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Call forth the angelic choir – She stayed between the lines!

March 9, 2011

We picked up our driver’s licenses this week. It was a momentous occasion – not in the least bit dampened by a Vietnamese girl asking us today, “Are those real?” (I have a friend who can get you a Thai passport for $15.)

Yes, they are real. I sweated. I shook. I wobbled. But, I passed.

We were told the test started at 1pm on Sunday afternoon, but everyone was already arriving when we pulled in at 12:30. Ironically, most people drove to the test on their motorbikes. We had to park our bikes outside the testing area, and went inside to wait.

The test area was lined on two sides by walls, and by buildings on the other two. At one end was an open area with chairs where people could sit, have a drink, and watch. Along the side there were big rooms with chairs and tables. There were over a hundred people there, and it was impossible to who was there for the test and who was there for amusement.

We waited a while, and then all the foreigners began to seek each other out and ask questions. “Do you know what’s going on?” “Are we supposed to turn in the paperwork?” “I heard we have to sit here until they call our names at 1:30.” “What if we can’t understand them?” “Have you ever driven before?” “Do we get to practice?”

Around 1pm they made an announcement, and we were relieved to see over half the crowd disappear into the rooms for the written test. Fortunately, because we already hold driver’s licenses in the United States, we didn’t have to take this. The written test is only in Vietnamese, and no one is allowed to translate it.

We were happy not to be going through that until we met a group of British schoolteachers who didn’t even have to go through the 12-step paperwork process. Someone came to their school and filled it all out for them. How nice. They didn’t have to have a physical either. They were asked, “What is your height and weight?” “Can you see?” “Can you hear?” “Can you read?” And then they were signed off.

They seemed more petrified than I was (if you can believe that) and initiated the request for a practice run. We all took a turn, and everyone did reasonably well. There was an old, Asian guy with really short legs who couldn’t make it around the figure eight without putting his foot on the ground (which meant tilting the bike at a ninety-degree angle.) Touching the ground was grounds for failure. One of the teachers’ entire body was shaking causing her shirt to flap in the wind. It made me feel a lot better.

Eventually the testing began, and nearly everyone did well. The old man knocked one of the blocks off the six-inch wall lining the straightaway. At the end of that part, you had to make a sharp U-turn and drive back in a wiggle-worm pattern. I would be lying if I said I didn’t go off into the dirt a little while making the turn, but I saved it, did not put my feet down, and the judges were none the wiser. I think they should have had a brass quartet trumpeting each of our triumphs, but instead we had to harass the little Vietnamese lady who was hovering around the judges just to find out whether we passed.

Jonathan drove through the test so fast that all the teachers were nervous watching him. What a super star!

So here it is. In all of its glued-on picture, crooked lamination glory.



Now I just need to start driving on a regular basis.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. karen permalink
    March 9, 2011 11:50

    Now, that is some souvenir!!!
    Proud of you!!

    • March 9, 2011 18:40

      Thank you, thank you 🙂 I will be even more proud of myself when I start using my license to go wherever I want. One step at a time though, right?

  2. Charity permalink
    March 30, 2011 12:30

    Love it! I hope you are an expert by the time I arrive cause you guys’ll have to take me around your city. 😉

    • March 31, 2011 10:50

      Umm…. about that… I need to start driving again. I don’t think I’ve driven since then – though being sick didn’t exactly make me feel adventurous. I will this weekend, okay?


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