Some refer to it as the “Land of Beautiful Islands,” while others refer to it as “Food Paradise.” Malaysia is Asia’s secret gem, regardless matter how you refer to it. Every corner of the country has wonderful food, gorgeous landscape, and a diverse culture.
However, how well do you think you know Malaysia as a Malaysian? We present you with 10 interesting facts about Malaysia Culture that you probably didn’t know.
- It is one among Asia’s most diversified nations.
While Malaysia is a Muslim country with Malays making up the majority of the population, the country’s location on the trade route between India and China has historically made it a crossroads of peoples and civilizations. Malaysia’s 32 million residents are made up of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and indigenous peoples. Along with Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism thrive. Malaysia’s diverse blend of culture, language, and — of course – food is rooted in this diversity.
- Penang is Asia’s street food capital.
Whenever you read an article about the “greatest street food in the world,” the Penang province – particularly its capital, George Town – invariably comes out on top. Hundreds of hawker stalls serve delectable Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and other Southeast Asian cuisines. The best vendors have been around for decades, and their recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.
- Malaysians do not consider themselves to be Malaysians.
If you ask an American what they are, they will tell you they are an American. If you ask someone from the United Kingdom if they are British, they are likely to respond yes. If you ask a Malaysian, they will most likely answer they are Malay, Chinese, Indian, or Dan Lain Lain, which means “other,” according to The Rakyat Post.
Malaysians are Malay-majority (55%), Chinese-majority (25%), and Indian-majority (10%). There are more than 60 sub-ethnic groupings in Sarawak and Sabah alone. Malaysia is a fascinating melting pot of cultures, with a diverse spectrum of nationalities, and is a popular destination for tourists and expats from all over the world.
- Food is a mixture of several cultures.
If Malaysia is known for its cultural richness, it is the cuisine that backs up that claim. Malaysians know how to feast while practising muhibah, from Nyonya meals (a mix of Chinese and Malay flavours, evocative of Peranakan culture) to mamak food (a fusion of Indian and Malay fare).
- Indoors, no shoes are permitted.
What’s the difference between your house and the freeway if you wear your shoes inside? Indoors, wearing shoes is impolite, disrespectful, and just plain filthy. It’s not a good idea.
- Use your right hand to eat.
In Malaysia, eating with your bare hand is just as common as eating with a fork and spoon. Nasi lemak, roti canai, and crispy prawn crackers are all finger food – at least on your right hand. Your left paw is set aside for less appetising items.
- Everything should be done with honesty.
Malaysia is a safe, kind, and honest country. This implies that food merchants won’t try to overcharge you because you’re a tourist, and you’ll generally get your RM50 ($12) note back.
- It is home to a world-class low-cost airline.
Although flying to Southeast Asia from the United States is costly, any seasoned tourist will tell you that once there, getting about is extremely inexpensive. That’s thanks in part to AirAsia, a low-cost carrier based in Kuala Lumpur. You can fly to more than 20 Asian countries, including tourist attractions like Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali, on one of AirAsia’s distinctive red-and-white planes for less than $100 round-trip. India, Saudi Arabia, and Australia are all destinations for the airline. For the eighth year in a row, AirAsia has won the Skytrax award for Best Low-Cost Airline. Just keep in mind that the airline is “cheap” in every sense.
- Malaysia is home to the world’s largest flower.
The rafflesia bloom is Malaysia’s most famous plant. The Rafflesia is the world’s largest flower, with a bloom that can span more than a yard in diameter. The flower exudes a foul odour when it blooms, earning it the moniker “corpse flower.” The odour attracts flies, which then carry pollen. Rafflesia blooms can be found in Borneo’s rainforests. Malaysia is one of 17 countries designated as having “megadiverse” biodiversity.
- The ‘king of fruits’ grows there, but many people can’t eat it.
Durian is probably the most divisive fruit on the planet.
Although it is known as the “king of fruits” in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries, its odour is so strong that it is prohibited in many Malaysian hotels. “Pig-s—-, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock,” food writer Richard Sterling described the odour. The stiff, prickly husk must be hacked open with a sharp knife to reveal mushy, custardy durian meat pods. It has an odd blend of pineapple, onions, caramel, almond, butter, and cheese in its sweet and savoury flavour. Durian is unquestionably an acquired taste, and Malaysians relish in watching tourists try it for the first time.