Thursday, 7 October 2010

Without a car

Besides throwing me with this question, another common query I get from people (as some of you might have guessed from the title) is whether I am suffering from not having a car.  Yes, in case you don’t know, I don’t own a car here in Singapore.

Objectively speaking, this no-car issue is an epitome of half-glass-empty vs. half-glass-full argument.

Indeed, as a typical Malaysian – suddenly not being able to just hop behind the wheel and go to where you want to go is quite a severe loss of convenience, or “perceived” convenience depending on how you see it.

There were days when it rains in the morning, where I felt a car would be nice because the walk from my place to the MRT station is not entirely sheltered.  There were nights where I would like to meet up with my friends for drinks or ‘teh-tarik’ but that is not possible.  There were days when I am standing next to people in the MRT who will release aroma as though they have just dipped themselves in shite… and I felt that I should have been sitting in a car.

And many more…

But hang on…

The walk from my condo to the nearest MRT station is at the most, 5 minutes – actually, 3 to sheltered underpass leading to the station.  I’ve timed this. My office is located right above the MRT station.

Rain or thunderstorm, I know I will only need to be in the MRT for 10 minutes – the duration of my journey.  This also means that when I sms my wife Coming home now… she can begin to heat up dinner and I will be back sitting at the table enjoying my meal within 25 minutes, max – rain or thunderstorm.  How long does it take for you to get home, in a non-rainy day?

I can always walk away from people with “those” aroma.  And because I am not that short, I don’t have to endure the projection from the armpit of those people who lift up their hands to hang on to the handle-bar.  Maybe others had to endure mine, but I haven’t noticed anyone walking away from me.

And all these, cost me SGD2.02 a day, about MYR100 a month – less than 1 full tank that I had to fill weekly in Malaysia.  And I am not paying for a car which is a depreciating asset.

Right, I can’t have my teh-tarik or nasi-lemak or roti-canai at night but seriously, I can live with that.  And if MRT doesn’t go to the places I want to go, I can take the bus from the bus-stop right in front of my condo – which is clean, on time and takes me to a lot of other places.  Alternatively, I can take the cab – which is reasonably priced, charges based meter and safe.

If all fails – I will take it as God telling me not to go out.

Certainly, I will not say that I will never buy a car.  But at the moment, it is more of a “want” instead of a “need”.  Am I tempted to buy one?  Hell yes! Car prices are cheap if you compare dollar-to-dollar.  2 months ago, a fellow brain-drain digger just walked-in to a dealer and bought a 4-year-old 5-series for less than SGD90k.  I checked out a few 4-year-old 3-series and most of them are below SGD70k.  I am fighting temptation on a daily basis.

Another point – my boss who probably earns double my salary does not own a car. I know another unit-head within my function who probably earns 4 times my salary does not own a car either.  Hence, it is the Malaysian in me who wants a car, not the Zewt in me who needs a car.

Just want to touch on the “convenience” of having a car in Malaysia… a friend of my mine said he cannot work in Singapore because he cannot stand not being able to “just hop into the car and go to wherever he wants to go”. 

I think that statement is grossly incomplete.  Yes, you may be able to go wherever you want to go.  But can you get there on time?  Is it peak hour and hence jam?  Is it raining and hence you will be sitting in your car cursing in facebook?  Can you get a car-park at your destination?  And depending on the time of the day (something which is getting increasingly worrying and I have stories to tell), is it safe to just drive out? 

So is the car-less situation a half-glass-empty or half-glass-full for me?  A bit of both depending on the situation; but more towards half-glass-full… for now.


day-dreamer said...

Hmm. One of the reasons I'm looking for job prospects in SG is because of the efficient transportation system among the hustle and bustle of the city. Much, much better than having a car in KL, I think. :D

Terra Shield said...

The public transportation in S'pore is awesome. I wouldn't want a car if I worked there either... walking is always good exercise!

Anonymous said...

I will use the MRT travelling time to shut eye with my dark specks on and big soft shawl covering me as I power nap . . On the way home from office, I could also catch up with friends for meals/drinks at MRT eateries . . I could also use such time to call home or to reflect on things that I need to plan out . . plus always remembering to carry my bible for some quick daily reading . .

I think it's much better to be stuck driving in traffic jams in case you forget about those horrid ones that we encounter daily in KL . .

but, I am not working in Singapore yet =)

Oz . .

Anonymous said...

shld read as " ..much better than to be stuck " :D Oz

ZACL said...

You have very persuasive arguments for being car-less;if I lived with the kind of public transport structure you have at your disposal, I would make the same thought deductions as you do.

Sadly, I don't live where there is good transport, the infrastructure here is very limited indeed. Because of it, if you can drive, if yo can afford to own and run a car,it becomes time-efficient and desirable to have a car and use it.

