This was our second visit to Malaysia, and it was a lot of fun returning to a place two years later to see if our impressions were different this time around.
Last time I found it hard to decide whether I liked the country or not: sometimes I wanted to get away from it asap, other times I loved it.
This time I had a better idea about the place, but one thing that hadn’t changed, was that it’s still a country which I found hard to define.
There are so many culture mixes here that it’s hard putting a finger on what and how Malaysia is – but here are some things I’ve learned about the Malaysian people during our time here:
1. They openly show emotions
When you questioned something you got a straight answer and an honest opinion from them, whether it was a taxi driver, restaurant waiter or street worker.
It was all very straight forward, which we really loved.
They weren’t afraid of asking for your opinion and thoughts, and actually wanted to hear what you had to say about their food, culture etc.
They were also very open to show positive emotions, and would crack a joke with you without thinking further into what they were doing.
2. They point with their knuckles and thumb.
This was something we had to get used to doing as well. Nobody points with their index finger in Malaysia, it’s considered really rude, but thumbs and knuckles are pointed everywhere.
3. They are talkative
So many words, so little time – the hawkers are experts at counting up everything they offer while you pass by.
But it’s not just the people trying to sell you something who talk a lot, the Malaysian people seem to simply like conversating with people in general.
While in many other countries salesmen only talk to you until you have bought (or denied) something, here they continued talking about other things even once they understood that you wouldn’t buy it.
Taxi drivers more than happily shared their thoughts about the city, government and people, shop keepers made jokes, and people on the street started conversations.
4. They stare
The Malaysian people are not afraid of coming on too strong and stare freely, even when they know that you know that they’re looking… They’re not being rude, just curious. The stares are not judging, so after you get used to it, it’s not very awkward anymore.
5. They’re multi cultural and have no private space
Chinese eat Indian curries, Indians eat Arab food and Arabs eat Nyonya food.
In many countries the people separate themselves and only hang out with their own “peers”, while here they seemed to hang out with anyone no matter religion or origin.
Another thing I noticed was how they didn’t mind sitting down at a strangers’ table in a restaurant and eat – talking or not talking to the one sitting in front of you, it was not a big deal.
This is something which is very different from my own culture, where it would take a lot for two strangers to share a table at a restaurant.
Have you been to Malaysia? What impressions of the Malaysian people did you get?