Visas: Commonwealth citizens and most European nationals do not need visas for visits of less than three months. Visitors are usually issued an extendable 30 or 60-day visa on arrival.
Public holidays: 1 Jan; Hari Raya Puasa (End of Ramadan); Chinese New Year; Hari Raja Haji (Feast of the Sacrifice); Islamic New Year; Labour Day; Wesak; Head of the State’s Birthday (3 June); Prophet’s Birthday; National Day (31 Aug); Diwali; Christmas.
Local dishes: Take your pick of Chinese, Nyonya (a local variation on Chinese and Malay food), Indian, Indonesian or (sometimes) Western cuisines. Typical Malay dishes include satays (meat kebabs in spicy peanut sauce), fried soyabean curd in peanut sauce, sour tamarind fish curry, fiery curry prawns and spiced curried meat in coconut marinade. The variety of wonderful tropical fruits and fruit juices available is huge, and strange sweet concoctions include cendol (sugar syrup, coconut milk and green noodles) and ais kacang (beans and jellies topped with shaved ice, syrups and condensed milk).
Good reading: Culture Shock Malaysia, by Joann Craig, takes a look at the customs, cultures and lifestyles of the Malaysian people. In God’s Dust, Ian Buruma examines the westernisation of Asia. Malaysia-based fiction includes Somerset Maugham’s Borneo Stories, Anthony Burgess’ The Malayan Trilogy, Paul Theroux’s The Consul’s File and Blanche d’Alpuget’s Turtle Beach.
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