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Monday, April 18, 2005

Survival Guide to Malaysian Rural Towns

I just came back from a holiday trip to Cherating, and will explain to my readers why my blog was not updated for a few days. It was a fun trip; 10 of us living it up in the sun, sea, sand, turtles, seafood, sandflies, waterfalls, etc. There will be probably be 2 weeks’ worth of blog entries from that trip, but I’ll start with this one.

Over the years while participating in dozens of motorized treasure hunts, I’ve seen my fair share of villages and small rural towns: Ayer Tawar, Kemaman, Damar Laut, Parit Jawa, etc. Don’t get me wrong; I love the rustic peace and slow-paced life there, and when I was growing up, my hometown was semi-rural. And most of my classmates came from outlying villages. However, a lot of people are city-bred, so you may not get a little culture-shock. So here’s a helpful guide to all those urban-sesat folks:


SURVIVAL GUIDE TO MALAYSIAN RURAL TOWNS:


  • Keep within the speed limit. Knocking down some old makcik on a bicycle or running over someone’s stray chicken will get you in big, big trouble. A flash mob will congregate in seconds, baying for your blood. This rule applies especially if near the morning market, bus station or 4D shops.
  • Most petrol station attendants will pump the fuel for you. This isn’t like the city, where you have to do it yourself.
  • Don’t honk the car in front of you if he doesn’t immediately start moving when the traffic light turns green.
  • Every town has at least one coffeeshop with lots of old people drinking slowly. Go in and try it. They probably have best coffee and toasted bread you’ve ever tasted.
  • Don’t provoke the local boys on their illegally modified motorbikes. They don’t fall under the Malaysian traffic code.
  • Forget about firing up your notebook for some WiFi at the coffeeshop. Your best bet is for some internet connection is at the local cybercafé. And try not to let the Indonesians using Wartel or counterstrike deathmatches disrupt your surfing.
  • The Store or Bintang supermarket is the biggest place there is to buy something. Don’t bother looking for a 7-11 or Guardian.
  • When communicating with the locals, speak clearly and listen carefully. Their version of BM may differ very much from yours.


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