Saturday, 9 August 2008

08.08.08 - A day to remember (for the wrong reasons)

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...

6 comments:

Chahya said...

Kesiannya...isnt 8 supposed to be so 'ong'?
Had quite similar experience many years back when I had my charade aura
Was at the fast lane when the timing belt decided cannot tahan anymore..
I was lucky juga like u, smpat ke tepi. It was at night along seremban-KL hway.
PLUS people came quite fast...but it was still terribly scary for a lady dok tersadai dlm kereta kat tepi hutan hway dalam gelap tu...they actually had to pujuk me keluar kereta and convinced me they're really PLUS people.

Take care, drive carefully.

Patricia said...

I am glad you are safe, Fadhil.

I hope the car expenses don't 'kill' you, though! Hahahaha. Sigh, what to do, ah? Hang in there. Be grateful that you are in one piece, and that your call allowed you to guide her to a safe place and await help.

Someone was watching over you.

hanitha said...

salam, takutnya pengalaman sebegitu...nasib baik lelaki macho yg mengalami nya ( ehehehe).. ble la handle ngan tenang.. klu i la, tk tau la panik camner la tu... so, take care ek.. kena bwk teman klu jln jejauh gitu.. hanya kebetulan n jdk kn pengajaran..take care

Oldstock said...

-> Chahya, good to read that you got out of your ordeal safely. As I said, in any bad situation, try to look for a positive thread. It may not help very much but at least it keeps us sane!

-> Pat, yes you're right. The Almighty was probably watching over me. Reminding me not to drive too fast. Now telling me that I should always save extra money for situations like this. Ouch!

-> Hanitha, tak lah se macho mana. Tapi kalau cool tu, adalah. I've been in a very bad accident before. Yang near-miss tu, tak yah cakap dah berapa banyak kali.

Actually my wife wanted to tag along for the trip tapi sekolah belum cuti lagi. But most times, I prefer to go solo. Long driving trips allow me to exercise my mind.

Emila Yusof said...

Lucky for you it was near the town. I can imagine the place you were talking about.

I would go crazy and won't know what to do...I sometimes drive with my son and my mom (husband busy with work!). Imagine having a breakdown at the new highway leading to Raub. There are all palm estates and jungle and what not. There's a kubur in between. Scary!

Oldstock said...

Emila,

Is your hometown Raub on the Bentong to Kuala Lipis road? I've driven on that road a few times going north to Kelantan. Yup, can be scary.

Another advice I can give is to keep a torchlight in your car. It can be a life-saver. Don't forget to check the batteries once in a while.