Today I drove for the first time since being in Malaysia. It was terrifying. I cried. Then I drove again and it wasn’t as bad, I didn’t cry, I consider that a step up.
Let me tell you about last weekend first. This is the first time Nathan had driven here (there is a shuttle that picks him and the other NI expats up for work and brings him home everyday). The rental car that is provided for us is more for me during the week, and excursions on the weekend. The first thing you need to know about driving in Malaysia is that since it use to be a British colony they drive on the British side of the road. The second thing you you need to know is mopeds:
There are whole lot of mopeds and small motorcycles. They are everywhere, they pull up right beside you in between lanes at traffic lights, they pass you in between lanes. This is us stopped at a stop light, these bikes were behind us until we stopped. They were surrounding the entire car. I didn’t want to be rude and take a picture of the guy that was right outside my window.
They go where ever they please. They deliver anything to anywhere. Case in point:
This dude has 4 very large presumably full propane tanks on the back of his very small motorcycle. We gave him a wide berth.
The nice thing about learning to drive the Malaysian way is that the speed is very low here. It is not like Texas where you will get run over if you are not going 50 mph. The not so nice things are there is a lot of traffic. Everywhere. There don’t seem to be many rules, at least no one seems to follow any. If the traffic is stopped on direction and the on coming traffic lane happens to be clear, the on coming traffic lane then becomes your new lane. This is by decision of what ever car is at the front of the jam, you then just follow. Also number one rule, it you are unsure what to do just stop. Seriously it is better to stop than act aggressively, because there is always a moped in your blind spot. Always.
So we have a long term rental provided to us while we are here. We are getting a Honda Civic this week, but it was not ready so in the mean time we have a Toyota Vios. That is a Toyota that most you have probably never heard of. That is because it is like riding around in a toy car, I don’t believe they sell them in the US. It is a very small car that feels like it is made of plastic. The Civic is a big car for here. I will be glad when we get our civic, we might be able to fit more than B’s car seat in the back seat.
Nathan did really quite well on our first car outing. I still cried, for a couple of reasons. It is really quite terrifying to be the passenger, in the front seat driving in this insane traffic on the wrong side of the road. The other reason I cried is because the thought: well I guess I won’t be driving for the next couple of years, I absolutely cannot do this, was running continuously through my head. It also feels as though 25 mph is 55.
So flash forward to the next day. We are going to set out again in the car this time to poke around the botanical gardens not far from our condo. We get dressed and sunscreened and ready to go. Nathan asks “where are the keys?” I reply “they were in my purse the last time I saw them”. Nope not in my purse anymore, not on the shelf were we stack everything, not on the kitchen island where we stack the other stuff, no where to be found. So our morning at the peaceful botanical garden turned into tearing the house apart looking for the keys. NO KEYS anywhere. We went down to the desk in our lobby and at the mall and told them to call us if someone turned in keys. Nathan’s phone rings about 7pm, it is the desk at the mall. Turns out they had fallen out of my purse at the pharmacy. In 20 years of driving I have never, ever lost a set of keys. Nathan thinks it was a subconscious act on my part. Me rummaging through my purse to find my wallet to pay for my deodorant at the pharmacy, coming across the car keys and my subconscious went SHIT what are those? I am not driving here, and threw them down, and went on my way. I think there maybe something to that. So thankfully the keys were found, and we didn’t have to pay an obscene amount of money to the rental car company to get a new set.
Flash forward to this weekend. We ran a errand in the morning, traffic wasn’t terrible. So I drove home from said errand. It was really scary, but I did it. Then I drove to and from the market that afternoon, I even parallel parked which I am not sure I have done since living in Cate Center at OU. The one thing that got me the most flustered is the turn signal and the wind shield wiper levers are switched. So inevitably when you go to signal to turn your wipers come on instead. This happened to me a lot. But like everything else here, it seems scary, but once you jump in with both feet, it is not so bad. Traffic is terrible, and parking is even worse. Since we have so much within walking distance driving is not something I have to do everyday, for that I am thankful. I am just glad that now I have done it, and can again, now all I need to figure out is where I am going. Thank God for Google Maps!!!