14 October 2019

Hail a ride in Singapore

Grab is the local version of Uber. You download the app, add a credit card and you are good to go. But you have to be in Singapore to do it, can't activate it from abroad for some reason.

Uber was present in Singapore but sold its business to Grab in exchange for a 30% share in the company I was told. My driver tells me there are some 5,000 drivers as far as he knows, many like himself are part-time: have another full-time job and drive when they want to make an extra buck. Grab is top now, though an Indonesian company called Go-Jek provides competition. They are popular in Indonesia where they run lots of motorcycle taxis, but in Singapore, they are not allowed, only cars.

Fares are marginally cheaper than taxis but can't beat the convenience especially during rush hours or when it rains. Chinatown to the airport is SGD 26.

My driver is a typical Singaporean: half Chinese and half Malay on his father's side, half European and half Indian on his mother's side. Well maybe not so typical, most Singaporeans belong more clearly to one of the ethnicities which make up the cosmopolitan island. They keep to their food, their religions and their language, though of course everyone speaks English and feels equally Singaporean. He tells me mixed marriages are on the increase now.

Graffitis are mostly forbidden in Singapore. Quite a few people have been sentenced to flogging for vandalizing walls in public spaces, including many foreigners. However there are designated areas where street art is allowed, even encouraged.

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