Yesterday, the 8th of August 2008, was considered a lucky day by many people. Plenty of couples opted to tie the wedding knot on this day. One of them is a niece of mine who got married yesterday at Kangar in Perlis.
Unfortunately, Kangar is at one end of the peninsula while JB is at the other end. The distance is too far for us to go, plus the fact that school's not out yet. I however took the opportunity to drive to Kuantan, Pahang to attend a program being organised by the alumni of my old school.
I left Johor Bahru last evening and headed to Kuantan using the PLUS highway up to Yong Peng. From Yong Peng, the route passes Segamat town and then the Muadzam Shah road onwards to Kuantan. The Segamat-Muadzam-Kuantan road (Federal Route 12) is my favourite stretch because it is well-designed and constructed. The road has nice curves, wide shoulders and relatively even surface. It mostly passes through palm oil estates and large areas of jungle. Although the traffic could be quite busy at times with lorries, I find overtaking maneuvers can be smoothly done. It is one of the roads that I tend to drive fast.... very fast.
I've used this route countless of times without much incident but yesterday, I was not so fortunate. Firstly, I had a near-miss somewhere after Muadzam town. A pick-up truck was in front of me and we were behind a larger lorry. When the pick-up driver signalled right, I thought he was overtaking. I followed suit because I could see that the lane was clear ahead. But the pick-up was actually turing right to an off-road and when it suddenly slowed down to stop, I had to brake hard. My car tyres screeched and I had to swerve left to avoid ramming into his backside (a risky business in present-day context). All-in-all, I can still consider myself lucky because the accident was avoided.
Lesson to learn here : Do not tailgate another vehicle while overtaking!
It was smooth driving the rest of the way until I reached the Gambang intersection. As I turned right at the traffic lights and slowly picked up speed, the car's automatic gear shifted to 3rd but failed to change to 4th. The engine growled heavily and after a few moments, there was a rattling sound. Suddenly there was no response from the wheels even though I stepped on the accelerator. Sure sign that the gearbox has gone kaput. It was good thing I had enough momentum to steer the car onto the road shoulder.
It was near 10pm and the surrounding was dark except for the headlights of passing traffic.
Now, for those of us who have been trained to find a positive thread in any negative situation, I can say that I was quite lucky that my car broke down not too far away from Kuantan town. I was able to call the Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM) who sent their tow-truck. Imagine if the breakdown had occured somewhere on the dark Muadzam stretch beside the jungle and possibly without mobile phone signal. Scary...
As it is, my car is in a workshop today and it's confirmed the transmission is gone. It'll take a few days to put a replacement gearbox in. Don't ask me how much. It hurts.
And you want to know another irony? My car registration number is 808. Co-incidence or what...