Singapore Adventure

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Just Along For The Ride
by venitha

"Gads, Jim, we'd have to rent a car." This is a stumbling block even more daunting than the outrageously expensive flight to (or maybe Darwin), Australia, the current destination of the month.

Having driven ourselves absolutely nowhere in all of Asia, the difficulty of finding our own way around, of reading maps, of deciphering traffic signs and signals, and of arguing over who has to drive (yes, that's right, we both prefer not to drive), now completely outweighs the hassle of hiring a driver and negotiating for payment.

We've received advice from numerous friendly(?) sources to rent a car here in Singapore sometime. Just for the fun of it. Fun like driving on the other side of the road, like the one-way streets, like the traffic circles (one near our apartment called, quite appropriately, Newton Circus), like the changing-on-every-block street names, like the complete non-grid of it all, like the -shmover-leaf expressway accesses. Fun like a friend's tale of dropping her son off at school: the thrill of victory in finding her way there followed by the agony of defeat in realizing she had no idea how to get home.

I think our marriage has withstood enough stress of late, don't you? We're less than a month shy of ten years. Is it really wise to push it?

Of course, the only reason why I would even consider renting a car in Singapore is that there's the safety net of the ever-present taxicab; when we inevitably get lost (within mere seconds), we can always just abandon the rental car and take a cab home. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but this brilliant strategy worked perfectly - and amused our friendly condo guard to no end - on a very dark morning run when we got lost in... well, if I'd known where we were, I'd likely have been able to find our way home, now, wouldn't I? Jim, who has not dubbed himself The anti- for nothing, was of little navigational assistance, though he did a stellar, first-rate, and highly commendable job of flagging down the cab. Not that I'm pointing fingers, mind you, as in my time in Singapore, I've clearly regressed back to the time before I ever got a driver's license, back to a time when my mother admonished me to pay more attention to routes.

Making no statement whatsoever about my mother's driving, I can guarantee that my inattention today is most definitely not laziness; it's a survival skill. Jim and I have taken many many cabs in many many Asian countries, and the only reason I haven't died of a heart attack or developed an ulcer or hideously scarred Jim by digging my fingernails into his forearm is that instead of gasping at the endless risks the driver is taking, instead of cringing at every oncoming head-on collision and wincing at every pedestrian and stray dog and goat and cow nearly mown down, I've learned to enjoy the scenery out the side window and to lose myself in a good book. And in a pinch, I close my eyes and mouth silent prayers.