It's pretty expensive to learn driving in Singapore and the tests (theory and practical) are not exactly the easiest to tackle. During those days, we learned using manual transmission car and you know how hard it is to drive a stick shift car, especially an old one like my instructor's! His Nissan was so hard to manoeuvre, I quickly became an expert at bucking and stalling on the road during lessons. I had some embarrassing moments with that car.
During my driving test, I was a nervous wreck sitting next to a stern male tester. I went through the motions, checked the mirrors, adjusted my seat and so on. When he said "Start the engine", I turned the key but the darn car just refused to start. I tried again, and again until prespiration was rolling down my face. The tester let out an impatient sigh and exclaimed, "Of course the car won't start (you dummy) if it is in gear. You should know that!" For some reason, the car wasn't set into neutral. By then, my confidence had deflated and I was shivering with fright. Needless to say, I failed the test.
When I did the re-test, I checked the gear first. I passed that one. As I couldn't afford a car, my dad let me use his company's spare Toyota panel van which looked like a station wagon with 2 front seats and a rear section for carrying goods. The 'goods' vehicle had a speed limit of 50km/hr but I didn't care. I had a car!
The first day I took the car out, I drove on the slow lane together with the trucks and buses. I was going so slowly, the truck drivers were honking and flashing their headlights at me. Still, I trotted along slowly until I arrived at my office (and let out a big sigh of relief).
My confidence grew day by day but there were some funny incidents, like the time when I was trying to reverse into a parking lot and accidently grazed a motorbike parked nearby. The bike fell and caused the entire row of motorbikes to topple like a domino. After trying unsuccessfully (didn't know they're so heavy) to lift one up, I decided to make a quick escape and drove out as fast as I could. Phew!
One rainy day, I reversed into a drain near my house. One of the rear wheels landed in the drain and there was no way I could get the car out. Luckily some neighbours stopped by to help. It took a few big strong men to lift the car out of the drain. I knew what they were thinking ... woman driver!