Friday, September 27, 2013

Rules of the Road

Well, that title might not be exactly appropriate. I think it might be more accurate if it said "Suggestions of the road... but really, do whatever you want." I've officially been driving in Malaysia for 2.5 weeks. Before I started I would go back and forth daily about whether or not I REALLY wanted to risk it.

Good days: "Yeah, I got this. I know lots of Americans who drive here without any problem."
Bad days: "I just heard about 3 people hitting motorcyclists or buses. Taxis aren't that bad are they?"

I decided it needed to happen, and so I did it. It was actually surprisingly easy to pick up! I was most nervous about the other side of the road thing, but that seems to be the least of my worries. Mom just kept reminding me that the driver is always in the middle of the road. I think learning to drive in the DC Metro area was actually extremely beneficial to driving here. You learn how to drive with an 'aggressive defense', as my co-worker explained it. I told my new roommate it was like driving in Fairfax and she, also having lived in Fairfax, (and even graduating from my high school... what are the chances!?) said... "Maybe a little worse." Haha. True. Very true.

Without further ado, here are some of the "rules" I've learned of how to drive properly in Malaysia.

1) If you want to park there, just park there. Seriously. Anywhere. Behind a car. In front of a car. In the middle of the road. Next to the fire hydrant. You may get honked at if other people can't get out or through, but if you're not there to hear it, they'll usually find another way around. Or find a way to call you or have you paged (at church you always here announcements about such-and-such license plate needs to move his or her car).
2) If you want to merge, merge. Don't use a blinker. Don't feel the need to speed up to the moving rate of traffic. Don't worry about cutting me off in the middle of an intersection as the light is turning red leaving me nowhere to go. Just get over whenever you feel like it and maybe if you're having a good day, give a little wave behind you.
3) If you want to make a new lane, make a new lane. In the middle of an already 3 lane wide round-about? Sure, why not. If you want to exit from said inside lane, do it. You'll only cause crazy traffic and a bunch of horns honking, but at least you'll be on your way. At a light next to two turn lanes turning onto a two lane road? Do it. It will only prevent 75% of the cars from getting through the light, but no big deal. 
4) Honk. All the time. No matter what the problem is, that will solve it. 
5) Red lights are suggestions... if that. As long as there are no cars coming, or at least any coming quickly, you can go through the intersection... you and the three cars after you. I'm not even really sure why they have yellow lights.
6) Don't pay attention to the arrows painted on the road. They'll most likely tell you incorrect information. I drive past two daily that have a straight arrow connected to a turn arrow.. if you continue straight, you quickly discover the lane is a turn only entrance to the highway. There's also one that has a right turn arrow (which I later discovered is actually their 'merge' arrow) in a left turn only lane. I'm still hoping to get a picture of that one. It's just too good. :) 
7) There will be a motorcycle within 10 feet of you at all times. Usually more like 6 inches away. Even when you don't see them, they'll be there any second. They just pop out of nowhere going way too fast and weaving way too much!
7) Be ready for anything. ANYTHING.

I'm sure there are plenty more to come. Let's just say, driving here has definitely strengthened my prayer life and made me just a teeny bit homesick for driving the back roads back home.

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