If you ride a motorcycle often, you will be killed riding it. That much is as sure as night follows day. Your responsibility is to be vigilant and careful as to continue to push that eventuality so far forward that you die of old age first.
I no longer update my thoughts here. Go to my new blog.
The first rule of buying a car in Singapore: don't.
But if you do, hold on to it as long as possible. This is generally true unless there is a big crash in COE prices, lowering of ARF or reduced dealer's margin. (The first two has happened and will not happen again. The last one will not happen.)
How long is long? We are talking about a minimum of ten years here.
However, people change cars within five years in Singapore. There's a mentality that as long as they can afford the installment, they can afford the car. They are not buying the car, they are leasing it! They never stop paying for their car their entire lives.
I tried a new "aimless" route today: PIE, CTE, TPE, KPE, PIE. It's around 30 km and took about half-an-hour to complete.
It is not as satisfying as the "eastern loop". There's something about Changi Coast road and ECP that's different.
TRAFFIC police slammed the brakes on errant motorists speeding down Singapore's famous shopping strip of Orchard Road last weekend, issuing 33 summonses.
Of the 33 summonses issued in the six-hour late-night crackdown, 21 were for the illegal modification of vehicles. The remaining 11 were for speeding and other offences.
It is believed that thrill-seekers looking for a joyride often head to what they call 'Orchard Gudang' - a local take on Johor Bahru's famous racing circuit 'Pasir Gudang'. Zipping around cars, they pit their skills against other racing enthusiasts.
But from 11pm last Friday and Saturday, all cars ground to a screeching halt after they were ambushed by the authorities.
'Orchard Gudang' is well-known among racing enthusiasts. Groups of at least 10 cars flag off from various points along Orchard Road, including the open-air carparks outside Wheelock Place and Cineleisure Shopping Centre.
These cars are usually jazzed-up sports cars like the Subaru Impreza and the Mitsubishi Evolution.
Different groups of drivers join in the race at any point along Orchard Road. The Straits Times understands that races usually take place from midnight on a daily basis, but crowds can swell to as many as fifty cars on weekends.
Drivers, ranging in age from their late teens to their late thirties, know the 'circuit' by heart - starting along Orchard Road, they cruise down to Marina Square. There they make a right turn toward the Esplanade and go all the way through the Fort Canning Tunnel, before making their way down Orchard Boulevard back to the point where they started.
Drivers can drop out at any point along the 'circuit' - estimated to be longer than Pasir Gunang's 3.8km.
The Traffic police said that they are aware of motorists speeding and driving recklessly around the Orchard Road area. They added that the situation is being monitored and enforcement action being taken.
These racers win already. News come out big big already and they still dare to race.
My carpark is always full on Sunday mornings. I don't know what's the attraction. There are no churches or temples nearby. Maybe there are? There are no famous stores in the hawker center either. I can only think of the market.
Now that I think of it, there aren't really many "visiting" cars. Even on a regular night, some cars need to park on the rooftop already. If 80% of the residents choose to stay home on Sundays, it explains why the parking is especially bad. This can also explain the difference for Saturday and Sunday. Rather than assuming more visitors on Sundays, more residents go out on Saturdays, so there are more lots for visitors.
They tear down Orchard Road in the wee hours of the morning at breakneck speeds, with little regard for others' safety.
To them, the adrenaline rush of the race is everything.
These illegal racers brag about their exploits and have even come up with a map of their 10km racing circuit, which they dub the "Orchard Gudang" - named after the Pasir Gudang circuit, a legal, 4km race circuit in Johor Baru, Malaysia.
Besides risking their lives, they also risk running foul of the law.
A police spokesman told my paper: "The Traffic Police are aware of some motorists speeding and driving recklessly in the Orchard Road area."
He added that the police are "monitoring the situation and have been taking enforcement actions".
The actions of these racers have drawn concern from legitimate racers like Mr Kenny Yap, 27, a public-relations consultant.
