Driving Differences

I’ve been in Malaysia for over a week now, and am on my third town with two more towns to go. I’ve been noticing quite a few differences between here and home.

Speed limits and no passing zones seem to be a suggestion. Passing in a double line (even on a turn) and doing up to 150 kph is the norm. Motorcycles here can whip around traffic however they like. When I tried to find my seatbelt, I was told I didn’t need it. This is so different from Canada! I’m not sure what the actual laws are here. Maybe this is all allowed, or maybe people just don’t follow the rules of the road. It would be interesting to look into the different stats on accidents here and at home. So far, we haven’t seen any accidents (though were nearly in one in Singapore due to a host getting too into his story and not watching the road).

As the towns get smaller and our activities revolve more around dinners, it seems that drinking and driving is common. The locals drink more than people would in Canada when driving, and not think twice about getting behind the wheel. When we brought it up, they told us that they all drink and drive and that it is OK. This made us all very uneasy as these were our hosts, and our only way home. I do not condone drinking and driving, and coming from a country where it is not acceptable, it was really difficult.

This is still making us uneasy as we still have a few towns left, and we don’t know what their mindset will be on drinking and driving. But it has all made me think – what should you do in a foreign country when you are staying with host families? Do you go along with their norms, even though they are outside of your comfort level and could possibly endanger your life? If not, how would you address this? I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the last few days, and I don’t know what the answer is. I’m hoping that the speeding and drinking and driving will not be an issue in any more of the towns. I guess time will tell.

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