A morning battling rush hour traffic to Orchard

Posted on 14 February 2012

An epic story of one boy as he travels on a bus in Singapore’s world class public transport system.

By Klinsen Soh

We all know that driving a car is horrendously expensive in our sunny, sunny island (See this, this and this, if you need proof). So unless you have the fortune of being a son of a very rich man or a toyboy of a very ugly woman, chances are, you’ll need the courage to travel around the country on our world class public transport. Like me.

Most people don’t know this, but the government has come up with a cunning strategy to raise the national fertility rate, by turning all buses (and perhaps trains!) in the country into mini moving clubs.

Put on the strobe lights in any bus during rush hour and you can almost imagine yourself in Zouk, grinding against dozens of equally sweaty bodies. But unfortunately in broad daylight when armpit hair becomes uncomfortably noticeable.

This is a true story of my journey from my humble home to the CheeB-, I mean CBD. It could happen to you too.

Saturday morning 9:37AM – At a bus stop waiting for bus 190

Fuck, its hot. I’m dressed in a douche polo-t (collar propped, of course), jeans, and boat shoes. I tap my foot impatiently as I wait. No chiobus around, but I console myself by catching glimpses of the girl at seven o’ clock wearing FBTs. Still very much a cover-the-face,bomb-the-base type though.

A bus rolls into the stop and its a 171 – packed, full to the brim. A Malay couple is squished at the front door.

At least 30 people nonchalantly stroll up to the bus intending to board but the bus doesn’t move for half a minute, until an auntie spawns out of the cluster at the back and gets off. One of the 30, a PRC man, taps on the glass, screaming “Zen me bu kai men ya?”, which presumably means “hey my balls are itching and I need to take a shit!” (My Chinese is pretty bad but I have NO idea why he would say that).

Unfortunately for Mr. itchy balls, the 171 drives off without him, leaving a trail of sorrow and badly mispronounced Hokkien vulgarities in its wake.

10:08AM – Still at the bus stop

Something is wrong, I’ve seen 963, 966, 960, 187, 171 and a Mitsubishi Lancer blasting techno come by the bus stop but still no 190. Suddenly, an idea strikes me! I turn around and go check the IRIS/SMRT dunnowat time indicator before bus arrival. I see :

190 (Next Bus) : Arr , Arr

Right. If I wanted to learn pirate-speak I would have gone to Somalia.

Still no 190 in sight. To kill time, I whip out my earphones and mp3 player. Yes, MP3 player. Take that Apple tards! Because the dick device is on shuffle, it keeps playing songs that I put into it but I don’t necessarily want to hear.

Fiddle, diddle, doodle, and alot of skipping later, three glorious bendy-chariots bearing the numbers 190 suddenly arrive together, as if one.

I swear on my O-level ten year series that 20 million people also suddenly pop out of nowhere as if in a random dance number in a Bollywood movie, and charge to the front of the bus stop.

They were just as gracefully unified as this.

I limber up, and begin sauntering up to the front, pushing aside a few senior citizens and foreign talents along the way. The first bus is packed to the brim, much like the 171 previously. I sneer at everyone, the people inside, and the ones around me, all whom don’t have any sense or civic-mindedness to just filter off to the buses behind….

Before taking the first bus.

Because by the time I decided not to queue up, the two behind had already driven off.

10:14AM – Inside the bus

It actually barely qualifies as inside the bus. I have my left foot on the first step and my right foot on the pavement so the driver can’t close the door. The passengers inside struggle furiously to move thousands of nanometres while the people behind me threaten to dry hump me harder than a dog on a girl’s leg. The other two barely-filled 190s behind have already driven off.

“HALLO, CAN YE OLL PULEASER MOOVER EENSAI!” yells the authentic, 100% without a-shadow-of-a-doubt, acclimatised Singaporean bus (*edit*) Captain. Miraculously, the crowd displaces about 4 metres in. Somehow the voice from the front has inspired the standing passengers to conquer their fear of the haunted-back-of-the-bus. They say that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. In this case, it is probably the fear that we will all be stuck in this purgatory forever.

But the lady right in front of me stops and fiddles into her bag, fishes out a purse, fiddles into her purse, fishes out a coin pouch, fiddles with it and asks for the fare to Suntec city.

We uh donta goa Saantek Shitty“, the bus driver sheepishly says.
Oh!” says the lady, making a most uncomfortable exit, leaving a heavy trail of musk, coconut oil, and the glitter from 2 kilograms worth of gold jewellery wafting in her wake. ”
“Thuhnker you!“, she exclaims, before being on her merry way.

Tuck you too, Madam.

10:24AM – Coming out of the PIE
It’s only been 10 minutes or so but I have managed to have more intimate contact with women than my public transport life should permit. My right armpit alone manages to reach second base twice while serving as a makeshift gantry for passengers getting off at Tanglin CC.

Just then, I look around to find 8 vacated seats shining like tiny diamonds in a sea of 30 standing passengers.

Game on

I make my way over only to find that my chosen seat beside a balding uncle continued to remain elusive. Said uncle chooses to back the fuck up against his seat, tilting his head back as if being spontaneously raptured, instead of moving to let me in like a normal human being. I couldn’t decide if moving in with my front or back facing him would’ve been more homoerotic.

But being a fan of swordfights, I take a step over his legs and choose to face him like a man. Never have I ever felt so much intensity and manliness emanate from myself in a standing reverse-missionary position with another guy (Thanks, SMRT. *brofist*).

After that glorious moment, I sit down to join him in the vibrato-fest. A man’s buttocks do deserve a treat after a long battle.

10:42AM – Arrival
My body is shoved aside by a furious woman who refuses to believe my body language that I am standing in front of the exit door because I do, in fact, intend to get off at the next stop. She makes a hasty, arthritic crab walk down while the rest of the world taps out at the other EZ-link scanner she isn’t blocking.

With impeccable wit, I turn to her and scream “AI SIO GAN MAI?”, a dialect phrase my friend tells me means “Learn to have patience!”.

And with that, I make a triumphant march through the outside of CK Tangs, skanky Philippina women by my side, walking like a boss after that hour-long ordeal.


“The maximum time to reach any corner of Singapore is 20 minutes as traffic is not allowed to flood the roads.”  – Ah Gong, Lee Kuan Yew (2007)

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Wang Pei can be considered a new citizen of Singapore. She has been here all her life, just that her environment's changed beyond recognition.

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