Photos: Tammi Tan, Channel 8
Video: Aaron Ho
For most drivers who are forced to give up their precious vehicles and resort to getting around on public transport, the switch is more often a bane than a boon (especially with the state of Singapore’s MRT system these days, but we digress).
Aloysius Pang, on the other hand, seems to taking it pretty well. Really well, in fact: the 27-year-old, whose licence was revoked in July following his drink driving charge, claims that having to take the train to work “has turned [his] life around for the better”. Say what!?
“I’m walking more and waking up earlier, so it has actually made my life cycle a little healthier than before,” he told us at the press conference for his upcoming drama My Friends From Afar last week. “I’m also more careful with my time so I’m even reaching locations earlier. With driving, you tend to dilly-dally until the last minute before going out, but because I’ve encountered MRT breakdowns before, I tend to leave a lot earlier.”
And there’s the most shocking change of all, which the actor was visibly embarrassed to admit: he downloaded a mobile game to keep him entertained on his commute. Yes, this is the same guy who once dubbed himself “a technology idiot” and declared that he does not concern himself with such activities.
“I’m not proud of it, but because of the spare time [Ed’s note: it takes about 45 minutes for him to get to the Mediacorp Campus via MRT], I downloaded this game called 2048,” he sheepishly admitted. “I used to have Sudoku and chess but I didn’t want to use so much brain power and tire myself out. [We ask, ‘Is it fun?’] It’s time-consuming.”
Another form of on-board entertainment he was much less mortified to discuss was reading. His material of choice? Self-help books on whatever topic suits his fancy at that moment, such as business management, psychology or most recently, mentalism (think American TV series The Mentalist).
“I try to do one to two books a week,” said Aloysius, adding that he’s not into fancy gadgets like the Kindle as he loves “that old book smell”. “I can only say that the Bras Basah Complex is very happy to have me, because I usually go for second-hand books.”
Besides reading and gaming, Aloysius also indulges in the ever-so-slightly creepy act of people-watching. But wait, can a public figure – especially one who has attracted controversy – get away with such unsubtle surveillance?
“The interesting thing is, everyone is on their phone so nobody pays attention to their surroundings,” he said. “It’s the perfect time for me to look around and stare at people until they get uncomfortable and look at me, then I stop. (laughs)”
Of course, there have been instances when he was star-spotted and solicited for a selfie. “Surprisingly, this happens on buses more often, and it’s always the same situation: I’ll be sitting at the back and someone in front of me will take a selfie, see me behind them, and [imitates doing a double take]. This has happened to me four or five times!”
When we asked if he prefers to hop on a taxi instead, Aloysius revealed that he once tried taking Grab everywhere for two weeks straight and, “I did some calculations and it was not a wise idea.” Thus, he limits himself to $200 worth of cab rides a month.
With still over a year to go before his 18-month driving ban is up, Aloysius said he is “trying to enjoy” taking public transport as much as he can for now, because he predicts that once he gets his car back, he’ll be completely dependent on it again.
But it’s not like he’ll never step foot on another train or bus in the life after that. “I do see myself [continuing to take public transport], but if I’m working or doing anything that requires a lot of transportation then I’ll use my car because it’s more convenient.”
Don’t forget to say hi the next time you spot Aloy on the bus or train.
My Friends From Afar debuts on December 4, 2017, 9pm on Channel 8.