It’s very rude to point in Malaysia, and it’s a lot more difficult not to point than you think, especially when in tourist mode pointing at temples, road signs, giant potholes in the pavement, dried fish hanging from street stalls, and so on. The correct way to point in Malaysia is something like forming a fist shape with your hand, and indicating the direction/object/person with your thumb. Having been told I’m not allowed to point with a finger I immediately regressed into university drinking game etiquette of pointing at things with my elbow...
|Still not quite sure what this |
toilet sign is instructing...
did I accidently use the
The only time I have ever had to put all those endless squats in circuit training and body pump classes to actual real life use – and feel grateful for it – is using public toilets here. Often there is an option of western-style or squatting-style toilets, such as in shopping centres or train stations, but more often than not, particularly in small restaurants and bars, there’s no choice. Whichever option you choose, however, is guaranteed to be a wet experience all round. Both style toilets are equipped with a hose, and the floor is often an inch deep in water. The hoses are an alternative to toilet paper (along with your left hand, which is why you never do anything else with it; the right hand only is for eating, hand shaking etc). Even if you choose not to use the hose option, you can be sure that someone in the next cubicle is, and if there are gaps between the stalls then there is a high chance of receiving unexpected and most unwelcome spray. (Helpful tip: listen to your mother and always remember to pack some tissues in your bag).
Should you ponder why there are footprints on the toilet seat, I’m told that some Malaysians are so unfamiliar with the western set-up that they squat on the toilet seat, as in, stand on it, with their feet, and continue as if it was a traditional hole in the ground, which no doubt requires even more acrobatic skill than the latter. This can leave the toilet in such a state that on one occasion I willingly chose a squatter over a western because it was cleaner.
On a related topic, beware the alfresco drainage systems, especially when it’s raining. Large trenches – and when I say large I mean deep enough to lose several small children in – run down the sides of roads in some towns and are “open air”, i.e. no drain covers, so things flow freely down the road beside you. Sometimes they do run covered under pavements, but beware the unmarked potholes, too!
I’m still kicking myself that in my hurry switching wallets as I packed for KL I forgot to pick up any business cards. Business cards are considered the passports of the business world out here and are a much bigger deal than in the UK, where I would not expect someone to spend more than about 3 seconds, if that, looking at my details before blindly dumping it in their bag. Here, you should spend considerably longer, studying in great detail every letter, front and back, as a sign of respect. Business cards are so important that my contact out here suggested I mail in the post cards to those people who gave me theirs, as that would ensure they knew I meant business and would be useful for future visits (which I have now done). Lesson learnt.
A few useful words:
Awas: Caution (typically seen along main roads)
Terima kasih: Thank you
Tiger beer: Tiger beer