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An Asian Driver's Manual

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What follows is a painstaking list of rules for driving in Asia.  Please note that we have researched these rules by comparing observations with other ex-pats living in Asia to ensure this is the most accurate list of driving instructions possible.  Remember that your survival may depend on absolute adherence to these rules, no matter how much they defy logic or the Laws of Physics.  You have been warned:

1) Begin honking your horn at 2-second intervals from the moment you start your engine until the moment you arrive at your destination.  If you encounter a red light - where drivers actually stop - activate the horn non-stop until traffic moves again, then return to the 2-second intervals.  Traffic will not move...ever...unless you follow this rule to the letter.

2) Since the horn is effectively useless for anything other than letting other drivers know you are behind the wheel, flash your headlights to inform pedestrians and smaller vehicles that you are plowing through and have absolutely no intention of stopping, nor even slowing down to examine the corpses in your wake.

3) When driving, mash the accelerator to the floor for 3 seconds, then coast for 7 seconds.  Repeat this process until all passengers are vomiting, or you have reached your destination - whichever comes first.  This will save copious amounts of fuel by not using the engine for 7 out of every 10 seconds.  If you have an automatic transmission, this process is best achieved by alternately pumping the gas and brake using both feet.

4) DO NOT under any circumstances observe any road markings of any kind for any reason.  Even on an empty road (normally found from 3am to 3:30am on Sunday mornings), you must straddle the lane markings, speed up for pedestrian crossings and never move into an exit lane until the very last possible moment.

5) It is strictly prohibited to allow anyone or anything to get in front of you, even in the most freakish traffic jams.  Police will often check this rule by attempting to slide a piece of paper between your bumper and the car in front of you.  If the paper passes easily, you will be sorely punished.

5a) As long as you are following rules 1-4 properly, do not worry about any carnage or destruction you cause, as everyone was properly warned by your horn, flashing lights and peddle-pumping.  Besides, the other guy wasn't following the road markings, right?

6) When passing other vehicles on narrow mountain roads, always wait for the blind hair-pin turns to launch your assault.  Don't worry about oncoming vehicles, since your are sounding your horn and flashing your lights according to the rules.  This rule especially applies to tour buses that are entirely too big for the turns.

7) At no time are your to look in the direction in which your vehicle is moving.  Driving is the only time you really have for detailed discussions with your passengers, quality time with your kids and catching up on social media.  A number of cheap devices are now easily available to mount your electronics on the dash in your direct line of sight so you can get instant updates from Facebook and Twitter while driving.  Under no circumstances are you ever to use hands-free devices!

8) When calculating your travel time, be sure to add 1 hour for every 1 kilometer of distance.  If it is raining, which it does for 6 months of the year, add an extra hour per kilometer.

9) DO NOT EVER take the shortest route to your destination, as the Laws of Asian Physics state that this is the longest possible travel time.  Always plan your route to take the most convoluted, indirect and mind-bogglingly complex path to your destination, as this will involve the shortest possible travel time.  Be aware that, contrary to reason, it is often faster to go 5 kilometer in the wrong direction before turning around.  Remember: neither time and space, nor cause and effect have any relationship in Asia.  Interestingly, WAZE has incorporated this rule into its route-fining app.  Google, however, has not.

10) Police are useless eaters in Asia who want nothing more than a hand-out (bribe).  Ignore them completely, especially when they are trying to pull you over or escort some bloated, obnoxious VIP through traffic.  You are also required to block all possible paths through traffic when an emergency vehicle is behind you.

11) Refueling is one of the most joyful and exciting aspects of driving in Asia.  For this reason, it is best to set aside an entire day for this blessed activity.  Be sure to bring a picnic lunch and ensure your electronic devices are fully charged.   If for some incomprehensible reason queuing in the forecourt of the local petrol station is not your thing, then look for the 2 Western stations (usually Shell) in the country.  They will be more expensive (because they don't water the fuel), but the lines are usually 5-7 hours shorter.

12) DO NOT under any circumstances work on your own car, even things as simple and mindless as changing the oil.  For one thing, there are NO auto parts stores in Asia, so good luck finding the various tools, fluids and filters necessary to complete the most basic tasks.  Second, the neighbors will be mystified that you can do such amazing things, and will think you are a wizard and show up at your door with pitchforks and torches.  Third, the local mechanics will form a lynch mob and beat the crap out of you for taking food out of their children's mouths.

13) There are no annual safety inspections in most Asian countries, and where they do have them, you can just pay cash and pass on through.  Therefore, you take your life in your hands just stepping out the front door, much less getting on the road in any type of vehicle.  Not to worry, though, as long as the horn and at least one headlight are functioning.

14) When you buy a new vehicle, immediately have those comfy, cushy cloth-covered seats that don't burn your butt after several hours in the sun covered with cheap, hand-stitched Naugahyde so everyone will think you are a big shot with rich Corinthian leather seats.  Immediately after that, have ALL the windows (yes, windscreen too) tinted limousine black, first so the beggars and vendors that swarm in every traffic jam can't see in, and second so you don't have to see the rabble as you plow into the traffic ahead of you (especially at night).

15) Whenever you execute a turn, be sure to move to the side of the road farthest from the direction you want to turn (far right lane for a left turn, etc.).  Don't worry, because everyone in the opposite lane wants to turn in front of you.  Use your horn and headlights copiously if anyone gets in your way.

16) This rule only applies to MOTORCYCLES, which are basically 96.728 of all vehicles on the road in Asia (4.322 are hand-carts and rickshaws, and 1.651 are cars - see Laws of Physics).  If you are using a motorcycle, absolutely none of the above rules apply to you.  In fact, no rules whatsoever apply to you.  You are free to do anything you want, including driving on sidewalks, pedestrian bridges and playgrounds.  One of the primary benefits of a motorcycle is that they are the only vehicles allowed at the front of the line at red lights (when drivers actually stop for them).

17) Finally, no matter how bad the noxious fumes are inside your car, DO NOT open the windows, as it is 24.358 times worse outside - especially when you are behind one of the luxurious modern public transit options available all across Asia.  By the way, the thick blue clouds of smoke coming out of those luxurious modes of public transportation are caused by using cheap kerosene instead of gasoline.  Remember this nifty trick if you are ever low on cash and need to buy fuel for your car.

So that's it for driving in Asia.  For those with questions concerning navigation in Asia, we refer you to Chaos Theory, Mandelbrot Fractals and the Butterfly Effect.  One rule to keep in mind in this regard is, "You can't get there from here."

We wish you all the best on your Asian, journey, and remember, the Red Cross is available for any emergency, not just scatter bombs and white phosphorous. 

Bon Chance!

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