Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Driving in Malaysia for Dummies

Driving in Malaysia. The words that will send shivers down most people's spine. But worry not. Here's a guide to help you to survive driving in Malaysia.

1. Changing lanes.
Simply change lanes wherever and whenever you want. Do not bother to look into the side mirror or check whether there are any cars on the next lane or turning signal light. Don't worry, all Malaysian drivers are train to handle this situation, and they are very skillful drivers. Sometime, they will honk to let you know that you have safely changed to the next lane. Please honk back to say thank you.

2. Traffic lights.
Green light means go. Simply proceed at any speed you wish.
Yellow light means go as fast as possible before the light turns red. If possible, floor your accelerator.
Red light means stop. Well not exactly, if there is no car from other junction, simply proceed. If you are not sure, follow the rocker dude in the kapcai* or RXZ.
Yes, the lights has different meaning as compared to other countries but Malaysian are an efficient lot. They don't waste time waiting at the traffic light.
*kapcai - Honda Cub motorbike

3. Traffic Jam
When stuck in a traffic jam, don't worry. Try to find ways to go forward. If you are on a 2-lane road, feel free to create a new lane. You can use the emergency lane, the road shoulder, the divider, even the opposite lane. If you are queueing on the opposite lane and the cars from the opposite traffic is honking and flashing their headlights at you, they are only greeting you. Please honk back to say thank you.

4. Queuing
Queuing? What queuing? Queuing doesn't exist in Malaysia. If you are stuck in a long line to pass a junction, simply go as far as possible on any free lane (refer Point 3 on how to create a new lane), then join back the line. Just swerve in, no need for turning signal light. Other cars will honk, but they want to congratulate you because you have successfuly cut down on your travel time and get ahead of the rest of the people. Honk back to say thank you. Sometimes, they will give you the standard Malaysia driver greeting. Refer Note 10 on how to deal with this.

5. Parking
Malaysia is big. So, you can park anywhere you want, anytime you want and how you want it. Park at the road side, on the opposite road, even in the middle of the road. If you are only stopping for a 10-20 minutes, just to get something very quick, find a spot as near as possible to your ultimate location. You don't want to walk 200 metres from the parking lot, do you? It's freaking hot and with the haze around, you are out of your mind walking 200 metres, sweating like a dog. The parking spot in front of the shop is taken? No problem, simply park behind them. Take you sweet time to shop, choose properly. You don't want to get the wrong colour of underwear for your speed dating party, do you? If the owner of those cars that you blocked, came back and was honking at you, don'y worry. They are telling you that they are not busy, and they are not rushing back because their house is not on fire. As a courtesy, show them the Standard Malaysian Driver Greeting (refer Point 10).

6. Accident
Although accident rate in Malaysia is quite high, it is still one of the lowest in the Southern Hemisfera. When you see an accident on the road, please slowdown your car, wind down your window, and take a good look at the car's numbber plate (not the alphabet part, the numeric part). Write it down on a piece of paper. If you do happen to pass by a gambling outlet (4D), stop and buy the number (refer Point 5 for parking tips). 50 Big, 50 Small is the minimum. The winning chances of buying the number plate of a car that just had an accident is very very high. I know because my uncle's son's friend's dog's trainer's wife won a RM1 million hitting the first prize. It was her 999,999 bets, betting 50 big, 50 small each time. She was so lucky.

7. Highways
There are numerous super highways in Malaysia. Some even comes with super traffic jam, and super toll collection. These super highways are meant to cut down on travel time from one point to another. So, do speed on the highway. If possible, floor it. Ohh...the 110 sign on the side of the road? That is the average lifespan of a typical Malaysian driver. Nothing to worry about.

8. Flashing headlights
If you are on the highway fast lane, and on the rear-view mirror, you see a fast car approaching, with flashing headlights, stay still. They just want to say "Hi' to you. Stay on your lane, maintain or slowdown your speed. The car will overtake you from the left. You can honk to say "Hi" back or you can show the Standard Malaysian Driver Greeting (refer Point 10).

9. Using mobilephones/handphones while driving
The purpose of a mobile phone/handphone is to enable you to stay in touch with your contacts wherever you are at anytime. Including while you are driving. Do not invest in a hand's free kit, a waste of money. It also makes your ear-hole big, which could attract insects like the dung bettle. Why is it call a handphone if you are not using your hand to use it. Furthermore, human are born to be able to do more than one thing at a time. Multitasking. Expand your multitasking-ness of your brain. Use your handphone while driving, and at the same time, eyeing the babe in the other car, while scratching your scrotum with your leg.

10. Standard Malaysian Driver Greeting
Over the years, Malaysian driver has established their own identity on how to greet each other on the road. As they cannot hear each other when driving, thus hand signal is used. The most famous one is the middle finger salute. Simply clench your fist, and then raised up your middle finger, and show it to those you want to greet. Show it to ask about their wellbeing. Show it to ask about their mother. Show it to ask about their dog. When you are shown this hand signal, it is only polite to show it back. If they happen to pass by very fast, and you have no opportunity to show it back, then simply honk and try to give them a chase. Once you are driving behind them, and continuing honking, show it to them thru the windscreen. They will be able to pick it up thru their rear-view mirror.

Disclaimer: The author shall not be held responsible for any untoward incidents due to following the above guide. If you bang your head, or if you lose money in 4D or if you met road thugs ( Oh ya! I forgot to mention the road thugs), you are solely responsible.