That’s Malaysia!

An Uber map
An Uber map

It was ‘one of those weeks’. The kind that would have driven me to distraction had it not taken place in a laid back country where things go wrong, people break rules and old hands simply shrug and smile, saying, ‘that’s Malaysia!’

And though our problems were all car-related, instead of driving me mad, after three years here, I simply shrugged and smiled and said, ‘that’s Malaysia!’

Last Tuesday Josh and I joined one of the very good and free of charge walks that DBKL offers. Our meeting place was the Tourist Information Office and there was free parking outside for visitors while we did our three-hour Old KL and Nature Walk. When we returned a security guard outside the Tourist Office told us that the police had been sniffing round, posting summonses under the wipers of cars with expired road tax. He pointed to our sticker. Ours had expired two weeks earlier! Apparently, the lovely guard, who must have been making investments in his good karma bank account, had dissuaded the cops from giving us a ticket with the story that ‘we had just gone for a walk’! Worse, no road tax meant our insurance wasn’t valid either. We drove home feeling a bit vulnerable and exposed, as if I’d gone shopping in my pyjamas by accident but not overly concerned we’d be arrested en route.

Very bad reflective photo of the offending road tax sticker
Very bad reflective photo of the offending road tax sticker

On further investigation it was discovered that the insurance had not been renewed automatically after all. Double oops. The reminder must have arrived while Ian was in hospital having elective leg surgery. While we got this sorted out rather than keeping the car off the road I resorted to only parking in covered parking places out of the prying eyes of the boys in blue. Naughty me.

Ian was on crutches and taking an Uber taxi to work. I had to take the car into the service centre for new airbags after a product recall. Josh was taking an Uber to the Forest Research Centre to do an interview. We were all leaving together. So, Ian slotted himself into the back seat of one taxi, bum first, crutches last and headed off. Oh hell! The Uber App showed that Ian was on his way to Josh’s interview and the car sitting outside was bound for Shell. A few minutes later as Josh and I stood there wondering what to do, Ian WhatsApped to tell us they had done a U-turn in the street and was coming home to swap cars.

Ubers swapped, I set Waze (the SatNav on my phone) for the Nissan Service Centre and headed off myself. After about five minutes I noticed I was heading for the airport. Oh no! I must have selected the wrong Nissan Service Centre! I pulled over on the hard shoulder into a no parking zone and reset Waze. Ten minutes later I passed my own front door and I giggled. Three years ago I had actually been driving alone for the first time to that same Nissan garage and been petrified beyond belief as I became increasingly lost. This time it made me laugh even though, again, I repeatedly misunderstand the nice Waze lady with the appalling pronunciation’s instructions and went wrong.

I approached a toll booth. Waze told me to take Plaza B rather than Plaza A. I did so, gaily unperturbed and proud that a choice of plazas no longer fazed me. I had my Touch ‘N’ Go card to hand and joined the queue. The cars ahead of me sailed through so fast I couldn’t even see them stop, wind down their windows and flash their TNG’s at the card reader post. I stopped. I waved my card at the post. Nothing happened. I waved and waved. Still nothing. I reached closer. A girl in a neighbouring booth stared at me but ignored my confused gestures. Then it dawned on me. I was in the Smart Tag row. With 10 cars behind me I needed to reverse. They were not budging. The man directly behind held the flat of his palm at me and tooted. I waved my TNG card at him. He reversed, reluctantly, and appeared to do whatever the local sign language is for ‘bloody woman’ to those who were behind him. I joined the right queue at last and sailed through. A smile on my face. So what that I’d annoyed a few people, it’s Malaysia. No one is in a rush.

I reached Nissan just ten minutes late and discovered it had been next door to a church I’d been to a few times and would have known the way anyway.

A girl with a clipboard welcomed me into the service bay and asked for the registration document, which I couldn’t produce but she shrugged, broke the rules and admitted the car anyway. Two days later we had new airbags, renewed insurance and up-to-date road tax and I am completely unscathed by the experiences. I guess that means I have settled in…


… which is exactly why, I suppose, we have just had news that we are leaving Kuala Lumpur in March.

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