Sunday, August 14, 2016

Foreign Driving 101

I’m into my second month serving here in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city of Brunei.  I think I’m finding my way around a bit better.  It’s comforting when suddenly, you realize you’ve been here before and recognize a store or sign.  Driving on the left side of the road now seems natural.  I do have to be careful when making a right turn to scoot over to the left instead of hugging the curb.  The true test will be when I return to Texas and am able to manage returning to driving on the right again!

The drivers here are among the most courteous I’ve ever seen.  Your turn signal is your way of communicating.  Back home, many avoid using their turn signal because…heaven forbid you should give another driver a warning of what you are about to do!  Here, you get dirty looks if you DON’T signal your intent.  And when you do, people actually let you merge into their lane or allow you to turn in front of them.  Imagine that. 

The hardest part is navigating the ‘roundabouts’ or circular intersections.  If you want to exit the roundabout, you can either be in the outside lane or inside lane. If you’re on the outside lane, you need to have eyes on the side of your head to see if someone from the inside lane wants out!  It’s controlled chaos!  But if you miss your exit, you can just drive around the circle again.  Good luck with that! And just pray that you don’t encounter one of the multi-lane roundabouts! 

 They also have some that, if you aren’t paying attention, that round painted circle in the middle of the intersection…you’ll just drive right over it! And as for instructions...forget about them!

Choosing to go to work for the State Department is hands down the best thing I have ever done for myself.  The work has been very rewarding and the travel opportunities have been nothing short of amazing.  I hated to be pushed into retirement (mandatory at age 65) but once I got home, I appreciated that every day would now be Saturday.  Fortunately the State Department has a program for retirees to sign on for temporary duty assignments.  And because of that, I continue to work sporadically, meeting terrific people and visiting new countries.  Last year it was 4 weeks in Singapore and this year, 4½ months in Brunei.  I continue to collect my Social Security and small annuity from the government and when I’m lucky enough to be called and asked to go somewhere cool and work for a while…that money goes into the savings account.  Or for new hardwood floors in my house.  Or a new facing for my fireplace.  Life is so good.

I guess I’m not really ready to call it quits just yet.  Maybe after next year.  Or the next year.