Alex van Terheyden
Why visit the "Food Paradise" that is Malaysia
If you haven't been to Asia and have thought about travelling there, the odds are that your first country to visit on the continent would be the usual suspects of Japan, South Korea, China, and even Singapore.
But if you are a little more adventurous and up to the challenge of taking the road less travelled, Malaysia should definitely be placed on your shortlist of the first Asian countries to visit.
It is a place brimming with diversity and with a food culture that has slowly garnered worldwide acclaim. This is partly made possible by the food heritage influence of various cultures like Malay, Chinese, Vietnamese, Javanese, and more.
And let's not forget that Malaysia used to be a British colony. So you can find more than just a hint of western influence in the food culture. You only need to walk the streets of Kuala Lumpur to see and taste this with your own eyes and mouth.
When people revisit Malaysia for the food, don't think for a moment that they are talking about the hamburgers in fast food chains, the steaks in restaurants, or the sashimi on display in a Japanese restaurant. It is "street food" that is all the buzz in this food paradise.
Some of the infamous dishes include the delectable; Chay Kway Teow, the irrepressible Asam Laksa, and the national dish that is Nasi Lemak. It even has a dessert with an icy reputation that has spread far and wide all over the world in Cendol.
There is something for everybody. If there is a particular dish that you somehow dislike, there's going to be something else nearby that would give your taste buds the pleasure it deserves.
The dilemma is never about having nothing to delight your taste buds. It will be about whether you have enough space in the stomach to gobble down every delicious food you come across.
Then there is the king of fruits that is famous in this part of the world. Either you like durians or find them repulsive. Many still love to consume them even when they loathe the aroma of this thorny-looking fruit. The good thing is that some of the best durians come from Malaysia. So you wouldn't be shortchanged by getting your durians here. They are cheaper, fresher, and have a wider range of variety available for patrons to select from.
Malaysia is a hidden treasure of a travel destination in Asia. The people generally speak English, the exchange rate is very attractive to the US dollar, and the food culture is like a buffet on nuclear steroids.
Those who love city life have Kuala Lumpur to explore and prowl. The most mesmerizing of rural tourist spots can be easily found just outside the city.
It is definitely a country worth plotting into your shortlist of the next Asian country to visit.
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