giving up taxi, she agreed that it’s no longer a viable occupation. She told me that only older people like herself still prefer traditional taxi. Most of the youngsters would rather take UG cars. She then related to me how her daughter took Grab Share after midnite from Ngee Ann Polytechnic to Bishan at only $1.40! She was so shocked at the dirt cheap taxi fare which in her own words nobody would believe. I replied to her that she should not be surprised that many like me are giving up. Soon, taxis will get fewer and fewer to the point of near extinction just like those dinosaurs once ruled the earth!

When my old fren Freddie Tan delivered some Rabbit fish for the 8th consecutive year to my flat in the morning on the 1st day of CNY, he told me he loved Grab! He hardly drives his BMW 5 series saloon car nowadays cuz he prefers to be chauffeured around especially when he’s drinking. Only $5 to $7 from Changi Golf club to Tampines in the late evening. His daughter also taking UG cars. When his medical doctor son booked (no booking fee) an executive Grab car in the morning rush hour from Tampines to SGH, one sleek BMW came to pick him up. Fare only $18 without any surcharge, CBD or ERP chargers! My taxi would have cost more cuz of the $3.30 booking fee, ERP and 25% surcharges. What a langgar situation for full time taxi drivers like us.

Yup. UG cars do not have surcharges. Their rentals very low – about half of traditional taxi. Most importantly there is no booking fee on top of the endless discounts up till $15 they keep throwing. Nearly everyday on every Grab taxi trip (Not Grab car which is more lucrative cuz Grab takes 20% cut of the fare. Grab taxi only 50 cents per trip yet they throw tons of money), there is some discount ranging from $3.50 to $15! After midnight, nobody takes taxi due to the midnight surcharge. UG cars rule after midnight. That’s why my night relief AT after more than 10 yrs as a cabby also gave up. He gave me exactly one month notice to quit. I then decided to look for another job and also give up together!

After I returned my taxi, I walked over to LTA to renew my taxi vocational license. Even though I’m no longer driving taxi, I thought might as well pay the $20 to renew it for another 3 years. It’s exactly 3 years since I got my taxi vocational license on 15 Jan 2014. I went on to take my Bus vocational license the following month after getting my taxi vocational license. After about 6 moths as a taxi relief driver, I went on to get a brand new i40 taxi on 5 Aug 2014. For about 2.5 years (5 Aug 14 to 2 Feb 2017), I was imprisoned in my own taxi. I was a slave to the taxi.

I was driving everyday without off days. Only on weekends, I would start much later after my morning exercise at Pasir Ris park. Except on those rare occasions when my taxi undergone major repairs or got hit by another vehicle, then only I could take a breather. Other than that, it’s always driving from 6.30 am to past 5pm with at least 8 hours plying the roads.

My partner commented that “你终于解放了” – I’m liberated at last. The Buddhists would have said “脱离苦海“ – Ending Sea of Suffering! CDG gave me a chance to make $120, 450 (2.5 X 365 X 132) for them. Of course, I have not factored in the quarterly incentives of about $300 and the 3 days of free rental per year! When I first started driving taxi as an inexperienced novice, I could easily make more than $150 nett profit. As I got more confident and experienced after having struggled and learnt the ropes of the trade, I should be making much more but sadly it’s not the case. Especially during the last few months when Grab was throwing tons of money like no tomorrow to entice passengers, our traditional taxi trade has taken to the worst! Just ask any taxi driver and the same woe and moan is echoed to any willing ear. You will even get an earful if you just mention UG cars! Will our traditional taxi – ambassadors of our beautiful sunny island go the way of the dinosaurs to extinction? Only time will tell.

Some say that traditional taxi could “sweep” the roads – pickup from road sides and taxi stands. Is it true? Now that everyone is holding a smartphone, this presumption no longer holds water. Only those computer illiterates stand at road kerb to hail taxi. Youngsters prefer to use apps to book UG cars where they would pick them at the foot of their blocks with no booking fee. Many taxi drivers in their 60s only resort to taxi stands and road sweeping to pick up fares. Some even off their MDT since they do not take calls at all. Reason is that many are too slow to bid for jobs on the MDT or could not read English being Chinese educated. Imagine the frustrations and anger of those elderly taxi drivers queuing at taxi stand only to witness UG cars one after another picking up pax at the same taxi stand?

