You’re Not Malaysian Enough If You Don’t Do These 13 Things When You Travel


Winnie Chong •  Aug 30, 2022

It's no secret that Malaysians generally love to travel. From beach holidays to hiking escapades, we Malaysians sure know how to momentarily leave our usual mundane life for the better – even if the trips are only for a few days!

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And although we might be different, we still share similar characteristics as Malaysians when it comes to travelling. Here are 13 things we just know you'd relate to!

1. Enjoy the cold weather abroad

The tropical Malaysian weather that is hot and humid all year round can be of frustration to many, with air-conditioners being their lifesavers. This is why Malaysians are most likely to choose getaways to cold countries for a change!

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However, it may take some time for Malaysians to adapt to the cold climate. We pile up layer after layer of clothing to keep ourselves warm but still shiver when the wind blows. The sight of heaters excites us – not forgetting our constant eating to satiate our never-ending hunger when travelling in cold countries. Suddenly carpeted floors seem more comfortable to step on, and we dread having to take showers.

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At the end of the day, we still marvel at the sight of snow even though it is cold outside because we'd probably miss it once we get back.

2. Convert item prices to the Malaysian currency

Malaysians are cost-conscious, and that habit continues even when we travel. Travelling is not only limited to affluent Malaysians, hence the need to be frugal in light of our weaker currency. The importance of value-for-money things or experiences is carefully taken into consideration before we splurge, more so when travelling!

For starters, we tend to look at the price tags of items before mentally converting the prices to our currency. Be it food, souvenirs or entrance fees to attractions in the country, we do the math in our heads and compare the prices to that in Malaysia before finally deciding to proceed with the purchases. Our biggest satisfaction is when we get to stretch our ringgits when travelling!

3. Crave for rice

Rice is the staple food for most Asian countries, including Malaysia. As the number one diet of Asians, we grow up eating rice. Malaysians have been spoiled with gastronomical choices in our homeland and our palates are already accustomed to good food.

We may transform into food connoisseurs as we try out new dishes when we travel, but it is only a matter of time before we start craving rice again. No wonder one of the symptoms of rice withdrawal is running down the supermarket aisle looking for boxes of instant Asian rice meals. Let’s face it – we have all done it before when we travel!

4. Take pictures of things abroad that remind us of Malaysia

Malaysians confidently carry patriotism on our sleeves when we travel. Whenever we stumble upon a Proton car overseas, we quickly whip our cameras out to take pictures of it while secretly beaming with pride that a Malaysian product has made it internationally. We do the same when we see Malaysian mamak restaurants, or while walking past the Malaysian Embassy.

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We carry our Malaysian pride with us at all times. Wherever we may be, the obligation of not tarnishing our country’s name is inculcated in us!

5. Bring along luggage full of food

As Malaysians, we get really cranky when our food cravings are not satisfied! When overseas, it is even harder to satiate our cravings for food that reminds us of home; especially if the country we are in is of different cultures and beliefs. There is only so much avocado toast and cheeseburger you can have before realizing Malaysian food is the best!

Credit: Dayah Aziz on Facebook

Malaysians usually pack our favourite instant food with us when we travel, and it is not hard to understand why. From instant tom yum noodles to instant sambal paste and pre-packaged soy sauce, we sure know how to include them in our luggage while packing!

6. Squeal in delight when we meet other Malaysians

There is an unspoken bond between Malaysians even in foreign lands. It is tough not to be excited when we hear the familiar Malaysian accent while overseas – it's as if a part of our home is with us during our trip!

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The sense of familiarity when we meet other Malaysians when travelling brings about a momentary sense of security even when we are thousands of kilometres away from home. We get all warm and fuzzy inside from the natural bond that we share with the other Malaysians that we bump into and suddenly the world does not seem to be too big anymore.

7. Take pictures of local food for Instagram

It is no surprise that Malaysians and food go hand in hand. With Malaysia being a food haven, we enjoy our food very much – so much that we extend our love of food when we travel!

