Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Drivin' in the Hood

I drove today. I have been driving since I was 16 and I am now cough cough so this shouldn't be a big deal. But driving in KTM is whole different er ... experience.

We have a driver which I know would be ridiculous at home (unless you are Donald Trump) but here, with three kids, it really is a matter of safety as well as being practical (can't park, few street signs, outrageous traffic and no "rules of the road"). He needed the day off to attend to a family matter so I was on my own. We normally drive on Saturdays but then traffic is a fraction of what it is the rest of the week. So I was going to brave it on a weekday because the idea of staying in the house or taking one of the insane taxi drivers (I mean really, even I probably drive better than the taxi drivers) was just not an appealing option. Swift had a little playgroup to go to and we were just gonna do it!

Except for the matter of a very important life strapped into the car seat behind me, shhhh - it was really fun! (Oh I doooo need to get a life, don't I?) You dodge and weave on both sides of the road! Motorcycles pass you on both the right and left! Look - a cow, a street dog, a goat, a monkey! J-walking? What is that? It is just so hairy that you have to laugh. It's the Indy 500 - but slow - with animals. If my girls were in the car I really could not have done it because it did require some concentration and they are clueless and would want Mommy to respond to their every whim not knowing that their lives as well as others on the road actually depend on their ability to be quiet. Swift liked it. "Go Mommy!" We drive on the left side of the road and the car is manual so I have to shift with my left hand. You know, just to spice things up a bit. Oh, and have I mentioned that I think there are only two stoplights in the ENTIRE city? I kid you not. And motorcycles frequently hold families of five. It is also an unspoken rule that you lay on the horn at least every five seconds. No matter what.

Ahhh and then there are the Tuk Tuks. The three wheeled auto rickshaws whose drivers clearly don't have to have actually driven anything before in order to become a Tuk Tuk driver. Speaking of rickshaws. The bicycle rickshaw drivers are some of the best drivers in the city. And the only people you ever see in them are overweight tourists filming the chaos and smiling away. Or coughing away as the case may be. Don't they know it is a human being pulling them? It is kind of embarrassing but I'm sure I'd do the same if I were just visiting. But since you know now ... if you come to KTM, don't ride the rickshaws. There is one more vehicle you will find on the road: tractors. These go veeeerrry slowly and are basically a motor in front that spews who knows what with a seat behind it and a flat bed behind the seat. Nothing is ... encased. Chugga chugga chugga.

Hmm have I missed any of the nuances of my driving experience today? Nope.

If only there were drive thru MoMo shops - now there's an idea.


Tracy P. said...

Hi Laurel! More amazing pictures! I love the new header. I rode tuk tuks in Bangkok many years ago. Surprising they called them the same thing.

I also drove in the Philippines...I used to tell my friend, "The crazy people are out today!" As if there was ever a day where this wasn't the case. It's a whole different game there! So do you have pedestrians crossing halfway and standing on the line between two speeding lanes of traffic waiting to cross the rest of the way?

Joy in the Burbs... said...

Ok. You are officially one of the bravest women I have met in Bloggerdom. I can't believe you drove in that. Wow. God Bless.