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Driving in a Foreign Country Maret 28, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Being Expat.
Tags: ,

Ok. I have to admit. I had my first driving license in Indonesia when I was 17. I should have been 18, so yes I cheated a little bit. On age part. But then I didn’t take the test. That’s a big cheating. Just like most of people, I was suckered into the corrupted system, just pay and go home. Bam, new driving license.

When I lived in Sydney, I did not have to drive. First, the campus was only 5 minutes walk. And second, hmm, don’t really need one, really. I actually did a long drive in New Zealand, from Christchurch to Queenstown. It was lovely and quiet, we drove on the same side of the road as in Indonesia, so there was no problem of adjusting.

But now I live in UK, I have to have a UK driving license, after a year living here. And for the first time, I have to take the lesson and the test. I phoned up a driving instructor and we agreed to meet up on last Monday, but since it was snowy, he was stuck and couldn’t live his place, and I didn’t want to drive in a slippery road, and we promise to meet up again next Thursday.

People keep saying that once you could drive in Jakarta, you could drive in every other part of the world. I don’t know, I think it’s understatement. For instance, we never drive too fast in Jakarta. We couldn’t anyway, since traffic jams are everywhere. And secondly, for myself, I’m always being cautious, because there’s always a surprise waiting on the corner. There will be people crossing the street without giving any sign, there will be motorbike which suddenly makes a pass without indicating, and so on. So in Jakarta, I always drive in my other foot on the brake. I never entirely believe in red-yellow-green light either. It doesn’t mean anything in Jakarta. Even when it’s red, the police will whistle and indicate us to go on, or vice versa, when it’s green, we have to stop. I once made a turn because the light was still green, but the traffic from the other side was already moving because there was a policeman who told them to. I almost stuck in a sea of traffic, and when I looked at the policeman in disbelief and shook my head, he got upset. Luckily when he was walking towards me the traffic was clear a bit so I could pass. D’oh. In here, I have to believe that there is a system working. It’s difficult, after 15 years driving in Indonesia!

Anyway, my Malaysian friend, having driven in Houston (that’s a different side of the road from UK/Australia/Indonesia), passed her test after the second time. Let’s see what’s going to happen to me….

So, what’s your experience of driving in your adopted country?



1. bleu - Maret 28, 2008

I have been driving both on the right side and the wrong side 🙂 Fortunately, I don’t find it difficult to switch between driving in Jakarta, the U.S, and Malaysia.

What I struggle with, usually, is at the point of entering the car. I often open the passenger door…

Good luck with the driving test.

2. Lidia - Maret 29, 2008

Here in Quebec, we have to pass knowledge test first to get a learner license. Learner license holder can only be driving while accompanied by a full license holder. Learner license holder should wait for 12mo to be able to do the road test to get a full license. However the waiting period can be reduced to 8mo by taking driving course which costs lotta money (app. 250-300$, not to mention the administration fee for the test and issuing the license). Oh yeah..sometimes the waiting period could be longer simply because booking the appointment for the test is not always easy (it could take up to 2-3mo to get a slot).
In this case, should we be thankful for our corrupt Indonesian system?

To Anita..thx for stopping by at my blog..!

3. treespotter - Maret 29, 2008

i’ve four driving licenses in four different countries, but not one for jakarta. funnny that. i really ought to get one.

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