Thursday, 5 May 2016

What do people from other places around the world think about Malaysia?

So there are a lot of expatriates who reside in Malaysia for an array of reasons. Now that, I have interviewed individuals from more than 10 different countries who are currently/ were living/ have stayed in Malaysia. Basically, we touched on five interesting aspects during the interviews:

1)What are/is the things/thing that you would never forget about Malaysia?
2)Misconceptions of you about Malaysia
3)Misconceptions of Malaysians about your home country
4)How are Malaysians in general?
5)What is the most peculiar norm you find in Malaysia? 

1)North South Korean : Mr. Kim Chiun a.k.a Kimchi 김지운 (Yongin)

"I had been in Malaysia for more than 4 years. I just went there for learning English, and personally I wanted to learn the Islamic culture and Malaysian culture. LOL Actually I never had any opportunity to learn Islamic culture and Malaysian culture in Korea. That is why it fascinated me so much! I watched one episode in documentary about Southeast Asia and the cultures displayed there were so awesome."


But why did you choose Malaysia over other Southeast Asian Countries?

"I guess Malaysia is one of the safest countries in SE asia?I heard that there is no natural disaster in Malaysia. That's the only reason why I believe it is the safest.Obviously, Nasi Lemak would be one that i would never forget about Malaysia haha but I also really enjoyed listening to the Islamic prayer. That prayer was like morning alarm. Most importantly, Indian taxi driver!! I was like so excited for thrilled taxi ride! Misconception is that many friends of mine always think that Malaysia does not even have any access to the internet. However, obviously it is not true haha."

Kimchi on the left side of the picture is shown photobombed by a stranger photobombing a stranger
"Also, people, including me, think that PM or presidents in SE Asia are very rude to the people. Malaysians always think that all Korean men are damn handsome like how actors are in drama. Malaysians are very friendly in general but Indian taxi drivers are rude to Koreans and Japanese(in my opinion). UMMMMM......The most peculiar norm I find is that all Malaysians do not have to go military service unless they are selected to do so, and female also have to go Military service. In korea, females are exempted."

Is there anything that you would like to add on?

"How to make Nasi Lemak??? haha I really miss Nasi Lemak!!"

2)Thai : Mr. Anan Hai (Bangkok)

"I have stayed here in Malaysia for 3 years 1 month because study degree in Sunway Univerity. Ah, the good thing is I am surprised that in this country have 3 main nationalities and bad thing is that Malay people is very unfriendly because when I went outside and I wanna ask for the way they just ignore me. But not all Malays are unfriendly. I cannot say much because I have not many Malay friends. The misconception is first before I came here I think everything in here is cheaper than Thailand but when I stay here everything is more expensive. For examples, fruit, food, rental and car. Car in here (Malaysia) is very exp. In general, Malaysian students work hard because I saw some student study like crazy untill 2 a.m. or over night."

Any weird things you find in Malaysia?

"The thing that weird in Malaysia is I ask my uncle who is Malay-Chinese. He said the government only take care of Malay and tax more on Malay-Chinese. So, I think that it is very unfair to Chinese people in this country and why the government do that. It is look weird!"

3)Canadian : Mr. Brandon Liew (Edmonton, Alberta)

"If I were to guess, I've stayed in Malaysia for about a total of 10 months due to family trips when I was younger. I came to Malaysia for vacation with my family."

"I won't forget the food. The food is both delicious and cheap. I probably wouldn't forget how hot and humid the weather is there too."

But anyhow you have survived the hotness in Malaysia! What were the misconceptions you had about Malaysia before coming here?

"I can't really answer this since I've been to Malaysia ever since I was young. However, from the Malaysian friends I've had in Boston, I initially believed that Malaysians were not super fluent in English and had a limited understanding of popular culture in America. I was proven wrong once I made a lot of Malaysian friends at Berkelee and learned that for some of them, English is their first language, and that they are up to date with the latest pop culture in America."

How about our misconceptions about your home country?

