More Karung Guni-ing

I reached home, can't get into garage again. Height limit, heh heh.

Look at this! I kick ass. I raided Gumtree again for freebies. This acquisition is important. Every household needs a dining area. A friend whatsapp me and told me I am a Karung Guni. Hmm, I guess I am one now. But why not? Nobody argues with money, especially so when you have none to start an argument with.

Penny helping to clean the table

This acquisition is important. Every household needs a dining table. From eating sitting on the floor, we upgraded to eating on a study desk and today we can dine on a respectable dining table. Moreover, it was those extendable type which can probably comfortably host 8 people at this table. We could probably have steamboat or something here one day.

From this
To this. The chairs are very comfortable and stable to sit on. Velvet covers.

Separately someone gave these drawer organisers, mint condition. I was sure Jen was pleased because she seemed to like her new walk-in wardrobe. No - it isn't quite a wardrobe. It's practically a room that works functions like a wardrobe. I'll take a picture one day and show.

The blue folding chair belongs to Penny though
The same family that gave me the dining table also pop in a coffee table. The wood is pretty good, not like those lousy ones you get in Ikea Singapore. Hey, but now I have 2 coffee tables. I'm not sure what to do with this one but I'll be able to think of something.

If I have the time to do some wood restoration, it'll look fantastic

That's not all, that family also threw in a fish tank in my boot. The owner told me everything was working, pump and all. I placed it in my yard. Seriously this one has me stumped. Maybe I could let the old man rear some guppies when he comes over the a holiday. That'll keep him happy and amused I reckon.


Maybe I should collect all these, restore them to good condition and export them as a hobby. I wonder if I will make any money. I don't have the know-how though, I mean the import/export area. Always on my mind since I came. Collecting these is tough. I find it hard to load the items with such a small car. 

When we driving back we stopped the junction of Warton road and Spencer Road on red lights, with that dining table on Barry White's back. Jen pointed at a police car at the opposite of the road. Cool as a cucumber I didn't bat an eyelid. My mind drifted away to that night when Jen and I were just classmates, just friends. We were in a car, rented by Jen. I was at the driver's seat and the next morning was my driving test. 

My driving test history was quite a story. It was 2005 and I wasn't working yet. With all the time in the world, I decided to learn driving after procrastinating for years, to my mom's annoyance. With Jen's encouragement I decided to give it a go. When I started the program at BBDC, I was so into it that I took on lessons after lessons in a short span of time. It was akin to what we gamers call 'power leveling'. I finished my lessons in 1 month and booked my driving test. To my disappointment I could only be tested 2 weeks later. I thought that was stupid because I would have lost a lot of muscle memory by then and I might not be able to drive as well as I could at that point.

No choice. 2 weeks later, a night before my test I was driving unlicensed around Bukit Batok and Teck Whye for practice. I know it sound crazy but I know myself well. I learn the best when I'm allowed to figure things out on my own, with little interference from the side. At the junction of Choa Chu Kang Ave 1 and Teck Whye Ave, I drove into the right turning lane and waited at the red light. A police car stopped at the opposite of the road just exactly like what happened yesterday morning.

My blood froze. I could sense Jenny's aura of fear even though she kept quiet at the passenger's seat. The red light seemed to take forever to change to green and the police car was uncomfortably glaring, as if it was staring at me although I could not see the driver from where I was. There was no other cars on the road between the police car and us. The deathly silence could unsettle anyone, trust me.

When the lights finally turned green, I stepped on the accelerator quickly and engaged the clutch. My car glided gently forward and I braked legitimately on the waiting line. The police car maneuvered straight past us and I quickly made my right turn and sped off.

The next morning I took my test in BBDC. Within 5 seconds of moving off in the circuit, I chalked up 6 demerit points because I stopped behind a stalled car. The tester thought I should have signaled and overtake the car. I thought it was subjective. My first circuit obstacle was the ramp. For the record, I had never 'roll back' even once during all my practice sessions. On that fateful day, my car rolled back. I cursed silently but I pulled the handbrake in time and managed to recover and cleared the obstacle smoothly. For that effort, I took another 2 demerit points. All within the first 3 minutes of my test.

