Fellow Malaysians and expatriates who have driven in Penang would be able to relate the difference between “driving” and “driving in Penang”.
While Penangites are generally warm, friendly and mild-mannered, some of them undergo shocking transformation the minute the engines are revved. There are three kinds of driving personalities:
The Formula One / Kiasu drivers
Always in a hurry, they are Aryton Senna reincarnated. Narrow roads and on-coming traffic will not deter these daredevils as they overtake left and right in their rush to go God-knows-where. Cutting queues, beating traffic lights, double-parking and honking at slower cars are a way of life for these pests.
The Formula One driver’s personality profile is normally that of a young working executive - mostly the sales/marketing executive type; mostly male (with extremely short vital organs); drives a sporty-looking car; attired in designer clothes and shades; with facial features that resemble a baboon.
The Tortoises / Makan Angin drivers
These drivers are known to cruise at 20-30km/h as they breathe in the scenic beauty of Penang (This leisurely act is known as “makan angin”, literally translated as “eating the wind”).
Their eyes are seldom on the road in front, as they take in views of the hills, the seas, the buildings, etc. Although equipped with signal lights and indicators, these switches in their cars are seldom used.
If the road has more than one lane, the Tortoises will quickly hog the right lanes. This personality type can be easily spotted: there is usually a mile-long queue close behind them.
They are motorcycle riders that buzz and irritate. With a penchant for overtaking and zig-zagging, they also have a penchant for ending up as roadkills.
Noteworthy- King of the Road
These are trishaw peddlars and not motorists, but noteworthy nevertheless. What is awesome is seeing the trishaws take to the busiest section of Georgetown and take on the buses, cars and lorries.
Tourists brave enough to take a ride are usually rewarded with memorable moments. Every vehicle slows and pauses for the trishaws - for they are the Kings of the Road.