Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ilongga Goes to Singapore

My first day in Singapore was... a disaster! From getting to work, to meeting up with my friends, things just kept on going from bad to worse! But if there's one thing I'm really grateful for, it's the wonderful Good Samaritans of Singapore. :)

Being new in Singapore, I didn't have a clue as to how public transportation worked. I didn't know that if you have an EZ-Link Card, you just tap upon climbing the bus, and tap again upon exit. If you don't have a card, then you can drop your coins and get a receipt. So when I climbed the bus, I just sat on the nearest chair I could find... under the impression that I can pay later. When I reached my destination (Yo Chu Kang station), I asked the driver how much I needed to pay, and he told me to just tap the card. And I was like, "huh?" I didn't have cash, nor did I have coins so I gave him a $2 Singapore bill. Apparently, they don't have change for bills because their mode of payment has always been card or coins. So I told him I didn't have coins and I was almost freaking out because I haven't paid yet. Well, the driver was pretty generous and let me off the hook without paying! He told me to buy a card and pay the next time I ride a bus. What a relief!

Later that day, I had to go home to fetch my sister first then proceed to Marina Square to meet with my friends. I was SOOO confident I wouldn't make a mistake, after all, the way back should be the same with the way I went to work. Little did I know that it doesn't really work like that in Singapore. After getting off at Yo Chu Kang station, I went to ride the bus that I thought would pass our place, on the same station I got off that morning. I read the bus line guide, and I was also confident with what I was doing because the guide listed our place as one of the stops of the bus. But NO, it didn't happen that way. I was taken to the Southern part of Singapore -- much farther than where I was supposed to go! When I asked the driver, he told me that I had taken the wrong bus and I needed to take another bus to go back! Waaah... I was hysterical! What's worse, I ran out of Cellphone load and I wasn't able to send a message to my friend on what I should do!

So I tried to look for the nearest bus stop, but I couldn't find one. I was really scared! I didn't want to ride a cab because that time, I was afraid the cab would just take advantage of my getting lost. So I asked the security personnel at the nearest residential building near Sim Lim Square for directions and where I could possible find a payphone. I told him "I'm Lost, I'm Lost!" and it was a trigger for him to also ask his companions for directions. Unfortunately, he didn't know of a payphone nearby, and my friends place was too far and too complicated to reach by bus. So he told me to just take a cab going there.

I was on the verge of tears, and my voice was shaking when I told him I didn't want to take a cab because I was afraid. But he was so generous that he offered to talk to the cab driver to bring me to my place. Upon hailing the cab, he gave me SGD$20 for my fare! Wow! How generous can that be? Giving 20 bucks to someone he doesn't even know, and to someone who foolishly wailed "I'm lost, I'm lost!" just a few minutes ago? Wow.

The cab driver was a blessing as well. He offered his mobile phone for me to contact my friend! I was really on the verge of tears when I told him the story of how I ended up at the wrong place. And when I told him I couldn't contact my friend, he gave me his phone and told me to call my friend! Wow! Are people in Singapore really this helpful? He brought me back home to fetch my sister, and also brought me to our meeting place. And he wouldn't accept any tip! Again, wow. I'm just so thankful to have met them when I needed them most.

My Singapore adventures are just starting. But I'm sure by the end of the week, I'll have more stories to tell.

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