"This is a fucking goner," I told myself in my head. "Let's drive and enjoy the rest of the test and look forward to the re-test." One by one, I cleared the rest of the obstacles in the circuit and the tester instructed me to go on road. My drive was flawless. I cleared the 'traps' set by the tester excellently. At one situation, he told me to 'go' when there was no traffic from all directions. I ignored him and stopped at the stop line as required and moved off after a second. In another situation, he again told me to 'go' at the infamous 'death right turn' at Teck Whye Lane. What that guy didn't know was that I lived just at that HDB flat above the 'death right turn.' He wasn't fooling me. Within 2 seconds after I ignored his instruction, a motor cycle sped past behind the bus that was obstructing a lot of my view at the bus stop. 

Smiling to myself I cleared 'death right turn' and it was time to head back to BBDC. I thought at the time I had a chance to pass after all. Maybe, just maybe. I nearly had an accident just a few minutes away from the driving centre when a van refused to give way to me despite me signaling more than 6 clicks. It was the stretch after the U-turn at Phoenix LRT. Despite being a very busy road, the instructor insists that I change lane into the left most lane. I was already half way changing my lane and the van sped up from behind to surge ahead. I saw the tester panicking in the corner of my eye and moved his leg. He was going to step on the brakes, no doubt about it.

I didn't know where I got my reflexes from, I quickly steered back into my own lane smoothly, sped up a bit more, cleared the junction and then re-do my lane change into the left. By that time I was already on Bukit Batok Road and I drove the rest of the distance with a heavy heart. I probably blew it. From the corner of the eye, the instructor was expressionless.

Back at the driving centre, I was asked to go into the assessment room. The tester went away for a minute and returned shortly, making even more nervous. When he returned, he took off his sunglasses and stared at me. "Very close just now ah!" he bellowed.

"Er.... Ok what, sir."

He didn't answer and went through the check list on his hand. "Roll back at the slope right?" he came.

"A little bit only lah, sir."

After an awkward long pause as he went through the rest of the checklist he hand over the list to me and asked me if I wanted to donate to NKF as he had a donation card in his hand. "No obligation ah!" he said, seemingly friendlier. I took a glance at the checklist.  I passed! With a -8 score. "Come come, give me the card sir." I signed off happily and left him with S$20.00. 

Jen was waiting for me outside the centre. I couldn't wait to tell her the story. She was as happy as I was upon hearing my lucky pass but jealous of my 'good score'. It was her birthday that day. I took a total of 1 month 18 days to obtain my class '3' manual driving license.


  1. Impressive!!!! No excuse for not having a party at your place soon :)

  2. you forgot to mention your oath...a month of vegan food if you pass! I remember mom hunting for no-meat meals and when she told me about it, i burst out laughing...but you did it!

  3. That is a mean feat!

    And yup, I should move my ass and start my driving lessons.

    -Jie Yin

  4. Hi nice furniture. Wish u all the best. It looks more like a home now.

  5. here's a fun little video for u... optimism, pessimism and...

  6. Your new furniture: this is true wealth, -asingaporeanson-!
    Friends helping out, even strangers generously giving away good stuff to you.
    Not like back here, where people can be asset- and cash-rich, but spirit- and community-poor.

    Your driving test story, both on the eve and the actual day: thank you for sharing!
    The way you tell it, it feels like I was there as it happened.
    What a memorable milestone in life!

    My single trip to Bukit Batok remains an unpleasant memory.
    I gave away $2k of my salary to the driving centre at Ang Mo Kio, being refused from passing my final stage of practice driving for so long, even after re-taking expired advanced theory.
    The local system has convinced me that I cannot drive, for my own budget, sanity and safety.

  7. Love your story about the driving test and your platonic relationship with Jen. Personally it took four times before I passed in BBDC. Till date, I still do not have any idea why I failed the first 3 times...
    Congrats on finding a new job a new home!