Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

I hold a Malaysian drivers' license but I have never driven in Malaysia. Two reasons-- one I dont have a car and two-- they drive on the other side of the road here. I just applied for my license just in case one day I would need it but I never really had an idea when that one day would be.

That "one day" became a reality last weekend.

An impromptu gimik to Penang last Friday gave me a chance to test my driving powers in Malaysia. Jay, Angeli and I decided to rent a car in Penang instead of taking the taxi (which was very expensive) around town. Found a car through Mudah.com.my right before we left KL and viola, we had a car. We met the owners in the bus station and they introduced us to my first car in Malaysia-- a proton viva. After photocopying my passport and license the owners dropped us off at Tanjung Bungah and wished us godspeed.

So picture this- It wasn't only that it was a right hand drive vehicle, it was also 6:30in the morning(still dark in Malaysia standard), the roads were winding (tunay at wagas na zigzag ito), and I had no idea how to get to our destination (Sri Sayang Hotel in Batu Ferringhi). The owner just told me to go straight and I wont miss it (Okay.. sana nga). Talk about baptism of fire right? Jay reluctantly transferred to the front passenger seat to be my navigator slash driving tutor slash taga asar and off we went to find the hotel. And did I mention it was a manual transmission? hahaha.

Slowly I acquainted myself with the car. Figured out how to shift gears and look at the mirrors. It was hard at first as I was so used to shifting with my right hand and now I have to do it with my left. Several times, I found myself operating the windshield wiper instead of the turning signals(Oops! Patawa talaga!). Every second I was telling myself that I cannot and will not fail this task. Talk about raising one's self efficacy to the max (ay nerd).

20 or so minutes later, we found Sri Sayang Hotel (note mali ang direction ni car owner). Whew! made it. The room wasn't available yet so we ended up eating at the nearby mamak stall instead.

We had the car for three days and by the end of day 3 I mastered going up and down Batu Ferringhi's zig zag roads. That road became my EDSA. Everytime we'd get lost, I'll just find my way there. Buti na lang may GPS ang phones namin ni Jay so we were not totally blind. Yung nga lang minsan maling direction ang binibigay ni mapking. hahaha.

I survived my first attempt at driving without any major hitches. I realized shifting with my left hand wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. It was in fact a truly exciting experience. My only waterloo was the roundabout (nakakalito naman kasi yung exiting system niya) and the parallel parking. I didn't even dare attempt parallel parking in Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill) for fear of sideswiping the cars parked around me. My one and only attempt was at the bus station which nearly gave my navigator a heart attack (sabi ko nga di talaga ako marunong eh).

So now I am a true blue driver in Malaysia. I am still carl-ess but at least now I know I can drive here. Finally nasulit ang misadventures sa JPJ office last year.

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