"This is hard since I've never asked any Malaysians. I can't think of many misconceptions other than the myth that Canadians say "eh" a lot. I mean we do use it at the ends of our sentences, but not that much. Canada isn't any nicer or polite than Americans either which is evident through some our riots at sports events and racist crimes."

"The Malaysians that I know are personable, easy to talk to, and very lively people. I've found that if they are passionate about something, I can usually feel it quite easily."

"Malaysian slang can be quite interesting to decipher sometimes. Not sure if it's a norm, but the way that Malaysians mix and combine different languages to speak "Manglish" is both marvelous and difficult for me to understand sometimes."

4) German : Miss Rebecca Bader  (Hamburg)

*Rebecaa has a Malaysian boyfriend, Veng but she has never visited Malaysia. Thus, the survey questions I asked her during the interview session were somewhat different from the other interviewee.*
Hi, Rebecca! How is Malaysia in the eyes of you as a German?

"Hmmm this is a very general question. As i know quite a lot about Malaysia culture and traditions but also about the political system, its a mixed impression I guess. I think that most of the older people do still have an old-fashioned point of view, especially regarding "races" (I hate this word). But there are definitely exceptions (like Veng's parents, gladly) and I think that the younger generation, from what I know about the city area is much more open-minded and diverse in their opinions. It makes me really happy to see movements like Bersih and stuff, because I think it shows that this is a time of change."

"As you may have interpreted now, I'm not a big fan of Malaysian politics, but who is? So as i said now, i only know a bit about the city area around KL and not so much about villages and the people there, and i think there are so many interesting things to get to know about them! And i think that the food would be amazing, except maybe durian but i would still want to try it!"

What are the common stereotypes of Malaysia held by Germans?

"Honestly, i have to tell you that there aren't any, simply because Germans in general don't think a lot about Malaysia. Two years ago, I actually thought that Malaysia would be the same as Papua New Guinea, which is kind of a shame because I think that it is (or could be) a growing country."

"Just what I'm afraid of: so many Malaysians wanna go abroad and settle down there, especially well educated college students, which I can 100% understand, I guess I would do the same thing... but whats gonna happen with the country in like 15 years from now? Eventually, there will only be workers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and what's gonna happen over there? It's kind of a circle, I guess, and I couldn't really think of a solution for it yet. Hmm I got a bit off topic, I'm sorry."

What comes into your mind when I say "Malaysia"?

"My boyfriend. I think of him, his life over there, his friends, his family, the heat, the prejudices between some Malays Chinese and Indians and how cool the younger generation deals with it, I think of that I want to try Nasi Lemak and that I want to learn more about Malaysia!"

 Would you like to visit Malaysia? Why?

"I want to visit Malaysia since one year, and its so annoying that I can't. My mum is kind of over protective and doesn't wanna let me fly alone or with a friend because someone could put drugs in my bag and then I'll be hanged. That's basically her argumentation. If i didn't have someone as a reason to go to Malaysia, I still think its a wonderful tourist target and would probably still want to go there! But if I'm there for tourism purposes, I would want to see the village area also, maybe also Sarawak and other parts of the country like Malakka or Penang or even more northern."

Rebecca and Veng posed for a photo in Hamburg

"But as I got someone who would show me around, I would want to see Veng's daily life. Excuse me if I get a bit emotional here but I just want to see and touch and smell and feel in reality what I have seen through Skype for over one year. First of all I want to see his house, his room, his college, his friends, the Mamak he goes to, his old high school, his family of course, the Indian temple and just everything that I have seen in pictures but haven't felt you understand what I mean? So yeah, I would probably not care so much for the tourism stuff when I go to Malaysia one day, at least not for the first time."

Is there anything else you would like to add on?

"Hmmm the only thing i would want to add is the 'races' thing, but as I already mentioned it, I think its unnecessary to explain furthermore about the injustice for example if you want to start up a business, want to buy a house or go to university.Overall, I connect mostly positive things with Malaysia because of my personal connection to it, and all the super nice and friendly and funny and cool people I talked to, because I think that's what the country really is!"

