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Friday, March 11, 2005

Welcome, Visitors, To Malaysia

For all tourists visiting Malaysia, especially Westerners, I welcome you to our warm and beautiful country. While you leisurely take your time shopping and sight-seeing, I hope I can offer you a handy guide on some Malaysian customs and practices, which you may find very peculiar.

Saturday afternoon in the suburbs:
Now if you are in the suburbs with a high Chinese population, Saturday afternoons are not the best time to be near shoplot areas. There will be a huge concentration of cars, motorbikes, trishaws, mobile stall operators etc discriminately parking in the middle of the road to access a certain kind of shop. These shops are usually two side by side, they have names like 4D, Magnum, Da Ma Cai, Sports Toto (nothing to do with sports) etc. Again, explaining this phenomenon might take awhile, but suffice to say it has something to do striking it rich, lottery and dream books.

Under the coffeeshop tables:
If you ever have the golden opportunity to visit a traditional Chinese coffeeshop, you will notice the beautiful marble tables with carved legs. And under the table is a colourful metal container, usually adorned with dragon or flowery motifs. That my friends, is not a trashcan, it’s a spittoon. And if you ever get to see a local customer using it, all the better. But if you ever see a straw in the spittoon…

Saturday afternoon on TV:
On your visit to Malaysia, you happen to stay at a hotel that offers only local terrestrial channels (meaning no cable TV), you will notice that most of the channel on offer show Hindi/Tamil/Telegu/Malayalee/Urdu movies at this time slot. This is strangely true every week, someone once told me that it is has something to do with estates and factories closing down for a break on Saturday afternoons. None of my Indian friends can vouch for this theory, since most of them have never set foot in a rubber estate.

Public toilets in Malaysia:
Don’t go near them. I’m not joking. Go use the hotel or McDonald’s toilet.

So, to the tourists to our country, I wish you happy holidaying. Next week, I’ll enlighten you on following peculiarities: car parking techniques in shopping centers during weekends, proper etiquette on eating banana leaf rice and perhaps explain to you the Malaysian p!r@ted DVD system.


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