I’ve always been fascinated by many Asian cultures. China first caught my attention, closely followed by Japan and now, Malaysia is racing to the top of the pack. Why you may ask? Because I’ve recently had the pleasure of speaking with a Malaysian local, who is now here to tell us all about where she comes from. Nadia – take it away…
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
My name is Nadia Crowe, I am half Malay and half English but have lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the majority of my life. I grew up here, close to my Mum’s side of the family, but in an International school. I guess you could say I’ve had the best of both worlds!
2. What do you love most about your hometown?
KL, as we locals call it, is a vibrant and busy city. There is not one person I’ve talked to that dislikes it here, there’s a great sense of community and so many things to do. People shouldn’t just come to KL though, there are so many other amazing places in Malaysia that deserve some love too. In recent years we’ve had some bad press, but I truly believe when you look past that, you’ll never regret it. The thing I love most about this town, this country even, is how diverse it is. There are three main races that are considered local; Malays, Indians and Chinese. We all exist and live together in (relative) peace, which I think is just wonderful.
3. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Kuala Lumpur?
When they stick to TripAdvisor recommendations!! Yes the twin towers are gorgeous and a must, but there’s so much more to do here! We have waterfalls a mere 30 minutes from the city centre, a huge park in the middle, a thriving cafe culture and trails just begging to be hiked. Do a little digging people!
4. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Kuala Lumpur or Malaysia?
In my hometown, definitely Helipad! It’s exactly what it sounds like, a helipad, except at night it transforms into a fully functioning rooftop bar. Head there for a killer sunset view of the twin towers! In my country, it would have to be one of the many islands. Either Perhentian, Sipadan or Mabul!
5. What foods must visitors eat when in Malaysia?
Oh man, there are way too many. We have three different local cuisines here, Chinese, Malay and Indian so I’ll choose one from each. Chinese: Pan Mee, a flat rice noodle usually served with minced pork. Malay: Nasi Lemak, a fragrant rice cooked in pandan and coconut milk served with various things eg. chicken! Indian: Roti Canai, a type of flat bread served with dahl and curry.
6. What’s your favourite Malaysian word? Why? What does it mean?
My Malaysian side is Malay so I’ll choose one from there. My favourite word is geram, there’s not really a word for it in English but it basically is that feeling when you really want to squish someone’s cheeks or hurt them without malice. Do you know what I mean? hahaha… (yep, I think we do Nadia!) 😉
7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Malaysia from another country?
Don’t be afraid of trying new things and immersing yourself in the local scene. A lot of expats I know remain in the expat bubble, and whilst it’s nice to have people around you in the same situation, they miss out! So make sure you don’t shy away from going places with the locals, trying ‘weird’ foods and going to ‘dirty’ places. It’s usually worth it.
8. If you could describe Kuala Lumpur in just one sentence, what would you say?
A bustling metropolitan with third world charm. Weird, I know, but it works!
9. If tourists were to know one thing about the Malaysian culture, what should that be?
We take our food seriously! We also celebrate each other’s cultures openly and proudly.
10. Do you have any interesting traditions that you’d like to share with us?
We literally celebrate everything. Idulfitri, Deepavali, Chinese New Year, Thaipusam, Christmas. Probably the most interesting one is Thaipusam, it’s when the Tamil community celebrate the full moon during the Tamil month of Thai. Most of them go to a massive temple called Batu Caves, which is (you guessed it) in a cave! It’s huge and a beautiful celebration, albeit a bit scary. A lot of the participants pierce their bodies with hooks and nails, but they aren’t in pain supposedly!
Thanks Nadia – we’ve loved getting to know you and Kuala Lumpur better!
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