After a busy three days in Singapore, we had our first experience with an overland, border-crossing bus into Malaysia. The whole process was surprisingly easy–we simply hopped off a bus on the Singapore border, showed our passport, hopped back on, and then repeated the process on the Malaysian side. The whole border crossing took about 15 minutes! It was so much simpler than if we had flown.
Malaysia is an interesting place. We went there last winter, and loved it. This time around, we felt much more lukewarm. But those are stories for another day…in the meantime, here are five interesting things about Malaysia!
1.) Malaysia was a British colony from 1826 until the Japanese invaded and took over control for three years during World War II. After the war ended, there was a strong opposition to re-colonization, and for many years there was conflict between Malaysia and Commonwealth troops as Malaysia fought for their independence. They finally gained their independence in 1957.
2.) Malaysia is a Muslim state, but not by mandate. This means that while Islam is the state religion and the majority of the people are Muslim, Malaysia recognizes freedom of religion. Other dominant religions in the country include Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
3.) Walking through Kuala Lumpur, mosques, temples and churches mingle together peacefully on nearly every street. Malaysia’s citizens are a colorful mix of ethnic Malays, Chinese, Indians, Thais, Khmers, and more. Everywhere you look in Malaysia there are women in headscarves, hijabs, saris, Chinese silks, and of course, modern Western clothing. It’s truly a melting pot of cultures and religions.
4.) All the cabs that we’ve seen in Malaysia (in both Kuala Lumpur and Penang) say that they’re metered. They all have signs warning against haggling, and asking people to report cabbies who won’t use the meters. This must be a broken system, because we’ve now been to Kuala Lumpur four times and Penang once, and we’ve yet to ever see any cabbie use the meter! It’s best to just agree upon a price before you begin your journey so there are no unpleasant surprises at the end of the ride.
5.) The prevalence of the use of English and Malay in Malaysia has led to a strange hybrid language, called Manglish. Because Manglish is not understandably outside of Malaysia, the government has tried to discourage it’s use, instead encouraging people to use Malay or proper British English, and there are even government fines for using Manglish on public signs!
Have you been to Malaysia? What did you find interesting about this diverse country?