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Typical Malaysia Local Style

July 06, 2012

travel in Malaysia

 What is it like in Asia? What is it like in Malaysia? What is it like in Penang?

People who have never been to Asia, often ask us that and it is hard to explain, because it is a land of great contrast. Living in Asia, is extremely different in many ways than living in the USA or in Europe. Chinese tradtional culture is dominant in UNESCO World Heritage Site Georgetown,  Penang, especially as parents with a child in a Mandarin school. But Malaysia is very much a land of three cultures ( Indian, Malay and Chinese) and that is part of what makes it interesting here.

Our life in our luxury condo rental in Penang is very different than out on the streets. This photo shows the typical local style of Malaysia. People make a business out of anything here and it is common to see a whole portable business contained in a motorbike ( like a mini-restuarant or store). Wandering the streets here, seeing it at ground level, is always intriguing.

The traffic is horrendous in most of Asia and that is very true of Penang and cross walks are all but unheard of, so one crosses the street at their own risk. I've witnessed more accidents here than I ever have in my life ( 2 from my terrace facing a street with no traffic!) and most involve motorcycles.

Walking the streets of Asia is a trip and here is a peek for you!

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Tor

I've never been to Malaysia, but the culture mix sounds fascinating! I really loved the street culture in Taiwan - it's a lot more urban than Penang, but still quite traditional. So different from the UK or northern Europe.

Tor

I've never been to Malaysia, but the culture mix sounds fascinating! I really loved the street culture in Taiwan - it's a lot more urban than Penang, but still quite traditional. So different from the UK or northern Europe.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Yes, Tor, the 3 cultures really makes Penang a fascinating place and the people are very friendly. The festivals are amazing!

This is taken in an urban area next to brand new high tower buildings..part of the fun of the contrasts here. One sees shanties next to super modern high rise buildings, sea and greenery as well as urban glut.

YTSL

You sound like you're getting much out of your stay in Penang -- and I'm glad.

A small correction: Malaysia has way more than three cultures -- though the ones you name do seem indeed dominant. Something else that makes things feel even more diverse is that there are distinct cultures within one general "Malay", "Chinese" and "Indian" tag -- with the food being one easy way to discern this. (E.g., for Chinese, think Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Teochew, etc. foods -- all having their distinct styles and flavours! :b)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

It is true YTSL that there are many different ethnicities in Malaysia, but it is commonly called 3 cultures because they are the dominant ones.

There seems to be quite a few mixed families as well, especially Indian and Chinese Malaysians.

And yes indeed, the food shows the deeper mix even within each of these 3 dominant cultures.

It is a melting pot for sure! ;)

YTSL

Hi again Jean --

Apologies for getting back to the conversation so late but...

I take your point re there being 3 dominant cultures but I also think that's how the government wants people to see things. Frankly, it's an oversimplification that I think allows for easier dividing (and conquering) -- which is why I like to point out that things aren't always so clear cut as they present it.

Jeanne @Soultravelers3

Well, I am not surprised, as thinks are rarely as simple as governments like to present them. ;)

As you mention, there is quite a range even within each dominant culture.

There also seems to be large communities of South Koreans and Japanese here. We've met lots of mixed families too of European father and Asian mother.

Interesting mix and how they connect and also separate. As an outsider I just observe but don't know the deeper issues.

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