Friday, 3 August 2012

Hunting for a Car

To own a car, that is the Filipino dream. Most people own their houses but only the rich can afford to have their own car.

My father, before he went on to become a headmaster, was a company driver of a richer relation. He used to bring one of those cars home and would take the family out in an evening joyride. I used to slightly stick out my naked face in the car window (for seat belts were not legal requirements in my country), whilst I look in fascination at the bright and glittering lights along the streets we drove by. Those were amongst the best memories of my childhood.

When we moved nearer the city and my dad took on a teaching job in the public sector, a motorcycle that can fit all five of us was all we could afford. On my parent's salary, a car would never be achievable in their lifetime.

But in the Philippines where very humid weather conditions  meet a dreadful public transport system, having a car is an ultimate desire. I remember how being driven inside one while being stuck in traffic was always a guilty pleasure. It always felt as though I have invaded the world of the wealthy and I liked it.

Then I moved to a more civilised continent where getting on the public transport is more comfortable than driving a car and where more people take on their bicycles to get to work everyday. Suddenly, a car is no longer a necessity.

In fact we managed to dodge not owning a car for over two years now despite taking to the road almost every weekend and having driven to Cornwall, the whole of Scotland and Wales during that time. Of course it helps that we can always borrow someone else' or just rent a weekend one. But time has finally come to be fully independent (and not having to rely on family's graces) so last weekend we set off to find a decent weekend car.

I've always thought there are only two considerations in buying a car: (1) it's the right price (2) it's the right look (brand). Well, its a bit more complicated than that. There is the mileage, carbon emission, tax bracket and insurance group too.

So it was rather a difficult treasure hunt. We've been to five garages in one day and found nothing that would meet the criteria. Bigger cars seem to come cheap, you can have an SUV like Range Rover here for £2,000 but won't be able to get a Citroen C1 for less than £3,000. It's because people are getting rid of bigger and less efficient cars. This for me just shows how the Philippines (where the only cards in the road are SUVs) still has a long way to go compared to the European countries where low carbon emission cars are more fashionable at the same time as responsible.

But our dream car wouldn't be elusive and we did end up with the one we have set our eyes on in the very first place (blog post next time).

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