Few weeks ago, after receiving quite a lot of positive feedbacks regarding my lighting talk about my boyfriend application joke (yes, the boyfriend application thing was a joke, please don’t take it serious. I’m not that desperate) at #BarCampKL, I was encouraged to give a talk about Malaysia: What I love and hate about this country.
Iris Khoo, a Malaysian friend of mine, was drinking water from a bottle, but right when she saw this topic, she turned to me and said:"You see this bottle? If you say anything not nice about Malaysia, it will be on your face." Of course she was joking, but my point is, I know even though a lot of you laugh at patriotism, you Malaysians still love your country and unless I’m superman or no brain man (they are the same actually), there is no way I dare to piss any of you off. What I’m gonna write below is my personal experience after 5 months mingling with a lot of people in Malaysia. And well, pointing out what I don’t like about Malaysia doesn’t mean that Vietnam or any country else is better.
What I like about Malaysia
A lot. One thing about traveling is that you can pretend to be whoever you like. When I meet a person that I think I will never see them again, I lie about my identity to observe people’s reaction or just to prove my point. [Some actually treat people from different countries differently.] I once told a Malaysian girl that I was from Singapore and she asked me why I came to Malaysia, I said that it was because I liked Malaysia more than Singapore (any Singaporean reader here please don’t kill me, it’s just a white lie). Malaysia is a very exciting country with a lot of smart people, business opportunities and interesting companies. Look at AirAsia – the world’s best low cost airlines, look at MOL – the company that bought Friendster or look at the Petronas Twin Towers! A lot of MNCs nowadays tend to choose Malaysia over Singapore for regional office because of low cost here.
People here are super friendly and most of them can speak English. It’s very easy for you to mingle with local people. I’ve followed my friends to some local parties/Malaysian houses without being invited and people treat me really well. Malaysia is a diverse country with 3 main different ethnic groups so people are very open to alien cultures. People usually think that I’m a Malaysian Chinese who cannot speak Malay rather a foreigner. FYI, a lot of Malaysians, esp. Chinese & Indian, cannot speak Malay.
Another great thing about Malaysia, especially KL is that there are many getaways just 1 or 2 hours driving from the city. You will never have to worry about being confined in a busy & stuffy city. For example, if you are in KL, you can go to Shah Alam to skytrex, Broga Hill for hiking, Sunway Lagoon for theme parks, Bagan Lalang for seafood, Pork Dickinson for a beach, Genting Highlands for gambling, etc.
What I dislike about Malaysia
I don’t like it when it’s so hard to travel around in KL
Yes, in KL, if you don’t have a car, you’re dead. There is public transportation but the train system can only cover a small part of KL and the bus here are so random. Roads in KL are all highways and there is no lane for bike or motorbike. If you ride one, there is high risk that you will get run over or get lost. Cab in Malaysia is cheap if you use meter taxi, only around RM1/km (that makes sense, local cars cheap and gasoline is dirt cheap here thanks to Petronas), but KL is so big that the distance from one place to another is usually from 15km-30km.
I don’t like it when KL rains all the time
No exaggeration, during my last 5 months here, KL rains almost everyday. The best part is that it always rains between 3pm and 9pm, exactly time when I want to go out. And since I don’t have a car, rain at that time means that I will have to stay at home and eat instant noodle. It makes me fat.
To make thing worse, my area gets flooded when it rains. Not safe for walking!
I don’t like it when taxi drivers try to fool me around
Another side effect of not having a car is that you will have to use cab, and well, half of the times taxi drivers in Malaysia will drive me mad. When I was new here and didn’t know the road, it’s normal for them to take me around. But even when I’m familiar with the road here, they can still fool me by pretending to take the wrong turn, taking traffic jam as an excuse to go on a much longer way. A Malaysian friend mine (yeah, he’s Malaysian) fell asleep on a cab on the way from Sunway Pyramid to Kelana Jaya and the meter jumped to RM34 for the distance that normally costs RM8-10.
I don’t like it when teenagers use weird characters to type Bahasa Malayu (BM)
BM or Malay language is the official language in Malaysia. It’s considered one of the most consistent languages and easiest languages to learn. However, Malaysian teenagers don’t seem to be happy with that, they try to complicate it with number, special characters, random abbreviation, mixed English, etc. which makes it impossible for me when I try to use Google Translate or dictionary to understand or to learn.
I don’t like it when some Malaysians can never be on time
Yes, Malaysians are notorious for never being on time! My friends told me that to be Malaysian, I’d have to eat nasi lemak, add "ar, lah" in the end of every sentence and always be late. The worst thing is that being late is like a norm here so people won’t even bother to let you know by calls or sms if they are going to be late.
I don’t like it when food in Malaysia is too oily
YES IT IS! Food at mamak (Indian restaurants) are super oily with all kinds of sauce. I try to avoid mamak whenever I can. Malay food is also fat. The most popular Malay food is "nasi lemak" which literally means "fat rice". I love Chinese food though.
You might need a reason to hate something, but you don’t need any reason to love it. For many untold reasons, I love Malaysia! It’s a great country that I think anyone should definitely visit. During my last 5 months here, I’ve received a lot of random kindness that can make me smile for the whole day. I will blog about it soon