We’re now driving in Malaysia. Scary- eh? I can’t lie. It’s been an adventure. Driving on the opposite side of the road is one thing, but learning the nuances of how to drive here is completely another. Thankfully our cute little 2007 Suzuki Swif (the t fell off) is up for the challenge. After two weeks of bombing around the city and a long weekend tackling the highway (a future blog will update you on that trip), we are starting to get the hang of things. The following are a list of tips and tricks we’ve learned.
- The “rules of the road” are more like suggestions. There is a drivers’ manual and there are rules BUT no one really follows them. If you are stopped at a red light and there is no traffic coming, you will get honked at. It’s much better to follow the lead of other drivers.
- Lanes -what are lanes? Be prepared for anything here. Lanes end suddenly and reappear randomly. There might be 3 lanes marked on the road, but there are 5 lanes of traffic crammed in. When exiting toll booths, it is a complete free for all. Don’t panic!
- There is no such thing as a straight road. The roads wind and wind and wind. Forget the grid system. That is for chumps who don’t think outside of the box. It is much better to see where you want to go, but not be able to get there. That is part of the challenge. Luckily there is a Malaysian app for that! Waze is a necessity to navigate the crazy roads and the traffic patterns.
- Even the suggestions don’t apply to motorcyclists. These brave (and I use that term loosely) souls weave in and out of traffic at a scary pace. Always be on the lookout for them on either side of your car.
- People will let you merge. Despite the apparent chaos, most times people seem complacent with their system of driving. Remarkably, you rarely hear a horn honk and in traffic jams everyone just does the delicate ballet of letting one another fit into the messed up puzzle that is going nowhere.
- Expect the unexpected. Be ready for people doing stupid things but be comforted by the fact that they expect the same from you. No one bats an eye if you go the wrong way down a one way street. They simply adjust. This makes it not such a bad place to learn.