I caught the 6.50 pm flight to Singapore this evening, after leaving home at 4.20 pm in a taxi. The flight sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes waiting to take-off (apparently there was only one runway in operation at KLIA for some reason today) and we came in at gate F60 in Singapore – the very last gate in Terminal 2 (I can’t understand the logic of making passengers from a short shuttle flight walk the longest distance in the airport) so it was about 8.30 pm by the time I got to the immigration counter.
Fortunately there was not much of a queue at immigration, nor at the taxi rank, so I was soon on my way into the city. However, my taxi ride into the city turned out to be the slowest taxi ride I have ever taken, courtesy of what I would guess was Singapore’s oldest taxi driver. She was a small Chinese woman, who looked about 75 years old, and could barely see over the steering wheel. As we pulled away from the airport she said: “Where you go, ah?” I told her that I wanted to go to the M Hotel, to which she replied: “You know where M Hotel, ah?” I replied that it was in the financial district. “You know how get, ah?” was her next question. “Yes, go along the East Coast Parkway, take the Prince Edward Road exit and then turn left into Shenton Way,” I said. There was a pause as she absorbed that, and then she said: “I call my friend, ah.” I guess she was not familiar with what was a very simple route into the city, because she spent most of the journey chatting in what I assume was Mandarin or Cantonese or some other Chinese dialect to her ‘friend’ on her mobile phone, who was apparently giving her directions.
We headed into the city at about 30 kph under the speed limit – in the fast lane. The rest of the traffic passed us on the inside, and it was surprising nobody beeped us (if that had been KL, people would have been honking their horns at us all the time). When we got to the traffic lights at Shenton Way, she was in the wrong lane, so I said to her: “You have to turn left here.” When the lights changed to green, she immediately pulled straight in front of another car in the left hand lane, but again surprisingly we didn’t get beeped – Singapore drivers are so polite compared to Malaysian drivers!
I wondered whether she actually had a licence to drive. Maybe her husband was a taxi driver and he had sent her out to earn some money whilst he had his dinner. She certainly didn’t know Singapore very well and was a pretty hopeless driver.
Arriving at the M Hotel, I looked at my watch – it was 9.20 pm. It had taken me five hours, door to door, a journey I could have easily driven in four hours. Oh well, at least flying is safer than driving, even if it does take an hour longer.