5)Indonesian : Miss Calista Hon (Singkawang, Kalimantan)

"I have been living in Malaysia for 1 and a half year due to my tertiary studies. Things that I would not forget about Malaysia is their bad taxi service. Lots of taxi drivers refuse to use their meter."

Misconception of me about Malaysia was high rate of racism. And the misconception Malaysians have about Indonesia is all people from Indonesia eat halal food only (they always think Indonesian are Muslim. Anyway, there are a lot of friendly people and delicious food in Malaysia! Thumbs UP!"

What is the most peculiar norm you find in Malaysia?

"Very little handsome guys that can be dated.."

*R.I.P to my male ego*

6) Indonesian : Miss Chanel Supriady a.k.a Coco (Denpasar, Bali)

"Ive been here since Sept 2014 so almost 2 yrs? I came to Malaysia because there's no good uni in Indonesia lol! Hahha So firstly, the weather in Malaysia is not bearable...its sooooo hot, a lot of haze, and it can suddenly rain out of nowhere hahaha (unpredictable) becuase Indonesia and Malaysia is almost the same, I think there's not much diff hahaha..."

"At first, I thought all Malaysians are not friendly, but later I realized they are friendly but they are just shy to talk to stranger especially foreigner. Malaysians think that Indonesians came just to work and really think that our country is an underdeveloped country(this is the misconception). Generally, Malaysians are kinda racist ahahhahha people just group together with their own races. Also, Malaysians love to go for supper at the middle of the night and it's so weird that a lot of places are open at night..."

 Hey, supper tonight eh? Any add-ons?

"Lol! Malaysia is a multicultural country but the people are not united." 

7) Mainland Chinese : Mr. Guo Di Hao (Shanghai) 

"I have been here for 3 years for my studies.The good thing here is the air in Malaysia is quite good. Can see the blue sky haha. And the bad thing is the public transport here is really bad. Like I need to wait 40mins for the bus."

"My misconception about Malaysia was that it is Muslim country which has no pork. The misconception of Malaysians about China is a lot of people think that China is a Communist country. So it is behind of the world like North Korea. But actually China is very modern even better than US UK these developed countries. Malaysian in general is very relaxed. I won't feel that they are nervous at all (relaxed pace of life)."

Xie Xie Ni, what is the weirdest thing you find in Malaysia?
"Everyone going out wearing slippers (Malaysians like to wear slippers on most occasions)!"

8)kyrgyz : Miss Sevara Rakhimova (Osh) 

"I have been here 2 years. I came to study. I would never forget my friends that I met them here in Malaysia."

I am honoured!

"The biggest misconception was I thought things in Malaysia would be cheap. But it's not! I don't think there are any misconception of Malaysian about my country. They don't even know my country*sad emoticon* In general Malaysia is the good country for traveling."

9) Vietnamese : Miss Tu Ngoc a.k.a Victoria The Secret (Ho Chi Minh)

"I have been in Malaysia since July 2014. I come here first to study IEP, Intensive English Program, then I did CIMP and now I start my hospitality degree program first year. Before I came to Malaysia, I didn't know that there will be a lot of Chinese here - no offense. So when I come here, I feel kinda lost cause like everywhere I go, I just hear Chinese language. But later on, I can get use to it and I think it also a good thing because I can learn and practice Chinese with my friends."

*Victoria is the one who stands in the middle*
"Malaysian people in general, I think they are friendly and kind, I stayed in School hostel at first and my roommates were Malaysian. I still remember that they were very nice to me, very welcoming and kind. In general, Malaysia is a very nice place to stay, only 1 thing i don't like is that the weather is soooo hot" 

10) Sri Lankan : Mr. Malintha Philip (Colombo)

"I've been here for about 10months and I came here for studies. NASI LEMAK and PAN MEE are the things that I would never forget about Malaysia!! And also the people I've met here. My main misconception about Malaysia was that I thought the country was very strict like Singapore but it's much more relaxed and party place."

How about Malaysians' misconceptions about Sri Lanka?

