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9 Malaysian Habits We’re Guilty of Practicing Abroad

Wherever we go, one thing remains. You can take the Malaysian out of Malaysia, but you can never take out the Malaysian-ness from us.

9 Malaysian Habits We’re Guilty of Practicing Abroad
Image: Ultimate Travel

Have you ever travelled all over the world and breathed a sigh of relief each time you spot a Malaysian restaurant or food? Secretly screamed in happiness when you finally meet another Malaysian half way across the world? Or perhaps you long for the sunny weather in our country? Admit it, wherever we go, certain Malaysian habits come along with us. No matter how hard you try to fit in to be “Italian”, “Russian” or Mat Salleh, you will always end up going back to your roots. Okay lah, let’s get down to business and see some habits we practise around the world.

1. Being Late

Gif: Giphy

If you’ve never heard of the “Malaysian timing”, then chances are you might be a Malaysian celup. Always set your appointment an hour earlier, because if it’s set at 1pm, there’s a high probability that you’re only leaving the house at that hour or even worse, you’re still at home getting ready. Because we’re so accustomed to this, we even tend to practice it abroad. Naturally, we’re always the last group to arrive at the meeting point which consequently causes the whole group tour to be delayed. Do we feel guilty about it? Maybe, just a little bit. For most of the time, probably not.

2. Finding Malaysian food

Gif: Giphy

For the first few days abroad, our inner Andrew Zimmern kicks in and we’re all for trying out the local food and delicacies. By at the end of the week though, you can’t help but feel an inevitable void at the pit of your soul and stomach. Why? The answer’s simple – you miss Malaysian food. You crave the smell of spices from the mamak stall; your brain starts to hurt just thinking where you’re going to get your sambal belacan or budu fix. The struggle for Malaysian food is real, and the moment you finally find a Malaysian restaurant, the waterworks start coming in. 

3. The Maggi + Gardenia combo pack

Image: CN360, NDTV

Stop denying it; we’re pretty sure we’ve all had this combo pack stashed in our luggage every time we travel. Maggi and Gardenia have been there for us Malaysians for decades now. Tell us, when was the last time you were thankful to have Maggi at 11 pm during a cold day? Or have some Gardenia buns to help curb those hunger pangs while museum hopping?  See, just as we suspected.

4. Bringing a rice cooker

Image: wikihow

This may be shocking to some, but not for a majority of us. Usually it’s our moms or mak ciks who are guilty of doing this. It sounds kind of leceh to bring a rice cooker thousands of miles away but trust us, nothing beats hot, steaming, fragrant rice that just reminds you of home. Or maybe it’s just a Malaysian thing, we don’t know. Not only that, you’ll also save heaps of $$$ as well. So, at the end of the day, you get a happy tummy and a happy wallet. Totally worth the hassle.

5. Eating with our hands

Image: traveloncloud9

It’s hard to curb this one if you’ve been eating with your hands every day. You might even get dirty looks from the people around you but you couldn’t be bothered. I mean, who eats croissants with a knife and fork anyway?! Definitely not us Malaysians. And don’t get us started on fried chicken… But it’s okay. Just be yourself and enjoy the food that you deserve after a long day of travelling. Whatever it is, do make sure you’re not doing anything that is offensive to anyone’s culture and customs.

6. Requesting for condiments

Image: Saya Backpacker, Nyonya Restaurant

Do we love chilli? Yes. Do we need chilli sauce for everything? Hell yes! Our food doesn’t taste right with just ketchup. We need that extra umpph, that spicy kick that gets our taste buds flaring. Besides our favourite chilli sauce, the sambal ikan bilis (chilli anchovies) is also another popular life-saver. Sambal ikan bilis is probably the closest thing you’ll ever get to nasi lemak to cure that homesickness temporarily.

7. Calling the waiter “Boss”

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Although “boss” is an English word and we often use it to signal for the waiter at a restaurant or mamak stall, it doesn’t mean we can do the same overseas. This may confuse the hell out of them as they’ll think you’re referring to someone else.  And when they don’t layan you, please lah don’t think they’re being rude. They just don’t know it’s them you’re calling for. Even worse, if you wolf-whistle or make that annoying squeaky-rat-whistle sound thingy to get their attention. Try saying “excuse me” or a simple hand-waving gesture would suffice.

8. Ending your words or sentences with “lah”

Image: 12 Fishermen/Etsy

We’re pretty sure every now and then you’ve accidently muttered the word “lah” at the end of a word or a sentence. Maybe you didn’t even realize saying it because you’re so used to it. It’s arguably one of the most versatile local slangs that may compliment almost any sentence. “Lah” is so utterly Malaysian that even foreigners who come to our country think that by using this word makes them sound like us. Frankly speaking, you don’t really need to use it for everything. Pity lah those poor fellas abroad. At the end of the conversation they'll be thinking "What lah??"

9. Converting EVERYTHING to MYR

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As Asians, we’re naturally calculative. It’s embedded in our DNA. From souvenirs to food, transportation to clothes, any purchase will only be decided at the helm of the final cost after being converted to our local currency. Thank God for our modern day phones or calculators; imagine carrying around the abacus to calculate things?! “Walaoweh RM30 for a slice of pizza? Better eat snow leh.” Being calculative is actually a good thing as you are aware of how much you’re spending. But sometimes, you just gotta relax. Do your research before going abroad so you won’t get too stressed out which consequently will ruin your trip. Make sure everything is planned out and always save some emergency money. Well, unless you don’t mind scrubbing dirty dishes at the back of an alley to make that trip home.