We're Like The Aussies

Jo told me that Malaysians are a bit like the Aussies.
Whenever friends from abroad come to visit, we tend to invite them to stay with us (with open arms). Just like the Aussies, she says, They will even tell you that their house key is in the third flower pot and “just make yourself at home”.
We had this funny conversation when we were having lunch at Pastamania just last week and I was telling her how we love looking up friends when we are abroad.
It’s just fun to catch up with friends this way especially if we know them really well.
Like my childhood friend in London. She’s been asking me to visit her and stay with her when I do go. I’ve known her since we were both six years old.
And remember my HK trip? All made possible because dear SP gave us her entire apartment to stay in during the 10 days we were there (not to mention her extra set of keys so we could waltz in and out of her apartment as and when we wished).
And of course, when I am in KL, I am so fortunate that I have friends I can stay with, any time. They’ll open their guest rooms for me and that’s so Malaysian right?
And guess what? I do the same too.
I told Nir, my uni mate, that she is welcome to come and stay with me any time she comes back from Germany. And she also means it when she tells me,”Come visit me in Dortmund and come stay with me. And this is not ajak-ajak ayam, okay.” And I know she means it.
That’s the Malaysian way of being hospitable.
But that’s not the Singaporean style, I heard from Jo. Singaporeans would never think of impinging on the privacy of their friends so they’d rather go to a hotel room. When a Singaporean does ask about accommodation, she asks, “So which hotel are you staying at?” The very (Malaysian) offer of “come bunk with me” isn’t done.
Frankly speaking, I love hosting friends. I don’t normally open up my home to people I don’t like or to mere acquaintances. And yes, when friends come and bunk over, I have a set of keys for them too. So they can have the freedom to come and go as they please.
I was telling Jo that when I do go to Singapore, I have friends I can really bunk with. In fact, that’s the best part about travelling right? You meet with friends, you catch up, you save on hotel costs and you have a gala time.
So is it true that Singaporeans are like us in many ways but also NOT like us Malaysians in many ways?
I’d really love to hear what you think!

3 thoughts on “We're Like The Aussies”

  1. Hi Kirsta,
    Having just returned from Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, I have some experience to share. I have more friends in Singapore than Malaysia, and I had invitations to stay at 5 of my friends’ homes. I turned most of them down and stayed in a hotel because I did not want to be tied down to their schedule as I was on a tight time frame and wanted to do my own thing. However, I did stay with a Singaporean friend during the last 3 days of my stay. She gave me a bunch of keys, had her maid do everything for us, like cooking and laundry.
    I find that with Singaporeans, the key issue is space. Most of them live in very small condos or HDB flats. I remember my flat only had 3 rooms, one taken by all four of us (yes, we crammed in) and the other by the maid. The third room was like a craft/store/guest room. Our flat was big by SG standards, as it was more than 15 years old. The newer flats are smaller in size so that you can only fit one queen sized bed and nothing else into it.

  2. Hi Grace – thanks for enlightening me. I always thought S’pore flats were much bigger than our regular Malaysian apartments. I also think perhaps it’s how close you are to your friend that makes the “come bunk with me” offer tantalizing. 😉 You had a good trip I see!

  3. I have a few Singaporean friends as well (not Malaysians living there, but 100% Singaporean), and I agree with what Grace said, space is somewhat limited for them. If you think price of houses in Penang is crazy, Singapore is probably 10 times worse.
    Because of that, I don’t think they’re less hospitable, they’re just not very used to the idea of hosting others. I remember asking one of my Singaporean friend once casually “Maybe I can bunk at your place?” and while this would be greeted with a “Sure” and “Of course!” from our Malaysian kaki’s, my friend was somewhat puzzled by the idea. And then she went on being honest about the limited space in her apartment (she shares a room with her sister and they’re both in their late 20’s) and after a brief visit to her place I finally understood what she meant.
    So in a nutshell, I don’t think Singaporeans are any less hospitable, they’re probably just not used to it. =)

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