One of the lessons that I have learned while living in Kyrgyzstan is sometimes we just need to slow down, because the pace of getting things done is much slower here. This applies to all aspects of life, from driving to eating. When driving it is best to take a deep breath, put your foot on the brake pedal, swallow your pride, and just take your time getting there. It is not worth getting into an accident to save a couple minutes of time. There are many stresses: A four-lane road can easily have six lanes (three in both directions), there are pedestrians crossing the road at all times, cars weave in and out of lanes, policemen are dotted along main roads, vehicles involved in accidents are out in the road, and public transportation stops at any place (not just at designated bus stops).
We didn’t start driving here til our second year. At first it was very nerve-wracking and we made many mistakes, like not giving ourselves enough time to reach our destination. Even when enough time is planned there are still many things that cannot be accounted for. We didn’t get comfortable with driving til after our first major traffic jam. It was the week of a political summit in Bishkek, all major roads were closed, and it was dinnertime. It took us 1.5-2 hours to get home and the back roads were all packed. People were cutting each other off to get any kind of advantage, and we were inches away from other cars in all directions. I kept my head down to avoid eye contact with other drivers while my husband did his best to creep along. We had cars honking at us, people glared, a few drivers gave us the “you’re crazy” sign, and we had a couple very close calls. We got home, sighed a sigh of relief, and the anxiety of driving melted away. We had survived our first traffic jam. Rushing does nothing but bring stress, while taking it slow makes the journey a bit more bearable.