Tales From A Broad

My year of teaching English in Japan is up. Next mission: backpack Asia before going home to the U.S.A. Currently HOME!





Walk Like A Malaysian

In the Asian countries I've been to, I've found the locals to be hospitable, but the Malaysians were different. The locals were always looking for ways to talk to me. In other countries, I'd normally think that they just wanted to sell me something (read: China), or that they were trying to take advantage of a women travelling alone (read: Thailand), but Malaysia is one of those rare gems where not only is it illegal to scam tourists, but the punishment is worse than scamming a fellow Malaysian. This means that, officially, there is no such thing as a "local price" (which is almost always cheapest) and a "foreigner price" (which is almost always the most expensive). Not only was this good for my wallet, but it was also good for my social life.

These gals spotted me in their local market and asked if they could snap a shot with me.

People genuinely wanted to help me find the perfect place to stay, or wanted to have dinner with me, or wanted to know what Cuban culture is like. Malaysia is one of the easiest places in Asia to meet and truly bond with the locals. Generally, there's no agenda or scam. They're just genuinely curious.When I needed to get to an ATM that was 40 KM away (I was in a tiny fisherman village), one of the local girls offered to drive me to it, instead of me paying for a taxi. After giving her a million thanks and secretly slipping some money in her dashboard, she drove me and we had one of the best conversations. I was asking her about Islamic culture (she was Muslim) and about life in Malaysia. There's so much I didn't know:

  • Dogs are considered filthy. Muslims aren't allowed to touch them, but cats are OK.
  • It's completely legal, socially accepted, and popular for a Muslim man to have many wives.
  • In Malaysia, the police follow Muslim law. They will arrest a Muslim if they are drinking or eating pork, both of which are strictly prohibited.
  • At the mall, movie theater, and other public places, lines are seperated by gender: one cashier is for men, and the other for women.
  • Malaysians have pet monkeys to climb their palm trees and collect coconuts.
Afterward, she took me to a local market to buy some coconut juice and lunch: various meats on bamboo sticks. We brought it back to her family and they insisted I stay for lunch. I met her sisters, mother and their friends from the village. For being conservative Muslims, they were completely funny and down-to-earth. The girls were teasing one of the older men about having all these random girlfriends. They were not stuffy or uptight at all.

The Malaysian family I had lunch with. The girl on the left with the blue head gear was the one who drove me to the local market to buy fresh coconuts.

On the islands, one of the many locals I bonded with was a 22 year-old guy who loved to play me his guitar. Even though he knew how bad of a singer I was, he still made me sing along with him. That was the catch. He played, I sang. A few Jack Johnsons, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tracy Champman's later, and we were laughing like we knew each other for years. It was one of those warm fuzzy Hallmark card/Lifetime movie moments.

Me and Wan, a local from the islands was always sweet with me by having dinner together and giving extra chocolate on my pancakes. (*^_^)

« Home | Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »

» Post a Comment