Credit: Have Halal, Will Travel

Coming from a melting pot of cultures, our highly eclectic palates mean we are adventurous when it comes to trying new dishes. Malaysians are natural foodies who at the same time love to document our travels; hence we tend to cling to our smartphones to share photos of the food that we eat when we travel. We even go to great lengths on food trips just to make sure we get our taste of scrumptious delights abroad ?

From café-hopping to visiting delicious burger joints, we Malaysians sure know how to photograph food for our social media accounts. On the bright side, our carefully curated photographs of local food when we travel serve as free advertisements as well as a food guide for other travellers.

8. Bring coffee sachets from home

Let's face it, we all crave a steaming cup of hot Nescafe, Milo or Horlicks whenever we travel overseas. While you can find them in Malaysian eateries overseas, it's challenging to bring ourselves to spend £9 for a cup of teh tarik.

Credit: @aerielka on Instagram

Hence, 3-in-1 sachets are the next best thing. Since it doesn't take up so much space in our luggage, we often bring many sachets to last the week. It's the little things we do to curb our cravings for a taste of home.

9. Unintentionally forget to use the zebra crossing

When it comes to crossing the road, Malaysians are very flexible. We do not cross roads only at the zebra crossing, but we do so wherever the opportunity presents itself. In a way, the zebra crossing is a white elephant in our homeland, which is actually a shame. We have relied on our ubiquitous ‘power of hand’ to cross the roads in Malaysia for far too long that the proper use of zebra crossing seems to have been obliterated from our memory ☹

When travelling in countries where the zebra crossing is heavily utilized, we tend to be confused and sometimes even forget to use it when crossing the road! Although it is generally accepted that we do not simply cross until we look at both sides to gauge our safety before crossing, jaywalking is an offence in many countries and offenders could be fined.

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That being said, Malaysians should really start perfecting the use of zebra crossing in our homeland and making it a habit!

10. Pack hotel freebies home

To Malaysians, complimentary items like toiletries as well as packets of coffee and tea provided by the hotel are meant to be taken home. It is indeed hilarious how we cannot help but bring the items we see home with us after our holiday.

Credit: Miss Shari on Flickr

While toiletries and consumables are complimentary, Malaysians are smart enough to know not to pack bathrobes and pillows back because we know we may get charged by the hotel for doing so (or maybe because they are too big to be packed ?)!

11. On the constant hunt for chilli sauce and spicy food

Like how in Greek mythology gods live on ambrosia, Malaysians literally live on the chilli sauce. Our love of chilli and spicy food is distinct as the dash of spice reminds us of home!

We are already so accustomed to having chilli in everything we eat that we forget not every country has the same preferences when it comes to food. Our undying love for chilli means we are guilty of asking the waiter for chilli sauce at the restaurant, only to receive dumbfounded reactions from him because, in many countries, it's not a norm!

12 . Try our best to assimilate into the local culture

Malaysians are fast learners when it comes to assimilating into the local culture of the country that we visit. We observe local practices and emulate them in no time, from the way food is eaten to the language spoken in the country. Malaysians can even change accents to match that used in the country that we are in.

However, as much as we try our best to learn the local language we would always unintentionally incorporate the Malaysian slang of “lah” at the end of our sentences!

Credit: @thelondonhijabi on Instagram

#HHWT Tip: Always learn “hello” and “thank you” in the local language of the country you visit. You will make the locals’ day and even obtain their helping hands when the need arises!

13. Speak Bahasa Malaysia when overseas

While English is an international language, our conversations in the language may be eavesdropped even by unsuspecting travellers or locals alike. So when we don't want other people to understand what we say, we often resort to speaking Bahasa with our friends or families who are with us!

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Coming from a melting pot of many cultures that is Malaysia, we Malaysians are well-versed in several languages.  But it's so interesting how we'd still go back to using Bahasa Malaysia when we travel!

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It's easy to spot Malaysians amongst other tourists because of the vast similarities in our travel habits. Together with our love of being on the move, our idiosyncrasies when travelling are what make us Malaysians unique!