Inevitably, the car will be used where two feet can do a useful and gently exercising task. Self-discipline is required at those times. The same journeys may also be taken when the weather is so foul and gale-ridden, as to make the use of a car the only sensible option.

Fi-sha said...

And this what I am trying to approve in Malaysia but knowing Malaysians are mostly puteri/putera lilin, loathesome beings, its difficult to get collective AYE to push for better public transport.

On top of half full or half empty, in this country, it's more like chicken or egg situation.

Dear Zewt, I so envy you la! :)

Take care my dear friend

flaminglambo said...

Lucky for you Singapore is not on most terrorist organisations' 'to do' list. I remember feeling the fear when travelling in public transport knowing that there is a terror alert issued.

I remember Blair saying that the terrorists will not alter the everyday lives of the British. Yeah, my arse it didn't.

Anyho. At least your trains are clean and efficient.

secret agent woman said...

If I lived in a big city, I might not have a car.

Pinknpurplelizard said...

If I lived in places where public transport was efficient and well laid out, I'd settle for being without a car. Why? 3 things:
1. I get exercise.
2. I don't have to spend money on maintainence, toll, parking, insurance or food for my car.
3. Its more environmentally friendly.

Taxis are also aplenty and I'm sure if you needed, you could rent a car for a day to go gallivanting on whatever picnics and trips you've in mind. Plus, aren't the road tax/permit for cars in S'pore are expensive?

Linda said...

Walking is good... Don't fall into the temptation of getting a luxury second hand car. The chance is the car will give you more trouble than convenience. Get a new one when you go to downunder one day.. :)

Jorji said...


post ini buat aku tertekan.

Buat aku lebih benci Pak Lah sebab dulu janji naikkkan harga minyak sebab nak guna duit subsidi buat modal upgrade public transport.

upgrade mys ass!

blackjack said...

come on zewt - just get a ferrari.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha try going on a date by telling your potential target to meet at specific MRT station. Apart from that working using public transport is fine, provided you are in a cooler climate country, eg UK, HK, Aus.

doc said...

every aspect of s'pore transport system discourages private vehicle ownership.

the only drawback of not owning one is when you have a dire emergency, but that's far & few in between, & most s'poreans have lived with that.

you want one, i can tell, but seriously, you don't need it. i have lived there with a wife & kid for 2 years & wasn't convinced i should have one.

pinsysu said...

in most part of Msia, no car means 'bo ka' (no legs) ... in singapore, owning car is generally more of a status symbol for gloating ... or an expensive 'sport' equipment for owners to wash everyday & polish on weekends ...

TG said...

It's interesting to me how expensive the cars are in Singapore and Malaysia. Below 70k Sgd for a used Series 3 is more than a new one costs here O.o

Your friend paid 90k for a 4yr old BMW 3?? That's crazy. That's almost 50.000 euro and you get a new Mercedes E class or new BMW 5 series with full equipment!

I browsed a Slovenian website and checked BMW 3 from 2006 and found they cost between 15.000-17.000 euro, which is 3 times cheaper than what your friend paid for his. Ain't that crazy? Here's a link for you to see: BMW Serija 3, 2006. Maybe the cars are taxed so much there or maybe, because they're imported, but I think they cost way too much.

You're lucky that you work in Singapore, they have one of the best public transport in the world. If you compare KL, you have no choice but to drive a car and try to find your way in the traffic jam...

fufu said...

well i am already used to the life without car since i flew to japan in enjoyed riding a bicycle here and there... hohoho and now walking in germany and brazil... well soon you will be alright i bet :) if it's raining...well buy a big umbrella :p

Anonymous said...

I rmbr the 1st time I went to Singapore I was SO impressed by the efficient public transport system...and cleanliness...and right after crossing over to JB, I noticed distinctly I was no longer in SG.
Miss SG...will probably go there sometime soon (hopefully) esp since now the Universal Studios are up and running! How abt the Casinos? ;)
Btw, sorry Ive been MIA...just resurrected my blogging life -ish. LOL.

Kimora Y said...

Malaysians are just so used to having a car and being too pampered to use their own feet to walk.

I am in Melbourne at the moment and I too face the same temptations as you Zewt, I don't need a car but I want one! hahaa. The public transport here is very convenient as well,the trains,trams and buses let you move around easily and fast too.

Beemers here cost way much less than back home as well, even with their luxury car tax.

Mind you I had to let go off my darling car back in Malaysia and I miss that, so cheer up!

Anonymous said...

A car is definitely not a necessity in a city with good public transportation, :)

Anonymous said...

zewt, no need to have the car la, unless u have baby ;D

becos right now u dun need it but u just want it , but when u have baby maybe u need becos it is too troublesome to bring baby around without a car

can u blog more abt ur corporate world, im hungery for that kind of post ;D

eiling lim said...

i guess in Singapore, one really doesn't need a car. The taxi is not too expensive too.

imp said...