Taxi drivers like me have a choice. But do the elderly taxi drivers eking out a decent living in this most expensive city in the world have a choice? Maybe, they could quit and collect cardboards at 10 cents a kilo for survival and do some exercise at the same time to keep fit? There is no helping hand to help this group of taxi drivers who have devoted their entire life to this dying profession. It is a sad and pitiful reality which not many are taking their plight seriously.

Unfortunately I’m a nobody. I could not do anything to help those elderly taxi drivers. I could only get out and look for other means to survive. Having said that, I still enjoyed every moment of my taxi experience. My taxi with 2 drivers had already clocked more than 400,000 km. I could say that I have easily achieved about 200,000 km for the 3 full years as taxi driver. My cabby fren Patrick used to say a taxi driver’s one year mileage is easily more than an average driver’s lifetime mileage. In the course of my 3 years as a professional qualified taxi driver (having gone thru the grueling course at Taxi Academy), I have met so many countless pax – the good, bad and ugly. If you just do a search on my blog under “conversation with my pax”, there are few captured on my blog.

When I thanked my good fren Lohcifer for yesterday’s wonderful lunch and other gifts, he had this to say. ” … As you turn a new page in your life, starting tomorrow, I pray that you will be blessed with great happiness, good fortune and bountiful joy and abundance!”

Reflections of a taxi hirer

Confession of a new taxi driver

How to keep their taxi drivers?

Competition must be fair.

Posted in Langgar | 2 Comments

My taxi broke down at BKE!

​I was cruising around Bedok North after my meal break at a coffeeshop opposite Bedok Stadium. It was a lazy quiet half past noon when my MDT sounded. Managed to bid for a call at Bedok Reservoir View. Arrived within 5 minutes and picked up a mother and son. 2 locations she said – send my son to a school at East Coast and then off to Cashew MRT station. On the way to that well known school, mother was chatting with her son about his exams giving advise. As usual, when my passengers either busy talking on the phone or among themselves, I would lower or off the radio. I would keep my eyes and ears open but my mouth shut concentrating on my driving.

After dropping the son off, the mother continued her chatting with me. She was comparing her time in school with her son. After all, her son is not so brilliant academically but a sensible and obedient boy. She is worried about her son not able to cope with our highly competitive education system. I told her that we got no choice. We need to bring out the best in each child cuz we got nothing but only human resources. If you look at Korea, Japan, Hong Kong or even China they are much worst. In order to sustain our economy, we must develop each child to his/her fullest potential. Of course, not every child is equal. We agreed that as parents, we need to manage our expectations of our children within the competitive education system when our conversation inadvertently turned to the Primary 5 school boy’s tragic death as a result of high parental expectations. She also mentioned another brilliant student from a top school taking his own life when he missed his S paper!

All of sudden, I heard a loud click and tock with the taxi losing momentum and power at the 2nd bend of the slip road after the PIE exit to BKE. Gradually, my taxi grind to a halt on the middle of the 3-lane highway. I tried few times to restart but to no avail. I immediately switched on the hazard lights and my immediate concern was for my lady pax to get to her destination on time. She had taken half day leave to accompany her son to sit for the exam and now she’s rushing back to work. She had to get to Cashew MRT station by 1330 hrs to catch the shuttle bus to her office at Bukit Gombak. If she missed the company bus, she had to walk quite a distance to her office. Outside transport not allowed to access the company premises.

From my rear view mirror, I could see 4 or 5 taxis amongst the many vehicles started forming up behind. When I saw one green lighted taxi, I quickly got out to give instruction to the TransCab taxi driver requesting him to send my lady pax to Cashew MRT station and that she was rushing for time. The TransCab driver gladly obliged. When I got back to my taxi, I told my lady pax to hurry and grab that waiting taxi cuz it’s nearly impossible flagging a taxi on the highway. When she enquired about the fare, I said forget it. I apologized to her for the inconvenience which is beyond my control. She insisted on paying and threw 3 pieces of $10 note onto the front seat and ran out to the waiting taxi next to mine. The fare was less than $20. Before I could refund her, she already left in that taxi.

