A driving ambition is of little use if you’re on the wrong road

December 4, 2006 at 11:18 am (Driving)

My driving instructor arranged for me to do my written theory test on Tuesday monring last week. He very helpfully told me about it at seven o’clock on Monday night. I love to be prepared.
The test was at 8:30am so I got there for about 10 past just in case. Haji (my instructor, who I cannot understand) had told me that it was on the first floor. At least I think that’s what he’d said; quite frankly he could have been saying “you don’t get many of those to the pound”. I would have smiled politely and nodded anyway. There were no signs or anything to help direct me to where I needed to go, although there was a sign telling people what they could and couldn’t wear to the test center (it’s a government office, I can’t help thinking we should implement that in job centers in the UK. It probably doesn’t make much of a difference to the people looking for work but it would make the day a little more pleasant for the staff) On the list of Stuff not allowed for women was Short skirt or pant, safety boot or cover all and they had to *avoid unwanted smell* however women can wear Long pant or trouser (not too tide).

I eventually found some stairs but there was an unlabelled door at the top. I asked someone in a uniform (my mum says I can trust men in uniform although I’m not sure what I can trust them to do) who gestured me inside. There were lots of people sat around in those horrible little chairs with half a desk attached. I took a seat then at about quarter past, everyone got up in unison and walked into another little room, like a classroom, with more of the rubbish chairs. Obviously I followed (I hate the thought of missing out). A woman in uniform came in and barked at us all and made us all sit close together. She sent one man home for wearing jeans, got out her notebook, and ruled a page in it and made us write down our name IC number driving school, number of times we had taken the test, the she sent us off with an answer sheet where we had to write our name and address and license number twice, on the same sheet of A4. Obviously modern technology and computerisation hasn’t reached South East Asia.

The she asked (in Malay) which of us needed and English test. Obviously the people who didn’t speak Malay and only spoke English missed out on that completely. Luckily I was the only western woman in there so I stood out like a sore thumb. She didn’t even ask me, just handed me the English test paper. About eight other people said they needed an English version (the Filipino’s who come here to work all do their exam in English) the examiner said sorry, there are only five English booklets so the rest of you will have to come back another time and sent them off.

When I finished she asked me to take a seat opposite her so she could mark the first half (you need to get 100% on questions 1-15) she marked it all right then said to me “look again at number seven” so I looked again at number seven and then she said “what do you think that is?” It was a sign with a scull on it. The choices were a) danger b) warning or c) soft verges. I was looking at it and thinking A & B are the same, I said A and she said, “What A? No” so I suggested B and she said that’s better and made me cross out my original answer and change it.

So I guess I got the first half right. I don’t know how I did in the second half. The questions themselves seem pretty easy but the English is really hard to understand and the choices on some were almost identical. At the end there were half a dozen pictures of cars on the road and you had to say which had right of way. It was hard though because the land transport agency seemed to be under the impression that only one car can be on a roundabout at a time and that each will wait their turn. From experience, what actually happens is that if drivers here think they can get away with it, instead of going all the way round the roundabout and taking the last exit, they will just drive the wrong way around it. This isn’t the case for the roundabout of death which is the busiest round about in South East Asia. There they just get to the front of the queue, close their eyes and put their faith in Allah.

Hopefully I will have got questions 16 – 40 right and then fingers crossed I can start actual driving lessons in a car. It’s so frustrating, I was up to test standard back in the UK but my test in April got snowed off, when I got a replacement appointment , instructor was in an accident (not my fault, I was nowhere near him at the time) so his car couldn’t be used. What with the two month waiting list, I never quite managed to fit in another test before I left the UK. Now I have to start from the beginning. I also have to keep explaining the concept of snow. South East Asians don’t really have much of a problem with snow and don’t understand how that might affect driving, other than to think it might be like driving through marshmallow.

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