Friday, November 25, 2011

So damn hot!!

Sometimes it is just so damn hot, that you are pancit the moment you clear the checkpoints.

Monday, July 25, 2011

We are Malaysians after all

Most tambak riders are lunatics on the road. And so accidents of them on Singapore expressways are very common(Way more common than on JB roads and it is something I cannot explain). But that is not the purpose of this blogpost.

Whenever a tambak rider accident occurrs, it always brings out some sort of camaraderie amongst us. It is rather weird in a way that when shit happens on Singaporean expressways, we see only a fellow Malaysian in trouble and we must render assistance without blinking an eyelid. At such moments we do not see ourselves as Indian Malaysians, Malay Malaysians, Chinese Malaysians, Sabahan or even Singaporean.

I have personally met with an accident on AYE. Within a minute I hit the ground, two tambak riders approached me and I was whisked to safety on the road shoulders in the next minute. The swiftness in our response to fellow riders in dire are truly amazing.

In an accident a few months back this Malaysian Chinese Uncle whose motor buang(skidded) on the BKE.

Immediately an Indian uncle stop his motorbike in the center lane, shielding and signaling to vehicles behind him to avoid squashing the fallen Chinese uncle. In doing so the Indian uncle was risking his own safety too.

Fortunately the the Chinese uncle just suffered scratches. He got up on his own to move his bike to the side of the road. While the kind Indian uncle helped picked up the stuffs laying on the road.

More tambak riders stopping to check if things are ok. Maybe a bit kepoh but it help slows down the oncoming vehicles. Things were settled in about 5 minutes and everyone rode off for home.

Of course it is quite normal for strangers to help others in moment of needs such as an accidents. Nonetheless, I do feel strongly that there is something else there. It is like an unwritten code that we tambak riders are foreigners in a foreign land, therefore it is imperative we must help those of us that has fallen. For one day it maybe us on the other end in need of urgent help.

Although some tambak riders do get into bloody fistfights when someone cut queue. But when we are stuck at the checkpoint jams, we generally see ourselves as Malaysians (albeit downtrodden).

The really sad thing is that when we crossed over the causeway into JB, we sinked back into our own ethnically polarized groups.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Story

Hello again everyone,

Got some messages about where the f%*k did I went missing to the past few months. Well I was uneasy with some weird things that happened around me. That made me feel I was being watch by Big Brother. So I decided to keep low profile for awhile.

Then why am I blogging again now? Well it had to do my trip to Tanjong Pagar station on June 30th. It was the final day of service for KTM trains at the station.

Being there reminded me of the stories my mom used to tell about our family's early struggle. The train travels from South(SG or JB)to KL or vice versa were featured in many of our family's toughest moment.

Those long trips were interesting and tough for young families back then. For those families that were poor like us, third class tickets were only what we could afford.

A typical trip starts with my father going up the train with the luggages to scramble for seats(霸位)while the rest of us waited on the platform. After he found the seats, he would then yelled out from the window so that my mom would know which train coaches to board.

After the whole family had boarded, the long journey on non-reclining seats in non air-cond coaches began. When my parents need to put me(a baby back then) to sleep, my father would then mount the sarong and its spring onto the coach luggage rack above our seats. Though we had to use baby napkins(no Pampers or Mommy Poko for us), my mom tell us now how fortunate she was that my brother and I did not gave her much problem on those train journey.

Well as I rework my memories while lingering around on the historic day last week, it suddenly dawned to me that it was actually the first time I had been into Tanjong Pagar station in my life. My brother had boarded trains at Tanjong Pagar but not me. All those train trips that I've been in was actuallly arriving and departing from JB.

As the pieces of memories fell into place, I felt I needed to blog about how all this came about. To explain I need to go back to where it all started.

My father left Pahang in the late 1960s and came down to Singapore. Like many Malaysian youths that time, he became construction worker. It was the time when big tall buildings started to boom all over what we called CBD now. Later in the 1970s he married my mom who was a Singaporean and then came my brother.

The dramatic turn of events came when I was born. Two weeks after I was born, Singapore government discovered that my father was staying/working in Singapore without a work permit(something not uncommon back then). The government officers gave my father less than 48 hours to leave Singapore or risk being deported or maybe even jail.

And so my father left Singapore the next evening after dinner with a heavy heart. He rented a bed in JB motel for the next few weeks while trying to figure out how to get out of this mess . Not only was my mom was numb on what to do next. She was also fearful as she had no clear idea what the laws were. Whether whe had broken any of  the laws and what Singapore government would do to her.

Most Singaporeans those days had first hand experience of what Lee Kuan Yew was capable of and had good reasons to be fearful. My mom was one of them. And that explained why she went along with being sterilized after my birth. Not many lowly educated poor couple dared to stand in the way of Lee Kuan Yew's quasi eugenics steam train (with preferential coaches for graduate talents).

Out of fear, she quickly terminated our rental flat at HDB. Realizing that there was no way she is going to cope with a newborn plus a toddler by herself (also without any income), she had to leave Singapore for now.

A few weeks later with the help of my father's Ipoh friend, my mom brought my brother and I to reunite with my father who was waiting for us in JB. On the night of that very same day, our family departed from JB to KL and later to Pahang. So my first time on a KTM train was from JB. (And somehow in all the years that passed later, I did not had the privilege of being in Tanjong Pagar station even once).

But our family problem did not end there. My mom was really suffering in Pahang. It was a combination of adapting to a rubber tapping backwaters environment and also my difficult to get along with grandmother.

