October 10, 2016

Getting Behind the Wheel

If you have been following me for a while, you’d know that I don’t drive. 

And by that I mean I don’t have a driver’s license and not because I didn’t get my license converted, but because I don’t have any driving license to my name because, for the life of me, I cannot drive as I have never, in my entire lifetime gotten behind the wheel to learn how to drive before.

Source: Google Image

Growing up in a city like Singapore with a very reliable and efficient public transport system, there never was a need a to. Back then, taking up driving was mainly for the rich; or those with rich parents. I was with neither.

Not only was it an expensive affair requiring massive hours on the road before they would allow you to qualify for the first practical exams, driving lessons also came with stringent rules and regulations.

As a registered student of the very regulated driving school, one would have to first attend a minimum hour of theory lessons and based on that minimum qualified hours then be allowed to register for a theory exam.Only if you passed the theory exam would you then be allowed to do the practical on-the-road drive. 

The passing rate of the theory exam was not only based on a minimum of (if I recall correctly) 85% but was also based on a quota system. Which means, even if you score 90% and if the quota for that period was set to only 100 people and you happen to be number 101, then you failed. The exam has to be re-taken. 

Every single hour going for theory lessons cost money, along with each theory exam that needs to be taken and not taking into account the number of hours you’d need on the road. You get the drift.

Being a full-time student and having to work part-time during my tertiary days to lighten the financial load off my parents while trying to finance driving school all on my own as well as putting in  time commitment to it became an impossible feat.

The sheer determination could not see me through without the needed financial means. The stringent rules made it even more difficult for me and it was not surprising that I dropped out of driving school half way. 

But you see, cars in Singapore were (and still are!) unaffordable and driving skills, therefore, was (and still is!) a want; not a need.When I moved to Bangkok, living right smack in the city centre with easy access to public transportation system did not call for a pressing need to be able to drive.

I did attempt to enrol myself in a driving “school” in the initial months I was in Bangkok and tried to take advantage of the cheaper fees. With my inability to grasp the basic of driving perhaps due to the language barrier or my sheer ineptness to be able to drive, I pretty much gave that up. 

I made it through about 15 lessons and then thought that the whole thing was a joke. It was not even a proper school, to begin with. I then made a firm stance, consoling myself that I was born to be chauffeured. I was more than OK with my handicap.I have been happy with that for a long time now. 

Until recently.

Because we are in the Netherlands now and my handicap of not being able to drive is glaring. If I get 10 Euros for every nag well-intent comments and questions about my ability or intention to ever learn driving to get myself and the kids anywhere, I think I’d have a decent stash of disposable income. 

Besides, with things not likely remaining as status quo in the months to come, getting myself behind the wheel seems necessary. So there!

My instructor ran off to pick up his bread from the bakery and left me alone for a few minutes

Three weeks now and only on my 5th lesson this week with plenty more to go. I’m the chick behind the Beemer.

Not my choice, mind you, but a Sports (!) Beemer with each lesson adding on to my stress that I could potentially total my instructor’s precious sports car! *Touch wood* Not that I’m a nervous wreck already when it comes to traffic and driving. 


Do I like driving so far? Well, I don’t know. I’m still trying to get the hang of it I guess. More so out of necessity than anything else. At least the kids are excited about it; they are more excited about it than me.(I certainly don’t like the fact that I need to fork out the money!)

Another life skill to learn; a long time coming and this time, it is really looking like I don’t have a choice. Maybe I’ll have a better opinion of it after the 40th lesson. For now, I just feel sorry for the drivers behind me.

That aside, I’m now struggling to understand why the men I know nag. Yes, you read that right. Men. Nag. My dad. Silver Bullet. Several of other male friends that I know. And now, this. Oh, my ears…!

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  1. Good luck! I love driving. I bet the kids are excited for mom to take them somewhere ๐Ÿ™‚

    • oh they are! And if you could only see the glee in their eyes each time they know I’ve got lessons on that day! They really can;t wait – little do they know that I’d rather not have them in the car while I;m driving! :p

  2. A year after my diagnosis, my license was due to expire. I no longer had a vehicle, so it didn’t seem necessary to get a new one. My learning to drive consisted of a semester long class in high school, with one day a week behind the wheel. I failed my drivers test the first two times, and finally passed the third, at the age of 19. Now, once again, I do not have a driver’s license, and that is something I regret a lot.

    • ๐Ÿ™ so gutted for you, Karen! Are you intending to take it again? ๐Ÿ™‚ We can encourage each other from afar!

  3. The Singapore system sounds just like the Swiss System re minimum amount of hours until you are allowed to take the tests. You will get there, Ann, don’t worry! It’s almost like dancing. Don’t let them rush you. One step after the other and eventually you know how to Salsa…

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement Sandra! Who knows I may just let go of my traffic paranoia and become the next Schumacher…

  4. Oh Wow! Way to go Ann… don’t mind the nagging, just relax & enjoy it. I know you can do it and I already looking forward to reading your post about getting that DL. Holland is a country where having a car is really not a status-quo symbol since almost everything go from A to B through cycling. I am proud of you having this passion to learn something for yourself.
    Driving is a skill that can never be taken away from you just like cooking.It will go a long way. Take care & Be Safe!

    • I’m trying very hard not to let the nagging affect me..you know, one ear in, the other ear out. :p It will be a while more before I get my DL I guess. Give and take 6 months as I really do want to take my time…plus! I’m old! LOL. I learn a lot slower. Definitely not a status symbol! Unless I decide to go get myself an Aston Martin years later. (so not!)

  5. Good luck to you! My wife also started now her driving license and next Monday will be her first theoretical lesson (only 8 lessons needed here) let’s see how expensive the whole thing gonna be in the end

    • Only 8? Wow. Compared to Singapore, that’s awesome. But compared to the Netherlands, the theory we do home study.
      And thank you for the kind wishes, Timo! I really feel sorry for the drivers behind me at this stage. :p
      Have a wonderful weekend and good luck to your wife too! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • When I did my driving license I felt sorry for everyone as well. I Always thought that I was a terrible driver but now 11 years later I am still without a scratch or crash with my cars ๐Ÿ™‚

        Well those 8 lessons are actually kind of double lessons on a few occasions what I understood. Here the license cost like 1500 to 2000 euros. Back in 2005 it was 1000 euros for both car driving license and motorcycle license!

        • You are now a veteran with 11 years driving experience, Timo! Wow! 1000 Euros for both – I sure miss those days!


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