Crashing a Rental Car in Malaysia
Ever wonder what happens when you crash a rental car in Malaysia? You’ve come to the right place!
SETTING THE SCENE
We had a rather seamless morning transferring from our hotel to the Siem Reap airport & boarded our flight to Kuala Lumpur with minimal struggle aside from an early morning wake up call. To that point, the worst part of our morning was Air Asia not allowing us to bring our just-purchased (and much needed) cappuccinos on board.
The flight was short & smooth, but things started to go down hill when we arrived in KL. First we sat and had a coffee while trying to log onto the airport’s free wifi to no avail. I ended up using my phone as a hot spot (which isn’t expensive at all..ha!) to help us figure out where & how we were going to pick up our rental car. This is when I realized I had rented a car that was garaged in downtown Kuala Lumpur, which is about an hour from the KL airport.
Before we embarked on this adventure, we popped into a Subway to grab a sandwich to-go. Once at the end of the Subway assembly line, they informed us it was cash only. Perfect! We don’t have any! In order for our sandwiches to be handed over they required one of us stay, while the other withdrew cash from an ATM. This is our second food related hostage situation in Asia. Brigette scours the airport for an ATM that will actually allow her to withdraw money, while I sit in waiting with our precious sandwiches.
Now approaching noon, we needed to get an Uber to KL to pick up our rental car. Our driver was an expat from the midwest and he was lovely, but full of bad news. Unbeknownst (and stupidly) we didn’t realize how widely Chinese New Year is celebrated in Malaysia. Our expat friend let us know that virtually the entire population of KL gets on the road to head to their homes outside of the city. We told him we where headed about 3 hours north to Pangkor Laut Resort, and he all but laughed in our faces. He said even if we left straight away, we would still be hard pressed to make it to Lumut before noon at night. (Boy, was he right)
With our sandwiches still marinating in our bags, we finally made it through the bustling traffic of KL and arrived at the building where the rental car company was housed.
We rushed through the rental car paperwork, paying minimal attention to any of the details of the contract. We were both HANGRY and anxious to eat and get started on our long drive. Our car was down in the parking garage below the building, so our rental agent guided us down to it & we inspected the car for any pre-existing damages together. He surveyed each panel and noted any scratches or dents, which is rather funny in hindsight.
Because the car was parked in an underground garage, we weren’t able to get a signal to the GPS, and we also had to meet our rental agent at the exit gate so he could open it for us. Before we knew it we were out in the bustling midday traffic of Kuala Lumpur without a clue where to turn. This wasn’t my first time driving a car on the opposite side of the road, but it is not a skill that comes easy to me. While looking for a place to pull over to get our GPS set & finally eat our now 3 hour old sandwiches, I ran the entire passenger side of the car into the steel flatbed of a truck.
In my delirious state, I told Brigette to pull the dangling sideview mirror into the car and we’d deal with it once we returned to KL to return the car. She rolled the window down to comply, grabbed the mirror, then tried to put the window back up. The window wouldn’t go back up, which lead me to exclaim “I can’t believe they would rent us a car with a faulty window!!”. Brigette remained silent & opened the door to survey the damage. Her facial expression said it all. She climbed back in and told me it was bad; the whole side of the car was banged up, complete with a giant hole that exposed the inside of the engine . To top it off, the door also wouldn’t shut once it was opened. A hairy drive back to the rental agency, whilst Brigette held the door shut, we phoned our agent to let him know of the disaster. It was no more than 15 minutes after he had let us out of the parking garage…
With our tails tucked between our legs, we went back up to the rental office to find out how much this would cost us, and if we could obtain another rental car. The former was not such bad news, only setting us back about $700, but the latter was a much bigger challenge. Because it was Chinese New Year there was barely another rental car to be had in all of KL.
By some divine intervention, a random office in the building let us use their wifi, so we could try to book another rental car. To our surprise, we found another car (at twice the price) that was garaged about 40 minutes away at an agency scheduled to close in ONE HOUR. We climbed into the Uber of a generous soul, who helped us more than we ever could’ve imagined.
While sitting in horrific traffic our Uber driver helped us call the rental agency to ensure they wait for us to arrive, so we wouldn’t be stranded in KL for the night (which wouldn’t have been so bad had we not already paid for an expensive over-water bungalow for that night). He also informed us, like our last Uber driver, that traffic was going to be horrific that night. YUP, GOT IT. IT’S CHINESE NEW YEAR.
At one point I turned to Brigette and asked if she was as frazzled & anxious as I was, to which she responded with this…
She had pealed every last bit of her manicure off in the previous two hours. I, on the other hand, had been nervously pulling at my hair so much I’m surprised I wasn’t bald by this point.
We made it to the new rental office, with the help of our Uber driver & acquired a new car successfully. Our Uber driver, not only stayed with us to ensure our safety & confirm we in fact got into another rental car, he also gave us directions & checked in with us later in the evening to make sure we had got on the road safely. If I could credit him, I would shout it from the rooftop, but I no longer have his info. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze us.
We sat in our newly acquired rental car (which we’re fairly certain was just an employee’s car, given the amount of personal items in the glove box) and hoovered our lunch, before embarking on what would be the absolute worst drive of our lives.
Next up: How (singing voice) a three hour tour, ahhhh three hour tour…turned into a 12 hour ordeal & ended with us looking like this…