Other stickrinaz adventures!
While Rome is a challenging place to drive – what with the lack of parking areas inversely proportional to the amount of impatient drivers. There is a specific area in Rome that tends to freak me out more than other when I drive in it.
Visualise driving in a residential area where practically everyone fights to get parking space. So they tend to drive extra fast when they spot one without caring for anyone else.
Now visualise you are driving (from left to right) and crossing this zebra. And there are cars (plural) parked on the zebra crossing, blocking your view. So you can’t see if there is any incoming traffic. So you inch closer and closer to see if there’s anything …
And then VOOM! A car rushes in at high speed, narrowly injuring you. Wouldn’t you freak out too?
Anyway, just for fun I’m embedding this video of 3 car racers in Italy because this is the right way how it should be done
It’s been a year now that I’ve had my driver’s license.
Since getting my car somewhere in June and driving it, sometimes I still feel that incredulous feeling of, “My goodness, I’m actually driving!” but lately, it feels quite second nature, I don’t even think about which pedals to push, changing of the gears … it just comes naturally. And I’m surprised at how relaxing it is, just to drive down the road, listening to music and to see the scenery pass you by.
Not to say that I’m such a perfect driver – I still need to improve my parallel parking, have to calm down while going uphill in bad traffic and have the mental skills of not letting an Italian man distract my driving.
Heck, there are people who refuse to take lifts from me anymore, but that is fine. Sometimes I get too carried away in wanting to share something that I enjoy or am excited about, that I forget that others might not feel the same, so I shouldn’t have insisted. Perhaps it’s a better idea to not offer anything unless it is asked for … although I still get clueless in deciphering what is in people’s minds when they don’t speak out.
(Seriously, I cannot tell. You’d have to tell me or else, I have no idea. Neither do I have a gaydar, so much so that unless he’s super flamboyant, every dude is the same to me. But that’s totally diverging away from the topic of the day)
Which is why, I’m leaving my Principiante sticker up, possibly for another 6 months to make it a full year. Somehow it gives me a peace of mind that the other drivers see it and avoid being too close to me as I’m still a new driver. Nevertheless, there are still monsters that cut me off, and bumped into me but I imagine that there could be more instances like these without my sticker. I did good in getting a used car. What a heartache if I had damages on a new one!
Nevertheless, I’m kind of happy with my achievements so far (think of it as a game!) … I’ve unlocked
Here, I should do a self pat :
Nevertheless, I still prefer taking my scooter as it’s a lot more economical – with the fuel consumption, the tune up costs, the insurance and whatnots. While having a car is freaking costly. Just last week, I had a flat, and decided to have all of them replaced as they were ancient. And for that, I had to spend 265 euro on new shoes for Ash.
You could just imagine how dry I feel this week, that on top of having to pay for the Sports doctor.
In any case, I was debating with Cart, that it might be cheaper to get the wheels online. But if you do that, take note that there is an additional charge for delivery, the mechanic will charge you extra and did you know that one is supposed to pay a sum to have your expired wheels disposed? Oh Italy, you are such an expensive country to live in. In the end, it’s much more convenient to have the gommista handle everything.
You know, if I didn’t have the car, I think I would have an additional more than 2 thousand euro in the bank (not including the amount I already spent for driving practicals and exams) To me, that’s a lot of money and stuff I could potentially invest on (like I really wanna learn how to sew and I really wanna travel around and explore Italy and eventually Europe on a train or even get a plane ticket back to Singapore … I really miss my folks and friends much too much)
Nevertheless, I think having the experience and skill overweights the odds, and is something that is quite priceless. Looking back, I don’t think I’d change a thing. Although I’m quite tempted to sell the car away somewhere in the middle of next year, once my insurance starts to expire :p
And so … Sam the scooter decided to go on strike over the weekend.
He started to have ignition issues a couple of days before, but as he tends to do that during colder days, I just ignored it. Normally after a few revs, he’d be back to normal.
In any case, I normally bring him to a monthly tune-up at my regular mechanic which is roughly a 20 mins journey away from home. Unfortunately he but didn’t make it on the day that I wanted to take him there. Which is quite an irony. And now I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what to do with Sam.