If you live near enough to town, I think it's fine without a car. it's the maintenance and petrol that's painful.. Only if you've children, then it might make better sense to own one to ferry the family around! But if the company subsidises your car or petrol, then why not?! Heh.

missironic said...

I wudnt mind NOT having a car if the public transportation is efficient which I noe Singapore is... Might be abit troublesome with the pack like sardine situation and some additional smell somewhere, but all that are bearable, as long as u don't need to wait so long for the train/bus to arrive which can feel like you are waiting for something fruitless and u still can get to work on time or anywhere with ease, and you don't need to spend so much on just travelling... so why not?

Yvonne Foong said...

Wah! Now you are tempting me to live somewhere with MRT!

kat said...

You've been to DXB. If the Metro is world-class and takes you everywhere you want to go within minutes, and what with the infamous DXB traffic jam, would you still not want a car?

Am I digressing? Maybe la. But I kenot tahan all those so-called angmoh town planning experts who come from cold countries like Canada and start sprouting public transport theories about buses, trains and sidewalks. Hello.. have you walked in the summer weather here?? Sorry, letting off steam here. I love staying in UAE. For 5 months in a year anyway. You must come back for a visit during winter.

Oh, I just saw an online ad for a 2008 530i in DXB going for AED90,000 (SGD32,000)... ^_^

kyh said...

Been there in Sept, and man, do I love it! I love the idea of walking round the city state with a convenient MRT station just mintues away. It's well connected, and the trains are punctual, just the way I like it. I'm considering of moving there after grad, we'll see. :D

ngy said...

Hi Zewt,

I miss the driving too, but I sure dont miss the jam! It's been an eye opening experience working in sg in comparison with msia. So far, it's been marvelous. :)

zewt said...

day dreamer - all the best in your search!

Terra Shield - i am feeling that still... for now.

anon @ Oz - yeah... true. but your eyes cant be shut if you are standing :P

ZACL - when i was in london, it was quite good. surprise you say that. unless you're not in london and i am mistaken.

Fi-sha - dont need to be envy... just hope over. malaysians are always welcome.

flaminglambo - well, i dont think aust is in that list either... no?

zewt said...

secret agent woman - well, you have live in a very nice green environment, which is definitely a plus.

pinknpurplelizard - it's called the COE, and it dimishes with the life of the car. but still, dollar to dollar comparison, still cheaper than bolehland.

Linda - down under, the environment is not car friendly i think.

j or ji - bajet hari macam mana? ada tower 100 tingkat! yahoo!

blackjack - that's definitely out of my league.

anon @ 8/10 3.56pm - well, i dont need to go for a date now... :P

doc - you got me there... you're right, i shall fight the temptation.

zewt said...

pinsysu - yup... it is a status symbol... sigh, we asians are suckers for that.

MKL - wow... i wanna go to slovenia! :P i think part of the reason why it is more expensive here is because of the export cost. and of cos, the translation and taxes add to the problem.

fufu - i wish i can cycle to work. weather doesnt permit that here.

marg - yup... casino and universal studio are up and running!

Kimora Y - strange though, ppl in melb tell me public transport there is not that great. i think singapore is better in terms of public transport. one thing about getting car in melb... the weather will destroy it :P

The Envoy - agreed!

anon @ 9/10 8.34pm - you are giving me a reason to get a car :P... about corporate world... well, a lot of things i wanna blog about... but i cant, cause all quite PnC.

zewt said...

eiling lim - absolutely... you should know by now.

imp - 6 stations... not that bad eh?

missironic - i think that is something many malaysians claim... but when you actually have to take it, might be different.

Yvonne Foong - come!

kat - you have a point, i guess the public transport lifestyle only works in countries within certain weather parameters.

kyh - and... it's safe!

ngy - you're here too?

Unicorn Girl said...

I think transport wise in SG shuld not be an issue - rite ? Actually - hundred times better than here at home.

Kim said...

To be home or to get to work asap is to die for.:p

If Malaysia manage to develope a place which is bicycle friendly, I don't mind cycling to work. It was quite near to my house but the roads of going there... scary.

zewt said...

Unicorn girl - hundreds? i think it's more :P

Kimmy - if the roads are safe, then you have to watch out for crime... it's never ending in malaysia.

missironic said...

Hahaha.. true for some. i started off going to work on bus. but the frequency of the bus is so scary which made me almost heart attack especially during night time, i succumb to getting myself a car. if it's efficient and safe, i tink i'll still be sitting bus to work today. :) i certainly saved alot when i was taking the bus.. hahahaha..

zewt said...

missironic - yup...and you can only do that here in singapore...

(T) (H) (B) said...

Not forgetting to mention, the country is fucking safe!!

zewt said...

T(H)(B) - it's so safe it's scary... :)

ngy said...

Hey zewt,

Yea, I've been here for a couple of years. No car (for a person who used to drive everywhere in KL for 6 yrs), no problem. ;)