We’re back on our thrilling trek around the globe, this time stopping off in Malaysia! So snuggle up with a leng lui or leng zai, kick back with your tapau, and enjoy these ten fascinating facts about this beautiful Southeast Asian country.
March 8th, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off with 239 on board. Just minutes after takeoff and contact was made with air traffic control, Flight 370 vanished entirely, leading to a search that the entire world watched. Initial searches proved fruitless, with no sign of the wreckage or survivors being found. It wasn’t until July 29th, 2015 that possible first signs of the flight’s remains were found. The biggest question remained, though – What happened to Flight 370? Theories have spanned from terrorist hijacking to the incredibly more imaginative belief that it was abducted by aliens. Only four months after the loss of Flight 370, Malaysia Airlines suffered a second loss with Flight 17, where 298 lives were lost after the plane was shot down by pro-Russian insurgents during a battle in Shakhtarsk Raion.
Shortly before the United States fell victim to Japan’s strike on Pearl Harbor, Kota Bharu, the capital of Kelantan State in Malaysia, became the site of a Japanese invasion during what became the first major battle of the Pacific War during World War II. The British Indian Army was the first line of defense as the Empire of Japan landed transports just off the coast, the ensuing battle ended with approximately 68 casualties for the British and around 300 for the Japanese. Despite the imbalance in numbers, the Japanese forces held strong and landed 3 full infantry battalions by mid-morning of December 8th, eventually forcing Lt Col Arthur Cumming and his defensive Regiment to withdraw from Kota Bharu.
Records Held by Malaysians
Love really ridiculous records? Some talented Malaysians have you covered! We’re talking records like Low Yee Ming’s endurance act of balancing a football for the long distance of 11.129 kilometers or 6.9155 miles and Ho Eng Hui’s fastest time of 30 seconds to pierce four coconuts. Other incredible records from Malaysia include the first arm transplant, most trees planted in one minute, the biggest flower – which was the rafflesia arnoldii, longest distance covered by an amphibious craft, and largest cave chamber. Were those records not unique enough for you? Maybe most eggs crushed with the wrist or largest pencil will satiate your craving for abnormality, instead.
Biodiversity and Wildlife
Beautiful and vast, Malaysia’s environment is diverse. Home to over 16,000 species of plants, 350 species of mammals, 350 species of reptiles and 300 species of birds, the country is often considered a land of biodiversity. Among the many species of plant, about 1,000 of them are thought to be medicinal, including catharanthus roseus, used to slow the progress of leukaemia; baeckea frutescens, used for health tonics; and orthosiphon aristatus, used in treatment of hypertension and arterial sclerosis. Balancing out the medicinal properties of these plants is a rather high population of king cobras, pit vipers, Dumeril’s monitors, and sizable crocodiles. The insect population is also not without its showstoppers, like empress cicada, giant ants, and rhinoceros beetle.
You’re in the middle of a school project when, suddenly, your computer dies on you. You breathe a sigh of relief, remembering you had everything backed up to your USB flash drive. Part of your praise for this life-saving device should go to Pua Khein-Seng, the man who is said to have incorporated the first single chip USB flash drive. Yi-Ren Ng may not be a household name, but photographers may take notice to his brainchild, Lytro, a company behind the development of light-field cameras. You may have seen him on TED Talks discussing the smartphone for the blind, but Yong has been in the inventor circuit for quite some time, having created a machine that produces rubber stamps within minutes.
As if being pregnant wasn’t tough enough on its own, Malaysian women have some pretty strange traditions to keep in mind as they come to term. During the length of the pregnancy, it’s tradition that women cannot kill any living thing or perform any deed that may bring bad luck in fear that it may cause the baby to be born with birth marks or deformations. Additionally, they’re typically recommended to stay away from fire and avoid looking at anything frightening.
Malaysian Corporal Punishment
To some countries, the use of caning as a form of legal punishment may seem a little archaic, but it’s still being used today as a means of corporal punishment in Malaysia. Introduced in the 19th century by the British Empire, caning is written into modern Malaysian law as “whipping” and follows a series of procedures and regulations such as the caning cannot be carried out in installments, the cane cannot be more than a diameter of half an inch, and the offender cannot receive more than 24 strikes in a single trial. In regards to who can receive these canings, the sentence can only be given to males between 18 and 50 in age, and, with a lighter cane, boys between the ages of 10 and 18.
You’ve seen him walking up and down the street, the glimmer of his style twinkling in the sun. Jimmy Choo is one of the fashion industry’s biggest names, known for his line of handmade women’s shoes. He also happens to be a Malaysian citizen. Along with Choo, other Malaysian elites and people of fame include actress Michelle Yeoh, squash player Nicol David, vocalist Siti Nurhaliza, astronaut Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, and the Malaysian-born, Australian horror film director, James Wan. Other notable Malaysians include cartoonist Lat, human rights activist Irene Fernandez, cyclist Ng Joo Pong, international model Ling Tan, and Malaysia’s own “Queen of Jazz,” Sheila Majid. Those of you looking for some Malaysian YouTubers, be sure to check out CartoonHooligans, Astro Gempak and Joanna Soh!
Malaysian Tourist Attractions
Natural or manmade, Malaysia has plenty to see that you won’t want to miss out on. Locations like the Tama Negara, an expansive national park with rainforests dating back over 130 million years. Canopy walkways, exotic wildlife, high hides, and plenty of walkways give a look through Malaysia’s natural history. Further expanding on the more natural side of the country is the Sarawak Chamber, the largest known cave chamber in the world by area. Located in Gunung Mulu National Park, the upriver trek from the cave entrance adds to the excitement of exploration. If you like manufactured beauty, you may appreciate Kuala Lumpur Tower, Bakun Dam, Thean Hou Temple, or maybe even 27-holes of golf at the A’Famosa Resort, equestrian club, and cowboy town.
Hopefully you’ve brought your appetite, because we’re about to take you on a mouthwatering trek through Malaysian cuisine. Pulling influences from Chinese and Indian food and from indigenous communities, Malaysian dining features a lot of rice, noodles, and bread, usually paired with poultry and fish. Tropical climates allow for exotic fruits, including cempedak, jackfruit, langsat, mangosteen, pitaya, and pomelo. Malaysians are often known to focus on kuih, or bite-sized dishes like curry puffs, or small deep-fried pies filled with curry and chicken or potatoes. If you’re dining in Malaysia, you may find yourself sipping a few air bandungs, enjoying some ayam goreng, nasi ulam, rendang, tempoyak, or mee rebus.