10 Unique Things You Will See and Feel When Visiting Malaysia
If you are planning to visit Malaysia or considering whether Malaysia is worth visiting, here are 10 things that are pretty unique to the country:
1. Malaysian Food Stalls Are Misleading
In Malaysia, I found myself often seeing small street food stalls from afar and deciding they would not be a good enough place to sit down comfortably and have dinner at. I was wrong! Behind these clusters of food stalls are often hidden huge spaces with tables and chairs. Some are out in the open and some are part of a building with ventilation. From my understanding the food stalls are often attached to a drinks place. So, you will have two separate decisions to make: first, decide what you want to eat and tell the street food vendor and second, decide what drink you want and tell the server who will most probably be at your table the second you sit down. The payments are separate. I was often surprised by how relatively nice the setting was at street food places. As the saying goes: never judge a book by its cover!
2. Malaysia has Women-only Train Coaches!
In Kuala Lumpur, you might not have to worry about finding a seat during rush hour if you are a girl because there are two coaches dedicated to women-only! These coaches are found around the middle of the train and you can easily identify them by their pink labeling “Ladies Only”. If the train gets too crowded, the men do, however, find refuge there.
3. You Can Drink from a Plastic Bag
In Malaysia, getting a take-away drink has never been more fun! The seller will fill a small plastic bag with ice cubes and the drink of your choice. He then ties it up with a piece of plastic string in a way to create a strap that you can easily carry around your wrist! Sip on your drink on the go with the provided straw or carry it comfortably to your destination. You decide.
4. It Rains in the Afternoon
Being a tropical island girl, I know how hot summer days are usually accompanied by sudden, heavy downpours in the afternoons. I remember learning about convectional rain in school: on hot days, the levels of evaporation is so high the clouds end up getting too heavy resulting into sudden rain in the afternoon (at least this is what I remember from my junior school years). This happens in Kuala Lumpur too. The day goes from bright and sunny to loud thunder, lightning and torrential rain in a matter of minutes. Make sure to always carry an umbrella!
5. It is ALWAYS Hot
A quick Google search will show you that it is always hot in Malaysia. The weather ranges from being extremely hot to very hot to just hot. Also, do not forget to factor in the humidity that exists even after the sun goes down. Put away your full coverage make-up, tie your hair up in a high ponytail, wear your comfy shoes and slather yourself with sunscreen because Malaysia is HOT and HUMID.
6. Grab Car, Grab Food, Grab Pay, Grab Everywhere!
Remember Uber? Well forget about it because Malaysia has Grab! Grab is a Malaysian riding company that was established in 2012 as a Taxi service. Being a South East Asian company, Grab understood the markets better than Uber and quickly overtook the later in the region. Now Grab is available in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philipinnes, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. I have used Grab Car and personally believe it offers cheaper prices than the regular taxis or Uber. However, the app still has a few small glitches that you must be wary of, such as not pinning the closest pick up points and thus you having to text the driver where you are exactly. I have not used Grab Food or Grab Pay but they seem to be widely accepted by the population.
7. Everything is translated to English!
You probably already know that Malaysians speak English. I knew it too. However, what I did not know was how easy everything was in Kuala Lumpur and Penang because almost every sign, message, banner, menu and warning is translated to the English language. Currently staying in Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam, I now realise that I had taken this for granted about Malaysia. Life for an English speaker is very easy there: Malaysians go out of their way to speak to you in English or, in the rare cases when they cannot, find someone close-by to translate for you.
8. Malaysians Speak their Language of Origin
This is another very interesting thing that struck me about Malaysians. Malaysia is a very diverse country with people mainly from Malaysia itself, China and South India. Surprisingly, the Chinese and South Indians, even after spending generations in Malaysia, still talk to each other in their language of origin! It seems that it was very important for these groups of people to safeguard their culture which, evidently, included their language. However, I did observe many group of people on the streets being from the same origin. I have not spent long enough in Malaysia to call this a fact but it seems that although being diverse, Malaysia is not truly multicultural (yet).
9. Malaysians Will Win Your Heart Over!
Friends, guard your hearts as you WILL get attached to Malaysians. In my month spent in Malaysia, I made so many friends, aunties and uncles! Malaysians will recognize you even if they have met you only once and wave at you from across the street. Strangers will talk to you on the train and genuinely want to know more about where you are from. People working in the coffeeshop will strike up a friendly conversation while you are ordering. Shopkeepers, security guards and people on the streets will help you with directions if they see that look of confusion on your face. Grabcar drivers will tell you stories about Malaysia and give you tourist advice for free. I guess what I’m trying to say is Malaysians are cool people!
10. It is a Food Haven
Mark Wiens, famous Youtuber and Food Blogger said it himself so I rest my case! Read more about the food I loved in Malaysia here : Ultimate South East Asia Street Food Guide: Kuala Lumpur Top 5. Read more about the best drinks here: Ultimate South East Asia Street Food Guide: Top Drinks in Malaysia (non-alcoholic) . Or if you are having trouble understanding how food courts work in Malaysia, click here: Ultimate South East Asia Street Food Guide: How to Order Food in a Malaysian Food Court.
Malaysia filled my belly with delicious food, made me sweat buckets and allowed me to meet friendly and kind human beings. I enjoyed my time there and will be writing plenty more about it!
I hope you enjoyed today’s post!