Mr Yap, who has been racing on Malaysia's Pasir Gudang and Sepang tracks for almost eight years, said: "The risk is not worth the lifetime of consequences should something go wrong.
"Go to a proper venue to race because, otherwise, you are endangering not only yourself, but other road users as well."
One former racer explained that the races in the Orchard Road area boil down to two things: reputation and attention.
The 26-year-old said: "It feels good to be there, racing against other drivers along the track in a test of speed and skills while others look on.
"Anyone can take part. There is no start or finish line.
If you have the passion for fast cars and racing, all you have to do is go 'rounding' along the track.
"That's how things start - we can recognise who are players on the track and who are not.
It's about baiting or being baited into a race."
When my paper visited the track between 2am and 6am last weekend, there were at least 20 cars taking part in the races, which intensified just after 3.30am.
The cars - mainly high-performance models like Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Evolution - weaved in and out of traffic, at times coming dangerously close to other vehicles.
Things can go horribly wrong - last July, the Internet racing forums here were abuzz with gossip of a Mitsubishi Evo slamming into a taxi, killing the cabby instantly.
Many other minor accidents go unreported, the former racer said. "It is an underground thing... New blood will always come in because they want to play for reputation," he said.
Usually when the news come out, it means the TP is about to do something.
It looks like Orchard road is off-limits in the dead of the night. I'll keep in mind not to pass by there and risk an accident. OTOH, I'm wondering if there are any good spots to view the "race"?
The new Tampines 1 shopping centre may boast huge human traffic and new retail outlets but with only 203 parking lots and a new valet parking service, shoppers have complained it takes 20 minutes to get their car back.
Sales manager Jerry Ang took 45 minutes to park his car at the new Tampines 1 mall yesterday.
"I feel cheated, I shouldn't have wasted my time here. I'll have to think twice before driving here next time," said Mr Ang, 47, who was there with his wife.
They were not the only ones fuming.
A Sunday Times check of the new multimillion-dollar mall at 2pm yesterday revealed a long queue of cars along the narrow Tampines Central 1, with some drivers honking car horns out of exasperation.
Tampines 1 may cost all of $450 million and boast tenants like Japanese street-style label Uniqlo, but it also has a small number of parking lots - just 203.
In contrast, the other two malls in the vicinity, Tampines Mall and Century Square, have 680 and 308 lots respectively.
Opened last Thursday, the new mall has seen about 120,000 people thronging it each day.
Ms Stephanie Ho, general manager of AsiaMalls Management which owns and runs the mall, said there are "sufficient parking options" as it is beside an MRT station and bus interchange, and close to two other malls and HDB estates.
But most shoppers expect to park at the mall itself and many who turned up yesterday, unaware about the limited lots, were left frustrated.
Mr Sng Wee Seng, 33, who was with his wife, maid and two children, had to use a multi-storey carpark behind the bus interchange.
It took him at least 20 minutes to find a lot because, he noted, many other Tampines 1 shoppers had also parked there.
"The 203 lots are certainly not enough for shoppers and the more than 170 tenants. If not for my kids, I wouldn't drive here," the civil servant grumbled.
Even the tenants themselves have not escaped the parking squeeze.
A salesman from Jewel Pavilion, who wished to be known only as Kevin, cycled to work yesterday. He had spent 20 minutes on Thursday trying to park his car.
"The condition is very bad. I'm not going to drive to work any more," he said, adding that he hoped the limited parking would not deter people from going to the mall.
Mr Robert Aw Yeong, 39, manager of jewellery shop TianPo, has opted to take a train from his home in Toa Payoh instead of driving.
"The carpark queue was very, very long on Thursday. I had to use an HDB carpark nearby," he said.
To ease the traffic flow in the first few weeks of the mall's opening, valet parking at $5 has been introduced on weekends, public holidays and the eve of public holidays.
