CARlifornia

Living in a country of slightly over 270 square miles with the longest road only 16 miles (give and take) makes it hard for motorists in Singapore to enjoy long scenic drives.

Owners of performance cars are probably using the island as a garage and taking their cars across to the peninsula to give their pet engines proper runs on tar. Ferraris, Lamborghinis and similar breeds are often seen in convoys painting the Malaysian highways with streaks of yellow, orange, red at 200mph top speed before and if the law catches up.

Cash rich time poor folks in a real hurry. Whatever do they see at such speeds?

Driving should be done at a comfortable pace to enjoy the scenery around, music playing and preferably a friend to talk to. I had a chance to do that here as the overseas Chinese settlers would refer to as “CARlifornia”.

Just out of the Enterprise rental lot, I must have set the GPS wrongly and realized much later that I’d taken a route that’s nearly twice as long as it should be. So instead of the direct 70 miles, I took the long scenic 130 mile drive.

Sometimes things work out when mistakes are made as I learn to accept from this trip since I started my solo journey two months ago.

When you’re just getting from one point to another, the scenery isn’t always the first thing you think about. You focus on the signs, the traffic, what the GPS tells you and move on to your destination as soon as you can.

Because I’m not familiar with the new car I drove slowly, almost at road hogging speed. But that allowed me to notice the changing landscapes in memory accepting details.

The first thing I found different from state of Washington is the absence of lush coniferous hillsides. Over here, one after another ‘botak’ hill rolled by, some totally bald, many with clumps of stubborn unyielding trees scattered around the textured drapes of undulating sun bleached dry grassland.

Occasionally I passed flat agriculture fields with crops and cattle, wind farms atop ridges and stretches that seemed like vineyards.

There’s so much land that it felt weird for a city dweller. Freedom needs getting used to. For the time being, driving here is a nice taster. I even get close to the Pacific coast yesterday and felt for the first time the great ocean spray.

JY

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