Think being a taxi driver in S'pore is tough? London cabbie says ...
The grass is not always greener on the other side, folks.
That's what London cab driver Mason McQueen will tell you.
He should know - he's now tried his hand at driving taxis in Cambodia, Canada and Fiji, facing extreme weather conditions, among other challenges.
His experiences are documented in the BBC series A Cabbie Abroad, which airs 9.55pm on Wednesday nights on BBC Knowledge (StarHub Channel 407). The first of the three-episode series starts this Wednesday (June 17).
It is a spin-off from another show Toughest Place To Be A ... where ordinary people are brought to another city to find out how others do the same job in vastly different circumstances.
McQueen, 47, first experienced what it's like to drive a taxi in a foreign country thanks to Toughest Place To Be, which he applied for because he "love(s) the show so much".
His episode on that show - in which he tried driving a taxi in Mumbai, India - led to the Cabbie Abroad spin-off.
In the new series, McQueen discovered the kinds of problems cabbies elsewhere face on a daily basis such as extreme weather conditions in Canada and political unrest in Fiji.
The time he spent in Cambodia opened his eyes to how some people have to struggle to make ends meet.
"It was tough for Polo (the Cambodian Tuk tuk driver and McQueen's host during the episode). It was difficult for me to comprehend that you have to wait all day for a job. There aren't enough people for drivers," he said about what he saw in Cambodia.
"It's just a constant struggle. There's a lot of traffic and getting a living there is really hard."
(McQueen and his Cambodian host, tuk tuk driver Polo Doot) PHOTO: BBC WORLDWIDE
After conquering the streets of Cambodia, McQueen headed to the Canadian city of Iqaluit, which proved to be a different ballgame altogether.
Temperatures in Iqaluit can drop to a low of -28°C.
"In Canada, you can make a living but the conditions are harsh," McQueen said.
PHOTO: BBC WORLDWIDE
For the final episode, McQueen found himself in Fiji, a country with a history of military coups and racial tensions.
While in Fiji, he became aware of ongoing land disputes and once again experienced how difficult it is for some cabbies to earn a decent salary.
According to him, it's a place where there's "not enough actual work".
(McQueen and Fijian cabbie Dharmendra) PHOTO: BBC WORLDWIDE
Every cabbie has his own set of challenges and that includes McQueen. For him, the main one he faces back in London is the traffic as "the city (is) changing all the time".
From one cabbie to another ...
In places like Singapore, where the pace of life is generally faster, people tend to be in a hurry all the time.
Cabbies in the bustling city-state will almost certainly pick up a few impatient or rude passengers at some point in their careers.
If you're a cabbie who's having trouble dealing with difficult passengers, McQueen's got some advice for you.
He said: "[As a taxi driver] you have to be thick-skinned. It helps to know how to talk to people and treat people.
"Just be professional and polite. That's what you're there for."
To McQueen, cabbies are here to serve the public and they should find ways to enjoy their job because after all, driving a taxi is only one part of a taxi driver's life.
"Be present, everyone does their job. And have a sense of humour," he said.
Passengers, here's some advice for you, too
McQueen believes that passengers can also do their bit to help cabbies take joy in their work.
For a start, those taking taxis should treat cabbies with respect.
"Go back to being polite and treating them with dignity and respect," McQueen urged.
"If that were me driving, how would I want to be spoken to?"
Catch Mason McQueen in A Cabbie Abroad starting this Wednesday (June 17) at 9:55 pm on BBC Knowledge (StarHub Channel 407).