The Survivor’s Guide to Chinese New Year traffic

Automologist LING will not be travelling this Chinese New Year, because she knows better. But she has some tips for those who do not… ...


choi san car

Automologist LING will not be travelling this Chinese New Year, because she knows better. But she has some tips for those who do not…

Chinese New Year is around the corner and anywhere that has a significant Chinese population is about to experience the rush of people travelling back to their hometowns in HORDES. Fortunately for me, I’m going to stay put in Kuala Lumpur (I live but 15 minutes from my parents – freedom yet home-cooked meals anytime I want; I think I am a genius). But for the rest who will be braving the roads to get back in time for the traditional Reunion Dinner, here is a guide to surviving the madness that will be the roads in a few days time…

Bladder management 

If you’re not caught in the traffic congestion that will take you hours to get to the next rest-stop or petrol station, you’ll still have to join the queues of people waiting for the loo. As someone who was born with a small bladder (TMI, I know), heed my advice: self-imposed dehydration is not the answer. Sip water throughout the journey and answer nature BEFORE it calls.

We womenfolk are not so fortunate to be able relieve ourselves discreetly by the roadside when desperation demands it. I have yet to try the Shewee, but I still think it’s a damn good idea.
women pee standing up

Stock up on Food and Water 

You might not get to your destination before lunch or dinnertime, and gastritis is not how you want to start the celebrations. The festive feasting can begin in your car, with mandarin oranges, Chinese New Year cookies and boxes of Yeo’s Chrysanthemum tea, a staple in any Malaysian Chinese household during this time of the year.

Prepare Entertainment 

…for everyone but the driver, who has to keep his/her eyes and focus on the road. For the other passengers, keep your Kindle, iPad and phones fully charged with powerbanks or a multi-adaptor for all your gadgets.

charge gadgets in car

Subscribe to Spotify, if you haven’t yet, and choose from one of the many albums/playlists already put together for CNY to get you in the festive mood:


Service your Car

Start-stop traffic, and keeping the engine going for long hours and, in Malaysia, the rainy weather we are experiencing now, is a recipe for disaster. Preclude breakdowns and accidents by getting your car serviced before your journey; a further note to check the treads of your tyre and replace them if need be, and, of course, use our sponsor’s X-1R Engine Treatment – it’s like feeding your body vitamins before the fun but fatiguing CNY celebration begins.

Drive well 

WHEN you come upon heavy traffic, let the car crawl rather than accelerating and braking suddenly. But if you find your engine starting to overheat, you could try switching off the air-conditioning and rolling down the windows. If all else fails, do the wise thing and stop at the side of the road until the engine cools down before it breaks down completely.

Plan your Petrol

The longest traffic jam in history lasted for 12 days in China. Yes, TWELVE DAYS.

Read also: Carpocalypse in China

While I don’t expect/wish that most of you to experience anything close to that, it would be heaping coals onto the fire that is your stress level when your petrol gauge is near ‘E’, but you have been crawling for hours towards the next petrol station.

In many places, Malaysia included, there are no clear regulations on whether you are allowed to carry fuel inside your vehicle (besides in the fuel tank, duh) because it IS a hazardous, highly FLAMMABLE material. It might be a safer idea to simply keep a 5- or 10-litre plastic or metal jerry can handy so that you could mosey over on foot to the nearest petrol station should you really run empty.

In Malaysia, most petrol stations will sell/give you empty bottles to carry the fuel, in which case, don’t EVER underestimate the importance of THIS:

Get one.


Travel Light 

It takes more petrol to carry more to go further. While nothing can be done about those extra pounds you are packing on your own rear, from the Chinese New Year feasting that has already begun, you could eliminate all junk from the car boot and pack light, making it a lot easier for your car on the arduous journey.

Be aware of Fatigue

Red Bull and Kopi Tongkat Ali (which has a dual purpose, see here) enjoy a spike in sales during the festive season as drivers fight tiredness after hours behind the wheel. That being said, there is only so much that these energy drinks can do when your body needs rest. Fatigue and drowsiness is one of the main reasons for injuries and fatal traffic accidents especially so on long and monotonous highways. It’s better to pull over and get a much-needed shut-eye than never getting to your destination at all.



I wish all you readers of Automology, Chinese or otherwise, a safe journey and a Very Happy Year of the Cock! Wait...Does that sound wrong?



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