Malaysia By Numbers

For everyone’s benefit, and particularly anyone who is traveling to Malaysia who will find this blog, I’ve decided to start a list of the nuances of Malaysian life.

1. They usually don’t have toilet paper. What they have a butt hoses. These are literally hoses next to the toilet that spray water up your butt. Be warned. Bring tissues.

2. Restaurants:

A. They don’t bring everyone in the party’s food out at once. They bring it when it’s ready so sometimes people finish before others have started.

B. The waitress or whoever will come to your table, stand there, and wait patiently for you to decide what to eat. This feels a little rushed but at least saves you from what happens in America when you say you need a minute and your waiter disappears for 20.

C. You may just want fried rice, but there is a chance you are going to get chicken, shrimp, or little fish heads in it. There is no way to avoid this, they won’t understand if you try to prevent it.

D. The chicken in your dishes will still have bone, and gristle, and cartilage. It will be very hard to eat. You will probably swallow some chicken bones. There is no way to avoid this either. Just embrace it, I guess.

3. Taking Classes
These are things from UPSI and not necessarily true for all Malaysian classes I’m assuming.

A. Class doesn’t start on time. No one gets there 10 minutes early. It may be bred of hour long classes being pushed right up next to each other, but at least for the first week it’s okay to show up 15 minutes late.

B. No one puts their phones on silent. Maybe that’s not a capability for their phones, but they go off regularly.

C. People just talk sometimes, while the professor is lecturing. They talk to each other in Malay.

D. Classrooms are divided boy and girls. It is definitely a cultural thing, but boys and girls don’t mix when sitting.

4. Boy go to the back of the bus. It’s like some weird reverse Rosa Parks thing.

5. Malaysian Time: Absolutely no structure or time schedule at all. This is the most apparent for bus/train schedules. Be prepared to wait, or run for anything. Generally, things are usually running behind (like 10-15 minutes).

6. You don’t have to tip. Nope. Haven’t tipped anyone since I got here. Usually including in fancy-ass places.

7. You can always get taxis. Generally a good way to get around and not very expensive at all. Good rule: ask a local the price to get to where you go before you ask the cab driver. That way you know how much you should be paying. Just in case he tries to rip you off. (Baggage fees are not a thing)

8. Malaysians love pictures. They take pictures of everything. Especially selfies. They LOVE selfies. They use this selfie stick to get photos with a lot of people. It’s almost ridiculous.

9. Everyone speaks English. But no one speaks English well.

2 thoughts on “Malaysia By Numbers

  1. Hi Gypsy Life,

    This post is pretty interesting and I thought I’ll give you a local POV.

    1. They usually don’t have toilet paper.

    [ In some places, you have to get the toilet paper from outside the cubicle because to reduce cost; some “people” love to waste them by rolling them all on the floor (Yes, it happens). ]

    2. Restaurants:

    A. They don’t bring everyone in the party’s food out at once. They bring it when it’s ready so sometimes people finish before others have started.
    [ You have to specify that you want the food to be out at the same time. The kitchen is perhaps too small that they have to get the food out first. ]

    B. The waitress or whoever will come to your table, stand there, and wait patiently for you to decide what to eat. This feels a little rushed but at least saves you from what happens in America when you say you need a minute and your waiter disappears for 20.
    – Tell the waiter you’ll need 5 minutes and they will come back in 3 asking if you’re ready, again.

    C. You may just want fried rice, but there is a chance you are going to get chicken, shrimp, or little fish heads in it. There is no way to avoid this, they won’t understand if you try to prevent it.
    [ Because mixing everything is a Malaysian thing! You can specify, I want fried rice with no chicken or shrimp. The hawkers will probably give u a death stare and charge you the same price for a plainer dish.]

    D. The chicken in your dishes will still have bone, and gristle, and cartilage. It will be very hard to eat. You will probably swallow some chicken bones. There is no way to avoid this either. Just embrace it, I guess.

    3. Taking Classes
    These are things from UPSI and not necessarily true for all Malaysian classes I’m assuming.

    A. Class doesn’t start on time. No one gets there 10 minutes early. It may be bred of hour long classes being pushed right up next to each other, but at least for the first week it’s okay to show up 15 minutes late.
    [ We have a term “Malaysian time” which means up to an hour late is socially acceptable.. ]

    B. No one puts their phones on silent. Maybe that’s not a capability for their phones, but they go off regularly.
    [ – ]

    C. People just talk sometimes, while the professor is lecturing. They talk to each other in Malay.
    [ It’s their native language, and I’m assuming UPSI mainly consisted of Malays? Put a bunch of Malaysian together and you may get jumbles of different languages in the same room!]

    D. Classrooms are divided boy and girls. It is definitely a cultural thing, but boys and girls don’t mix when sitting.
    [ UPSI must be a conservative Muslim university then. Not all universities practise this.]

    4. Boy go to the back of the bus. It’s like some weird reverse Rosa Parks thing.
    [ – ]

    5. Malaysian Time: Absolutely no structure or time schedule at all. This is the most apparent for bus/train schedules. Be prepared to wait, or run for anything. Generally, things are usually running behind (like 10-15 minutes).
    [ Yes.Yes.Yes. You get the idea.]

    6. You don’t have to tip. Nope. Haven’t tipped anyone since I got here. Usually including in fancy-ass places.
    [ Your tax and service charge is included in the 16% they charge you after every meal. They force you to pay their tip.]

    7. You can always get taxis. Generally a good way to get around and not very expensive at all. Good rule: ask a local the price to get to where you go before you ask the cab driver. That way you know how much you should be paying. Just in case he tries to rip you off. (Baggage fees are not a thing)
    [ Baggage fees is a thing, isn’t it? Have I been ripped off? ]

    Hope you enjoy your journey in Malaysia (:

    Jill.

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