OCTOBER 2 — They say you never really know a city until you’ve driven around it, and risked your temper and your bumper finding a car park.
And they say that Penang and KL offer contrasting “cultures” of driver and road authority behaviour. (And when I say “they”, I really mean me.)
Anyway, these past two years have seen me zipping in and out of Penang more frequently than KL people whose hometown is in the island-state.
I’ve seen and noticed stuff I couldn’t have prior to 2016. So I now humbly offer my KL lang observations of the differences in parking between Penang — where even terrible food tastes good — and KL where food sellers try to convince you either they or their recipes are born in Penang.
Here goes (and no, I never exaggerate when I talk about Malaysian cities):
In Penang, in the heart of the city, parking is usually available and if you can’t find parking you can always drive round and round until you decide you can do your business (or eat your food) somewhere else.
In KL, parking is usually unavailable and you have to park in commercial buildings where you pay RM30 an hour or end up in a crammed “public parking” space where the only empty slot is so narrow, your car will be about three inches next to the other car and it’s impossible for you to open your door.
In Penang, if you park your car illegally in front of a shop or restaurant, within two minutes the car will be kidnapped, stripped for parts and a huge sign posted on the spot stating, “The Last Car That Was Parked Here Is Still Missing.”
In KL, if you do the same thing, people will just shake their heads, complain about how inconsiderate Malaysian drivers are, then go ahead and park in front of another shop.
In Penang, every car driver has to ensure his/her car fits perfectly inside the yellow rectangle; if the tyre crosses just one inch outside the allotted box-space, a fire-tornado will strike at that exact spot and burn off the offending part.
In KL, two cars can take up three and a half parking lots and there are hundreds of invisible parking spaces all over town.
In Penang, there are no parking meters and everybody checks the time carefully before scratching out the correct holes on the parking coupon.
In KL, the parking meters are a pain in the ass, and people don’t even know how to buy the parking coupons.
In Penang, some of the parking enforcement is performed by private contractors so you better not play-play.
In KL, you can bet that if it rains you can park in the middle of the roundabout and nobody will saman you.
In Penang, if you pay your parking fine within a short time there is an immediate discount of 50 per cent.
In KL, you can pay the fine online but 50 per cent of the people who try encounter problems with the website whilst 99 per cent of people who kena saman won’t even pay it but wait to get reminders with colours green pink and white before forgetting about the saman entirely.
The 1 per cent who try to go to MP-whatever-whatever to physically pay their fines may get a 30 per cent discount but when they come out they will find that their illegally parked car kena saman again (!).
In Penang, only deviants and uneducated people disobey the official parking rules. In KL, you have to be crazy to obey all the rules.
In Penang, people speak proudly and respectfully of the parking regulations. In KL, if you speak with pride about parking rules you’ll be fined for indecent behaviour.
In Penang, you can drive out to the city in the thick of lunch-time rush hour but you will always find a place to park near your preferred restaurant with usually awesome food.
In KL, only rich people drive out for lunch in the city and they usually need to park in malls where the food sucks.
In Penang, almost nobody parks inside a mall unless you’re eating there, which can only mean you’re sick and can’t eat proper food.
In KL, people eat inside malls because there’s nowhere else to park and everybody loves air-con more than Penangites.
In Penang, cars do not double-park unless it’s a national emergency and you don’t often see cars blocking each other.
In KL, it’s a national emergency if cars don’t double park and what do drivers do if another parked car is obstructing them? They just horn and horn and HORN until either the cows come home or the driver comes out.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.