A typical work week in Singapore seems to fly past so quick, and before you know it, another weekend approached us again. With no overseas trip scheduled, I was quick to plan something different to do for last weekend, and thought of hiring a scooter to discover some alternate parts of town not reachable by MRT. A quick Google search landed us on the Ban Hock Hin website, and a short phone call later, I booked my scooter for the weekend.
It’s a Sym Joyride 200cc scooter, which I never riden before. Granted, it doesn’t look too ‘sexy’ at all, nor am I going to win any attention from the ladies riding this thing. Wasn’t my objective to do that anyway. I guess my objective was really just to get to know what it’s like to actually ride on the roads around Singapore and learn a few things or two. At just SGD$30 per day, it was a no-brainer and a cheap way to get me started, before I look into larger bikes more seriously later.
Compared to places like Vietnam, and even just neighbouring Malaysia, there seems to be a LOT less motorcycles visible around the streets of Singapore. It must be a status thing, and somehow it was hammered into the minds of Singaporeans that if you own and ride a motorcycle, you are either too poor or will loose too much ‘cred’ being seen around town with one?
If you lived here long enough, you would know just how expensive a car is here with the majority of the cost coming from so called COE (Certificate of Entitlement) of over SGD$60,000. For a motorcycle, the COE cost is just SGD$2000!! So I am very very surprised that there’s just so few bikes relative to cars! The more reason for me to get a bike here!
Now, I didn’t have a real itinerary for the weekend, given I didn’t know the roads well enough or know where to go. As expected, I spent quite a lot of time overshooting highway exits, stuck at carparks gates not knowing how to pay and getting lost countless times. Fortunately, Singapore ain’t that big at all, and you really can’t get completely lost. In one weekend, we went riding to:
– I21 Katong Shopping Centre near East Coast
– NEX Shopping Centre in Serangoon
– Dempsey Hill (For bruch at White Rabbit)
– Holland Village (For lunch)
– Queenstown (Checked out Ikea and the nearby shopping centre)
– Toa Payoh (Ony to be disappointed)
– Novena Square
None of the spots we visited were tourist spots at all, but rather places that expats and local Singaporeans would hang out. It got us exploring areas where we may eventually settle down, and what better way to do that than on a bike. Have to say, I learnt a lot about the roads in Singapore in one weekend. To begin with, every scooter (or any vehicle in Singapore for that matter) comes with this so called ‘In-Vehicle Unit’ (IU) attached:
With a cashcard inserted, this unit was how carpark fees are paid, and also how road tolls (ERP) are charged. Wished bike rental lady told us about the carpark when I picked the bike up. On the first day, we were holding up the carpark entrance into a shopping centre, as I didn’t position the bike correctly for the gate sensor to sense the unit to open the gate, nor did I had any clue why the carpark gate wouldn’t open for me, but for everyone else!!
And then, there’s the open bike carparks, that require the use of ‘coupons’ to indicate you have paid for parking. These are pre-paid booklet of coupons that you need to display (each coupon worth 65 cents), with your filled in vehicle plate number, along with the date poked out correctly like this:
Again, wished the rental lady told us about these coupons, as I probably would have been fined, if it wasn’t for another bike rider explaining the system to me. I ended having to ride to a nearby petrol station to buy a booket of 10 (SGD$6.50), just so that I can park legally.
As you can see, even on bikes, parking is an issue, although it is significantly cheaper than car parking. On the plus side, it was fun zipping around town, and being on a bike, I definitely have the advantage of being able to ‘squeeze’ in between cars to avoid traffic. I definitely spent a lot of time getting ‘lost’ as well while I get to know the roads, but it did not detract from the overall positive experience.
Again, I do not see why there are just so many more cars than bikes here, unlike the rest of South East Asia. No wonder heaps of expats at work are bike riders. I can definitely see myself picking up bike riding again after I sold my bike years ago in Australia. Except… I’m married now, and I know the biggest hurdle is going to be convincing my other half to ‘approve’ this idea…….