My uncle always laments how he hates driving to Kuala Lumpur to work every day. He says the traffic jams are terrible. Sometimes he gets stuck for hours. I did not believe what he said until I was caught in one of the worst traffic jams had ever been in.
It was the holidays and my father decided to drive us up to Penang to visit his brother and family there. We left Seremban at 6.45 a.m. on a Monday morning and headed towards Kuala Lumpur. It was still dark when we started off but we cruised comfortably along the expressway.
The traffic volume visibly increased as we neared K.L. When we reached the Sungai Besi Toll Plaza, we had to wait in line to pay the toll. There were at least ten gates opened and they were all busy. It had taken us about forty minutes to reach the toll plaza from Seremban.
After passing the toll plaza we drove for about a kilometre before we came to a total stop. There were three rows of vehicles right in front of us and we could not ‘go any further. Behind us, cars and trucks quickly built up and soon we were boxed in. Once in a while, the cars in front of us moved a metre or so. We followed suit. For most of the time, however, we were motionless.
To the left and right of us, motorcycles whizzed past almost touching the stationary vehicles. These must the seasoned riders who made their way to K.L. each day.
So metre by metre we crawled along. Many impatient drivers drove onto the side of the road and proceeded along with it. It was not very courteous of them for they kicked up a lot of dust as their cars travelled along the unpaved roadside. Luckily our car had an air-conditioner. My father switched it on. He: my mother, my sister and I sat patiently in the car. We just had to continue slowly. My father said it was dangerous as well as illegal to follow the impatient drivers.
Half an hour later we were still stuck in what seemed to be a sea of cars, trucks and motorcycles_ We could only plod along at snail’s pace. My mother commented on how anyone could do this every day. My father just shrugged his shoulders and sighed.
An hour later realised what we had hardly moved at all. But what else could we do but wait? So we waited and listened to the radio.
Bit by bit, very slowly we inched forward. We were all a bit bored with the whole thing. I looked at the other vehicles. The occupants inside must be feeling the same way as we did, and some of them had to repeat this every day — what horrors!
Finally, we began to move a bit faster. We were at the end of the traffic jam. Gradually the car picked up speed and soon we were on a relatively clear road. I looked at the clock in the car. It read at 9.00 am. It had taken two hours for us to travel two kilometres. I said that now we could move faster. My father told me to be too optimistic. There could be more traffic jams ahead. We were not out of K.L. yet. I sighed.