The problem with living vicariously is that it’s nothing compared to the real thing. I got several doses of first-time experiences while in Singapore, most of which had me laughing silently to myself, and sometimes even out loud. These are my first-time experiences:
Right hand drive – Coming out of the airport I waited for a taxi to take me to Sun Tec, and the driver cheerfully opened the passenger door for me. He probably thought I had all the markings of a first timer, since I also asked him what I was to do with the baggage trolley that was now empty and standing on the sidewalk. He made a quick flipping motion with his hand that told me to just leave the trolley there. He let me in at the right passenger side, and then he got in the front seat, right in front of me. That’s strange, I thought. It was worse when we drove out into the main streets, when I saw cars going the opposite way on my right. Hirap talaga ng nakatira sa kweba oo . . .
Sticking the keytag into the holder so the lights would come on in the hotel room – This was absolutely laughable for me. Sometimes solving things are just a matter of putting two and two together, and this was one of those times. The thing on the wall said “Key Tag”. My hotel room key had a tag that said “704” I suppose the rest was assumed to be understood. But never underestimate the stupidity of a hotel guest, especially one who hadn’t been in one for a very long time.
The ezâ€¢link method of transporation payment – My co-worker had already told me about the ezâ€¢link card but this was at the time when I was being inundated with useful information that the card’s uses didn’t quite sink in. I bought one at Aljunied where the person behind the counter slowly and patiently explained to me exactly what I was paying for: “the card is S$15 which is inclusive of S$5 card cost (non-refundable), S$3 travel deposit and S$7 stored value”
Topping up the ezâ€¢link at an automated terminal specifically for the purpose – I felt like the kid in the Philippine Coke commercial years back. My friends Edwin and Lala stood at either side of me telling me where to put my card and what to push and where to insert the S$10 I wanted to load into the card and I finished the transaction without a hitch, which is when Edwin piped up saying “Ay sayang sana kinunan kita ng picture habang nag-rereload!”
Eating at a restaurant that used to be a church. The PADI dinner on Saturday night had Song and myself headed somewhere we’d never been to or even passed by, a place called “Chijmes”. At first we thought it read “Chinese” but when I handed my invitation to the cab driver, I realized just then that it read Chijmes, on 30 Victoria Road. Chi-j-mes. I told the driver we were at his mercy. He wasn’t sure either, so the driver asked if we were going to a party. A dinner, yes. Ah, he said, is this the church? Church? Uhm, we don’t know. At which point he pushed a button on his fare display that turned it into —
A GPS map inside the taxi. Which was the most high-tech thing I’ve actually seen inside a cab. The map showed us that we were on Victoria Road heading north and that we were going the right way. Sure enough, there it was on our left side, Chijmes (pronounced Chimes as in the bells) which used to be a catholic girl’s school and is now a posh restaurant.
NOT being mistaken for a Filipina. While standing around during the cocktails prior to the dinner at Chijmes, I was squeezed in between Song and this lovely young lady in black. I was thinking of what I was drinking (something like coke but not quite) until I heard her say, “You look like a Filipina. Are you Filipina?” And I looked up and realized she was talking not to me but to Song! I wedged my face in between them and said “I’m Filipina!”, with a smile of course. Turned out the young lady was a Boholana who was now living with her husband in Subic and managing Ocean Adventure there, and she was so thankful she had found someone to speak Tagalog/Bisaya with.
marami pang kasunod …