Monday, April 23, 2007

We Survived our first road trip!

We are back from the Cameron Highlands, and I'm happy to say we survived our first road trip in Malaysia! Since we had never driven on the left side of the road, we were more than a little curious how we would fare. Matt did the driving, and what was interesting to him is that all the things that he thought would be troublesome, weren't. For example, the fact that we were on the left hand side of the road wasn't a problem. What threw him for a loop was the layout of the car - specifically, he would always reach for the seat belt to his right (it's on the left) and every time he wanted to use his blinkers, he switched on the windshield wipers (they are switched). So not only is the driving direction the reverse of what we are used to, all the bells and whistles in the car are switched as well, which we had not even considered. For me, riding as a passenger on the left hand side of the car was pretty weird too. But we got the hang of it, and now we are mobile!

Cameron Highlands was nice and cool, which was exactly what we were after. We stayed at Cameron Highlands Resort, which was nice but totally overpriced. However, we had a chance to drive around and found a couple other less expensive places to stay next time, like Bala's Chalet. We will definitely go back - the weather was fantastic, the scenery was beautiful and it had a nice mix of the types of things we like to do.

The one low point of our weekend was when, on the way back, about an hour or so outside of KL, our rental car just....stopped working. We were crusing down the North-South Highway at about 120 km/hour when, the engine just stopped. No sputtering, no warning, but at least we were able to make it across three or so lanes of traffic to get to the side of the road. And thus began our adventure titled "What the Hell do you do when stranded on the side of a road in a foreign country?"

I will try to make this explanation short, although it seemed the experience was neverending. We called the rental guy, and shortly thereafter a mechanic showed up on the side of the road. We asked, "Did Hawk send you?" he said yes, and that was about all the English we got out of him. That and "Looks like the timing belt." He told us to wait there and left. We called the rental guy back and turns out, no one had called a mechanic. So we aren't sure what that was all about. The rental guy said, "Someone is on his way." Now, this is at 4pm on a sunny day in Malaysia, so it's not exactly pleasant sitting in a car on the side of the freeway in the baking sun. After several more calls to the rental guy (some of which he answered, some went to voicemail), we thought someone was coming to get us. After getting the guy's voicemail, we called the agency number on the sticker inside the car. Guess what? Disconnected. WTF?

Anyway, it seemed like the rental car company didn't really have a standard procedure for this, so it took about 5 or 6 calls before we finally got it straightened out and the rental guy came to get us. Luckily we had a bit of water left from our hike that morning, because by the time he got there, we had been sitting in the sun on the side of the road for two hours. Matt and I talked about it, and we honestly don't know if, had this happened in the US, if the response would have been any better. However, while we were waiting, several people stopped and asked if we needed help, which I thought was very nice. And we saw a full rainbow on the way home :)

So, lessons learned:
1) Take water on future road trips. You never know when you will need it!
2) Find out what the procedure is for car trouble. I was all worried about the insurance, but it didn't even cross my mind that the car would break down.
3) Get a car that was serviced in a timely manner. Turns out, ours was overdue when we got it. I don't know if it would have made a difference, but we were less than pleased when we did the math on the side of the road and discovered that ours was overdue.

Can't wait to hit the road again (with a serviced car, of course)!

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1 Comments:

At April 24, 2007 at 3:24 AM , Anonymous Another Sarah said...

Looks like an amazing getaway!

 

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