Thursday, September 15, 2016

Experiencing the Hong Kong DMV

I had the luck misfortune of checking out the Hong Kong equivalent of the department of motor vehicles this week.

As I stepped into the fluorescent-lit office area, with its light up number counters, endless rows of booths and crazy zig-zagging lines, the scene made me think that perhaps the endless bureaucracy, tedious paperwork, and the waiting, shuffling, waiting, and endless waiting that epitomizes the agonized purgatory of a motor vehicle department... is simply inevitable, no matter where you are in the world.
There was a whole other room, with rows and rows of chairs and about 30 counters, in an area behind this.
I finally got around to figuring out how to get a Hong Kong drivers' license (turns out, it is not so hard if you already have a drivers license from another country).  You fill out paperwork, provide proof of residential address in Hong Kong, and provide three forms of ID (your passport, HKID and original driver's license).

The motor vehicles department takes five working days to review the paperwork and application and give you a definitive answer.  Then you return within a 30 day window with payment, and if all goes well you get your Hong Kong drivers license.

I wanted a drivers' license here so that I could then get an international driver's permit.  Ultimately a local driver's license doesn't seem a bad thing to have, though I doubt I will be putting it to much use.

In truth, I think this process is a bit too easy - I would never dream of driving here without some serious practice sessions.  Driving on the opposite side of the road, with the crazy traffic, the short on and off ramps, and the nearly dizzying circuitry that are the roads of Hong Kong island...sounds like a fine idea in theory but not in practice.  

Knowing that this is all that it takes to be on the road here makes me certain that I need to be a much more careful pedestrian...

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