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Of highways, driving and lead feet

May 21, 2011

I work in Gelang Patah (thereabouts actually) and stay somewhere near JB. The family is still in KL. As such I am on a weekly roundtrip from JB to KL. So the North-South Highway is now my best friend. The thing is, I used to dread having to make the trip on the highway (except on a bike of course). But as the trip now has become a weekly thing, I’m getting used to it already. I’ll leave the office for KL on Friday at about 6 or 6.30 pm and usually leave home for JB around the same time on Sunday. I am more of a robot now I guess, going about all the traveling like clockwork.

The highway is a boring place. The road is straight and I tell you, PLUS (the highway operator) really knows how to break your spirit. When you start your journey, they’ll place big signboards that say “Kuala Lumpur 304 km” or something like that. It’s like they’re trying to tell you that you’re 304 kilometres away from freedom. For now, they’ll just happily torture you with the almost never ending straight road and get you to spend at their rest areas. And you’ve got to buy your freedom too. From Senai Utara (my entry point to the highway) to Sungai Besi they make me pay a princely sum of RM40.90. That’s one way. And I travel to KL and back every week. So do the math kids. Doesn’t make for good reading.

I realise the highway is made to ease our traveling. The roads are well maintained, I must say. Quite safe for you to drive fast (or really fast) on. I think I generally have a very relaxed demeanour when I drive. Never one to explode into a rage whenever somebody cuts into my path. Also never one to break into a continuous rant of expletives when things don’t go my way. That said, speed is my weakness. As your quality of life improves, so will the quality of your car. Higher speeds follow suit. To be honest I think a 110 km/h speed limit is ridiculous (for selfish reasons). I could never keep to it. I’ll just simply fall asleep if I try to keep to 110 km/h for long periods of time.

I think where the speed limit is concerned, we are all hypocrites. At least I know I am. I’ll keep to it in the daytime as I am of the impression that the cops and their speed cameras will be hiding in some bushes just waiting for me to be the next “saman ekor” recipient. I heard somewhere that’s not what they do anymore. Apparently they’ll always make their presence known i.e. under some bridge or the observation posts you see on the highways. The curious thing is, you don’t see them with their speed cameras in the observation posts do you? So when do they catch you speeding? I don’t see them under the bridges anymore either. So that’s still a question mark to me.

OK, I digress. So I keep to the speed limit in the daytime. Once dusk comes, my right foot makes this uncanny transformation from flesh and bones to lead. Please blame the car for that. Never really discovered the true potential of my car until I begin traveling down south on a weekly basis. No I don’t own a performance car, it’s just a naturally aspirated 2 litre car. But the boy can go. The sad thing is, being one of those Japanese parallel imports (orang Melayu panggil kereta recon) the speed is electronically limited to 180 km/h. Not that I touch that speed on a regular basis though. My approach has always been that I’ll go relaxed in the car. If I need to speed I’ll ride. That has all changed now. Try driving from JB to KL (or vice versa) at 120-130 km/h. You’ll go crazy man.

So now, conditions permitting (no rain, light traffic, it’s nighttime) I’ll just floor the throttle. The thing is, there are still people who think the right lane is for vehicles traveling at 110 km/h (because that’s the speed limit) and the other lanes are for vehicles traveling under 110 km/h. So you’ll have to get close to them and “bagi high beam” for you to be able to overtake. Some do oblige, so that’s fine. I have an issue with those who remain where they are even after getting the signal to move over. I’m no road bully, far from it. And I will not overtake from the left either. So I’ll just end up getting stuck. Not good. I think moving over when you get the signal to do so is just good driving ethics. However I will not get into the debate of whether driving fast is good driving ethics. Why would I want to diss myself on my own blog? [Note: the Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) defines “diss” as “a form of disrespecting someone, their homies or their mama e.g. don’t diss on me, cause you ain’t me.“]

I used to stop at the rest areas to have a drink as well. Now, after realising that it’s all part of an elaborate plot by PLUS to get us to spend on the highway, I’ve quit doing that as well. I stop only at lay-bys nowadays should I get nature’s call. That’s it. If I get thirsty, I’ll get something from the vendors who are at the lay-bys and that’s it. No elaborate stops to makan2 or anything like that. Mind you, this is only applicable when you travel alone. If you bring the family along, a totally different rule applies. You’d make more frequent stops and obviously you don’t drive that fast anymore. Not with the kids in the car. It’s a totally different sensitivity.

For now, I still get that enjoyment in driving (not that I can afford a driver anyway). So I’ll just do it while I still can. I do have plans to bring the family down to JB when I get confirmed in my position. However, that’s a another story for another time. Until then!

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