Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Malaysian Drivers

Ok, I am tired. I am sitting in an Internet Cafe across from the Puduraya Bus Station at 5:45 am. That is not the place I wanted or expected to be at this time in the morning. I expected to be laying in a nice comfortable bed in a cheap hotel in Bukit Bintang. After that, Trien and I were planning to go to the US Embassy to check what information we need in order to register our marriage before the baby is born. Then after that, possibly heading to the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Putrajaya, and getting our papers certified. It looks like we can do all the running around, but not until after getting some sleep. An not today. Why? Because of the idiots who drive here in Malaysia.

Malaysians are not the worst drivers in the world. In my experience, that award goes to the drivers in Mainland China. Just riding in a car there is like being trapped in some sort of insane video game that you are unable to control. You see things happen that make you think that you've been transported to some sort of bizarre Dadaist alternative reality. Things like an old man in a fully laden donkey cart traveling the wrong way in the fast lane of the superhighway in Beijing. It's just total anarchy on the roads.

A friend of ours was in both China, and Turkey. She said the Turks drive worse than the Chinese, which I find hard to believe. Others swear that India is worse than China. In any case, I am definitely not going to do a comparative study on the subject.

Malaysians may not be the worst drivers in the world, but are definitely the most selfish. They act as if they are the only car on the road, or at least the only car that matters. Screw anyone else - they can do whatever they want, because they are the only ones that count. That also means that they are among the tops in being the rudest drivers in the world. And unintentionally, the most dangerous.

Case in point:

Two guys have what is later reported to be a minor accident on the North - South Highway, coming out of the tunnel heading toward Kuala Kangsar. It's raining hard. No big deal right? So instead of pulling off to the side of the road and exchanging information or waiting for the cops, what do they do? They sit there, right in the middle lane. The express bus heading from Ipoh to Taiping comes out of the tunnel, tries to avoid hitting the two selfish cretins, and plunges down a ravine, turning over several times. The result? Seven people dead, all because these two morons think they are too good to show people any courtesy. One of the dead lived right in my neighborhood. If this was the USA, these guys would be in jail right now, facing seven counts of homicide. Here? Just another everyday occurrence, no big deal.

I saw what remains of the bus, as I was in Kuala Kangsar during the weekend for the National English Camp for the SBP schools at Malay College. I am surprised anyone survived. You can see what is left of the bus in he picture above.
Getting back to our story:
Our bus ride from Taiping to KL was delayed for about five hours because of an accident. The whole southbound portion of the North-South Highway was at a complete standstill. This is not unusual in any way. One of Malaysian's main hobbies seem to be killing themselves, friends, family, or just complete strangers in gory car crashes that cause all sorts of delays. So instead of getting into KL at a somewhat reasonable hour, and being able to get some sleep, we end up pulling in at about 0430. As we plan to start our running around about 0700, getting a hotel room for a couple hours then leaving doesn't make any sense.
I didn't know what else to do, so we got some breakfast, then went to the internet cafe to check on what time our embassies open, wha requirements they need, etc. That's why I am here now writing this.
Types of Malaysian Drivers

I found this post on the Urban Reality Blog. I have changed it slightly:

1. One hand on wheel, one hand on horn: IPOH driver.

2. One hand on wheel, one hand out the window with cigarette:KEPONG driver.

3. One hand on wheel, one finger out window, cutting across all lanes of traffic: DOWNTOWN KUALA LUMPUR driver.

4. One hand on wheel, one hand on parang, foot solidly on accelerator: JOHOR driver.

5. One hand on wheel, one hand on non-fat double decaf cappuccino, cradling cell phone, brick on accelerator, hands-free on the lap: BANGSAR driver.

6. One hand on 12 oz. Double shot latte, one knee on wheel,talking on cell phone, foot on brake, mind on radio game, banging head on steering wheel while stuck in traffic: SUBANG JAYA DRIVER…..on the Federal Highway!!!

7. One hand on wheel, one hand on passengers head rest,alternating between both feet being on the accelerator and both feet on brake, throwing rambutans or durian shells out the window: KARAK HIGHWAY KUANTAN driver.

8. Four-wheel drive pick-up truck, READY-TO-KILL attitude, rear window stickers read “Make my day”, beer cans on floor, wedding ribbon still attached to antenna: CONSTRUCTION SITE….PUCHONG driver!

9. One hand on the handphone, another hand picking nose, One leg on the dash board, another leg crossed on the seat with a beer can in the middle ~ turning anywhere he likes, parking anywhere he likes, in fact, driving anywhere he likes. aaahhh….. this is a heaven for drivers ……welcome to PENANG!

10. Two hands gripping tightly to the wheel, eyes glued on the windscreen, alternately stepping on the accelerator and brakes every 5 seconds. WOMAN DRIVER!

11. Both hands on the wheel, one eye shut, feet on both the gas and the brake, cursing with creative abandon: FOREIGNER, driving in MALAYSIA.