Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant and friendly city with an interesting blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, indigenous and western cultures. As a multiracial city, those residing in Kuala Lumpur share quirks and habits that are very unique, funny and distinctively Malaysian. Foreigners living in Kuala Lumpur for an extended period of time have also unavoidably blended in with the locals by picking up Malaysian idiosyncrasies and slang. From butchering the English language to forgoing your usual cereal for piping hot rice for breakfast, check out our comprehensive guide of 5 Signs You’ve Lived in Kuala Lumpur Too Long.
- Half-Day City Highlights Tour
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Kuala Lumpur is undoubtedly a melting pot of race, religions, languages, cultures and traditions with three dominant ethnicities (Chinese, Indians, and Malays) that form the majority of Malaysia’s population. As a result, its people often converse in ‘bahasa rojak’ or mixed languages where multiple languages and dialects are used in one conversation. Once you’ve lived here long enough, you don’t think twice before absolutely butchering your mother tongue to get the message across to the locals. If you know what this phrase means, “Dei, you want to tapau or makan here?”, then you have definitely lived in KL too long. (Translation: “bro/dude, would you like to eat here or would you prefer takeaway instead?”)
Tardiness, whether for an important office meeting, a wedding ceremony, or a casual get-together, is a frustrating yet socially accepted habit amongst those who live in bustling Kuala Lumpur. Most are quick to blame the city’s congested traffic, but those who have lived here long enough know that these delays are often the result of the locals’ laidback attitude and misguided concept of time. Our default response to any query of our whereabouts is, of course, ‘on the way’ when in reality, we’re likely to arrive at least 30 minutes past the agreed time.
Another tell-tale sign that you’ve been living here for too long is involuntarily converting prices back into Ringgit no matter where you are in the world – even when you are back in your native country visiting friends and family. If you have ever been guilty of this then you are so local-la...and this takes us on to our next point!
Being able to speak the local language is another sign that you’ve successfully integrated into the community, and for Malaysia, ‘la’ is the customary word. Thoroughly colloquial, ‘la’ or ‘lah’ is frequently added to end of a sentence or phrase by locals in a conversation, whether in Malay, Chinese, English, or Tamil. It is merely added for emphasis to just about everything and has no real meaning, but it’s a very distinctive aspect that makes you a true blue Malaysian. Also known as Manglish or Malaysian slang, ‘meh’, ‘loh’ and ‘ah’ are also used in the same context.
Malaysia is well-regarded as one of the diverse food capitals in the world, so it is almost crazy to visit Kuala Lumpur and not try out the plethora of local offerings. While western-styled breakfasts, toasted bread, and cereal can be found in abundance here, locals usually indulge in tummy-filling rice dishes to kick-start the day. If you are a foreigner who’s been living in Kuala Lumpur for a long time, the temptation is almost impossible to resist. From the classic nasi lemak to the aromatic bak kut teh (perfect for rainy mornings), having breakfast in Kuala Lumpur is never a bland experience.
Nasi lemak: rice cooked with coconut milk, and later served with fried anchovies, sambal (spicy sauce), slices of cucumber, boiled egg and fried ground nuts.
Bak kut teh: pork ribs, mushrooms, and tofu simmered in a broth of garlic, herbs, and spices.