Souvenirs from across the World is a feature hosted by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books. In the first feature, bloggers talked about their hometowns and shared it with each other. I talked about Sarawak, my home state then. Check it out here.
Souvenirs from across the World is now a monthly feature! This month’s topic is “Things I Love About [your country/city]”. I chose to write about my country, Malaysia!
Ask any Malaysian what they love about Malaysia and nine times out of ten, the answer is food. Most Malaysians live to eat and there are some of us who are willing to drive for hours and wait in line for several more hours just to eat some food.
Food here comes from many different cultures. The Malays have the nasi lemak, which is rice cooked with coconut milk and served with sambal and anchovies and sometimes with eggs and peanuts. The Chinese have the bak kut teh, is a soup based dish cook with pork ribs, various innards and herbs. And the Indians have the roti canai, which is a flatbread similar to the Indian parotta, is usually served with curry or dhal. There are several variants of it, including the roti tisu and murtabak. Where the former is a thin, tall version while the later is a thicker version with fillings of meat or sardine, egg and onion.
More of this in next month’s #SFATW 🙂
Malaysia has a lot of holidays. And I love holidays! We have national public holidays for most of the festive events and other significant days like the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s (our monarch’s) birthday and Labor Day. We also have state public holidays, for festive occasions and religious holidays for the various local ethnic groups in each state. For example, Sarawakians have Good Friday and Gawai days off because of our high Christian and Dayak population, while states like Selangor observes Deepavali and Thaipusam, festivals for their high Indian population.
Also, our Independence Day celebration was just twelve days ago and Malaysia Day is in five days. Why two national days, you ask? For the longest time, we celebrated 31 August as our Independence Day, which is true, for the West Malaysians. But for Sarawakians and Sabahans, they had separate days of independence and joined Malaya and Singapore to form the Malaysian Federation in 16 September 1963. Hence Malaysia was actually born on that day. Sidenote: Singapore was kicked out 2 years later for various political reasons, which is why they’re an independent nation today.
As a multicultural country, we celebrate the festivals of all the ethnic groups in the country. Major festivals like Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year and Christmas have a nationwide holiday. Minor ethnics in each state have their own state holidays, like Tadau Ka’amatan for the Kadazan people in Sabah. We also celebrate a ton of other minor festivals without national holidays, like the Mid-Autumn Festival coming up on 15 Sept, where we’ll be eating moon cakes and carrying lanterns around.
This week is actually a good example of just how much holidays and festive celebrations we have.
10 Sept – Sarawak’s Governor’s Birthday (only in Sarawak)
12 Sept – Hari Raya Haji (Festival of Sacrifice marking the end of Pilgrimage for the Muslims)
13 Sept – Hari Raya Haji Day 2 (Only in Kedah and Perlis)
15 Sept – Moon Cake Festival (Not a public holiday)
16 Sept – Malaysia Day
Malaysia has beautiful sights and nature in abundance. There’s many national parks and wildlife reserves to visit, caves to explore and mountains to climb. We have many rare animals and plants to see, like the tapirs, orangutans, pitcher plants and rafflesia. Caves like the Batu Caves and Niah Cave can be fun to visit. The former, pictured above, is a religious site for Hinduism.
And of course, there’s mountains like Kinabalu that can be a great exercise to climb or you could visit highlands like Genting, a casino haven and Cameron, a tea and strawberry farm, to get some nice air.
Beaches and Islands
Okay, this might be cheating a little, but I have to put this on its own. Malaysia has some of the most beautiful beaches and islands in the world. Penang, known as the Pearl of the Orient, is one of the larger islands and its capital Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But if you’re looking for something with more sand and water, Tioman and Sipadan are great for that. Sipadan has one of the best diving spots in the world too. And if the name Jacques Cousteau means anything to you, well, he was pretty impress with Sipadan, calling it an untouched piece of art and was most likely responsible for the island’s popularity.
The weather in Malaysia is the best. (I type as I swelter under the blistering sun.) Temperatures here are pretty constant throughout the year, staying around 28-32 degree Celcius. Seasons here amount to two – Sunny and Rain. There’s no need to worry about summer outfits or winter clothes, we just basically have one set of wardrobe all year long. Think about the money we’re saving :D.
We’re mostly free from natural disasters too. Floods are about the only worry. We’re pretty exposed to tsunamis too. The 2004 tsunami did reach parts of West Malaysia though the damage is not as devastating as those felt elsewhere. However, if one does happen in the South China Sea, it would be very, very devastating. I’m not sure if earthquakes can happen there though. I’ve heard that China are preparing some measures to detect tsunami along it’s coasts, so it could be possible.
We have had one or two earthquakes in our history, though they’re mostly minor ones. Also, if somehow a major earthquake strikes, we’re screwed. We’ve no education about how to deal with earthquakes and our buildings are not earthquake-proof. Oh, an interesting story about the last earthquake in Sabah, which happened last year. Apparently some tourists were caught taking nude pictures on the peaks of Mount Kinabalu, which is sacred for the Kadazan people, and some people blamed them for causing the quakes…
Okay, once more I feel like I’m cheating here by separating fruit from food, but I think they definitely deserve it. There’s the famous King of Fruits, durians, which stinks so spectacularly they’re banned from hotels and public transports, but a lot of people swear by their tastiness. The people here are so crazy about durians that there’s a lot of food with durians in them. Durian cakes? Check. Durian ice cream? Check. Durian rice balls? Check. Durian pancakes, durian crepe, you get the idea.
Besides durians, there’s also other fruits to try. Mangosteen, known as Queen of the Fruits, are sweet, purplish fruit with white flesh. There’s also the rambutans, jackfruits, dragon fruit and starfruit to try too. With names like dragon fruit and starfruit, aren’t they tempting 🙂
Being a region with many ethnic groups as well as have been conquered and colonize by at least three different European powers (Portuguese, Dutch and British), Malaysia’s buildings boasts a ton of different architecture styles. So below are some examples. Hover over them to see their name and architecture style.
So those are the things I love about my country. I’m sure there’s a few more that I can’t think of right now, that I would go like “duh” when it comes to mind, but that’s all I could come up with for this post.
That’s all from me, thanks for reading! Have you ever been to Malaysia? Are you a Malaysian? Let me know what you love about the country. If you’ve not been to Malaysia, would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments down below.