All about taxi encounters to & from Ascott

It’s a bad idea to hail a taxi along the road when in suburban Singapore and ask the taxi uncle to take you to the Ascott Raffles Place.

This was what I found when I asked picky Siti to go to the main road near our home to hail a taxi and get it to turn into our driveway to pick up mum and me from our lobby where we were waiting.

Normally I would have driven everyone to the Ascott but when I was informed by the residence that there were no parking facilities en-premise, I decided a taxi would be more convenient than driving there and parking at Hong Leong Building, a street away — for convenience, read “cheaper”.

Bad decision! Doubly bad decision was not to call for a taxi.

Siti waited on that Friday afternoon (Oct 30) from just be4 2pm to way past 2.30pm; no taxi would take her, always with some excuse. I joined her and it was several minutes be4 we persuaded a taxi to turn into out drive-way and pick up mum and our luggage.

Where do you want to go? The Ascott at Raffles Place. Where’s that? At Raffles Place. Never heard of it. You must have! The hotel just won a prize! You know the old Asia Insurance Building. Never heard of it…

I thought I was in a nightmare when I suddenly hit on a bright idea. I spelt out the name of where we wanted to go.

A.S.C.O.T.T.

The taxi uncle turned round to look at me scornfully.

Oh, Ascott. You say it wrong. It’s AS-CORT!

Advantage taxi uncle! It must have made your day. Silly me had pronounced it as though it’s the place for those races in the UK where the cream and curd of society turn up in hats and bowlers. I had pronounced Ascott as Ascot. Oh what a mortal sin!

All this silently within me of course as my mother hates to be caught in a row within the small confines of any place, let alone a vehicle being driven by a stranger.

Aloud I said to the taxi driver: Whatever. It’s in Raffles Place.

No, he retorted triumphantly. It’s in Finlayson Green.

All right since you know where it is, you go the way you usually go.

Mulut tak mumpus replied: There’s only one way to go! Then went into a long spiel about the route to take.

Muggins held her tongue, determined to stay silent even if I had to bite my tongue off.

It seemed ages but it couldn’t have been more than 15 minutes when we arrived at the little inset in the road and alighted to the welcome of the doorman of the Ascott.

Taxi uncle said: “Just give me $10.” Even though the meter said $10.20. OK, thanks!

Our next encounter with a taxi uncle was later that night when for reasons explained here we were heading for home again barely 7 hours after we checked in.

The hotel got the taxi for us and we quickly settled in, belted up even as a heavy drizzle threatened to turn into a storm, and we were on our way when the uncle turned back and stated, rather than asked: “To the airport!”

Startled and not sure I had heard right, I said: ‘Sorry?”

“Which terminal?”

“Terminal? Not terminal. We are going home. Newton Circus.”

“Not to the airport?”

“No!”

After a long day, I could be forgiven if I just tore my hair, shouted or worse — beat up the taxi uncle. But I managed to catch myself and mentally excused him. Won’t it be reasonable to assume that people checking out of the Ascott would be heading for the airport?

The next day’s taxi trip back to the Ascott saw us picking up a taxi very easily, the limousine type, some more!

But the driver looked and sounded like he’s out of a Hindi movie. He could be straight from Mumbai for all I know because he declared not to know where the As-CORT was; nor Raffles Place, nor Finlayson Green.

How did he get a driving licence for crying out loud!

Still the taxi was comfortable and the sky looked as though it would weep again.  So I said with gritted politeness: All right, let me give you directions… you know Scotts Road, OK you go straight through and then….

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9 thoughts on “All about taxi encounters to & from Ascott

  1. This is hilarious! I would give anything for being a fly on the wall!! Ha ha! I can well imagine the horrid look on your face coz! It would have been such a pic to see you gritting your teeth and fuming away at the same time! Ha ha ha.
    Tip the drivers I say for their sheer ignorance and boldness!
    I have long given up on having to rely on taxi drivers in Singapore to know their destinations. They are clueless and if they have to do the equivalent of ‘the knowledge of Singapore routes(like the one we have in the UK) I will bet my bottom pound that at least 90% of them lot will fail!
    How on earth do they get their operating Licence indeed.Perhaps,we should direct this question to the relevant authority,the dreaded and at times, equally incompetent LTA! (their regulatory body?)
    I resort to simply telling them the route to take as I know them or ask them to contact their ‘Centre’ via their fancy on board satellite system for directions!
    Aiyoh,how to impress tourists like that?

  2. Peter! U shouldn’t say tt abt LTA, given yr close relative working there! 😀 But that said, S’pore’s public transport system overall can’t hold a candle to Hongkong’s, really and truly. And to think HK has many more pple. I guess the blame mayb partly on the HDB: it builds such lovely homes for the mid n low income tt our Govt reckon few will want to venture out. By contrast, HK’s housing for the less well-off is something tt is nothing to write home abt. Hence, hordes want to go out all the time; hence more brains put on creating a truly seamless, efficient public transport system. Tt’s my theory. As for being a fly on the wall, can u imagine someone we both know in my place? The taxi uncles wld be in outer space by now!! ^———–^

  3. Amy, BMW is all very well but there are some occasions tt scream for taxis or chauffeur driven transport. Our to n froing fm the Ascott Raffles Place was one of them. Got to rely on taxis then, since I’m not lucky like yr bro n s-i-l to have my own driver on call, sigh!

  4. Got to say what must be said regardless of who works for or in the LTA!
    I have only limited experience of taxi rides in HK so I have to take your word for it in terms of their efficiency of service. Regardless of who is to blame, the whole taxi service in Singapore must improve in terms of the knowledge of the routes by the drivers;their attitude/excuses of not accepting a fare because they prefer a longer journey;their pretence that they are ‘on call’ when clearly they are not;their being deliberately no where to be seen between say between 11.45 pm and just after midnight when they can charge the extra fare! All very understandable but extremely annoying,irritating and exasperating not only for us Singaporeans but tourists alike. LTA must really do something about this and pull their fingers out instead of just paying lip service to a situation which they know exists if letters of complaint to the Forum is anything to go by.
    Finally,I would not want to be a fly on the wall if that someone we know is in your place! I will be in stratosphere too catapulted at the same time as the taxi uncles!!hehe.

  5. Peter! Stratosphere! Haha! As for the HK public transport system: it’s not only just the cabs. Their whole system is truly integrated. U may not have an MTR station at yr door but there’s always a mini-bus to take you there. Everything is frequent and on time, so tt u don’t need to beat yrslef up if u miss a train or a bus, as the next one comes within a minute or two. For the number of pple compressed into such a small place, everyone (mayb not very friendly) still give and take, so tt queues are orderly. So give HK more time next time u r there. And to check out not only the transport of cos, if u get wot I mean 😉

  6. Pingback: All about taxi encounters to & from Ascott « FOOD fuels me to talk… | Taxi Opole

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