Saturday, October 20, 2007

Freedom on four tiny wheels.


Last night, during one of the worst rainstorms I've witnessed since I arrived in Japan, my car was delivered. To my disappointment the car came with an empty tank so it was clear I was going to learn how to do a lot with my car the first time I actually got around to driving it. I did get a short chance to drive it around the block against my will because when I was parking in my apartment's parking lot another car came in and forced me out. So I ended up driving the car without knowing its dimensions or how well it handled normally. It was an interesting experience although not exactly how I wanted to drive it the first time.
Today, I got my wish and was blessed with a clear and sunny day. I was pretty nervous about taking my car out for a spin because of what kind of driving I have experienced over the past few months while riding my bike. Before I get into the details of my day-long feel for my car I should probably go over what my little car is like. I got a brand new car right off the factory line from a car leasing company. I seem to be only the second person to ever drive the car besides the Japanese guy that delivered it to me. The seats were still wrapped in factory plastics and the engine bay was immaculate. I wasn't expecting to get a new car and it is actually my first time to ever drive a brand new car so it is a nice feeling.
As for my car's specs, it is a Suzuki Wagon R 2007 4 speed automatic. The car is a five door and is incredibly spacious. It is just a tad bigger than my car I had back in San Diego, a Toyota MR2, so it was fairly easy to get my bearings on the dimensions of the car. The car came with fully loaded with a CD Player, Radio, power windows/locks, retractable mirrors, and a remote entry system. Pretty cool for such a cheap car I'd say. Despite how small it looks, it feels really roomy inside and is fairly easy to navigate. The car also came with alloy wheels with winter stud less tires which will probably be installed in a month or so from now once the weather gets crappier.

After adjusting the mirrors and making sure everything was right in my car I head out on a test drive that lasted until sunset. The first thing I did was get my car filled up at a full-service gas station. It was pretty cool to pull up and have a crew of guys clean my windows and fill my gas tank up. It cost about 4,700 yen to fill up my tank which is fairly cheap and pretty good because my car sips gas meaning less trips to get gas. After getting gas I went down the road about six kilometers to do a little weekly grocery shopping. What would normally take an hour by bicycle round trip took about fifteen minutes. I can already tell my car is going to be incredibly useful.

After getting my groceries, I felt fairly confident in the dimensions of my car and the left side of the road so I ended up driving out to Isawa. I made it to Don Quixote in less than thirty minutes compared to four hours by bike which really put things into prospective for me. I was really crazy riding out that far about a month ago. I ended up buying a couple things to keep my car clean and a new pair of cheap cargo pants for 1000 yen. After I had enough of shopping I decided to head home.

Driving is pretty fun and relaxing contrary to what I expected it to be. I am happy that I finally have the freedom to go anywhere I want to now and I plan to drive a little bit more tomorrow. Maybe the car will be the chance I needed to spread my pool of friends. Now its just a matter of time before I get a chance to meet more people. Hopefully sooner than later.

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