Malaysia is the first country I have visited in Asia. Once there, exploring, taking guided tours and talking to people who live there, I have been able to discover several curious facts. I have also published another more complete post about my personal experience in Malaysia.
Beyond knowing that their capital is Kuala Lumpur, the city where the Petronas Towers are located, and knowing that they drive on the left, I have compiled several facts that I want to share with you in this post. I'm sure that more than one of them will surprise you!
Fun facts about Malaysia:
1 - It is said to be the only country in the world that does not share rivers with any other country.
2 - In Malaysia some hotels and shopping centres will not allow you access to their facilities if you bring the fruits durian (for being very smelly) or mangosteen (for leaving reddish-pink stains that are very difficult to clean) with you.
3 - Some restaurants welcome you with a bowl of very hot water for the purpose of cleaning your cutlery yourself before using it. This way, you make sure that your chopsticks or spoon and fork are clean before you start eating.
4 - If you notice, many of the motorists passing you on the road wear their jackets in reverse (front to back). Apparently they wear it this way to keep warm.
5 - Inhabitants like to eat durian fruit in many ways: in ice cream, yoghurt, cake, biscuits, etc. However, it is a horrible smelling fruit. Personally, I recommend you try durian for the experience of eating the stinkiest fruit in the world. Smelling it is quite disgusting, eating it is not so bad, but I warn you: if you burp, the smell comes back.
6 - Food is usually spicy and if you ask for water in a restaurant it will probably be hot. Therefore, make it clear that you want cold water before the waiter goes to get it.
7 - In some buildings you won't see the 4th floor. For some, this number is associated with death and they avoid using it to ward off bad omens. This is because phonetically the number four is very similar to the pronunciation of the word "death".
8 - In some hotels you will find, inside the wardrobe, an arrow with the word "Kiblat" on it. It is a pointer for Muslims who wish to pray, as it lets you know which way to Mecca.
9 - The "Rafflesia" flower, the largest in the world, is native to Malaysia. When opened, it gives off a horrible smell to attract insects.
10 - Many toilets give you both options when it comes to cleaning yourself: toilet paper or water hose. Also, not all toilets are like the ones we know in Europe, some consist of just a hole in the floor, the good old squat! Don't think that this only happens in village toilets, but also in modern shopping centres.
11 - Spending the day strolling around malls is a common plan in the country. Because of how hot it can get outside, many Malaysians prefer to spend the afternoon wandering around an air-conditioned shopping mall rather than making plans outdoors. In addition, cars are widely used to get around.
12 - In some street markets you can see the famous Teh tarik¨ tea, which is a tea with milk. The person serving it places the pitcher higher than his head and points to the cup, which is situated much lower. Something like pouring cider in Asturias. .
13 - If you go to the pharmacy for a remedy to stop diarrhoea and vomiting, you will most likely be given a medicine in the form of small black pellets, made of herbs, called Po Chai Pills¨..
14 - When ordering beer or other alcoholic beverages, be aware that the price could be quite high.
15 - If you don't know what to order in a restaurant, I recommend ordering a 100 Plus¨. It's like a Malaysian Sprite or 7Up, or a fizzy Aquarius. It's a drink that's very much associated with sport there.
16 - A recommended visit near Kuala Lumpur is the ¨Batu Caves¨. A very colourful Indian temple with 272 staircases, it's dominated by monkeys. One thing I didn't like was that, despite the fact that the whole group wanted to go up there in shorts, only the women were forced to buy a scarf to cover our legs. .
17 - Malaysia is part of the ¨CommonWealth of Nations¨, as are 56 other countries (as of September 2022).
18 - A part of the island of Borneo belongs to Malaysia, which shares it with Indonesia and Brunei. Did you know that Borneo is the third largest island in the world?
19 - Malaysia is a monarchy and each state has a monarch. However, the monarch of the whole of Malaysia rotates among these monarchs every 5 years.
20 - Jimmy Choo, the famous shoe designer, was born in Malaysia, in Penang in 1948.
21 - The name ¨ringgit¨ given to their national currency means "jagged" because the Spanish silver coins used centuries ago were jagged in shape.
22 - With a diameter of 3.5 kilometres, one of Putrajaya's roundabouts is the largest in the world. It is also home to a royal palace that serves as a retreat for Malaysia's head of state and monarch.
23 - Until 1965 Singapore was part of Malaysia until the conflict of 9 August 1965.
24 - The word ¨orangutan¨ is of Malay origin, with 'Orang' meaning man and ¨hutan¨ meaning forest, resulting in a word for forest people. Among other places, this animal can be seen in the Borneo rainforest.
25 - Until 2004 the Petronas Towers were the tallest building in the world. Now, at 451.9 metres tall, they are the tallest twin towers in the world. To access them you can buy tickets online or buy them directly at the ticket office if you go early.
26 - Some studies claim that ketchup may come from Malaysia as there is a very similar Hokkien word: "Ke-tsiap".
27 - The Sepang Circuit has a total of 15 corners and is located in Malaysia. It is often the venue for Formula 1 Grand Prix and Motorcycle World Championship races.
28 - In some public places in Malaysia, public displays of affection are prohibited, under penalty of a fine. And yes, it's a law that also applies to tourists.
29 - Malaysia was once part of the Spice Route. As I said, its cuisine is very spicy but also delicious, and there are many fusions due to the Malay, Chinese and Indian influences in the kitchen.
30 - Langkawi, an island in Malaysia that I talk about in my post-summary of my trip to the country, is a duty-free island for some products.
Are you surprised by these curiosities about Malaysia? I have also published a post about Malaysian gastronomy, I invite you to read it if you want to know more. Please leave a comment if you liked it or if you can think of any other curiosities that I haven't mentioned, thank you!