Merlion symbol of Singapore

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Singapore Driver's License

So today I passed the basic theory test and now actually have a Qualified Driving Licence which is good for the next five years, not that I plan on being here that long but you never know. You have to make the appointment to take the test several months in advance and I bought the study book in May, but July seemed like such a long time away that I really didn't start studying until yesterday. They are big on signs and knowing specific meanings like the difference between a gated and ungated train crossing. I don't think I've actually gone across any train tracks since I've been here, but just in case you need to know the difference. Also, the sign with one bump is for a road hump ahead, but two bumps means uneven road ahead.

They are very concerned with politeness in driving and several of the more interesting bits in the book include "before opening the door of a vehicle, make sure that it will not inconvenience anybody on the road or the foot path" or "tailgating makes the driver in front nervous and can cause him to be involved in an accident." For the road boulders "Road-Hogging hinders the flow of traffic behind and may cause others to pass dangerously on the left; stay to the right if you wish to drive slowly." Or "you may not drive if you suffer from sudden attacks of giddiness;" wasn't that what we had in eighth grade? They also have lots of different markings on the roadway

with things like yellow zig-zag lines and white zig-zag lines that mean different things about parking and stopping at certain times of the day. They also ask trick questions about what the double white zig-zag lines mean; there aren't any, but the double yellow zig-zag means no stopping at any time. The last bit I really had to work on understanding and memorizing were the hand signals from the policeman, none of it seem intuitive.

You are only allowed to miss four questions out of 50 to pass and when you are done the computer either gives you a big green light that you've passed or a red light that you failed. At least I got the green light and was able to move onto the next queue to complete the paperwork and pay more money. Now all I have to do is coach Bob through it, but we have another eight months to work on that.
Happy driving

Friday, July 1, 2011

Father's Day in Singapore

Bob at our lunch spot
They celebrate Father's Day in Singapore, same day as the US, but it's mostly about eating here. That's not surprising given that most everything here in Singapore is about eating; I've no idea how they stay so skinny!

Bob and I decided to explore a new bike path along the East Coast Parkway, a parklike setting along the beach. Families were out in force with kids on bikes, trikes, razors (remember those?) and roller blades. They have a bike/roller blade path and a walking path, although no one seems to pay attention to which path they are supposed to be on. For being so into rules here, somehow they are very selective about which ones pertain to them.

The weather was great, slightly cloudy with a few sprinkles which keeps it from being unbearably hot. The families set up BBQ and small tents; I can't tell whether they are to escape the sun or the rain, but I think either way they would be like sitting in a sauna. The ride goes along the coast and then along the airport. The runway seems to go on forever... We stopped along the coast at a cute spot for lunch, they were handing out coupons for free soda on the bike path and that seemed like a good excuse to stop for a break that turned into lunch (again, it's all about the eating). Finally at the end of the airport there is another park with more families and lots of fishing. At this point we could either turn around and go back the way we came, or continue on more inland along the park connector network. We opted for the adventurous route, which was a mistake. Not only did you have to pay attention to lots more turns and crossings; it was way hotter inland as well. We learned our lesson on that ride and will stick to the coast when possible. It seemed forever to get back to the car and all told we did 60 km, which doesn't sound like much given that it is completely flat, but it felt like a lot and Bob was yet again convinced I'm trying to do him in. Happy Father's Day!
Note all the tents in the background and in the distance are all the ships lined up to get into port