Tuesday, 15 October 2013

How to catch a bus

It's so easy to take the bus in Singapore!

There it is, on my iphone - the icon which tells me which bus is coming to my nearest bus stop (five minutes walk away).

All I have to do is check the 141. It will drop me 200 yards from the Blind Association.  I won't be hassled. I won't be stressed. I won't be 'glowing' in the heat. And the whole journey will cost me a fraction of a bus ride in the UK.

So here's what I do. I click on the icon. The bus isn't coming for 15 mins.  I do some emails. Hmmm. Lost in cyberspace, I lose that 15 minute safety net.  I go outside. It's very sticky.

I catch a cab....

Or, I leave the flat early. I haven't checked the timetable. I'm leaving everything up to chance.  It's more fun. I'm taking risks.  I say a cheery 'morning' to the guard. I wander along the road. It's not too hot. There's even a slight wind. The wind is stronger...drops of rain. By the time I have skirted Revenue House and am within a gecko's gasp of the bus stop it's tipping down.

I catch a cab...

Here's another way: I saunter along to the bus stop. No rain, no blazing sun even. The roads are full of buses. I check my phone. And while I'm checking it, the 141 whizzes by.  Oh no! My bus! I start to run. I wave my arms.  The bus drivers are usually very nice.  They are used to us mad foreigners, thinking we can break into a canter and still smile as we galumph onto the bus.  Yes!! I made it. I flop down on the bench reserved for 'aunties', pregnant women, disabled. I am disabled. My forehead is a swamp. I'm panting.  I pull out a flannel (always keep one handy). I arrive, on time, but still panting.  "Have you been running?" asks Jane, the Librarian.

And then, not infrequently, I know exactly when the bus is coming. I'm as cool as a cucumber. I wait in the shade of the bus stop. I ignore the legion of taxis winking their green lights at me.  The 141 will be here soon.   Look, it says 'ARR' on my phone.  It's ARRiving I tell myself.  But it isn't. What's gone wrong? Has the driver stopped for a coffee? Has someone given birth on the bus? (We are surrounded by hospitals.)  Did a dragon spirit whisk it off to another planet?  I see a bus. It's not the 141, but I'm sure it will do. I know this bus... when it's going in the opposite direction. One of my favourites. A double decker even, so I can peer at the rain trees, the bougainvillea on the bridges, the beautiful ferns and palms....

My iphone bleeps.  Messages that must be read.  I laugh at a friend's comments. I glance up.  The road is a bit too wide, isn't it? I don't recognize these tower blocks.  But then I do recognize this road. THE P.I.E! Main cross-island route to the airport.

"Jane, hello, it's Emma.  I took the wrong bus.. Haha, I know... Yes, I'll go on to Bishan and get the train... see you later!"

The ten minute journey takes forty five.

It's so easy to take the bus!


  1. I once took the number 11 bus round the outer circle in Birmingham because I alighted on the wrong side of the road. It took two hours, and the bus conductor came to me finally, at the eleventh hour, metaphorically speaking, at the penultimate stop, just before I got to my destination - approaching it from the opposite direction of course. He just sighed and said that he didn't have enough ticket-tape to charge me, so he didn't charge me at all.

  2. Lovely post... Funny too! And just what I do!