Five Nouns to Describe Malaysia

Or how I actually also used nouns and adjectives to describe Malaysia, but that title would have been too long

Travelling without a plan gets you places and I’m happy to say that I stumbled into some countries that I would have otherwise never visited. I never meant to visit Cambodia but somehow (I actually still don’t really know how), I ended up there and fell totally in love with the culture and people. I also unexpectedly had to travel to Australia to find a job and firstly had to wait for an unidentified period of time for my working visa. The process was a bit more complicated for me, since I stayed so long in Asia and had to do extra medical tests including an eye examination with my contacts in and a general medical checkup where they told me that I am 163 cm tall from now on instead of the usual 168 cm that I have been for the past ten years. So at a certain point my Balinese visa was about to expire and I had to buy the cheapest ticket out of the country. Hence how I ended up in Malaysia. And even though some countries need some preparation, I actually really love going somewhere you know nothing about and discover everything on the spot. So from now on, I associate these five nouns with Malaysia:

1)The clash: No not the band, nobody is rocking the Casbah in Malaysia (now you know that that song is from the Clash). Malaysia is a country split in two and is also home for loads of different nationalities. The international vibe is topped off with a mix of skyscrapers and old colonial buildings. I reckon it was a good transition from Asia to Australia, but it was so confusing. Ok, I do get confused pretty quick, but still.

As always you could do in traffic whatever you want since you have the best cops that money can buy, if you can catch my drift; but at the same time you better swipe your electronic ticket so you can take the elevator to the 335 m rooftop of the Kuala Lumpur communications tower that has a revolving restaurant. Yes, after 5 months I was not used to technology anymore and made a fool of myself several times. It also doesn’t take much for me to make a fool out of myself. You guys will be fine. It’s just me.

2) The food: seriously, holy moly me oh my. I love it when I have no idea what to expect and then the food is amazing, especially because I’m not easily impressed by that since I eat every 2 to 3 hours. Just kidding, I’m actually pretty easy to impress, that’s why I enjoy life so much. But it doesn’t change the fact that the food here is amazing. Because of the international melt pot, this country doesn’t just provide splendid Malaysian platters, but also very tasty Indian and Chinese food. I don’t know much about Chinese food, but I swear to god I have eaten the best Indian food here since, well, India, and it has been 5 years since I visited that glorious country.

Shtreet food

3) The jackets: I noticed this trend throughout all Asia, but here in Malaysia it is very common to wear your jacket the other way around while driving a scooter. So with the zipper on your back actually. (No, they are not zipped up. This country isn’t inhabited by weird flexible snake people.) It mainly catches your attention when you’re exploring the new neighborhood on your own little moped (when you’re heading downtown, cruising through the alley; sorry I just had to do it). Every time I was waiting in front of a red light, looking around, the only thing I could think was: “But why? Whyyy??” So after a while, I decided to do some thorough investigation and took some serious measures to research the Malay behaviour.

Just kidding, I asked the guy in my hostel. Apparently, they do it, so they won’t tan too much, but it’s too hot to wear it normal. I was very content with that explanation and left my research for what it was, but after a while I saw that they were also doing it while it was raining. I’m guessing that’s maybe because they were already wearing it that way when they started driving. Frankly, I still have no idea and it would be nice if somebody could enlighten me on the subject. They do it though. Now you know that as well.

4) The glasses: they are ridiculously cheap. The first thing you need to know is that I am so blind that I need glasses to find my glasses. This means that I always had to buy the cheap models, because my lenses were just too expensive (ah, childhood traumas). You can imagine I felt like the queen of my castle when I could finally go for a real Ray Ban. It’s so easy as well. You walk in, they talk their little talk, you choose, you give them your soon to be old glasses so they can measure the strength, you pay and two days later you got your new pair of glasses. Let us all be quiet for a minute and appreciate Asian efficiency — thank you. I paid 65 euro for the lenses and “splurged” by giving 100 euro for the Ray Ban to get over my childhood traumas. I’m ok-ish now.

5) The street art: in Penang to be more accurate. When George Town became part of the World Heritage List, the city board took it seriously. They started organizing events at a Speedy Gonzalez pace and things really hit off when they hired the Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic to brighten up the street walls. And what a success it was. Since then Louis Gan, a self-taught artist, took this on-going project into his hands. This means that new street art keeps popping up in the raggedy and charming streets of Penang.

That was it. To be honest, I still associate these nouns with a lot of other countries and things. These are some pretty general nouns. But the article is written now, so it is what it is. More articles on food (duh) and street art will follow!

Shtreet art

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