Poor stickrinaz can’t go scootering anymore
I guess I could get him fixed at a mechanic which is closer to me, but ones in my neighborhood seem to only fix cars, so I guess I’d have to find a towing number and pray that they don’t charge too much (personally, if they charge more than 40 euro, I think that’s a cut-throat)
Days like these makes me wish that I knew some basic mechanics like changing the spark plug and changing the engine oil so I don’t have to deal with all the fuss. I’d like someone to show me (with simple, non-threatening words)
At the same time, I’m quite thankful that I have my own car to travel with. True, my car isn’t the newest model with all the latest gadgetry. But it gets me around. And now that the weather is getting colder, it’s a lot more comfortable going around in a covered vehicle.
Last year, before having the car, many times I’d reach home with my hands completely numb from the coldness, even after wearing leather gloves when travelling on the road. Despite all this, I still had to travel to work, which is why I think this was probably the reason why I kept getting strong sickness. At the point, I thought to myself, “Never again!”
Nevertheless, I still much prefer two-wheelers for getting around. After all, it’s a lot easier to find parking this way (which for me, is a huge stress) and consume less fuel and is cheaper to upkeep. Which is great for quick trips. Personally for me, it doesn’t really make sense to take the car just for the sake for grocery shopping.
I hope that Sam can be fixed by the time spring comes. If not, or if the costs doesn’t justify, I guess I’d have to think of other alternatives. A Kymco Like200i perhaps, or maybe I’ll just get a bicycle with a pannier and save myself from all this heartache.
URGH!!! I’m so annoyed, I could beat someone up!
Ok, so it’s not really so dramatic. But it’s very annoying when trying to do a left safety check when on the road and you can’t take a glance to see oncoming traffic.
If you don’t know what was stolen from me, take a look at the picture below.
See, the left mirror was unscrewed cleanly right off. It wasn’t a job done by a juvenile delinquent, but someone who had the intention of stealing it for himself. What a terrible surprise to see in the morning!
Urgh! Of all the scooters, he had to target mine! He couldn’t take the other two abandoned scooters which was right next to me -_-
At this point of time, I’m tempted to just attach my hand mirror as a compensation. It’s just about the same size anyway.
Yeah, I know it’s quite low-class and getting a replacement isn’t that expensive, but it’s just the principle, you know?
I’m not sure for the entire Italy, but in Rome, on Saturdays and Sundays, there is a discount (about 10% off) when you fill up your vehicle. By the way, you could also find the cheapest fuel prices through this awesome website.
So anyway, I was feeling a little cabin fever so I took the scooter out for a spin and took the chance to fill it up. As it was the weekend, I saw plentiful of cars queuing up at certain petrol stations.
To my horror, I saw that the prices were significantly more expensive compared to just a couple of months ago. About 1.8 euros per litre! I remember my first trip to Rome and the prices were more or less about 1 euro a litre. Now, it’s almost doubled!
Is there anyone frightened of this?
While I do own a car, I don’t use it that regularly, so the price increase doesn’t affect me that much as my main form of transportation is the scooter.
Nevertheless, during the times when I do fill up the car, I’m always stunned at the evident jump in price.
Of course, one of the best way is to go around is with public transportation. I normally park my scooter at the nearest metropolitana station and take the tube when going to the city. One could reduce one’s carbon copy even more by commuting with a foldable bicycle from their start point.
It’s also a great solution as this way, one avoids having to search for parking. And believe me, it is extremely trying it is to find parking here.
Unfortunately, in Rome there are transport strikes practically every other week. Which is why I understand why there is an increase of car owners in Italy. Public transportation can be unreliable.
In fact, somewhere in the beginning of this year, it was just my luck that on the day that my scooter broke down, there happened to be a sciopero going on. I needed to travel about 23km to go to work. It was one of the most stressful day for me in a long time.
(If someone suggests that I take a bicycle, I’d rather not. Travelling a minimum of 46km during winter, carrying more than 5kg of materials and arriving half dead is not my ideal way of commuting)
Probably one of the compromise between high fuel prices and the unreliability of public transportation is to get an electric car. One of the brands that tweaked my interest is this adorable Smart electric.
