Strange Encounters in Medan by a Singaporean



Picture source: RT11 RSPO


A Singaporean expatriate shares his good-and-bad experiences of living in Medan, Indonesia’s fourth largest city (literally, my hometown). Read his full story on Living in Indonesia.


Excerpt (this is the most interesting part, which often reminds me of how my mom usually drives):

If you can drive in Medan, you can drive in any place on earth! Fortunately, my company provides me with a car and a driver who chauffeurs me daily to work from home. Driving in Medan is probably the most challenging place to drive on earth! A Malaysian colleague told me that Singaporeans classify Malaysian drivers as ‘too bold and aggressive’. But Malaysian drivers are just “kittens” compared to Medan drivers. Driving in Medan follows the rule of “First Mover Advantage”, i.e., whoever reaches a spot on the road first has the right of way. I was amazed that my driver, who was turning right from a road junction, got into the middle of the opposite road and blocked the incoming vehicles from the opposite direction. He would probably have gotten beaten up in Singapore if he did that. But in Medan, they waited for him to pass without any sign of anger.

Trying to beat red traffic lights is also a common sight here in Medan, even in full view of the traffic police observing the whole event. I could see the traffic policeman shaking his head, but he did not give the motorist a summon ticket. When I asked my local friend why the traffic police did not issue a summon ticket, his candid remarks were, “Why would he want to do more work without getting any extra money?” I have never met a more “practical” traffic policeman! Despite all these crazy road behaviors, there seems to be no traffic accidents at all!


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