However, mall patrons and tenants said this was no speedy solution. It took the valets 20 minutes to return the cars - parked in HDB carparks - to the customers.
Still, for the past three days, about 300 drivers have used the service.
AsiaMalls is in talks with the valet-parking vendor and the Land Transport Authority to resolve the traffic and parking woes.
But some people are taking things in their stride.
"When a mall has just opened, these things happen. It's also good in a way because it will help our eco-system by encouraging people to take public transport more often," said Mr Aw Yeong.
Very simply, new malls have even fewer parking lots than before. Tampines Mall may have 680 lots, but it is still perpetually full.
I have one rule when it comes to malls: I don't drive there. I absolutely hate to wait for parking. It's silly to get stuck in heavy traffic, then get stuck queuing for parking.
Motorcycle rules when it comes to parking. For a quick errand (say less than 20 minutes), you can risk parking on the pavement, in a backlane or in hidden corners.
My car leaks engine oil. It is a minor problem, but it is very irritating. I finally couldn't stand it anymore and sent the car for repair. I also want to change the gearbox at the same time. The 4th to 3rd gear synchro is spoilt. It is not a big deal, but again, it is irritating.
I went to a workshop recommended by someone on the local miata mailing list. Some people were satisfied with them, but iirc, it was on the expensive side.
They could only give me an estimate upfront. It was already higher than what I expected, but they claimed to use the "newest possible" gearbox (still a 2nd hand unit, of course). Okay, I buy that.
I didn't recognize the gearbox when I saw it lying in the workshop. I thought a gearbox is, um, like a box and fits in your hand. My first reaction on seeing that was, "Huh, isn't that the transmission?" I thought they would dismantle it to get the gearbox out, but no, they just swap the whole transmission.
Interestingly, the workshop didn't have the cost ready when I went down to collect my car. They offered to let me drive the car off and pay another day! I knew it was not a good sign when they have this cost-is-no-object attitude when they make the repairs.
What is even more interesting is that the shop declined to breakdown the cost by parts. I find that really fishy.
Nothing beats a good ride on Saturday morning! I want to go for an early ride, say at 7 am, before the sun is up, but I usually wake up at 8+ am on weekends.
I rode the CB400F just once this week. There are few opportunities as this is a raining season. However, I observe that it is usually sunny in the morning and raining in the mid afternoon. The sky clears up by 5 pm.
Maybe this will become a regular ride. I plan to go for a 50+ km ride every fortnight if I ride less than 200 km for that fortnight.
I drove my brother's City to work for two days, since my car was being repaired and he was on holiday.
I'm not used to the sitting position. After adjusting the seat to the optimal position to the accelerator, I'm too close to the steering wheel.
There's no rest pedal for the left foot.
The steering wheel is big! It's not too light, however. Response is pretty good.
It's easy to adjust the powered side mirrors!
The windscreens/windows are very dirty. In fact, the whole car is very dirty, just that it's not obvious due to the ah-pek champagne color.
The windscreen already show a difference between the wiper areas and non-wiped areas. The car is just one year old and the water stains are already visible.
The car is pretty silent when the windows are closed.
The car does not seem to have much engine brake, so I often need to brake to slow down rather than depending on engine brake.
Also, I must remember to press the brake pedal when stopped. If I stopped for a long time (traffic light just turn red), I'll shift to neutral gear. The usual advice is not to do it, but I believe the auto gearbox doesn't spoil so easily.
After I sent my car for repairs at Sin Ming, I wanted to take a bus back to Toa Payoh — being too poor to take a taxi — but I ended up walking the entire way!
My route was close to optimal in Bishan, but I lost the sense of direction once I reached Toa Payoh.
It took me over 1-1/2 hours and $1.30 — because I had to buy a drink to quench my thirst along the way.
When Farrer road jams heavily (jams way before the overhead bridge), sometimes I decide to take the "long cut". It's longer and slower, but it's more scenic. This is a very exclusive neighbourhood.