I like it as it looks cute mainly (doh!) but at the same time, it just makes sense as we only take about an hour for commute, rendering the car unused the rest of the day. So, what better than to leave it there to charge, so at the end of the day, we get back home on a fully charged car. AND comparing it to fuel price, it costs only a few cents to run one kilometer.
(There is also the Twizy. But I think it just looks so strange! No doors, no side windows!)
However, while it’s cheap to charge the car, even with government funding, it’s still very expensive for the public to own and maintain it. About 24K euro with IVA. And that doesn’t include the monthly amount needed to rent the battery (if I remember correctly, it was an additional 100 euro) That’s … quite a big amount of moolah.
Which is why I quite like this new service in Singapore called smove.sg (thanks NTT for the link!) Rather than owning a car, you could rent an electric car and you’re charged about 30 cents (SGD) a minute you travel.
I’m not sure how viable it is for daily commuting, as it’s still a little pricey (30 cents x 60 minutes commute x 20 working days = 360 dollars … but if you carpooled with another 3 more passengers, it would bring the monthly price all the way down to 90 dollars a month! That cheaper than 4 people spending money on a monthly ATAC ticket
Hopefully something like this would happen soon too in Rome!
It has been about a month since I had Ash (can this be considered a mooniversary?)
For the first couple of weeks, I’ve been practising driving on the road with Cart next to me to give me advice. It feels kind of odd, and new and quite scary. Which I think was reflected a lot when Cart starts to shout ERRP ERRP ERRP! when he feels that I’m starting to go dangerously.
He sounds kind of like this
Thankfully, he doesn’t do that anymore lately. Which means that I’m driving better. Yay! And that’s wonderful, because that sound really makes me feel even more stressed out.
I’ve even been going on my own for short distances in the neighbourhood. I feel really proud of myself. Yes, yes. It’s probably not a big deal as it seems that every Tom Dick and Harry (Maybe Tomasso, Ricardo and Aroldo in this context) are able to drive. But to be honest, prior to living in Italy, I never imagined that I’d be driving, much less own my own car. There just wasn’t a need to.
Anyway, recently a realisation dawned upon me when I suggested to Claire that we head to hydromania. (we didn’t go in the end, as I found out that I had to go for work training, rendering my coupons that I’ve valiantly collected, useless)
Anyone wants to go with me before the 20th July?!
To get there, it was a shorter path to use the highway rather than to use the residential road. I thought that I could make it, but Cart was worried and didn’t want me to go on the highway by myself for the first time.
And so, last weekend Cart and I went to the G.R.A highway. And I realised Cart’s concern. Oh gosh. It was really scary. Everyone were going really really fast. Like more than 100km/hr on average. As a new driver, I’m legally only allowed to go at 90km/hr at maximum. And since Ash isn’t new, the engine capacity isn’t powerful and acceleration is slow.
Oh! And another thing I noticed about Ash is that, it goes bumpy-bump and you could really feel the road when you go at higher speeds. But I think that’s an issue that city-cars seem to share.
So I felt quite nervous and sort of attacked when other cars start to go near me.
I think I’d prefer to avoid the highway as much as possible for now. Moreover it confuses me. Every sign looks practically the same to me. I’m completely confounded at where to exit! I think I just need to study the roads more. (Because, using GPS = Guna pun sesat)
To end, I’ll embed this really funny animation about driving in Italy
Sidenote : I still go out with Sam the Scooter. It’s just so much easier to find parking. Moreoever he’s cheaper in fuel consumption. Any way to save money
And so … I own a car now.
Ehm. I should be thrilled, but I’m not jumping up and down at my first car. It’s quite crappy, really
Up till some years ago, I never imagined that I’d be driving, much less be owning a car. I’m more of a two wheeler person and I was saving up for a new scooter. But I kept falling sick since I started commuting, that I’d rather spend some money than going through all the “coughing my lungs out” again.
It’s not exactly my dream car, and while it’s not that expensive, being a second hand car, it did took practically all of my savings since I started working.
I feel so poor now!
