Sunday, 12 October 2014

A Little Adventure

Right now I am feeling very accomplished indeed. My husband and I have had our car for a while now, got our driving license a few weeks ago and have talked about taking the car out ourselves. It's half term at the moment so what better time was there to have a go?!

Having watched my driver a little bit I felt OK about braving the roads where we live. First though, we (my husband and I) took the car around the estate a few times just so I could get the feel for the car and remind myself how to drive again. It's been nearly two years since I drove so I was a little nervous, but soon all the muscle memory came flooding back and I felt confident about driving the car....the roads were another matter though and I felt quite anxious about those!

The one thing that really helped was knowing that you sit in traffic for a great deal of time, meaning things happen quite slowly. Having never driven in Asia I wasn't as aggressive as perhaps I needed to be, but I'm sure as I drive more here I'll learn what's necessary to do. 

My biggest concern was the motorbikes. They come round you from all angles and if you leave a big enough gap between you and the car in front then they grab that chance to overtake you. It's incredibly important to have quick instincts here and close gaps when you can so you don't get stuck! Not only do you have to contend with motorbikes and other cars, there are the pedestrians and food carts to be aware of also. There are no crossing points around here on the smaller roads so to cross the road you have to get to the middle of the road when you get a chance and then the rest of the way. Normally raising your hand will stop cars but the locals often just start to cross, expecting you to stop. As you can imagine it makes for a tiring drive! 

However, after contending with all of the above we made it to our destination, a local shopping mall. Admittedly we missed 3 entrances to the mall carpark (this didn't matter as it's enormous and spread out on both sides of the road) and also ended up with me having a mild panic as I'd missed the U-turn lane and had to just do it anyway...luckily the oncoming traffic was stopped at this point but it was not one of my finer driving moments!

After a wonder around the mall and some lovely Indonesian food in the food court (Gado-Gado lontong; vegetables, prawn crackers and tofu in peanut sauce (totally amazing, aside from the tofu!!!), goat sate, goat nasi goreng and sweetcorn fritters) we decided it was time to head back home.

The way back was far more challenging! We didn't go the same way back and this wasn't a problem...until we got around the back streets of our estate. Most of the drivers here prefer to go out the back and not the front of the estate, as it avoids traffic and going over the nearby train tracks. The back street, however, is full of twists, turns and littered with dozens of speed bumps! Now, I have no problem with speed bumps but these are high and short, rather than low and long. Going over these smoothly was for some reason exceptionally difficult, even very slowly. My poor husband did really not enjoy this experience and nor, I expect, did the car behind me. It was by far the worst, and most stressful, part of the journey and I'd probably rather sit in the traffic! 

Anyway, I'm really glad that I did it and will definitely drive here again, perhaps not too far just yet though!  

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