Malay culture and society are beautiful, engaging and one of a kind. Whether or not you speak the language, there is a lot to discover when travelling in Malay. On the first leg of a Malaysia tour, you will find the people and the area to be extremely welcoming. It is important that you too reciprocate their warmth with good etiquette. To give an equal amount of respect to the residents, here are some things to keep in mind.
Many Different Faces
Malaysia has a multicultural society made up of people from completely different backgrounds. While the main group is made up of native Malays, there are large populations from many different groups. This becomes clear since many of the public holidays are celebrated for the different groups. There is a strong layer of respect for being different, and it doesn’t come at the cost of tradition. This is also noticed when speaking the native language in short sentences. To get more context on this and other related points, sanetraveller is a resource worth to be followed.
Family Is Important
Despite the different ethnicities, all of the children are educated in the same schools. They grow up together, get married and work in side by side in an office setting. Despite how large Malaysia is, there is a strong sense of family and networking. Communication is important in their social settings, and you’ll find that the locals are curious about tourists from all walks of life.
In any culture, politeness should be something you are good at by default. However, it takes on an entirely new meaning in Malaysia. Understanding what ‘face’ is will get you a long way if you plan on staying in Malaysia beyond your trip. Think of it as an emotional currency that is used to show respect and not disrupt the community in a public or private setting. Depending on your background, this will seem like a completely foreign concept. For travellers that are passing through, normal politeness will do the trick. For someone that plans on an extended stay, the understanding facial expressions is mandatory.
Etiquette Is A Priority
This is another one of those culture shock situations for travellers coming from other parts of the world. Etiquette in Malaysia is something that you can write an entire book about and still miss the key parts. Thankfully, being a tourist gives you a lot of breathing room with etiquette. The locals won’t scold you for having imperfect etiquette. But if someone mentions there is a correct way to do something, make it a point to put in the effort. That goes a long way in showing that you respect the land and people you are visiting.
If your trip to Malaysia is for professional purposes, ask ahead of time what is considered appropriate. There will usually be guidelines in place while representing your company, but it never hurts to ask for more information.
The language barrier is no longer a huge thing when travelling to Malaysia. Like any other country, they welcome tourists that respect their culture. Travelling is fun, and you will get the full experience by learning about the country you’re in.