Every place you live will probably be different in a few ways from your previous home. Some of these cultural differences mean that life in Malaysia is a little more labor-intensive or a little less convenient than life in America. Other differences I feel an especially hearty affection for.
1. Couples often take "Wedding Pictures" not on their wedding day: over-the-top photoshoots in multiple locations, heavily edited, airbrushed, and bound into large photo albums. The couple often wears a variety of outfits they rent from the photo studio, not their actual wedding wear for their wedding day. We spotted this couple taking photos next to a bus at the botanical gardens and they started giggling when they noticed my Dad playing paparazzi. I actually love this tradition and secretly hope that someday Angel and I could take delayed wedding pictures in this style, gaudy glitzy glamor included. After all, I've never even tried on a true "wedding dress" so it could be pretty fun...
2. Extravagant Birthday Celebrating. Perhaps this is just my friends, but nowhere else have I seen adult birthdays so thoroughly celebrated. At the very least, there is usually a lot of cake involved. I'd estimate that on average, each family member of mine receives a minimum of 3 different cakes dedicated to their birthday celebrations from friends.
3. Extremely colorful and sparkly traditional clothing. This basically explains the way I dress on a daily basis.
4. Whenever a new restaurant or shop opens for the first time, it's indicated by piles upon piles of distinctive flower arrangements, given by friends of the owner or suppliers and financiers of the shop. I love stopping by these displays! There's never any doubt about "Was this store here before, or not?"
5. Very direct, sometimes grammatically incorrect English signs. Practically all it takes is for me to spot a sign in grammatically questionable English and I start feeling that familiar homesick heartache.
6. Spicy food for breakfast. There I was, eating my beloved fried bread filled with onions and eggs, and dipping each piece in the bowl of reddish-orange curry. The tastiest thing I've ever eaten. This is the kind of food I dream about, but I do realize it may seem like a slightly different kind of breakfast when compared to, say, Fruit Loops.
7. There are more public holidays in Malaysia than there are in the U.S.A. After 9 years we're still getting surprised by holidays that we don't remember from the year before--there actually have been a few new holidays instituted in the past few years. But my favorite has long been Chinese New Year--always celebrated with lots of food, family, and friends. And, if you're a kid, or not a kid but single, you get to go around collecting ang pow (hong bao in Mandarin) from all of your older, married friends and neighbors. Ang pow means red envelopes filled with money. As a kid, you can make bank on Chinese New Year, I'd expect it's an even more profitable holiday than Christmas. So, strategically, I'd recommend that if you're going to get married soon, wait until at least March so you can collect all your red envelopes first. Getting married in December is practically the worst choice possible, as far as ang pow is concerned.