The Random Writings of Rachel: Beloved Differences

Beloved Differences

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.

44 comments:

  1. Very interesting to learn about these traditions. Especially the last one.

    I don't think I could get used to eating curry in the morning.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  2. Curry for breakfast! Yum!! So interesting

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  3. What an interesting post! I feel much more cultured now. Sometimes your blog is like visiting a foreign country, without ever leaving my desk - which, of course, I love. However, I don't think I could necessarily handle spicy food for breakfast. But lots of flowers and numerous cakes, on the other hand - I think yes.

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  4. So wonderful...I do enjoy learning about different places, I love all of these colourful pictures, so beautiful!! Thank you for visiting my blog doll, I hope you have a great weekend xx

    KIzzy @ The Dainty Dolls House

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  5. Whenever I make curry, I love eating the leftovers for breakfast. I love the wedding shoot idea. I wonder if I could get my husband to go for it.

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  6. I just love these glimpses into your other world! That is such a cool tradition, to have all those flower displays outside of new shops. I bet it makes the new shop owner feel super special and encouraged!

    All of these posts are REALLY making me want to live abroad somewhere for a while...

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  7. fun! fun! i think the birthday tradition is my favorite. :)

    xo
    purposelyathome.blogspot.com

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  8. You had me at "3 cakes minimum". Dream come true!

    xo Ashley
    thetiniestfirecracker.com

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  9. Oh very much like the Philippines. We have "funny" signs everywhere too! Everything sounds familiar, maybe because Malaysia and the Philippines are so close. :)

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  10. I love that your wearing a Calvin shirt!! I live like 15 mins from the college. :)

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  11. Oh man! Our wedding anniversary is in December. We didn't plan that well :)

    Any celebration with excessive amounts of cake you can count me right in for.

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  12. You had me at heavily celebrated adult birthday and spicy food for breakfast! Sounds like my kinda place!

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  13. Oh, I'd love to do an over the top photo shoot in wedding garb! I love that! More people here should do that!
    Carolyn
    http://www.ccmcafeeperspective.com/

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  14. I love learning about different places!

    I love colorful clothing! We do birthdays big, but it usually is just the two of us and a separate celebration with family. One time we celebrated my birthday for 4 or 5 days lol.

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  15. ^^^ That was me. I accidentally logged into my other account.

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  16. I used to live in South Korea and one of the funniest things was looking at the misspelled signs! The greeting cards were hilarious too!

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  17. Love it! Funny about the wedding timings. :)

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  18. Lovely pics and a wonderful overview of life in Malaysia! Love it! Hugs, T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

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  19. great pictures! I love the one with all the dresses- I want them all

    xo Jessica
    www.NewlyLoved.com

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  20. Wow, that is some fascinating news about the wedding photos! Renting the outfits from the studio? And not on your wedding day? So interesting!!! And I think I could get on board with the tradition of at least three birthday cakes! :)

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  21. Rachel! That breakfast looks so yummy! You know, {well of course you know} your blog always is a little like opening a surprise gift...always something unexpected yet totally delightful!

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  22. Very cool! I think the new shop/flowers is my favorite, because it's so beautiful. But the wedding glamour photos sounds fun too!

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  23. I love traveling to see different cultures and the way they do things too! Your breakfast sounds like my kind of meal.. I'm such a savory lover that onions & curry sound delicious anytime! (I mean I'm the kind of girl who could eat Pasta for breakfast ;))
    xoxo,
    Nikki at www.bedazzlesafterdark.com

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  24. This is so cool!
    Love the wedding picture traditions and that people celebrate new shop openings! That's so sweet!

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  25. I loved this! I've always hated traditional (in the US sense) breakfast foods like toast, cereal, pancakes - I would love some spicy curry for breakfast :)

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  27. How interesting. I love learning about other places and you get to experience it first hand!
    Debbie
    www.fashionfairydust.blogspot.com

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  28. lovely blog :)
    http://saltskinned.blogspot.com.au

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  29. Great post, thanks for sharing. Love to see al these cultural differences!
    Stopping by from #SITSsharefest

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  30. That's a huge difference but I really like the photoshoot & public holidays part. But the grammatical mistakes, OUCH!

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  31. I love these differences! James and I are huge proponents for getting out and experiencing cultures different from your own. It makes life a little more beautiful if you can look at someone else's culture and understand that just because it's different from your own doesn't make it a bad thing.

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  32. Wow , I don't know much of Malaysia's traditions but they all look quite familiar to Pakistanis . Those vibrant clothes and extravaganzas are actually EXTRA , I assume it sometimes :)
    PS : So you're an American married to Malay guy? It's so wonderful because I didn't know it yet . Just.So.Silly!

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  33. I love your pictures. I love that you share so many different views with us. You're just plain awesome. Sorry I've been MIA for a while!!
    ~April

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  34. Thanks for sharing! The extravagant wedding pictures sound awesome. We got married at the court house, so I didn't have a wedding dress. And spicy breakfast sounds yummy. I don't like sweet things in the morning and sugary cereal grosses me out.

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  35. This is so interesting! I love your advice to maximise red-envelopes ;)

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  36. Some of these customs are similar here in Toronto, possibly just because this is such a multicultural city. I know many people who have elaborate wedding photoshoots before their actual wedding. It's not an uncommon to see a couple in wedding clothes, downtown, taking photos.

    The extravagant birthday celebration can also be a cultural thing. I blogged the other weekend about a huge birthday celebration we went to for someone's 25th. It was like a wedding!

    The flowers outside the shop is definitely different though! I could go for more public holidays too!

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  37. This is so fascinating to read! I love the idea of multiple birthday cakes!! And wedding photo shoots sound awesome. :) It makes me wonder, what kind of traditions do WE have that they would think are strange?

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  38. This was really interesting!! And spicy food for breakfast...I could totally go for that! I eat dinner stuff for breakfast all the time!

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  39. haha a lot of those are very similar all over asia. i always see people post up pictures of signs with grammatical errors or just funny ones in general, but when i go look i can never find them! i think the key to it is not intentionally looking for them.. :P

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  40. This is so incredibly interesting... Your life is exciting and I'm glad I stumbled on your blog
    thanks for visiting mine:)

    happymedley.blogspot.com

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  41. So interesting! I've never known all this before!! The wedding photos thing is truly unique and the holidays thing is kind of awesome!

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  42. I love it all. So many of those are the same as cambodia, minus the spicy breakfast food. Sometimes the differences in cultures can be wonderful and intriguing, and other times they make me want to pull my hair out. They do that same thing with weddings. They often get their pictures taken at these...esentially miniture golf courses, without golf...and make the statues even weirder. If that makes any sense.

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