"The people who know Sri Lanka only know about our beaches but we have way more to Sri Lanka and the beaches are just a few of them. Also they are unaware of the corruption in our country."

"I find that Malaysian girls are pretty and the dudes are cool in general. One thing I find weird is the use of "Laa" when speaking English. I don't get that!"


11) Japanese : Miss Julie Sasaki (Tokyo)

"This is my 4th year in Malaysia; I came here to study under the Canadian curriculum in Sunway. The languages in Malaysia are so unique because everyone mixes different dialects and slang. And I would never forget the heat in Malaysia. So hot! Why do I see people wearing long pants/shirts OMG" 

How does Malaysian stereotype Japanese in general?

"Everyone is an otaku (a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills). / we eat sushi everyday / everyone watches anime / there are still ninjas around! These are all the misconceptions. Malaysians in general are open minded, easy to mix with, understanding."

Ah, are there any norms you find particularly peculiar?

"People who ride motorcycles wear their jackets from the front / people can order things without a menu (mamak, hawker stores etc)"

pic courtesy of
 *Like....this? ONLY IN MALAYSIA*

12) Canadian: Mr. Mark Sidney Joseph Auger (Ottawa)

"I spent three years in Malaysia. I was a teacher at CIMP during that whole time as an English Teacher for ENG 4C and 4U as well as Writer's Craft."

"The students in Malaysia were great. They were very open minded and knowledgeable of the world. They were 'with it' and are a great generation. The people in the country were super friendly and helpful."

"Negatives of Malaysia: concrete everywhere. Bandar Sunway for instance has a highway to the north, south, east and west. Where is all the green space?"

"I didn't know much about Malaysia before coming here. I had only seen the film 'Entrapment' starring Sean Connery, so that was my only understanding of the country. So I didn't have any conceptions of Malaysia before coming here, I was open minded to the experience." 
What are the misconceptions of Malaysians about Canada?

"Malaysians to Canada? Well, it's the normal stuff. We live in igloos, we are polite, we love coffee and hockey and all that. We come from the land of always winter"

"Malaysians in general are friendly and helpful. Though there are many subcultures within Malaysia: Malays, Chinese-Malays, Indian-Malays, etc. I found most people to be open to life."

How about the peculiar norms you found in Malaysia?

"Peculiar norms in Malaysia? Well the 'la' is interesting. I love listening to people talk. I found it weird that when you go into retail stores, the workers follow you around everywhere. Like they are standing right behind you, always hovering. I would say 'I'm just looking' but they breathe down my neck, so I'd be less interested in buying."

"I miss Malaysia. For me, it was my home base. I made great friends awhile there and those three years were the favourite so far in my life."

*Them feels sir....* 

13) Hong Kongese : Miss Shirley Yu

"I have been living here for a year long. I am here because of my dad's job. Things that I would never forget are terrible traffic jam everyday and the slowness and irresponsibility of how people work....and majority of Malaysian do not like to make friends with Asian foreigners...kinda exclusive us...You can tell majority of uni are Malaysian. Malaysians often sit together no matter they know each other or not they leave all the foreigner sitting alone on the other side of class. Even if foreigners and Malaysian sit together, once another Malaysian show up! They just ignore foreigner naturally...... One misconception I had about Malaysia was that I thought Malaysians only speak English! A lot of Malaysians think Hong Kong people do not speak mandarin! I notice that Malaysian likes to wear flip-flop. the most peculiar norm I find in Malaysia can almost bribe for anything LOL"

Well, we love flip-flops! They are comfy! Anything you like to add on?
"Malaysia's transportation is bad....Really bad! Oh yea and the haze is really annoying."

14) Mainland Chinese : Miss Huang Jia Yi (Xi'an)


"I had been in Malaysia for around 2 years for studies.Things I would never forget are the people I have met in Malaysia, they are friendly, positive and they always encourage me to look forward and never give up. Food and weather in Malaysia are also special for me, I would never forget it! Before coming here, I thought Malaysia is not safe and boring...In general Malaysians are nice and friendly."

