Category Archives: transport

Taken For A Ride

One morning, sometime in my 2nd year of stay in China, my wife and I hailed a red VW Santana taxi for a trip to downtown Shenzhen.

The agreed price was RMB80/=, and the ride proceeded smoothly, till we were about 5 km to the destination.  Suddenly the car stalled. The driver told us to pay him the RM80, while he would call in a replacement car. 

So  I gave him a RMB100 note, but he quickly returned to me, saying it was a fake note. Stunned, I pulled out another RMB100 note for him, and the same happened.  Incredibly, it happened a 3rd time.

After we got home, I discovered in my wallet three RMB100 notes  with identical serial numbers!  Oh Silly Me!  That driver had swapped fake notes for my real ones. 

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Press Here, There and Anywhere

In public buses of the old days, there were a number of “Push Once” buttons placed along the length of the interiors.

Apparently, passengers were “warned” to push or press any of these buttons only once, to tell the driver that they wanted to disembark.  And “dire consequences” awaited those who disregarded the warning.

But as these buttons were spaced out at quite big intervals, sometimes it was hard to reach anyone of them, especially when the buses were jam-packed with passengers.

Thus at a later time, newer buses with fitted with a kind of continuous “bell strip” that ran the whole length of the interior, on both sides.  These were usually mounted above the window frames.  With these strips, it meant that the bell could be activated by pressing anywhere along the central rubberized zone.

But the high placement was a problem.

Going ‘Overseas’ To Study — Every Weekday

Never mind if it was actually over the sea. Just let this old man reminisce the thrills and spills of the days (1971-72) when he had to make the {12~14km} or so trip from Bagan Ajam to the Technical Institute on the island for his studies.

At first I tried cycling – getting up at 5am, I pedalled all the way to the ferry terminal, got onto the lower deck of the ferry, and then out onto the island….finally arriving at Jalan Ibbetson where TI was located.   School dismissed at 1.50pm and by the time I got back home it was around 4.30pm.   Alas, after 1 school term, I was reduced to just skin-and-bones.

My parents then ordered me to take the public buses.

Finally, in 1973, our family moved over to the island, in preparation for my Lower Six. Thus ended my odyssey over the sea.

The Original “MPV”

In the old days – 1950s/60s/70s —  the Jeep-like Land Rover was a multi-purpose vehicle much favoured by the government agencies. 

Notably, it was almost always associated with the mata-mata (policemen), though the Department of Information, Fire Brigade, Health Department, and the Army also deployed substantial numbers of these “MPVs”.

The vehicle, with its 4WD, and high chassis was capable of taking on off-road terrain, flood-deluged mud tracks and shallow rivers.  It could even be equipped with a winch to haul itself out of miry bogs. Well, passenger comfort was not outstanding in anyway.  But it could carry a wide variety of payloads.

Over the years, many improvements and upgraded variants have been made. Competition also came from the likes of the Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Landcruiser, but none has attained the legendary status of the Land Rover.

When ‘W’ Was Not ‘Wilayah Persekutuan’

This may surprise many, especially those who are below 45 years of age (a/o 2018).  

I remember seeing, when I was still a kid, motor vehicles that had registration plates beginning with “W”.  The W stood for the “Wellesley” in Province Wellesley.  Whereas vehicles from the island itself had “P” plates.   This practice was discontinued in 1957. 

Oh, by the way, does anybody still remember where Province Wellesley is or was ?

17 years later, in 1974, the “W” series was resurrected, but then it was given to the newly-demarcated “Wilayah Persekutuan” or Federal Territory.  Sources said the new W never started alone; it began with WA, then WB,…… I think today the W series had run out.  I have seen plates with “V” series :  are these the successors?

Oh! No VD for me, please!

On Wings Of Gold

The Gold Wing GL1000 marked Honda’s foray into the “touring bikes” category and Honda sprouted wings of gold as it hit the motherlode in the US market.  It was quite a sight to behold – with a flat-four boxer engine with a water-cooled radiator.

Over the last 44 years, the Gold Wing underwent many upgrades and refinements, often with increased gross weights, physical dimensions and engine sizes.  The 2018 edition is a consummate melding of beastly beauty on two wheels.

The GL1800 has a 1800cc flat-six engine and even a reverse gear, plus a 7” TFT display, a hi-fi music system, and a host of apps, so that the rider and pillion companion can experience many happy hours on long rides.

Wow !  So, will the next version will have a bathtub and kitchen sink built in ? 

“I’ll Meet You Halfway”

You needed not be a member of The Partridge Family to sing this out in celebration of the climactic thrill generated when the upgoing tram met the downcoming one, and passed each other at the mid-point of the funicular railway – with passengers on one car waving and hollering at those on the other track.

Yes, Penang Hill had always been a favourite destination for family outings.  My first visit was made when I was around 5 years old.

Back then, the trams were of wooden construction and without airconditioning, but the natural ventilation was cool and refreshing, and the trams travelled at a tranquil, leisurely pace.

Sadly the trams today are too modern – fully enclosed, with aircon, and shoot up and down like express trains.  To rub it in, the Middle Station has also been eliminated – sorry, can’t meet you halfway.