Sunday, July 08, 2012

Malaysia Extra - The Cars

The car traffic in KL had to be seen to be believed. It is not like Bangkok where a toot on the horn gives you the right to do anything.  It is not like Vietnam where it unsurprising to see a car coming towards you on the wrong side of the road. KL's car driving style is similar to Singapore's but without the rule enforcement.

There was little horning, which made for some peace on the streets, but the traffic is very heavy and generally moves quite slowly in the city. It is just as well as you seem to change lanes not by indicating but by moving across a bit into the next lane. The cars in that lane make space for you to move across. KL drivers are truly experts at merging into traffic. They have to do it all the time in what are mostly multi laned one way streets.

Because to the roads being one way, it can be a very circuitous route to travel a fairly short distance. Towards the end of our trip we caught a cab from KL Sentral to our hotel and used a set price coupon obtained at the station. I reckon we could have done the trip just as quickly on the monorail as we did in a cab. We did have heavy suitcases and Malaysia is not good at catering for such things on the monorail or many places. If you are a physically disabled person visiting KL, well good luck.

In Australia turning cars give way to pedestrians crossing the side street. Not so there. I even tried to bluff my way, but I had to step back.

Lunch time traffic is atrocious as many leave their work places, hop into their cars and drive to a nearby restaurant.

There are many off street parking places and they are quite cheap. For an extra dollar or so, you can get your car washed while you eat. There is not a dirty car to be seen in KL.

Passenger cars are all petrol and petrol is cheap. Most cars are quite new. What are not new are trucks. The trucks were all very old and very slow. Often uphill, even on freeways, they crawl along at perhaps 10 to 20 km/h.

There is not much lane discipline when driving. Cars often stop at red lights across the pedestrian walking area and people go through very red lights, or as Manny told us, dark green lights.

There are no traffic cameras. They would do the police out of their nice little bribery earners. Manny who flagrantly disobeyed speed limits said, you just slip MR50 into your licence if you are stopped by police and asked to hand it over. The 'on the spot' fine for poorer people is cheaper and higher for foreigners. 

All roads and streets were very well maintained and very safe, even by our standards. There are lots of toll roads, the money going to private companies who built the roads.

We did not see one accident or even a close call. Malaysian driver's have an extreme awareness of what traffic around them is doing and a quite high concentration level, in my opinion.

Driving in Malaysia is nothing like driving in Australia, but their different style works for them.


  1. I imagine I'd be terrified.

  2. Dina, I'll confess to being ultra cautious when crossing the road. It is not a pedestrian friendly city.

  3. I'm so glad I made a cup of tea (Melbourne breakfast, yum!)before I started catching up with your travels Andrew. Sounds like you had a fab time and even though Manny was full on I bet it was good at the beginning until you got your bearings oui! So if you worked out his age by the fact that he was Rabbit, can you work out mine by knowing in the Chinese Zodiac I am a tiger???? There was a rather surprising interlude between day one and day two where you were slightly distracted by..let's just say footy stuff, i believe our Eagles are doing pretty well this year and I live next door to a young Dockers player that's the sum total of my footy knowledge! There is a dirty car in my driveway that wouldn't be acceptable in KL and yes the driving system in the Asian and European countries is mindboggling, but it seems to work for them. Hope you're happy to be home, although the change in weather will be a shock, Melbourne must be colder than Perth and it's pretty brrrrr! here.

  4. Bonus Grace. You are not only tiger, but water tiger. I am very easily distracted by nice looking guys. Young? Dockers? Oh. Do tell. Maybe I will become a Dockers supporter. I've never seen any worse and seemingly unregulated traffic than those who circle the Arc de T. I could not see any rule nor reason.