15)Bangladeshi : Miss Nafeesa Nawoar & Nazifa Nawoar (Dhaka)

"I came in Malaysia on April 2014 and i am staying here for my studies and all. The fact that there are construction work going everywhere around, I will never forget this its like whenever you come out, there will always be something going on and the workers loading unloading and stuff though they are also Bangladeshi."

"My misconception about this place was that maybe the Malay people are all Muslims and like they wear Hijaabs and burqas all the time but i was quite shocked when I learnt about the mixed Malay- Chinese race. no offence. The Malaysians always think about Bangladesh to be a third world country and therefore always look down upon us. This biased opinion also depends our skin colour maybe, I dont know. Malaysians are quite okay to be honest but you people say "LA" all the time!!!"

We use "LA" all the time? I don't think so la...

"LOL! Anyway, I like this country. I mean its secured here and the college is also very good so all in all the living standard is much more better than our country."

16) Iranian : Miss Saba Jalali (Tehran)

"Well, I came to Malaysia about 5-6 years ago; came here to further my studies in English. Malaysia is literally considered my second home, I would never forget about the schools I attended, and the friends I made. Other good thing I would never forget is the taste of  Malaysian fruits."

*I guess you were referring to Durian!* 

"Bad things I would never forget are the rudeness of the immigration officers and the corruption of Malaysian police. Not much of a person for generalizing, I would say that Malaysians are very calm and relaxed which I find soothing." 

17) Omani : Mr. Haitham Al-Gafhri


"I'm in Malaysia since 2014, and I'm here for studying.The good things in Malaysia are I meet a lot of friends from different countries here and the education is good. The bad things are the weather, some of its citizens, and a lot. The misconceptions I had before I came here were that the weather is perfect and most the people are nice."

How would you sum up your overall impression of Malaysia?

" It's an developing country but it needs a lot to be developed" 

18) Kazakhstani : Miss Uldana Zhunisbek (Almaty)

"Halo guys I am Uldana, and I come from Kazakhstan. So basically, there are 3 things that best describe Malaysia and they are gonna be; first is Durian, second is beautiful island, and then cultural diversity."

"I have been in Malaysia for 3 years to study. I have so many things, so much good memories and the thoughts about Malaysia. My best memory probably gonna be the people, ERMM because the Malaysians, they are so kind; they are so open; they are so friendly unlike the people from any other countries I have so far been."

What were the misconceptions you had about Malaysia before coming here?

"My agent was recommending this country for me. He was just saying to me that Malaysia is a very hot country, and there are so many beautiful oceans, islands. Whenever I open my window I am gonna see the sea and I am gonna have a lot of bananas and pineapples that I do not need to buy them. I just need to go out my house to get them from the trees."

"But when I came here I realized that my home is far from ocean, like for 6 hours, and there is not many bananas so I need to buy them by myself. it was a really big misconception about Malaysia! Well, misconceptions of Malaysian about my home country is that people from Kazakhstan are so proud. They do not usually friendly and talk to people. But what I want to say is not everyone is like this. We are friendly as well. The thing is because there are rich kids from Kazakhstan  who study in Malaysia so they will act it this way. Not everyone from Kazakhstan is proud."

"In general, saya suka Malaysia (I love Malaysia). The most peculiar norm I find in Malaysia is that the people just wearing slippers and do not really dress up even when they go to shopping malls. That is what surprises me most! Because in Kazakhstan even girls when they go shopping they will dress up and they look on point and we never wear slippers to formal places like university. But it is also shown that people in Malaysia, they are not judging by style or by face. Whoever they are, they will just act very simple"

*What Uldana meant was : Malaysians are down-to-earth in general*

"I feel like Malaysia is a country that opens up me especially when I just started my career as a model/singer here. I really love Malaysia!"

All the best in your endeavours to become a successful model/singer! 

19) Hong Kongese : Miss Amanda Chong
 "I have been staying in Malaysia my whole life but I've always traveled back and forth between Hong Kong and Malaysia every 2/3 months or so to visit my dad since he's working and based in Hong Kong. I'm in Malaysia for educational purposes and also because my mum's a Malaysian; not forgetting Malaysia's good food as well!"

