It’s a hole.
I’m not even sure where to start here.
When you tell people you are going to Malaysia, one of the first things they will tell you is how good the food is. Take the opportunity to query how they know this. Chances are they went to a Malaysian restaurant once or perhaps went to a five star resort in Malaysia. They have no idea what they are talking about.
The Malaysian people will also tell you how good their food is. The truth is that’s absolute bullshit. Malaysian food is the worst food in the region. It’s overly sweet, it’s oily, it’s universally brown and it’s unclean. It’s made from scraps of meat and bone we wouldn’t eat in the west and it’s usually overcooked (particularly the seafood). The exception is chicken, which is mostly served bloody; which I find ironic from a largely Muslim population that refuses to eat pork.
The three main sub-section of Malaysian food are the same sub-sects as the culture.
- Malay; overcook, overly oily, overly sweet, scappy meat dishes and overcooked fish.
- Chinese; a thin Malysian interpretation of southern Chinese food, but with a lot less flavor and freshness. There are some Ok dishes, but you need to search. Seafood is much better than Malay cuisine.
- Indian; probably the best of the Malaysian sub-sects, but still uses scrappy cuts of meat that wouldn’t be eaten in the west and it can be overly salty.
If food is the primary (or even secondary) reason for your holiday, avoid Malaysia. ALL other countries in the region have better food, including Indonesia
One of the next things you will hear is how harmonious the different cultures are there and how friendly the people are. This is also bullshit. Politics in the country is driven along cultural divides. The Malays control the government and the Malay people hold a position of privilege thanks to “positive” discrimination. The Chinese and Indians in the country, who have been there for many generations, are second class citizens. The irony here is that without these two ethnic groups the country would go broke. This is because the Malays are fundamentally lazy, due to their prolonged period of privilege. And no, that isn’t a racist comment, it’s a cultural comment.
In dealing with westerners, the Malays are rude and will stare and mostly just grunt at you. The Chinese are more mixed in their approach but a significant number will try to play the “game”. The game is an aspect of Chinese culture where they try to get the better of the situation. They are not necessarily trying to scam you, just trying to feel they have the upper hand in the transaction. It really gets tiring after a while.
The nicest cultural group in Malaysia, are the Indians. Partially divorced from India for several generations, they have a different approach than Indian born Indians.
If you are going to Malaysia to go to a high end resort, forget about it. The pictures and brochures will show a fancy resort, with picturesque jungle and an idyllic beach. This too is bullshit. I’ve come to the conclusion that Malaysia is a place where thing only ever get done about 75% right. When they build a new resort it is usually to a pretty impressive design. It is, however, never completed properly. In the first 6 months of operations, the management will try to get it fixed, but for the most part it will be just bodged up. And then nothing is ever maintained properly. The result is if you go to the resort after 1 year, you would actually guess it to be 10 years old. Run down and moldy, like everything else in Malaysia.
Then there is the service at these places. The best you can expect is indifference. The norm is just plain rude. Being a Muslim country, they also have an odd rule where all 5 star resorts need to be 100% halal. You would think the opposite made more sense, but that is Malaysia for you. Now I don’t need pork so much it’s going to spoil my entire holiday, but the result of the Halal rule is you are usually left with a choice of shitty Malay food (see above) or substituted ham like products. E.g. Turkey Ham, or Beef Bacon. And when they do western food, they do it very badly.
I’m betting most westerners paying for a 5 star experience would be disappointed to find the menu severely compromised like that. Think 2.5 western stars and you will get an idea of the quality of food you will get at a typical 5 star Malaysian resort.
I’ve spoken to many expats about Malaysian resorts and most, not only concur, they now holiday elsewhere in the region as a result of these overprice, shitty Malaysian resorts.
Hygiene. Ten years ago Malaysia was a third world country. Thanks to oil money that is changing rapidly and it is now on the cusp of being a first world nation. Unfortunately culture doesn’t change that fast and the third world approach to hygiene, Muslim toilet culture and very poor following of the left hand rule, leave me wondering why large waves of the population here aren’t dying from dysentery, on a regular basis.
If you go to a bathroom near a food court here, you will see serving staff walking out of the toilet, after not washing their hands, after having wiped their arse with their bare left hand. You literally see it every time you go to the bathroom there. Most toilets are equipped with a hand held bidet device. Apparently the water out of this has magical cleaning qualities, because no soap comes into contact with hands of many people before they leave toilets.
Culture. There is none. Any building of cultural significance has been knocked down and replaced with a shopping mall. There’s no other culture either, because Malays spend all their spare time in shopping malls. I kid you not; Malaysian families will go to the mall on the weekend, within an hour of it opening and not leave until almost midnight. This is not unusual, it is normal. They don’t have any time to develop or maintain any culture. The amusing side effect of this shopping mall lifestyle is Malysians have lost the ability to deal with the heat. They live most of their life in air-conditioning.
Then there is the problem with crime. Some say “petty crime”, but many of the incidents are far from petty. The locals don’t see it as much, but westerners garner special attention. Snatch thefts are common, as is **** and murder (often covered up by the government media agency). Child abduction is also quite common and once again white kids get special attention. Every expat wife has more than one story to tell about some situation they’ve been put in. Sometimes it’s just being followed in a car park, but many are much worse. If you have a young teenage daughter (and I'm talking 10 -13), do not bring her to this country.
Someone published a pretty unscientific blog, not long ago, and claimed Kuala Lumpur was one of the top 20 most dangerous cities in the world. This got the locals pretty upset, but I don’t think he was too far wrong. In the top 20 there probably a handful of cities in South America, a handful in Africa and then Kuala Lumpur would be in the mix.
Part of the problem is the Malaysians are not taught empathy at a young age. They see no moral problem with taking something from you or hurting you.
Then there is the corruption. This is not the minor, hidden away corruption you see in the west. This is large scale, every day, in your face, corruption. The police will not only take a bribe, they will ask for it. An expat friend of mine had a $70k car stolen and the police ruled that it was in fact sold for no money. The only possible reason for this ruling is because someone in the Police force was involved in the robbery. The insurance was not paid as a result.
It happens on a corporate scale too. Billions of Ringet go missing on major infrastructure projects and companies that take the moral position that they will not pay bribes, soon find they win no contracts. It goes right to the top of the government. The only reason the country hasn't gone broke as a result is the oil money.
Overall, Malaysia is a terrible place. Do not Holiday in Malaysia, do not do business in Malaysia and do not go there to live. It really is a shithole.