Sunday, October 30, 2005

Nightmares about Los Angeles....

I've been given close to 10 hardship assignments to Los Angeles. Every trip starts with me flying to LA on SIA. This is usually the best part of the trip. The moment I land in LA, I become disoriented, and homesick. Compared with Singapore, LA is a horrible, terrible place....chaotic, confusing....and most of all un-Singaporean.

How bad is LA? Lets start from the Airport....

Once I get to the airport, I usually need to get a cab. Unlike Singapore where the pubic transport is excellent, people in LA have to drive themselves around - terrible. On my first trip, I went to the airport information counter and ask them how to get to the city - they said the best way is to rent car. When I said I can't drive, the guy at the help desk jaw drop - he has never seen an adult my age who can't drive in LA - everyone drives even teenagers - I was told.
So I get to the hotel via taxi. So far every single taxi I took was driven by a foreigner or new immigrant - some were Nigerian, Russian. In Singapore, every taxi is driven by a Singaporean. The job of driving taxi is seen as a step stone to something better in life. In Singapore, you may be a bank manager but end up as a taxi driver once you get retrenched. This is something to get used to. You can never predict what nationality the person driving the cab is. Cabbies there generally have quite low work load compared with those in Singapore. They really need Comfort to teach them how to turn their taxi drivers into money making machines.

Once I get to the hotel the jet lag set in. I always book a hotel near a bus stop with a DASH service - US$0.25 cents per ride - flat fee + free transfer. I heard the bus company is loss making. They should learn from Singapore bus companies how to turn a profit.

When I'm there, if I have a weekend, I usually visit my friends who have emigrated there. I take the opportunity to tell them what they are missing in Singapore - good govt and all the recent accomplishment of the PAP govt. They usually complain to me about how difficult life is in LA - how hard it is to decide which car to buy at US$21,000. One of them has a hard time washing his Lexus - I really sympathise with him. His house at St. Gabriel area is also very big with a garden, very troublesome to clean compared to the 3 room flat he was living in Singapore. I've tried many times to persuade him to return to Singapore but he was just too stubborn to listen to all my reasoning. Imagining living in a state where the governor is a former champion bodybuilder and Hollywood actor - how to sleep well at night with this kind of people running the government.

The only good part about LA is its proximity to Las Vegas. There are free bus offering day trips + free meals usually to the lesser known casinos. I would take this bus together with some of the residents of Chinatown. The seem to enjoy it because I keep seeing the same faces. Although those day tours are free, the day trippers end up losing more that a few hundred bucks. I'm so glad the govt of Singapore is bringing the best of America - which is the casino- to Singapore - hope they also give free meals and drinks.....and hours of enjoyment for retirees to spend their retirement money.

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