Island Gripes : Our Love / Hate relationship with tourists

We love hosting, we LOVE that people Love our island. But just some comments and actions may rub us the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, we know we are not perfect, I have a long long list of how arrogant us locals can be to each other, but this,  this your list.  Hopefully these tips can help you be a conscientious traveler and sensitive to your surroundings. Wishing you peace and a better world for all of us.


“Everything is so CHEAP here!”

Oh. We get this all the time. Its great that you can leave massive tips, or buy 2 more than you need to. We appreciate that. But know, that your USD or your AusD is 3 times or 4 times our Ringgo. So technically we need to work 3 times as much for your $1. Its NOT cheap for us. Its hard work. Keep this delicious secret to yourself, and give us a pat on the back for making this a wonderful economical holiday for you.

Malay food stall in Batu Ferringhi


Old Wives tales vs Mr / Mrs Science-Know-it-All

Asians are very very loyal to our traditions, what we have learned and have been nagged at from childhood from our elders and for generations,  we keep on the back burner. So when we tell you that Durian is very heaty, and to swivel water from the Durian pod to line your tummy, or our strange strict customs on postnatal remedies, or certain nuts help lessen diabetic issues, drinking coconut juice will heal almost all minor skin irritations, you smile, take note of it because eventually, some scientist out there will prove this theory right.


Herbal Duck Soup with all parts of Duck Kimberly Street


 “I NEVER eat with my hands, its so un-hygienic “

Good for you. But some of us do. Thats why there are sinks in plain sight, with ready hand detergents at all our food courts, Indian restaurants, running water at street vendors . It doesn’t make us barbaric, it just makes us different. Our 5 / 6 star hotels come with fine dining offers, they are wonderful for these types of tourists, they have shiny polished silver cutlery and are excellent at bending over backwards when asked. I salute them. 

We can hear you, we just don’t understand you.

This is too funny. Most of us speak 2 languages, Malay/English , Hokkien/Malay , Tamil/Mandarin, Malay/Hindi , almost all of us get by with English. Raising the volume doesn’t make us understand you better. We know its not you being rude, and we know it may be frustrating but sometimes we don’t know the words to “cempedak”, “gelanga” or how to direct you to the nearest atm in English.

Smiling Uncle at New World Park


“All your food taste the same”

OK, to be fair, I get this comment in 1 out of 50. Our food gives us energy, we use alot of physical labour, historically lunch time was not sitting in a comfy office, it doesnt get served to us on a plate, we are rubber tappers, we are fisher men, we are farmers, we are labourers. Vendors will peddle to us on their bicycles , we brought our own bowls and banged on it for a refill, our great grand fathers and grandmothers would walk for miles to either sell/send cheap quick food in tiffins full of protein or carbs or sugar so our workers can last all day in the hot sun, they don’t get a full designated lunch time, its eat and go, so we can earn more money for family . These “all similar tasting food” have history a story, it put us on the map, earnings from food we sold helped put generations in school, simple food from the heart.

He wakes up really early this Uncle, Acheh Street


Crazy drivers.

Yes. Guilty.

*This has been my observation. Please do add on to my list on touristy woes from your country. Because I want to be a better citizen of the world.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. You realize, of course, tourists don’t know they’re tourists. They pride themselves on “blending in.” πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

    Just sayin’. πŸ˜‰

    Hope you don’t have to put up this behavior ALL the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Penang Local says:

      Oh no, 1 out of 50, but we are very very proud of our food. So it gets me. You know? x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Understood! Sending hugs and best wishes. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’œ

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Penang Local says:

        hugs! *grin

        Liked by 2 people

    2. S. Lau says:

      that’s NOT true, when ur a tourist u know ur a tourist … u only make an effort to blend in


  2. equinoxio21 says:

    Haha! Tourists everywhere. All the same.
    (Tiffany may have told you we will be in Penang in a fortnight. I hope we have a chance to see you too)
    Selamat pagi. (In a few hours)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Penang Local says:

      How wonderful!!!! I look forward to meeting you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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