First of all, Malaysia is a great country to go to even when, or maybe especially when, you aren't feeling so great...
It is a very developed country where everyone, and I mean EVERYONE speaks english! Wow what a relief. As much fun as it is to communicate with hands and feet and learning bits of different languages to make yourself better understood in Southeast Asian countries, it is also very nice to be able to ask for something in your own language and people to actually understand and reply to you.
The people here are extremely friendly, and yes I know I have been saying that so far about every country I have been to so far in Asia, but Malaysia takes friendliness to the next level.
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A fisherman fishing in Georgetown, Penang
My first encounter was with a taxi driver when I landed in Penang (I got a direct flight with Air Asia for about 40 Euros), who was sitting at the bus station asking what I was looking for. Usually they want to push you to take an overpriced taxi into town when you can get a local bus for just a few cents. Knowing this I didn't react much to his questions, but the taxi driver turned out to be one of the nicest guys, telling me when the bus would arrive, which bus to take into Georgetown and actually even split my 5 RM bill (Ringgit is the currency here) into ones for me to pay the bus driver! That is what I call a friendly Malay! And that was not the only time. Within the next few days, I was invited for lunch without even sitting next to or talking to the person (they just paid for my food when they left and I was told by the waitress my bill was already taken care of... Yes, I was perplexed!!). Or a guy who offered me to sit with him when I was ordering a tea and was happy to have a chat with me about Malaysian culture. Those are only a few examples of the friendliness and generosity of the country and the people. I haven't met an unfriendly face yet.
The great thing about being able to communicate in english with everyone is also that you are able to have a proper conversation with them and talk about the differences within the culture, food, religion, etc. Something that I personally am very interested in, but haven't really had the chance to do properly within the other countries, because of the language barrier. English is actually taught in every school from preschool onwards, which means that most people almost grow up bilingual with Malay and English.
Since Malaysia is such a multicultural country, with people from China, India, Pakistan, and Malaysia itself, the feel and the welcomeness towards foreigners is very different. They are very open minded and interested, wanting to know more about you and where you come from, and try to show you the best sides of their own country. Something I rarely felt in the other two Southeast Asian countries I have been in so far.
Being such a multicultural country, the food is exceptional and varied. You can find some typical Malay dishes (usually at street stalls or buffet style), amazing Indian food (Dal, Roti and different curries are everywhere), delicious Chinese food (they have the best tofu I have found so far with a huge variety in tofu and vegetable dishes, which is great for vegetarians). The food is cheap here as well if you find the right places. Street stalls and local restaurants are around 5-10 RM (roughly 1-2 Euros), proper restaurants can be a bit more pricy and depending on what type of food they sell go up to about 50 RM (10 Euros).
Transport within the country is good and there are many ways to get around. Ferry, bus, car (they seem to do a lot with Uber here for some reason), and Motorbike are the most common ones. Since the country itself isn't too big, the distances between the different cities aren't too long either. Even if you want to cross the whole country from East to West, it only takes about 6-8 Hours (depending on where you cross over).
So far I am very pleasantly surprised about Malaysia. I didn't know what to expect before I came and wanted to go somewhere where I could take it easy for a few weeks before moving on and exploring more with my big backpacks. Being in such a developed country, it was nice to not have to worry about language barriers, food, or expensive meals and accommodations. I was instantly welcomed so warmly by everyone I met, locals as well as fellow travellers, found some amazing people to travel with for a few days and made some pretty good friendships with local Malays. The weather has been a pleasant surprise as well, so I am finally able to enjoy the hot and sunny days at the beach and exploring the different islands in the North of Malaysia. I seriously only have good words about the country and the people here - definitely worth the trip!
Watch out for more updates on the country, and the highlights of my trip through Malaysia - what you definitely need to see, my favourite spots and some of the beautiful landscapes the country has to offer! Spread the word through sharing, liking or commenting on my website or through my Cutting Loose Facebook Page.
Chinese Temple in Penang overlooking the City
Inside one of the many Chinese Temples in Malaysia, here in Kuala Lumpur
The absolutely stunning Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur
The most amazing sunsets in Pangkor
Sunrise from Juara Beach at the Tioman Islands
The amazing Tea Plantations and hikes in the Cameron Highlands
Amazingly delicious Indian food in Melakka on a banana leaf
Street food at one of the many Night Markets within Malaysia, here in Melakka on Jonker Street