In the last leg of my Asia backpacking trip, I spent 21 days in Malaysia across Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Sepilok, Kinabatangan River and Tawau in the Sabah state of Borneo and Langkawi, Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Western Malaysia. During these three weeks, I came across some very interesting things about this very popular tourist country. I have noted them out below to provide an insightful read.
1) During most of the times, it is cheaper to fly inside Malaysia than taking the bus.
2) Immigration protocol is followed even inside Malaysia when one moves from either Sabah to Sarawak state in Borneo or from either Sabah/Sarawak to Western Malaysia and vice versa.
3) Gasoline is just 60 cents a liter in Malaysia.
4) Even though Malaysia is a famous shopping destination, most of its goods are cheaper in other countries. It just brings all of it nicely in its many malls.
5) Malaysians drive on the left side of the road and overtake from the right.
6) There are more palm plantations in Borneo than rainforests.
7) One can see rare breeds of primates (apes, langurs, tarsiers and macaques) in the Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary of Sabah, Borneo.
8) The highest mountain in the world between the Himalayas and the snow capped mountains of Papua in Indonesia is in Borneo.
9) Most of the touristy goods in Malaysia are imported from Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
10) Apart from crude oil, palm oil and tea, Malaysia hardly manufactures anything in huge quantities.
11) The famous Roti Canai of Malaysia is in fact India’s Malabar Parantha and Teh Tarikh is India’s normal sweet milk tea.
12) Malaysia is one of those countries where one can see Chinese people licking and smacking their fingers after eating South Indian banana leaf meals.
13) Malaysia is a very tourism oriented country. Everyone is nice and polite to the tourists and even go out of their way to help them.
14) It costs a little over 20 US Dollars to spend 30 minutes (2 batches of 15 minutes each) in the Petronas Twin Towers, the 4th highest building in the world.
15) For a city its class, Kuala Lumpur is a fairly polluted and dirty city.
16) Malaysia is a healthy mix of people of Malay, Chinese, Indian origins. There are some expats from other countries in addition to this mix.
17) There are many duty free zones inside Malaysia and outside of its international airports.
18) The Georgetown area of Penang makes you feel like you have entered the colonial era.
19) It would be difficult not to see a Tamil person in most of the larger cities of Malaysia.
20) Saravana Bhavan in Kuala Lumpur is possibly one of the worst Saravana Bhavan outlets in the world.
21) The taxis running in Malaysia are really old and are all outdated ones coming out of Singapore.
22) One has to walk on the tarmac between the air plane and the arrival/departure lounge at the LCCT terminal in Kuala Lumpur.
23) The Malaysian men love to smoke and most of them don’t care about others when they do smoke. They smoke in front of their kids (even young babies), inside restaurants and even air-conditioned buses.
24) The Malaysians get excited if they find out that you know even a little bit of Malay and start conversing rapidly with you in Malay.
25) The people of Malaysia speak better English than the rest of South East Asia, with the exception of Singapore and Philippines.
26) It can get quite nippy during the early mornings in the forests of Borneo and this can lead to some heavy mist, especially over the water.
27) Healthcare is fairly pricey in Malaysia when compared to Thailand, Indonesia and India.
28) Most of the Indians living in Malaysia are from the South of India and primarily Tamilians. Hence, most of the Indian restaurants running in Malaysia are actually South Indian or Tamilian restaurants.
29) A Hindu or a Christian Malaysian of Indian origin has to pose as a Muslim (and have a Muslim name) to get a taxi driver license/permit in Malaysia.
30) Like Singapore, Malaysia has four national languages: Malay or Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese and Tamil.