• Melissa Kartini

7 Things Foreigners Find Surprising About Malaysia

Despite what a lot of Malaysians seem to think, Malaysia is a pretty unique country with a lot to be proud of. It is only when one ventures beyond borders that they start to realise (and appreciate!) the differences that we have. This line of thought is only further hammered in when they interact with foreigners, who, often with little exposure to Malaysia, are shocked as they learn more about our country.

Here are a couple of things that foreigners find surprising about good ol' Malaysia:

It's one of the most diverse countries in Asia

Think about other countries in Asia. Really think about it. Do a lot of other Asian countries have as many ethnicities as we do?

While it may not seem as blatantly obvious to us since we were raised in a multicultural and multiracial environment and are therefore used to it, foreigners are often surprised to learn that Malaysia is basically a melting pot of cultures. Chinese, Malay, Indian, Bajau, Melanau, Kadazan, etc... Honestly, we have so many ethnicities living among us it's hard to keep count!

We don't speak "Malaysian"

"Wow, your English is so good! What other languages do you speak?"

"Malay and Chinese."

"Wait... You don't speak Malaysian?"

Given the name of our country, this one isn't too much of a surprise. Always amusing whenever it happens, though.

The majority race is Malay, not Malaysian

Closely tied to the point above is the matter of our racial identity. More often than not, foreigners make the mistake of assuming that our nationality and ethnicity are one and the same. They are not.

We Malaysians come in all shapes and sizes. A Malaysian can be a Malay, a Chinese, an Indian, just to name a few. Watch the confusion on your new foreign friend's face as they learn about this particular tidbit.

The variety of food

Thanks to our multicultural heritage, Malaysia is a food haven for all foodies out there. And it stands to reason that just about every Malaysian is one.

When it comes to food, we're spoiled for choice. Feel like having Indian food? You can probably find one down the corner. Chinese? Not too far off. Malay? It's probably just next door! Heck, if you want Japanese or Korean, those are likely close by as well. To make things better, it's commonplace for all sorts of cuisines to be housed under one roof too. Expected, even. Can I get a "Hell yeah"?

We have the largest flower in the world

You've got that right. Our most famous plant is the Rafflesia, which is a flower that can grow up to more than a yard in diameter. This easily makes it the biggest flower in the world.

Aptly nicknamed "corpse flower", this plant gives off a putrid stench that can make your stomach churn. The next time a foreigner asks you for an interesting fact about Malaysia, tell them about the Rafflesia!

We're one of the few "megadiverse" countries in the world

There aren't many countries that can be called megadiverse, and Malaysia is one of them. With about 20% of the world's animal species living in Malaysia, we can proudly say that our country is one of the most megadiverse in the world.

Fun fact: At around 130 million years old, Malaysia's Taman Negara is even older than the 55 million year old Amazon Rainforest. Cool, right?

Malaysians are social media-crazy

If foreigners are looking for Malaysian buddies on social media, they're in luck. According to a global study conducted by research firm TNS in 2010, Malaysians were ranked as the most e-social nationality on the web.

So if they'd really like a new Malaysian buddy, all they have to do is ask. As we all already know, Malaysians are often happy to add a new pal on social media.

Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini

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