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If I am MIA here, I might be tapping the keyboard at MaKiMeJi. Come join us there.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Driving 101 (this side of the globe)

Dear Zenaida,

I am aware that you are trying your best to learn the mechanics of driving. I have noted your strong determination and let me assure you that you are improving. You are making progress in maneuvering through the horrendous traffic. You are making progress in facing intimidating drivers and dealing with formidable bigger-than-yours vehicles. I understand how frightening this must be for you but I can only imagine what you have to go through everyday. I understand because I have observed how your hands get clammy and cold everytime you take the wheel. But you are making progress in conquering your fear.

Although you are making it impossible for me to breathe at times - oh how you choke me with the way you grip on the wheel too tightly your knuckles turn ashen (and the bones protrude menacingly), I will not complain. Instead, I am offering these pointers below to make things easier and less stressful for all of us:

  • Always use a seatbelt even if the rest of the motorists do not.

  • Animal carcasses lying on the road should not bother you. There are not so many of them you see but once in a while, you will.

  • In reality, the one-car-apart rule will put you in trouble. That empty space attracts interested parties to head over in that direction and literally gets you in the middle of trouble.

    Fiesta Traffic

  • Never compete with PUV (public utility vehicle) drivers. Ever. It’s for your own safety. I am not sure if YIELD exists in their dictionary.
  • Always –even if you have the right of way- YIELD to these drivers. It pays to show them that yield or drivers who yield do exist.

  • Expect that some of these drivers will change lanes at the last second and block the way. With the number of drivers who do this, if you don’t, chances are you’ll be scowling at the first person you meet. It will only ruin your day even before you started it.

  • When you are in an intersection and the light says “Go,” be very careful as you proceed. You might cross paths with drivers who like to ignore the red light flashing in their direction and still drive all the way.

  • More often than not, the horn will save your day (and your passengers). There are pedestrians and motorists who need to be reminded that they are traversing a shared resource unless you honk the horn.

  • Do not let jeepneys stopping in the middle of a highway to unload/load passenger affect you so much. My theory is, if each jeepney doing that can cause a single crease on the face then chances are, before you reach your destination, you’ll have pre-mature wrinkles all over.

  • Pay extra attention to the buses. They are like anacondas – forgive me for the term- ready to eat you alive if you get in their way. Trust me. Do not forget the frightening episode you have had. Thankfully, you were able to swerve to the shoulders of the road out of harm’s way in time. I understand you were so shaken you had to stop for a moment to catch your breath and gather yourself.)

  • Bikes -->
    motorelas -->
    and trisikad (or traysikad) -->

    cruising along the highway are pretty normal. But at least you’re not competing with cows! And think about how blessed you are.

Til the next drive. Happy driving. And please keep these in mind at all times.

With much concern,

The Steering Wheel ;D


The author has no intention of discouraging young aspiring drivers or warding off possible visitors in this town (or in this country, for that matter).

To read on someone's experience of driving in the Philippines, click here.


ZJ said...

Hi Zam... funny but I was contemplating on writing something about learning the ABCs of driving here in Cambodia... but you've hit the bullseye with this post, and amusing, I must say. I can relate with this as I myself is still learning how to drive, but Phnom Penh is just not the best place to learn how to drive.
Btw, I just posted my reply to your tag. Have a jolly good weekend!

ZAM said...

Thanks ZJ! Maybe I'm just too hopeful but I am hpong one day I'll get over the nervousness everytime I take the wheel.

But I hope to read also what's driving like Cambodia style, from your account.

Melanie said...

You are too funny!!