This sign above says it all really and was a prescient indicator of my inability to find a car space within 500 metres of my desired destination, which that day happened to be a printing shop in Seremban CBD.
Like most cities or towns in Malaysia, roads built so many years ago weren't designed to have car parking spaces on each side, let alone have more than one lane to accommodate the large SUV's and buses that are common in this era. Today, multiple lanes are a standard town planning requirement for smooth flow of traffic.
Times were obviously different back then in the early 1900's settlements in Seremban which saw a lot of the unique Chinese style shop-lots built in the Central areas of town, where owners mostly lived above their shop and parking wasn't such an issue.
Naturally Malays have adapted a parking style that has evolved somewhat over the years which can be frustrating and annoying to both visitors and locals alike.
Let me try and get this right.
My wife first introduced me to what I think is the number one rule of parking in Malaysia that all Malaysians know and practise, and that is to only park the car if it is within a 50 metre radius of the shop you wish to visit.
This seems to be a compulsory rule and doesn't matter if there are no free spaces, you just park in behind a legally parked vehicle, no worries!
It's not relevant that there are parks available further away from your destination, you must hang around within the 50 metre radius, hoping someone leaves and you are there at the right time to snaffle this somewhat sacred space.
Do not under any circumstances park in an available spot that is outside the 50 metres and walk the extra distance - that is just not done!
The next rule follows on from Rule #1 and is practised by a lot of motorists and has a few variations to it, some requiring quite a bit of patience.
Rule #2, as far as I can tell, is to park your car behind the car that has the lawful park thereby boxing them in so they can't reverse out. Leave your car and enter the shop you wish to visit!
When the driver who has legally parked returns to their vehicle they may be a bit irritated and this is where variations on parking etiquette come into play.
Some considerate drivers, if they have boxed you in, will place under your windscreen wiper a note with their mobile number written on it. My experiences of this include calling the number 10 or 12 times over a half hour period before it is finally answered and being told, "I am just busy now but I'll get there as soon as I can-lah."
Personally this is my favourite actual response, "I just sat down to eat-lah, you can wait ten minutes?" Hmmm.
The method of note leaving does not work so well when it rains, which happens frequently in Malaysia as all you are left with is a soggy mess to place in a bin.
The best variation of rule #2 if you are lucky, is that there is a passenger or driver in the illegally parked car who can move the car or call the driver if they cannot drive.
Patience is a virtue and a requirement of this "park anywhere" mentality as everyone has probably at one stage or another parked a fellow driver in, luckily violent actions are rare.
Any other rules I need to know and is there a better way? Let me know.