Ever heard the saying, “The things we take for granted, someone else is praying for”?
It’s easy to say we are ‘thankful’ for things that we’ve accepted as normal everyday conveniences.
Recognizing their significance, however, is much more difficult.
As we celebrate Malaysia’s 62nd Independence Day on the 31st of August this year, let’s stop and smell the Bunga Raya, and appreciate the things that Malaysia is unique for.
1. Late-hour supper at the mamak
Where would be the best place to watch live EPL football if not the 24-hour mamak?
While studying abroad, I realised that back at home, I have been spoilt with how easy it is to get to a good mamak back in Malaysia.
Being away from the country, I would crave for a simple roti canai banjir with a side of zesty hot teh tarik at 3 am during my study week while preparing for finals.
But sadly, I had to make do with the instant noodles I’d bought from Chinatown and my own tasteless, watery teh tarik I made at home.
The moment I touched down at KLIA on my study break, I told my family to drive me straight to our favorite mamak to replenish my stocks.
Have you ever gone through that endless menu list line by line?
There’s roti telur, roti bom, roti milo, roti sardine, and roti-whatever-you-want your roti be filled with.
You can customise however you want your noodles to be, “One maggi goreng, telur mata, kurang pedas, banyak sayur, no chicken!”
Where else in the world can you get piping hot food at any time of the night?
Yup, there’s no doubt that 24-hour mamak stalls are a national treasure to us Malaysians.
2. Food! Food! Food! And more Food!
My friend from the UK came and visited us last week. It was her first time experiencing Malaysia.
The one thing she had to say about Malaysia was, “I love the food! All of it!”
Food has been her major concern as her 2-year-old, Zola, is allergic to dairy products. She was so pleasantly surprised to find out that it was the last thing she should be worried about in Malaysia.
No Malaysian would deny the fact that we have so many varieties of food in this country. It’s basically the first thing we tell our non-Malaysian friends. “You have to try the food!”
We have such a variety of food from various cultures. There’s Malay food, Chinese food, Indian food, Baba Nyonya food, Peranakan food, Kelantanese food, and many more from our friends in Sabah and Sarawak.
From Mee Udang to Dim Sum to Cendol Durian and many more – It is so easy to get carried away! There are so many fusions of culinary traditions amongst the races, and that’s the beauty of it all.
Food is everywhere and to top that, you can find it almost anytime in the day.
Don’t let me start with the seasonal food like Durian, Mooncake, Yee Sang, and all the others.
Yes, Malaysia is a food haven.
Ironically, most Malaysians would still have difficulty answering the killer question ‘where are going to have lunch?’
3. You get a holiday, you get a holiday, everybody gets a holiday!
This year alone, we have about 21 national holidays, which doesn’t even include the State-wide holidays like our Sultans’ birthdays or whenever our sportsmen clinch a Gold medal at the Olympics.
In comparison, the US has 10 annual national holidays and the UK has only 8 holidays in a year.
Thanks to our multiracial environment, we also have public holidays for Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Christmas, and many more, not limited to our Islamic festive celebrations.
And to add the beauty to these celebrations, during the festive seasons we got invited to so many ‘open house’ so that everyone can share in the festive spirit.
4. Malaysia is Chock-Full of Holiday Destinations
But I hear you ask, “What’s the point of having so many holidays without beautiful places to visit?”
*Record scratch* Let me stop you there.
You could take a stroll on the lovely warm sands on our natural paradise beaches.
You can hike up and down the hills surrounded by a plethora of flora and fauna.
You can go on adventurous cave expeditions or you can take a spin on the fun rides at our theme parks.
From the 6-stars hotel resorts to affordable and cosy homestays – Malaysia’s tourist destinations are perfect for a weekend getaway.
I sound like a tour guide for Malaysian Airlines. But I’m not getting paid, and this isn’t a sponsored post. These really are the things we take for granted!
Come on, we have The Petronas Twin Towers, Legoland, Langkawi Sky Bridge, Manukan Island, Georgetown Penang Heritage Trail – Need I say more?
My English friend’s daughter loves the KLCC Park Playground so much and they couldn’t believe that it is there at no charge!
5. Malaysia’s Weather Is Mild Compared To Countries Elsewhere
Some say that Malaysia is ‘too hot’, or ‘the sun will always be there all year round’.
Some countries like Spain can get to temperatures above 40 degrees during the summer. This makes it easy to get heat-induced cramps and exhaustion.
Heatwaves have killed hundreds of Europeans in recent years.
The truth is – Our weather is quite mild compared to other countries.
But what about places like Sweden, where it’s snowing half the year round?
Think about it – it’s nice to visit for a week, but imagine having to live somewhere that you need to be in layers of clothing with socks 24/7.
After about 3 months of this, you might want to reconsider that ‘wonderful’ feeling of being in a low-temperature climate.
Having survived a cold winter while studying abroad, let me tell you how ‘great’ it is.
You can hardly sleep as you needed to be near the heater all the time.
Sometimes in the middle of the night, it can get too hot but then suddenly too cold when the building’s central heating shuts off automatically.
That was when we would miss the sun and wish we could have the Malaysia sun whenever we wanted.
Yes, we have heavier rains at a certain time of the year, but so what?
Vietnam’s rainy days can last 3 to 7 days at a time during the monsoon season, and countries like Taiwan and the US have natural disasters like typhoons and tornadoes.
6. Best Healthcare in the World
Scoring 95 out of 100 in the Global Retirement Index, we even beat France (which came at No. 2) for this category!
In fact, many Malaysian doctors received their training in the UK, U.S., or Australia when they obtained their degrees.
So it is unsurprising that Malaysia is a top destination for “medical tourism”.
Malaysian doctors, we salute you!
7. Our multicultural identity is unique to Malaysia
When I was studying in the UK, I encountered a local child who mocked and teased me for being Chinese.
Of all the things that most Malaysians take for granted, the multiracial diversity would definitely be the most underappreciated.
Go to the market or mamak stall, look around and listen.
There’s no other place in the world where we can hear 4 languages spoken at the same time.
And our bahasa Rojak is an incomprehensible to foreigners, but every Malaysian knows what that is: ‘Bang, I want to tapau teh tarik kurang manis satu!’
Malaysia has so many types of schools. Such as Sekolah Kebangsaan, Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan, Sekolah Tahfiz, Sekolah Seni, Sekolah Intergrasi, and so on.
No doubt, there are some in recent news with political agendas who are trying to disrupt the harmony of the races, for their own benefit.
But remember we are stronger than external forces think we are.
Regardless of race, a true Malaysian would get emotional watching the final match of our now retired Dato’ Lee Chong Wei (we miss him so much). And everybody knows the name of Dato’ Nicol David, who was the world number one squash player for a record-breaking 108 consecutive months!
Have you ever been to Stadium Bukit Jalil to witness the match between the Harimau Malaya and Thailand’s National team? Every Malaysian regardless of race is there, cheering our sportsmen on.
You will realise that whereas online arguments on race and religion divide us, Malaysia’s achievements unite us.
Those are the moments that we sometimes complacently take for granted.
Life always looks greener on the other side of the playing field. But there are pros and cons to everything.
Why don’t we stop and take the time to appreciate what we have as Malaysians?
You might find that we are all closer than we think we are.
What other underrated things about Malaysia did we miss out on? Tell us in the comments below, or on our Facebook page!
For more articles about Malaysia, read 5 Things You Didn’t Expect You Would Miss in Malaysia and 5 Best Places to Take Photographs in Malaysia.