Malaysian Odyssey – take duex: I continue to tell my 7-year-old, God has given us a wonderful planet to explore, made all the more beautiful by the grandeur of nature and the exotic differences He has imbued in all of us. Taking a trip half-way around re-affirms that lesson both to here through my posts here, but also to me as I continue to interact, learn and marvel at just how wonderfully unique all of us are.
I know, that opening was almost as â€œwe are the worldâ€ as my post entitled “Selamat datang! Malaysia blogging by your average guy!” but fact is I get much on-the-road energy and vigor by learning and enjoying the differences we all have in common! So much so that Iâ€™ve been keeping a mental list of observations of things that are different here â€“ and as I tell my daughter: different doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s bad, wrong or silly â€“ just different. Personally, I like many of the items Iâ€™ve listed below in no particular order:
- Politeness is not an option â€“ but a way of life here
- Excellent service is not an option â€“ but a matter of pride here
- Industriousness is not an option â€“ but also a matter of fact here
- Currency â€“ reminiscent of monopoly money, not only in their rich colroation, but also because of the variety of pictures (on the back), textures and anti-counterfeiting technologies employed
- When you hand someone a business card and/or cash â€“ you present it with both hands as a matter of courtesy
- Left face – steering wheels are on the right so cars can drive on the left. Likewise, people walk on the left side of the sidewalk, hallway and stairs
- Driving â€“ Iâ€™m reluctant to use the word â€œoffensiveâ€ but rather would suggest that their â€œnot-so-defensiveâ€ driving techniques would have them all cited for aggressive automotive operation here in the States â€¦ not to mention the impact such chummy proximity of car chassises would have on insurance rates.
- Cars â€“ much smaller, so much so that while I suspect excellent on the gas mileage, I wonder ifthis is because some are â€˜peddlingâ€™ as one would a kiddy car. Personally, Iâ€™d like to see more of their kind in our cities. That said, both my U.S. co-worker from North Carolina and I noted that weâ€™ve only cited one pick-up truck, and that a small one
- Shoes â€“ make sure your sox are in good order, many homes and offices request you remove your footwear before walking about; a rule I donâ€™t mind for many reasons;
- Hand towels, napkins and other such things â€“ not all that common. Some restaurants offer thin tissues â€“ some done. Likewise, many hotels while providing ample bath towels, request you bring your own hand towel
- Toilets â€“ they bowls are bigger, but also have a hose-like, sprayer thingie that we in the States used to wash veggies in the kitchen … only over here they’re used instead of toilet paper. That said, the hose thingie is probably the reason most TP rolls are equipped with a shield that not only helps in tearing off the paper, but permanently settles the argument over which way the paper should roll
- TV â€“ if you like soccer, youâ€™re set. Me, Iâ€™m intrigued enough, though I think some teams like Tottenham would fair better against Manchester United if they didnâ€™t field so many dirt-lovinâ€™ thespians
- Diet Coke â€“ is referred to here as â€œCoke Lightâ€ â€¦ which is a bit less hard to find and order than â€œPepsi Lightâ€ â€¦ which is almost non-existent here, and neither that often served in restaurants
- Sweet-n-low or Splenda? How about neither? – instead bring your own artificial sweeteners. The only game in town is Equal â€“ and good luck as it is meted out like gold from behind the counter; and only upon request
- Starbucks â€“ service is excellent, but for a â€œventi half caffâ€ kinda guy, itâ€™s a bit bitter and usually requires some instruction on my part to remind them that â€œit is on the goâ€ rather than â€œdine inâ€ â€¦ this after teaching them what a â€œhalf caffâ€ is, and settling on milk to go with the two packets of equal begrudgingly (but politely) surrendered
- Cheap eats â€“ a health inspectorâ€™s nightmare, but if youâ€™re adventurous â€“ you can eat like a king for a fraction of the cost
- Straws â€“ in the States, companies have been reducing the size of straws as a matter of pinching pennies, here in Malaysia, the straws have a diameter resembling one of ultra-those thick pencils one used to learn how to write in the first grade. Perhaps Wendyâ€™s would sell more Frostyâ€™s if they dispensed their drinks with these semi-hose, drink vacuum delivery systems
- Religion â€“ I believe Malaysia is 60% Islamic, yet I suspect even within that population there are differences as Iâ€™ve noticed different burkas based on both what appears ethnic and economic lines
- Shorts â€“ thereâ€™s no taboo per se, and certainly no one has made me feel inadequate or inappropriate for bearing the half-trouser during the hot, rainy season. That said, most of the locals are wearing long pants â€“ correction, local males. Many of both genders have their arms covered though in what appears to be a silky thin fabricâ€™d shirts and boulses, the former of which I definitely want to purchase before I return. Not only for what appears to be comfortable construction, but many are adorned in intriguing patterns that I just think are neat
- Taxes â€“ too high. As I noted before, Malaysians work hard, and I suspect would shop even harder if given more control over their own currency
- Cell phones â€“ everyoneâ€™s got at least one
- Security â€“ an interesting situation that depends on location and context. For example, when we dine after work, Iâ€™m warned to take my laptop with me as some criminals have devices to detect energy outputs from portables, which theyâ€™ll use to determine which car window to break and run. Then again, at a local mall (and there are many shopping malls), I see unsecured computers in kiosks all the time
- Sleeping hours â€“ Iâ€™ve been kidded more than once about how early I retire, 10 to 11pm being too premature for many. Of course, theyâ€™re also a bit taken aback that Iâ€™m usually busy bright and early, 5:30 AM being a bit more than they prefer â€¦ that said, perhaps thatâ€™s why the Starbucks here doesnâ€™t open till 9am, but in contrast, doesnâ€™t close until 11:30pm on weeknights
- XiÃ¨ Xie versus Terima Kasihâ€“ I was politely corrected that I had incorrectly issued the Chinese thank you, when I should have employed the Malaysian â€“ it was explained to me that I can tell by physical feature when to use which one
- Flavors â€“ if youâ€™re a boring steak and potatos, play it safe kind guy (or gal) then donâ€™t bother with the 30 hour trek. Malaysia extends a fantastic and diverse food culture for those willing to take a taste.
Anyway, those are just some of the differences. More later, but for now â€¦ enjoy some more photos Iâ€™ve locked-n-loaded for your viewing pleasure and cultural edification.
And now a parting not for my little-one: Hi sweetie, did you see how wonderfully different the World is over here? Thatâ€™s why I need you to learn how to eat new foods, learn new ways of doing things and not judge people by the color of their skin or the way they talk â€“ so one day you too can visit wonderful places and learn wonderful new things just like daddy!
Hey, same lesson goes for the rest of ya â€¦ especially those of you pondering a mission trip … perhaps more on that after I meet-up with some cool Malaysian bloggers this Sunday. Stay tuned!