Friday, September 7, 2012

Things I Will and Won't Miss about Malaysia

At some point after I get my degree, I plan to leave Malaysia and either live somewhere else in the Commonwealth or in the Netherlands. Here's what I will and won't miss about living in Malaysia.

Things I won't miss:
1) The weather. Malaysia has three seasons, and all of them are terrible.

You've got the default season, Hot, where the humidity and equatorial sunlight conspire together to make you start sweating from the second after you finish your morning shower all the way until you get back home, shut all the curtains, turn on both air-conditioners and your fan to prevent everything from melting. You can also look forward to baking inside of your car if you leave it outside for more than five minutes. More than once I've been unable to even leave the parking lot because my steering while is so hot that driving is impossible without oven mitts.

Next you've got Haze, which is what happens every year when Indonesia sets itself on fire to get rid off all the excess wood they end up with from their deforestation and everyone upwind of them gets to enjoy a post-apocalyptic version of their cities where schools close, streets empty, visibility is reduced to almost nothing, and anyone brave enough to venture outdoors does so with surgical masks and bandannas around their faces like they're in a zombie movie. Actually, Haze might be my favourite of the three seasons just because of how awesome everything looks.

Finally you've got Wet, where it rains everyday and flash floods pop up everywhere, ruining your floors if you happen to let the rainwater seep into your house, and causing insane traffic jams on all the roads. One time I was driving to pick my sister up from something or other and I had to drive through what used to be a highway but had temporarily become an urban river. When we got home I noticed that my license plate had been ripped from its screws and swept clean off. Floods are hardcore, man.

2) The traffic. Rain isn't the only thing the causes jams. Cars will also slow to a crawl if there's an accident up ahead, or some particularly exotic roadkill (think python or monitor lizard or giant rat), or if the police have decided to send an inept traffic warden to direct traffic at a busy junction, or if it's between six to nine on a weekday morning, or if it's five to nine on a weekday evening, or if it's anytime on a Friday, or for seemingly no reason at all. It's one of the reasons owning a motorcycle is so great.

3) The hotness. Not to be confused with item #1 on this list, the hotness here refers to the ratio of beautiful people to normal-looking people to ugly people in the country. While we seem to have proportionally as many ugly people as any other country, everyone else seems to be exceedingly plain-looking. Good-looking people are few and far between. It's probably part of the reason that modelling and acting for commercials pays so well around here.

My beliefs about how hot the populations of other countries come from what I've seen personally (for Holland, Australia, and the States), or from documentaries (Australia), the sounds of their voices while I'm at work (Australia, New Zealand), and pictures of my Tumblr followers. That last one might just be because everyone on Tumblr is attractive. It's weird but I challenge you to find an exception to that rule.

4) The food. Every local and tourist you ask will disagree with this point, but however much I wish I did, I do not share their tastes. A lot of the local food here is pretty okay, but everything else is either too spicy or looks like vomit. I don't care how good of an acquired taste it can be, if it looks like someone barfed on my plate and it has the texture of regurgitated toilet paper, I won't be that interested in eating it, no matter how cheap and readily available it is.

Also western food is amazing and freshly-baked bread is amazing and the candy overseas is amazing and those are all things that are nowhere near as common here as they are in, say, the Netherlands or Australia or  New Zealand. Also also, bacon. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, and as such most places do not serve pork. This means no bacon burgers, no bacon pizzas, no bacon anything. It's the worst, you guys.

5) The accents. Malaysian accents tend to be more of the comedy variety, which is part of the reason why killing dudes is so fun in Just Cause 2 ("HE CUT ME WITH HIS WIRE THING") and the Petronas Twin Towers levels in Hitman: Silent Assassin ("You wanna boom-boom with Charlie?"). I'd much rather listen to accents of the sexy (Australia, West Coast USA, New Zealand, parts of the UK), super-chillaxed (Netherlands), badass, or unclassifiable (South Africa) variety.

6) The cockroaches. They fly, they aren't afraid of the light, they're huge, they seem to crawl onto my body way more than random chance would allow for. Also they are everywhere.

Apparently Corinna had never even seen a cockroach before she visited Malaysia. I don't seem to remember ever seeing one in any of my visits to Holland, either. There were some massive mosquitoes that one time, but that actually turned out to be a good thing because it made them so much easier to swat.

7) The ridiculous censorship. Some examples: "I ****ed a Girl"/"I kissed a ****" (actually acknowledged by Katy Perry when she performed here), "Inglourious ********", "Super Sapiens" (Hellboy), Snakes on a Plane (Which was censored for the first fifteen minutes before the board eventually gave up and let everything through except for the "Enough is enough" scene, which is arguably the best one in the movie), District 9 (Where the censorship board was confounded by the speed at which everyone was talking, which resulted in them censoring the words immediately after "Fuck"), Hancock (Where the use of the word "Asshole" was actually a plot point, but every scene with it was cut), Kick-Ass (Where nobody was censored except for Hit-Girl and anyone swearing at Hit-Girl), and The Grey (Where almost a quarter of the movie was cut because Liam Neeson yells at God).

8) The grass. Not cannabis; the actual grass beneath your feet. It's all crabgrass, which is itchy as hell and grows super-fast and doesn't even look that good. It also sucks at collecting morning dew and the ground underneath it is always waterlogged like mad for days after rain.

Things I will miss:
1) My friends and family. Once I leave the country I won't be seeing them again except on Christmases and weddings and maybe the occasional Chinese New Year. If I go to Holland, though, I will have a whole other side of my family to get to know, which could be fun. I'll finally meet my female cousins. Except for my sisters, it's all boys in this generation of Cheahs.

2) The internet. Australia's internet regulations are ridiculously backwards, and the censorship is almost worse than Malaysia's. Also laws against piracy are actually enforced in Europe, which means that I'll have to deal with being months behind American TV shows and I'll actually have to deal with EA and Ubisoft's backwards DRM which causes an endless supply of headaches for legitimate customers but does nothing against pirates.

3) Cheap stuff. Movie tickets are cheap, petrol is subsidized, electronics are cheap, food is cheap, and alcohol is cheap unless it's beer or you actually care about the quality, in which case it is crazy expensive. If I'm overseas, though, I'll probably be using a stronger currency, which will at least make buying things online relatively cheaper.

4) The malls. Like the cockroaches, our malls are huge and everywhere. If you've got the cash, you're never too far from someplace where you can get a good meal, watch a movie, get your groceries, buy a book, buy some clothes, or rush-buy a gift for someone whose birthday Facebook just reminded you it was.

So yeah, the fact that the former list is twice as long as the latter should be a good indication of my feelings about this country. It's nowhere near the worst place in the world, but there are so many places that are so much better so I see little reason to stay once I have the money and skills to survive on my own.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you on pretty much every aspect you wrote! There's a traffic jam pretty much every hour, I always get a shock when I come back.

    Not to mention that it is relatively safe in other places, the increase of crimes happening in Malaysia are terrible.

    The only thing is, everything is so expensive, especially here in Aus.