Author Tash Aw on moving to China and the South Asian novel

Recently I had the privelege of interviewing Malaysian author Tash Aw for the review site Bookmunch.


April 11, 2013 Comments disabled

My first trip

It’s summer in the Northern hemisphere, so probably many of you are thinking about holidays, or at least escaping outside now and again. So for this month’s collaborative post we’ve been thinking about travel. If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, well, maybe you will read this and dream of the summer that’s coming up.

Colombia, the USA, India, Bulgaria… PocketCultures contributors from around the world write about their first trip abroad (or – since we haven’t all had the chance to travel abroad – their first big trip). Read on to find out where they went and what they did!

Nuria (Costa Rica)

I took my first trip abroad when I turned 15 years old. My parents and sisters celebrated this special birthday, Quince Años in Spanish, with me in San Andres Island, Colombia. It was the first time I was ever on a plane, so the trip was really exciting although it was only about an hour! I remember the day before leaving, I did not feel so good and I had a rash, so I went to the drugstore but they told me it was only an allergy. So, I did not pay that much attention to it. But the next day when we were at the airport, I had a fever and did not feel that good the following days. Since I thought what I had was a simple allergy, once I noticed some itchy, red dots on my legs, I just scratched them all.

Getting my hair braided


August 15, 2012 2 comments

Myth or Reality about Malaysia

After Myth or Reality about Brazil, it is time for Malaysia, “Truly Asia”! There a are few burning questions asked by PocketCultures contributors and I just cannot stop scratching my head when I am answering those questions!

So the firstquestion by

  • Lucy Chatburn

Let’s see, I always heard Malaysia is a melting pot of different cultures. Is it true? Or only in some cities?

Hi Lucy. It is totally true about it, in Malaysia we have 3 main ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese and Indian. This is what made Malaysia a little bit unique. Each of the ethnic groups practice their own culture locally and we understand and respect each ethnic group’s belief and culture. During the festival season, some of us even celebrate together with other ethnic groups, the government organize open house for everyone to celebrate certain festival together! Even for the food! Yummy! The creation of food from the three ethnic groups made Malaysian food so special! Now I am getting hungry!

Malaysia, Multi Racial country

REALITY: Well, the truth is not everywhere in Malaysia is melting pot of different cultures but most of the cities are! This is exception for the small town or rural area, if you visit there you will notice mostly only one ethnic group in that area. However, still from medium town to big cities, you will find all of us! :D

  • Ana Astri-O’Reilly

When I was younger, I read the adventures of Sandokan, a fictional character crated by Italian author Emilio Salgari. The novels are about the pirates struggle against the British and the Dutch, How historically accurate were Salgari’s novels?

Hi Ana, your question is a little tricky to answer. Based on our history classes, we didn’t really know about “Sandokan” the pirate but there is a city named Sandakan on north-eastern coast of Borneo but I do not think they are related. One part that is quite similar is the fight between Syariff Osman (local Hero) and James Brooke (British Colony). Since, Syariff Osman is a threat for the British Colony, James named him as a pirate as to hunt down Syariff reputation.


REALITY: In Malaysian history books it seems like Sandokan never exist. I cannot tell how accurate is the book but somehow part of the novel is similar.

  • Eber Soler Rochi

We hear/read that Malaysia has one of the best economic records in Asia. Where does this economic growth come from, natural resources, commerce…? The other question is, with Malaysia’s multiculturalism – do all the different groups really merge to make one people, one culture or are there distinct regions/groups?

Eber, this is a good question! REALITY: In recent years, Malaysia was considered as newly industrialized country and our national economy’s undergoing rapid growth. For your information, the three main components that contribute to the Malaysian economy are Services (about 58%), manufacturing (about 27%) and agriculture (about 7%).  The truth is, Malaysia is the world’s largest Islamic banking & financial centre and tourism industry contribute huge part of servicing sector.

The truth about Malaysia’s multiculturalism is we do merge, however, not everywhere in Malaysia. From medium-sized towns to big cities, you can see all of us having lunch together, walking around, carpooling, having group discussion and joking around. If you take a visit to small town or rural area, most likely you will see only single group ethnic in that area and you rarely see other ethnic group around.

  • Carla Arena

I´ve always seen Malaysia as a place of wonderful natural resources contrasting with very modern cities and poor neighborhoods. Is this really reality? Is there much exploitation of your natural resources that preoccupies the country? Is modernity destroying part of your natural beauty?

Capital City

REALITY: Malaysia still is a developing country undergoing the rapid growth of its , mainly from the services sector. In the early stage Malaysia was mainly dependent on the natural resources as a source of economic especially petroleum & natural gas but now a day we shifted to services and manufacturing sector. 

In Malaysia, we have an independent agency working hard to conserve the forest and Malaysia own the one of the oldest rainforest in the world. At the moment, we still managed well in term of conserving the natural beauty of Malaysia.

  • Lucy Chatburn

In my Lonely Planet guide it says you can be arrested for drinking alcohol. Is it true?

Lucy, nice question! REALITY: According to the rules and regulations, people that drink alcohol in public will not get arrested if they don’t commit any crime or cause trouble in public. However, everyone is encouraged to drink privately. If police spotted you, they will advise you not to drink in public. For your information, there are plenty of private places you can drink like bars, pubs or clubs. So, you are recommended not to drink in the public.

Bar in Malaysia

Please stay tuned with Pocketcultures for next country!

If you have more burning question to ask about Malaysia? Please comment 


Read more

Interesting facts about Malaysia

Malaysia, truly Asia.

Myth or reality about Brazil



5 interesting Facts about Malaysia

Curious to know more about Malaysia? Check out these 5 interesting facts about Malaysia, and you may feel amazed about it!

1. Malaysia Truly Asia!: Malaysia is populated with various ethnic groups:  about 55% of Malay, 25% of Chinese, 10% of Indian and others

More Information


January 18, 2012 5 comments

Why is Malaysia called “Malaysia, Truly Asia?” LeX gives us the inside scoop!

LeX, one of our Pocket Cultures regional contributors is a student traveller, currently in France, but originally from Malaysia. Malaysia, in it’s own right, is a multi-cultural country, melding together the Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. Read more to learn about why LeX joined the Pocket Cultures team, and how to easily detect a Malaysian speaking English!

Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?

I am a student traveller, LeX from Malaysia. Actually my real name is Tan Yih Liang (陈奕良/단익량 – Chinese/Korean) and LeX is what people always call me. Education and study are the motivation and direction that inspired me to move! South Korea was the 1st foreign country I stayed and currently studying in Europe and operating a travel blog call “LeX Paradise”.

December 30, 2011 Comments disabled

Malaysia “Truly Asia”: Fusion of Culture, Food and Tourism

What do you know about Malaysia?

“I know Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia.” That is all you know? Alright, let me give you some hints! Many people are curious about the cultures of Malaysia. The three main races in Malaysia are Malay, Chinese, and Indian. You may wonder why there are three main races in Malaysia. What I would like to say is that this is the exclusive characteristic of Malaysia that cannot be found in other countries.

A variety of races in Malaysia result in a range of different cultures, foods, and tourist attractions. Below are some interviews with my foreign friends about what they think about Malaysia while they are travelling. Aren’t you eager to know what their feelings towards Malaysia are ? Enjoy! (more…)

August 31, 2011 1 comment