22 May 2010

A Guide to Driving in Malaysia (One of Many)

There's a Malay saying which roughly goes like this

Bagaikan kacang yang lupakan kulit...

Or in English

Like the peanut that has forgotten its shell...

Or more accurately

One who has forgotten his origins...

Being away from Malaysia for so long, I do sometimes feel that I'm one hell of a forgetful peanut when it comes to all things Malaysian. And believe me, there are things about Malaysia one would want completely erased from memory. Knowing how to drive in Malaysia particularly in KL, is not one that you'd want to rid yourself of, if only to help you survive Malaysian traffic hell.

Here's a quick summary:

1. Roundabouts
The British can probably proudly claim to have introduced this simple yet effective road innovation into Malaysia (and wherever else they colonised). Unfortunately, its effectiveness has been diminished in Malaysia where no one seems to understand this circular thing they face in the middle of the road. To the average Malaysian, roundabouts might as well be crop circles that had been embedded on the land by some peace-loving alien species which, the local JKR crew just happened to pour some tar over.

Remember, don't bother to stop when entering roundabouts in Malaysia. Ignore that lorry heading your way, close your eyes and step on/twist the accelarator. Leave it to the Force, and that Death Star will blow-up, that kinda thing. It's either that or face the humiliation of being honked to death by the traffic behind you (grannies in Kelisas included) and have helmets swung at you by rampaging rempits. Such is the ultimate fate of a roundabout loser who gives way to others.

2. Indicating
This is a key skill to have when driving in Malaysia. The purpose of indicating in Malaysia is NOT to courteously let those around you know where you are heading. The purpose of indicating in Malaysia is to gain the upper-hand in traffic. It is a fine art that involves excellent timing and deceptive tactics.

For example, if one had the intention of turning left into a junction, don't indicate left. Indicating in this manner is logical and so predictable. Yes, like stopping at roundabouts, indicating is so lame and so like last season. Indicate right to throw that motorcylist behind you off the scent and then, at the very last minute, with split-second accuracy, swerve left into the intended junction. Hooray!

3. Road positioning
Arriving in Dublin via the city's airport, you'd notice a lot of the same signs when driving out of the airport. The signs remind drivers from around the world to drive on the left-hand side of the road. Like Malaysia, cars here are right-hand drive and are driven on the left-hand side of the road. Nothing too complicated.

Well, except for in Malaysia that is. Driving on the left-hand side of the road is strictly for plebes. The untouchables of Malaysian traffic. For people on motorised two-wheeled contraptions. For those on four wheels, it's right in the middle of the road. That way, they'd avoid potholes, roadkill and running over the odd motorcyclists. Oh, and it gives the car in the front the upper hand. There's no chance in hell anything's going to overtake it.

There's a few for a start. I need to dig deep to get back those memories that I've intentionally blanked out.

On second thought, maybe they should just stay there at some dark inaccessible corner of my brain...

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