"There's a lot to love Malaysia for and one of the biggest reason would be the sunny weather that Malaysia has all year-round. Believe it or not, coming from a country with four seasons is actually quite troublesome - imagine having to check the weather everyday before heading out so you know what you've got to wear/ prepare and also imagine having to shop for crazily expensive seasonal clothes every 2 years or so, definitely not something that I look forward to personally! Furthermore, Malaysia is a beautiful country filled with richness in diversity, culture and opportunities! This comes from many factors such as it's unity between races, it's thriving economy and more! I love how the country and it's people has always been so accepting of not only me but many other fellow expats as well. Perhaps, that's one of the reason why I feel extremely heavy hearted to leave the country for good in the coming fall as well."

" I've always grew up here so I don't have much misconceptions about the country but I do have a lot of friends back in Hong Kong who thinks that Malaysians can only speaks Malay since it's (Malay)sia! Not only that, there are also a lot of misconception of Southeast Asians consuming the weirdest foods from durian to fried bugs but I think that's just one of the many cultural specialty of this region of the world."

"Since Astro on Demand is quite huge in Malaysia, Malaysians tend to assume how Hong Kong actors act in these shows are how we, Hong Kongese would act in our daily lives as well. Think, extremely fierce-constantly annoyed and that's what many Malaysians would think of us."

"One norm in Malaysia that I can never understand and feel comfortable with is the extremely gender-centered mindset that a lot of Malaysians I've noticed to posses, even though they might not necessarily realized it. This can range in several areas in the Malaysian society, from jobs to titles and even household roles! I've noticed that there's a lot of constraints to jobs in Malaysia especially. For example, people would easily put a title to one's gender/ sexuality based on one's job title. As for household roles, Malaysians tend to assign these roles/ responsibilities to women only especially due to the mindset that men are supposed to be the bread maker of a family. However, with the recent awareness around feminism and gender equality, I do notice some movement in this mindset so that's great!"

"Malaysians in general are in my opinion, extremely friendly, kind and helpful! Although there may be a handful of people that aren't as described but there can't be a full basket of perfect apples without a couple of rotten ones so I completely understand that!"

"Malaysia has always and will be home to my heart and I strongly urge the youth of Malaysia to always come back to their very own roots here in the future. I know the county might not seem as bright now but there are a lot of hidden opportunity that you've never realized it's there and I believe that the future of the country lies in your hands. Good luck!"

Thank you Amanda! It was really elaborate!

20) Irish : Mr. Mark Gillick (Dublin)

"I have been in Malaysia (Sibu) for 3 years. I followed a colleague in Thailand to Sibu to teach at an international school here."

"When I was working in Thailand, I would travel to Johor Bahru, Genting Highland and Kuala Lumpur. I am not a fan of concrete jungle; I like quiet town. I find Malaysia more westernized than Thailand; probably because Thailand is under a more centralized government. I would never forget how fascinating it was to have 4000-room hotels sitting on top of the mountain which was Genting Highland. The only Misconception I had before I came to Malaysia was that I thought it would be a country of only Malay. But turned out that there were a lot of Chinese as well."

Any peculiar norms you find in Malaysia?

"I find... on the roads, there is not much courtesy. For example, if you are driving down a road and someone tries to come out, they won't even look; they will just pretend they do not see and just keep going. Whereas, in Ireland, people are considerate. When they see you try to come out, they will slow down and let you out. But that's only a small thing. My life here in Malaysia is quite enjoyable; if I were not, I won't be here!





  1. My blogger friends in the US said that from reading my blog, they would love to come and visit Sibu - not the big cities, not Singapore - whatever they have, they think they have the same or even nicer there...but Sibu. Too bad they are all so far away.

    1. AHA! It is even hard to get in here (we don't have an international airport). Not to mention that the availability of public transport is scarce. Unless they know someone who lives in Sibu; otherwise they would not want to come here.