I did it, folks!
On Saturday I drove our new car for the first time!
Now, to many this may not seem much of an achievement but for me this is a major milestone. Here’s why:
- I failed my driving test four times when I was under 19 so I think I am crap at driving (whether it is true or not)
- I crashed the car on the first time I took to the road on my 17th birthday. My mother’s car. I just happened to be outside my grandpa’s house when it happened and my mother was in his garden, witnessing it all, spade in hand. As my father climbed out of the window of her maroon Renault 5 on the passenger side (I had turned a sharp corner, left, and did not realise I had to straighten up, drove straight up a steep bank and the car ‘fell off’). My father’s first words were not to me but to my mother: “It’s OK, you can divorce me!” She forgave him.
- A week after I passed my test, aged 19, I got a summer job cooking and driving in France for a countess. I drove the wrong way down a one way street and knocked the wing mirrors off all the cars. I also got the sack.
- I have driven a ‘stick’ shift for 99% of my driving life. This was an automatic, which to me, feels like the car is driving me.
- It is a new (to me) car and I never like driving strange cars.
- It’s right-hand drive in a country that drives on the left. I have spent 70% of my driving life in a left-hand drive car.
- This is a new city and I don’t know my way yet.
- There are lots of cars on KL roads so I need to be able to nudge out of sliproads into lanes with other vehicles in them. Give me an empty road, any day.
- There are lots of motorbikes here that seem to zigzag through traffic, swarming erratically like water round pebbles in a shallow stream.
Anyway, Emma said it was best to hit the road (not literally) before 9 am, so there I was bright and early telling Ian it was ‘now or never’. My parents are visiting in 10 days and I simply have to get this maiden voyage over with as I want to be able to drive them out to the shops and for coffee at least.
I decided to go round the block to the Bangsar shopping centre twice before actually heading in there for the reward of a good cappuccino in Plan B.
Ian was patience personified as he pointed out when I was a ‘bit too close to the edge’ or needed to ‘slow down a bit’ or ‘watch out for the bike’.
First time round I was wary as a scaredycat. Second time I felt about 100% better than the first. The car itself was the least of my worries. It drove beautifully and I never once looked for the clutch or tried to use my left foot.
As I swung into the car park I was elated. I had done it. Then I noticed the outdoor market not far from the car park. I’d been promising myself I’d give it a try ever since we arrived.
What a treat! Fresh, fat pork chops that would feed two,
butterflied pomfret fish and salmon steaks, pineapples, mango, herbs and spices, even orchids and stargazer lilies.
Then, I found it, my favourite thing about Brunei, if you remember from my Briefly Brunei blog – tree fern! Oh joy of joys, I had found the holy grail. Tonight it will be wok-fried with garlic and sesame and eaten on the balcony with our dinner guests, Jo and Brent.
The coffee was delicious by the way and the drive home a breeze. But the tree fern was the icing on the cake.