It’s the time of the year again. And no, I’m not talking about Valentine’s – I’m talking about the dreaded balikkampung routine that many families go through in order to spend CNY with their loved ones. The longest I’ve personally had to experience was the journey from KL to Kedah which took ten hours (it usually takes five), but you probably have it worse.
1. Stock up.
…and do it like you’re trying to stock up for a zombie apocalypse. If you have a family that includes growing teenagers who like to constantly chomp and chew, make sure you have enough food to go around. While snacks are yum, salty ones (Pringles…highly addictive) can make you thirsty quickly – so with that, make sure you equip yourself with sufficient drinking water too. Also bring anything that will add to comfort levels in a car – neck pillows, towels, plastic bags to function as rubbish bins, and sunglasses to block out the sun are all good ideas.
2. Be nice to the driver.
Your driver is the one braving the journey to ferry you guys all the way back to Ipoh, so don’t whine, holler and complain about how slow their driving is. There’s often something called a speed limit (should you choose to follow it), and sometimes road plus traffic conditions make it so that drivers have to slow down. If you’re being a jerk to your driver, your driver will get pissed off and you guys will begin arguing in the car (highly unrecommended).
3. Be smart. Strap yourselves in.
It took a long time for Malaysians to get used to the seatbelt rule (which made it so that backseat passengers had to wear seatbelts too). Now, you can probably get away with NOT wearing your seatbelt should a police choose to spring a surprise roadblock on Malaysia’s North-South highway (*cough* through some unsavoury means, if you catch my drift), but this doesn’t mean you SHOULD. You’re on a long journey that you don’t make every day and (touch wood) accidents can happen anytime. Just wear your seatbelt la, so stubborn for what?
4. We’re miles away from ANY toilets and it’s so jammed! How now?
I shit you not. Situations can get THAT bad. You’re about to bust a bladder, but almost every single car on the road isn’t moving. You don’t know where you are and the next hentian could be kilometres and kilometres away. What do you do? You opt for extreme measures. I’ve seen it happen (and may or may not have partaken in this). Unfortunately, you have no choice. Either you risk busting your bladder for real, or you relieve yourself by the road with the most dignity you can muster. Guys, I trust you won’t have a problem. Girls, make sure you’re not putting on a free show. Go in pairs, at least, and use an umbrella.
5. Make sure your car has undergone its routine maintenance.
…because having it break down at the side of the road while you’re driving isn’t fun. Some people don’t care because they’re convinced their cars are super gengand powerful, but, as I’ve said above, this is a long journey you’re doing and anything can happen – at ANY time. Sure, no one likes car breakdowns or accidents, but who’s to say you can predict the future? There’s more you have to do other than filling up your petrol tank. You also need to check your tyre’s air pressure, make sure the car radiator is doing fine, etc, etc before setting off.
6. Stay cheerful and optimistic, no matter what.
You’ll reach your destination eventually, and think about how much celebrating there will be. Think about that delicious steamboat and setting off firecrackers in the backyard. Think about all your funny relatives. Talk to your vehicle passengers and listen to some cheesy Chinese New Year songs. Remember, it’s Chinese New Year!
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