Whilst contemplating my next move, someone knocked on my window. A handsome young Malay biker with his 1000 cc Yamaha sports bike parked just behind my stalled taxi asking what happened. He offered to assist me to push my taxi to the road shoulder as it was causing obstruction. I told him forget it cuz it’s up gradient and not easy. 

But his kind offer of assistance was so sincere and he said let’s try. I then put the gear to neutral and the taxi started rolling backwards. His equally beautiful young wife in Tudang hurriedly tried to stop it from sliding further. I ran out to assist. We then realized that someone needed to control the steering wheel to bring it to the side of the road. The radiant wife volunteered for the task. But the 2 of us could only stop it from rolling backwards. We could not even move an inch. At this juncture, a small lorry whisked passed and parked at the side of the road ahead of us. A Chinese man in his early 30s in sky blue overalls came over to assist. Yet another Chinese man in long sleeve shirt in a luxurious sedan – BMW I think parked behind my taxi also came to join us. Now with 4 of us, we could alas manage to push and shove this heap of metal inching against the force of gravity towards the road shoulder from the middle lane of the highway. Surprising, those vehicles on the 3rd lane – extreme left lane stopped to allow us to push the taxi to the side of the road.

For about 10 to 15 minutes on the middle of the busy highway when we managed to push the taxi to the road shoulder there was not a single horn sounded. Those motorists just looked on sympathetically and understood our predicament! In the meantime, more and more vehicles were forming up behind my stalled taxi causing quite a massive traffic jam. When my taxi was moved to the road shoulder, normalcy returned to the highway easing the jam. Those passerby whom assisted me just left as quickly as they had come to render assistance. I shouted my thanks to them and they just waved back! I’m grateful to them.

From 1320 hrs to 1335 hrs – about 15 minutes of high drama on the busy highway with my stalled taxi parked eventually next to lamp post 1171, I quickly took out the triangle breakdown sign to display it at a distance behind my taxi to warn other motorists. I then called up EMAS for assistance. Within 10 minutes, LTA Traffic Marshall ATOES officer came on a bike. When he arrived and assessed the situation, he quickly placed 2 retractable pylons far away from my taxi to warn on coming vehicles and directed traffic.

My taxi was stalled at the “blind” spot on the 2nd bend and it’s quite dangerous. There were few misses when vehicles turned too fast only to see my taxi parked at the bend. They had to jam brakes as they had no time to filter to the other lane due to heavy traffic. That officer was very professional and was most cheerful when I explained to him my situation. He told me his colleagues would be arriving in few minutes. He told me not to worry.

True enough, EMAS tow truck came in another 5 minutes. They were quick and well trained. They knew what to do straightaway. Towing crew Li E/P No: 044 spoke to me in good English only switching to Mandarin when he realized that I’m a Chinese. I can’t blame him cuz many thought that I’m a Malay due to my complexion. Even that Malay gentleman coming to assist me thought I was a Malay when he asked me in Malay what happened? Obviously, Li is a PRC but spoke English quite well. His tow truck driver is a local Malay. Both of them quickly towed away my taxi within 10 minutes to the nearest car park at Diary Farm Nature car park. From there, I requested my company tow truck to bring the taxi back to Loyang workshop.

By the time I left Loyang workshop with all the registration and documentation done, it’s already 1530 hrs. I was told later that my taxi had to undergo major engine overhaul. My taxi is only 2 yrs and 2 months but clocked about 370, 000 km mileage! For the next 2 to 3 days, it will remain in the workshop for major repairs. At least, I could now take a break doing the things I like. That’s why I had the time to blog about my memorable highway experience. I really appreciate those passerby motorists who came to assist me. I’m also impressed by the professionalism shown by the LTA teams i.e. Traffic Marshall and the EMAS towing crew. They are doing an excellent job indeed!

My son commented: “The people who stopped make me feel very warm and feel that there are many nice people around!”

Read another article here and here!


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