Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Off the Map

Woo hoo! Time to clear the roads, and quick: we’re now tooling around Singapore in our new set of wheels, practicing driving on the left side of the road and pretending we know where we’re going. But we don’t, actually. In fact, we celebrated our inaugural day of driving by getting really, really lost.

Jenn: I took the car out for what I thought would be a quick trip to the grocery store, so that I’d get there and back long before the evening rush-hour traffic began. I did fine getting there (thinking left side of the road, left side of the road, stay in your lane), but somehow on the way back I missed my own exit in the tangle of expressways, all denoted by acronyms. PIE? TPE? ECP? And as I was wondering, I managed to slide past all my choices, and suddenly the only remaining lanes in the road said

AHEAD
AIRPORT
CHANGI

Oops. But there was no way out, so only after a 20-minute white-knuckled tour around all three terminals did I finally manage to get back on the highway. Oh well, I thought, at least when people visit us, I’ll know how to pick them up at the airport! But by then it was uncomfortably close to rush hour, and I resolved to look more carefully at the exits on the way back. Couldn’t be the PIE or the TPE, right? Must be the ECP.

But as I drove down the ECP (thinking reach right for the blinker, not left - that’s the wipers), I still didn’t see my exit, and what I saw made me worry. A sign for Tanah Merah, then Bedok - I was heading straight into the city, and home was now somewhere behind me. There was nothing for it but to get off the highway, so suddenly I was in rush-hour traffic in local streets I barely knew (thinking when did this lane become a turn lane? and this lane? and this lane, too?). I passed Joey’s office; he’d already be on the bus home, though, because I’d told him I just didn’t think I’d be able to drive in to pick him up! Unsure where to go, I finally had a chance to dig out a street directory while waiting at a stoplight. But the light turned green, and all I’d seen was the cover.

Luckily, I eventually wandered onto a local street I knew. I was starting to breathe again when suddenly my phone buzzed in the seat next to me, and my heart skipped a beat: what now? At the next stoplight, I checked it: a text message from Joey.

Got lost am running late sorry

I started to laugh. Lost? How could he get lost on a bus? I was the lost one!

Joey: While that drama was unfolding, I had in fact gotten myself lost on a bus. Mind you, I've commmuted on my two-bus route at least 70 times already. But this time, I decided to take a new, more scenic route for my first leg, before catching my usual homeward #2 bus, albeit at a different stop.

I felt full of confidence as I stepped off the first bus at the correct stop, ready to transfer for an easy trip home. But then self-doubt set in: “Wait. Which direction will get me home? The same as the bus I just got off? Or the opposite direction?” Somehow, I felt sure it was the opposite direction, so I walked up to the intersection, crossed the road, and walked to the bus stop. I got there just as the #2 pulled up. Perfect!

Then I noticed that the MRT subway line, which is always above ground in the suburbs, had mysteriously disappeared underground. And as the sun kept shining in my eyes, I realized...I’m heading west into the city, away from home! Yes, I had picked up the bus on the wrong side of the road.

I gave up. I got off the bus at the next stop, sent Jenn a text message, and hailed a cab. I arrived home just in time to see Jenn park the car at the curb.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hope both of you had a good night sleep after all of these and got ready for the trip to Australia! Have a safe and nice trip! Don't get lost in Australia!

love,
mama

Venitha said...

Glad you both eventually made it home! And congrats on the new car! "Wipers still work!" became our mantra in Australia when we just couldn't seem to remember which side the turn signal was on. =)

Anonymous said...

You gave us a good laugh!

Anonymous said...

watch out for bicyclists lah!

Brian said...

It's not too late to trade those four wheels in for a motor scooter, amigos. Lower cost of ownership, easier parking, and as evidenced by the photos in Cheryl + Eric's blog, comfortable seating for four! Singapore car quiz for this week is: why do some Singaporeans leave their windshield wipers pointing straight out when they park their cars?

Anonymous said...

Well, before you criticize singapore, take a good look at your own too. you should be ashamed of yourselves.