To save money, I don’t think I want to be eating out for a while. To the point that I asked my friend Claire that we should only be shopping at bancarelle and packing our own lunch when we go out on our weekly meets
As it’s a second hand car, it’s not in perfect condition. There are quite a fair bit of work to be done for the inside and some parts to be changed and fixed. But the plan was to get a car with dings and scratches anyway, so that I wouldn’t feel too bad if I accidentally damage it as I gain driving experience.
But it runs well and I’m slowly getting used to driving it on the road. (with Cart as my wing man) And eventually, I could use it as a trade in for a brand new car after about a year and a half. Hopefully, I’d have earned a little bit more by then *crosses fingers*
My car is an old model Ford Ka by the way. Claire was suggesting names that we could call it. And to keep in the spirit of having the brand as the last name (like how it was for Sam Kymco) …
I’m thinking … Ash Ford. Cos it wasn’t very clean when we first got it. We could of course call it Harrison, but it’s too glamorous for my little crappy car.
Even though I’ve already passed my driving licence and am starting to appreciate cars a lot, I’m still more of a two wheeler person. Owning a scooter (or a motorcycle) just makes more sense – it’s easier to find parking especially in a traffic congested place like Rome, the petrol intake is so much lower, and not to mention the cheaper upkeep costs.
Currently, I own a Kymco People 125. At first I didn’t like him so much. But he does have some advantages, such as it’s small size. It’s easy to manoeuvre it in between heavy traffic and I’ve appreciated him a lot for that. Problem is, he’s just not adequate enough for me to ride on the highway as European highways legally require for a two wheeler to have at least 150cc.
Since I’ve always loved riding my Vespa GT200 while I was in Singapore, I was seriously considering to upgrade to a Vespa LX 150 (Not another GT as I prefer it to be small enough to fly in the traffic … moreover, it’s cheaper)
I was all set to head to the showroom when I stumbled upon a website where it compared the LX 150 with another scooter, the Kymco Like 200i and at first glance I was stunned to see how similar it looked. Even the font in front and on the sides look about the same!
Picture via Scooter Community
There are differences though, such as the bag hook below the seat of the LX150 while on the Like200 it’s on under the handlebars. But looks wise aside, the more I read about the comparisons, the more I got interested in purchasing the alternative.
By the way the Like200i is actually 163cc. Strange naming, I know
Firstly on account of how much cheaper it was. If I were to get the LX 150ie, it would cost me 3.6k euro while the Like 200i costs 2.2k, which is a good 1.5k cheaper and it already comes included with a box.
And it looks substantial enough for me to put my stuff and whatnots
Since using my current scooter for the past year and a half, and despite the fact that it is almost approaching 10 years old, incredibly, I’ve yet to have any issues or replace any parts which makes me trust this brand a lot. As much as I loved my Vespa, the upkeep costs were crazy. It didn’t bother me that much at the time as I had a regular job. But now that I’m mostly freelancing and money doesn’t flow regularly, I have to be frugal.
Thus it makes so much sense for me to get the Kymco Like 200i. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing personal and I still love Vespa. But I’d compare it to kind of like mekap - sometimes you can’t get a certain brand because of it’s high costs or because of it’s unavailability in your country, so you get a dupe which is just as good, instead.
Anyway, Cart and I were at a nearest Kymco showroom and despite what a couple of reviews have mentioned, the Like 200i is not a small scooter. In fact when I’m sitting on it, I only managed to tiptoe, very much like how I was on the GT200.
Even though in person, the body looks plasticy, I get the impression that the scooter is very solid and steady on the road. One thing that I didn’t really liked though, was that you needed to open the glove compartment and the underseat separately, as opposed to the GT 200 which opens with a push of a button. But this was a minor inconvenience.
Picture by Motorcycle.com
Nevertheless, there were small details which I was pleasantly surprised about, such as the plastic straps on the glove compartment which helps prevent items from spilling out.
And also that the pillion foot rest springs open when you press the button next to it. But I loved it more that it was positioned further away back – something that bothered me a lot when I was on the GT 200 – it hurt my legs a lot as I’d inadvertently scrape my feet on it each time I had a pillion. Bad design!
Nevertheless, the true test will be to ride it on the road of course. But I’m liking the specs that I’ve read so far. I’d like to order it, and hopefully, be riding it ASAP!
I wonder if anyone’s seen anyone riding a Like series in Singapore?