She had written letters to her family in Singapore. Sensing something was not right, my maternal grandfather asked my mom's cousin to help out. And so this cousin and her husband travelled all the way from Singapore to Pahang to visit my mom. Upon returning to Singapore, my mom's cousin related how my mom lost a lot of weight and was very distressed.

My mom's elder brother knew he had to do something. And on his next business trip to KL, he visited my mom in Pahang. Before he left, he gave my mom some money and a note (with the hotel address he was staying in Bukit Bintang). He told my mom that he will be in KL for the next few days. And if she really could not cope anymore, just use the money and look for him in KL.

The next day, my mom knew she could not take it anymore and had to leave us behind, however painful it was going to be. While my brother and I was napping, she left for KL and then back to Singapore with my uncle on the KTM train again.

A few weeks later, my father made the brave decision to reunite the family again. It is something that I truly respect him for. He packed the bags, carried me(less than a year old) in one hand while holding my brother's hand with the other and went downsouth on the KTM train again.

Again this time we got off at JB as my father was still barred from entering Singapore. My father phoned my mom. Upon hearing we were in JB, my mom rushed over to meet us. My brother and I followed our mom back to Singapore for while my father tried to find work in JB.

Afterward my mom worked as a waitress somewhere near Hill Street. An old childless couple help took care of me while my mom was at work. My mom often tells me how this couple really doted on me. Although I don't remember them, I am very grateful for what they did. My brother was sent to my aunties place. My mom will visit him during her off days and he would cry profusely everytime my mother had to leave.

Meanwhile, my mom's elder brother appealed to Singapore government to get my father off the blacklist. After many months, he finally managed to do it. My father could enter Singapore again and even work (provided with a valid work permit of course).

But he refused to stay and work Singapore again. Rightly or wrongly, he hates Lee Kuan Yew for what had happened to us when I was born. Of course you may argue that Singapore government was very lenient and could have slap a fine or jail term against my father.

But to my father although we were poor, we were not welfare bums taking free lunch from Singaporeans. Singapore government could have afforded some grace and flexibility to let my father some make arrangement for my motherand us. But the way it left my mother(who was still in confinement) in a lurch with a newborn plus a toddler was simpy ruthless.

So my father would rather eaked it out in JB where he had no job and no friends at that time than to go back to Singapore. About a year later my father had a job and found a place for us to start anew. And so my mom and us kids moved to JB and settled here ever since.

Going through the past made me contemplate on keeping my low profile recently. Why am I so afraid of incurring wrath from Singapore government?Yes there are rules against documenting of activities at immigration checkpoints? But I am not a threat to national security. Hey I am just blogging about the unrecorded struggles of thousands Malaysians who contributes to Singapore prosperity.

I may not have stories as dramatic as mediacorp serials . But I do feel that my struggles with fellow kaki tambaks do tell a meaningful human side of things. Something I feel that should be passed on.

I've exposed quite a bit of myself today and it may come back to my detriment. But I have taken the decision not to stay quiet. If I ever get kicked out of Singapore for blogging, then be it. At least it was my choice.

I am back and hope to post regularly again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Buah potong percuma at 2nd Link Fruit stall.

I have been wanting to write a post regarding the fruit stall at 2nd link R&R(northbound)for quite sometime now. I regard this stall as the most successful enterprise of the 2nd link causeway. Unlike the some of the efforts on PLUS that cost a lot but doesn't give much value in return, this stall really gives us the highway users lift when we need it most.

After a hard day of work, travel and traffic jams; there is nothing better to quench our thirst and sooth the our battered bodies.

Yesterday to everyone's surprise, the owner of this fruit stall had a free buah potong session. The stall supervisor told me that the owner had wanted this session to be a token of performing zakat for the coming fasting month and also to reward the loyal customers.

Tambak riders enjoying the free watermelons. Too bad the pineapple ran out before I reached.

Kaki Tambak

Friday, July 2, 2010

Watching TV on China Phone During Motorbike jam

Being stuck in motorbike jams for an hour or more is a daily thing for us. During the jams we do all sort of stuff to kill time.

The following video shows an uncle watching the Channel 8 evening mandarin news while pushing his bike:

Kaki Tambak

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Unusual Traffic Jam Again Today. What's the reason?

Today there was an unusual massive jam at Woodlands checkpoint. Unusual because, traffic has been very good the past week because of the school holidays.

At 6.30pm it was unusual for people getting of the bus from Kranji and start walking uphill to the checkpoints.

I reached the viaduct at 5.50pm and the que wasn't long. Usually it takes only 30mins to clear the checkpoints. But I only got into the causeway at 7pm. While being stuck, I was wondering what on earth was causing this jam.

Is it computer glitch at Woodlands side? Did another suspected terrorist escape from ISA detention? As I approach the causeway, the problem was not on the Singapore side. So maybe it was construction works at the Malaysian side.

But finally when I reached the causeway midpoint, there was a lorry that caught fire due to overheating. And this is a rather unusual jam, the first of its kind for me.

Fortunately the driver was unhurt. Well just another day on the causeway.

Kaki Tambak

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So tired .....

No time to blog for quite sometime. The travelling everyday really leaves you exhausted.

Here are some pictures to show how tired we tambak riders are.

Pillion taking a nap

Even a young fella also tired like hell.

One auntie taking a quick nap while her husband steers the bike.

The hardest part. Forcing urself to work every morning.

Kaki Tambak