5 Surprising Things In Malaysia
Even though Malaysia is known to be a safe and accessible country for western travelers, there are some habits and customs that are sure to surprise you during your first stay in this Southeast Asian country. For all those who are planning a trip to this beautiful destination and want to prepare themselves for a different way of life, we have listed 5 surprising things in Malaysia.
1- The absence of a knife at the table
Malaysia is a destination known for its culinary diversity. The food is delicious and very varied. You can take advantage of your stay to taste the Malay cuisine, but also Indian, Chinese and Thai...
In local restaurants, you may be surprised by the cutlery that you are offered. You will of course be given chopsticks in Chinese restaurants and, in other local restaurants (Indian or Malay) a fork and a soup spoon... but no knife!
The absence of a knife at the table is the first of the 5 surprising things in Malaysia and you will have to learn to play the soup spoon like a knife to sort your meat for example.
It will surely take you a little time to adapt to acquire the necessary dexterity, especially since in this country, meat is usually served with the bones. Better to know this and be careful with the bones when eating chicken, the most common meat in restaurants!
2- Very spicy food
Even if the culinary offer is very wide in Malaysia, you should know that Malaysians love to eat spicy food.
Many typical dishes, especially in Malay and Indian cuisine, have a degree of spiciness that you are probably not used to... This is the second of the 5 surprising things for a newly arrived Western tourist.
Get in the habit of telling the waiter you're looking for 'not spicy' dishes to avoid ending the meal with your mouth on fire.
If you still want to try the local food, consider ordering a drink in addition to your dish. Local drinks like latte or fruit juice are usually very sweet, which can help you soothe the chili fire.
By the way, if you don't like overly sweet drinks and prefer your juice plain, remember to specify 'without sugar' when ordering.
3- No paper in the toilet
The third of the 5 surprising things in Malaysia might jump out at you when you go to the bathroom. It is quite common that there is no paper roll in the toilet stall, except in tourist places.
Sometimes there is no paper at all and sometimes you have to take it from a dispenser near the sinks before entering the stall...
When there is no paper at all, it is replaced by some kind of water jet / small shower head that is used to rinse. If you don't know how to do this and are afraid of getting your clothes wet, remember to always take tissues with you!
They can also be useful when you wash your hands because sometimes there is no paper to wipe near the sinks...
Even though most of the toilets I saw in Kuala Lumpur were normal 'western-style' toilets, you should know that there are many Turkish-style toilets in Malaysia. They are referred to as 'squatting toilet'.
Fortunately, in large stores, you can often choose between the two forms of toilets. If you have difficulties to use the Turkish toilet, you can ask to go to the toilet for disabled people.
In some places like small Asian restaurants for example, you have to use the Turkish toilet, so you might as well be prepared for it!
Still on the subject of sanitary facilities, you should know that hot water is not always available at the tap or in the shower. To get hot water, you usually have to first turn on a switch outside the bathroom.
4- Prohibitions in the metro
Even though the subway lines are not very developed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I had the opportunity to take this means of transportation and was surprised by the prohibition signs posted on the window.
As you can see from the main photo at the top of the article, food and drinks are not allowed on public transportation, as well as pets and dangerous products.
You may not throw trash on the ground (which is fine) or carry smelly items! This ban is surprising and rather funny, especially since it is illustrated by a drawing of a durian the famous smelly fruit.
But most importantly, one of the 5 surprising things in Malaysia if you're traveling as a couple is the ban on kissing in public, on the street and on public transport.
In this Muslim country, this display of affection is considered indecent behavior. So you will have to avoid kissing if you don't want to shock people.
In the same vein, for female travelers, it's best to avoid wearing overly revealing outfits such as mini skirts and plunging necklines.
5- Very interesting prices
Among the 5 surprising things in Malaysia, I saved the best for last. The cost of living in this country is half the price of France.
The prices will therefore surprise you, in a good way, especially since the exchange with the local currency is favorable to European travelers. To easily convert prices, remember that 1 euro is equivalent to about 5 ringgit (MYR).
When you arrive, you'll probably be surprised to be able to get a hearty meal at a restaurant for less than €10 per person and pay less than €3 for a fresh fruit juice. You can also find a double room in a good hotel for €40.
You will have understood, this Southeast Asian destination has many surprises in store for you and a change of scenery guaranteed!