Apr 2, 2012

A Malaysian's observations about Australia

In Malaysia, we use the metric system, we speak English a lot and we eat (well, some of us) the cousin of Vegemite – Marmite. We say Zed not Zee for the letter z. Their 'bring a plate' custom is what we call potluck.

So Australia is in many ways, not alien to an English-educated Malaysian. But there are some startlingly different things:

1) Shops don't open 10am to 10pm. They close at 5pm. We still catch ourselves getting ready to go out shopping at 4 pm - then smacking ourselves on the head and realising that the shops will be closed in an hour.
Once I went to the shop at 9am, thinking that if they closed at 5pm, at the very least they should open at 9am. Stood there an hour waiting for it to open.

2) Leaders are not accorded very much respect at all. It is rather the opposite of all the grovelling and fanfare that Asian leaders get. They trample on them in a way that would offend an Asian's sensibilities. Some people don't even know who their mayor is - and are quite surprised that I do.

3) Late means different things. I saw a bottle shop advertise 'open till late!' But it closes around 8pm, not midnight.

4) Almost everyone plays a sport. Even some of the moms and dads play in a league after work.

5) In this sports mad country, it is not uncommon to see a few kids in school have crutches or their arm in a cast. A lot of moms and dads are walking around with bones that were broken when young. One dad told me he broke bones twice in 6 months when he was in school.

6) Water sports is big. Quite a few people own boats! On a good summer weekend, head out to the beach and you're bound to come across vehicles in traffic with a canoe on their roof or trailing some jet skis. (Note: pix above taken from top of Sydney Tower)

7) There are very few motorbikes on the road. I have driven for days without seeing a single one. If we do see one, it's usually a superbike not a 'Kup Chai'. In fact, of the two wheeled vehicles on the road, I've seen more bicycles than bikes (I kid you not).

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