Living in Malaysia: Survival Tips 101

I am blogging from my phone.

Out of the blue, I just decided to write about a survival guide for someone who wants to live in Malaysia. This is one random post that I hope would help anyone who wants to live in this multicultural and foodie place called Malaysia Boleh!

I started this blog back in June 2013 on my second week living in Kuala Lumpur. And from where I am now, some things improved and some went pretty downhill, but that’s okay, overall, things were better. A lot, actually. As an expat there are so many things that you have to adjust on, things like food, the weather, language, social involvement and relationships. Let’s tackle each one, shall we?

The Food

Oh glorious food! As a Filipino since 1990, food in general in my household has a taste ranging from sweet, salty, sour to down right savory. Little did I know about Malaysia, or the Malaysians, they love to eat spicy food! Let’s just say at that time, I had a tough time adjusting to it. To be honest, my grocery list during those first four months contained five items namely banana bread, eggs, chicken, bread and oranges.

From office or as I go to office, I usually eat oranges for breakfast or some bread just to feel full so I can start working. Then for lunch, I’d join my colleagues for some local food (read: spicy!) and for dinner, do oranges or banana bread, for four months. So how is this a survival guide, then?

Not to point out the obvious but getting used to the food here takes time. The way I was able to cope with local food was to have it for lunch and basically suffer in my breakfast and dinner routine, not that I recommend the suffering part. Although it takes time to getting used to the food, that’s okay, you’ll be ready for it anytime soon, no one is rushing you anyways! πŸ˜‰

The Weather

Not that it mattered to me but I guess for someone who will be reading this who is not from South East Asia, I’ll describe it anyway. Malaysia’s weather is very hot and humid, the worst combination you can ever give your skin. Mostly at the hours of 10-5pm, the heat is unbearable.

The thing that surprised me though, most of the time rains do happen in small quantities (of course, I am comparing it to the Philippines), but all the time it happens either in the afternoon around 3pm to 6pm or at the 4am til 7pm. It has a schedule! As a guy, I find this really convenient since I no longer need to carry an umbrella with me. And oh, rain happens between May til early January, at least that’s what my Malaysian friends say.

The Language

Ok, although Malaysians speak wonderful English comparing to other countries, you still need a bit of know how with Bahasa Melayu, simple words like Tandas, Keluar, Terima Kasih, Sini, Satu, Dua, Tiga, Berapa? [Toilet, Exit, Thank You, Here, One, Two, Three, How Much?] can go a long way, and in my observation, locals tend to be friendlier when talking to them in Bahasa, broken or not.

And c’mon you are living in a country different from yours, have some courtesy and act as a local.


Comparing it from other countries, Malaysia is a passive one. I can say that, a lot of people just don’t care about everyone here. I don’t want to sound that I am judging how society works here but yeah, I am judging, those 1Malaysia being advertised is simply not working for me, they are forced and in a way, I always see Malay with only Malays in their circles, same goes with Chinese and Indians. Satu Malaysia mostly applied to those who had studied abroad or the well educated ones.

So how can you survive? By choosing your friends wisely! Actually, many people wouldn’t be affected much by this social divide, but I just feel that it’s a sad thing and worth mentioning in this blog post because, like me, you too may be surprised by this fact.

…and lastly


Before I left to Kuala Lumpur, as an OFW you have to undergo a training led by the OWWA which is like reminders before you go and live abroad, things like, homesickness would come in after two months. I didn’t believe that lady.

If you are like me who has been living without my mum, on and off when I was in the Philippines, I truly felt that the two month thing that this stranger is telling is crap. Guess what, she was right. It was on the second month that the homesickness came, all I can think of are my friends and family and just buy the next plane ticket going to Manila. I can’t sleep and during those times, I just wanted to cry. Good thing, I kept the tears and pushed forward. I think what made all the difference is the fact that I didn’t know anyone here in Malaysia and I felt that even if I asked help from the person next to me or the friends that I made here (which were quite a number), he or she wouldn’t give a fuc* because I’m not Malaysian or a dear friend, yet (me thinks overthinking).

To cut the story short, homesickness will happen, but you just have to keep your eyes on the prize and somehow think all that pain is worth receiving. Having a comfortable life is what we all strive for but at the end of the day, what we truly treasure the most is not what we were able to buy or how fancy our lunch is, what mattered the most is what that lesson taught us and how we became after it.

Well, I told you it’s going go be a random post.



One thought on “Living in Malaysia: Survival Tips 101

  1. Good one, Sil, and you’re spot on the weather, society and the food! Fast forward to 2016 now, are you still homesick or perhaps once in a while? πŸ˜‰

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