8 Unique Malaysian Things Foreigners Love but We Take for Granted
Updated: Jan 28, 2019
When you're a local and have been brought up in a country for so long, it's only all too easy to think nothing of some of the things you do, believing that they're nothing out of the ordinary. In reality, however, they are unheard of by outsiders and may even surprise the aforementioned. With all of that said, what is it exactly about Malaysians and our country that makes us so unique?
As we already know, Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country with pleasant if humid, tropical weather. The combination of these two things reflect heavily in our overall culture, creating a warm, relaxed image that has a rich cultural heritage. Here are a couple that pleasantly take foreigners by surprise:
The Malaysian "apa-apa pun boleh" attitude is one of our most endearing if at times frustrating personality traits. We all know the hilariously vexing excuses Malaysians would come up with when they stroll in 20 minutes late for a meeting or hangout, knowing full well that when they said they're "On the way", they really had just stepped out of the shower. This is one of the unfortunate by-products of being superbly laid-back.
But our lack of punctuality aside, being laid-back means that we don't sweat the small stuff. We know how to enjoy life and get along with just about anyone, Malaysian or non-Malaysian.
This one ties back to our trademark laid-back personality. In our eyes, we understand that people make mistakes. Nobody is perfect, and we therefore do not hold anyone to such an impossible standard. For instance, we know that sometimes things just happen. Sometimes traffic is terrible (especially in KL and Damansara!), so we don't mind if people are a few minutes late- more so if they inform us beforehand that they would be. No grudges are held, no harm done.
This mindset makes way for an appealing, forgiving nature that many people can only speak fondly of.
"Malaysians let random people come to their house?!" Because we grew up with the concept of having open houses, we simply think nothing of the idea. An open house is an open house. Everyone is welcome. What's the big deal?
Apparently, it is. If you try looking up the concept of open houses or even bringing it up to a foreigner, you'd discover that this is unique to Malaysia. You won't find this being practiced anywhere else in the world, and that, my friend, is something to be proud of. Having people over for food regardless of race and background is the perfect example of our unity and warmth.
We Malaysians are known for our racial unity. Therefore, it comes as to no surprise that warm hospitality is just yet another part of our culture. When you are in Malaysia, you not only get to appreciate the art of small talk (though that said, we sometimes take this to another level because we are damn kepoh hehehe), you get to enjoy our warm hospitality too. How often can you say that people are so warm that they're willing to befriend you almost immediately- and sincerely, too?
The idea of treating guests and new friends to smiles, conversation and good food is not foreign to us at all. When foreigners encounter this, they are left with a heartwarming impression of our country.
Can you feel the love in this video?! Perfect depiction of what it means to be Malaysian!
Our multilingual ability
Did you know that Malaysia is one of the most multilingual countries in the world? No? Now you do. While many other people from other countries are monolingual, Malaysians are usually at the barest minimum, bilingual. Aside from those cases, however, most Malaysians practice their own language.
For instance, it is not uncommon for our local Chinese to know a minimum of three languages; English, Malay and Mandarin. For those who know other Chinese dialects, even more. This would usually bump their language count to four or five, which is a pretty impressive feat! This is especially true when you consider the number of overseas Chinese that do not speak their language. Our local Indians fare pretty well too, with many having English, Malay and Tamil under their belts.
Our English ability
Yes, yes, I know. We like to speak bahasa rojak, we like to destroy English grammar beyond recogition, and we sometimes can't even be bothered to call English "English". Calling it "England" is more than enough.
But wait, and think. Think of all the Asian countries out there that have a decent proficiency in English. Besides Singapore and maybe even Philippines, there aren't many, are there? That's right. While it's easy to focus on our flaws, sometimes focusing on them too much makes us forget how good we actually are. We might not care for grammar most of the time, but we can speak and understand English pretty well, which is what counts. Travelling outside of Malaysia would make you realise this is one ability we take for granted.
Of course, while we tend to take this for granted, foreigners love it. It makes for easier travelling for the majority of them.
Smorgasbord of food
Sometimes we just don't realise just how lucky we are when it comes to variety. Often times when we head to the mall, we'd be greeted by a plethora of restaurants catering to various cuisines around the world. Have a hankering for Malay food? Chinese, Indian? How about Middle Eastern food, Western, Japanese or Korean? All of these are usually found under one roof- and this is an expected standard.
Just how many countries can you say the same for? No, no, Singapore doesn't count.
Kidding, of course. Kidding. I think.
Certainly, it can definitely be a bit too hot at times, but having stable tropical weather like ours means that you can pretty much wear whatever's in your wardrobe all year long. There is no need to shelve 3/4 of your wardrobe for the rest of the year just because of a change in season. Perish the thought. Just wear whatever you'd like and you're good to go!
On top of that, Malaysia is pretty lucky in terms of its geographical location. It is set well out of harm's way from the majority of natural disasters, which is something we should all be thankful for. It is no wonder that tourists enjoy their time in our country!
Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini