1 [streetsmart] Malaysia

by 美儀

[Disclaimer: This is written merely from the perspective of this one Chinese girl. I do not represent all my fellow countrymen.]

Pasar Seni, Kuala Lumpur || Kodak Ultramax 400 DIY Redscale

You know how each country has its own cultural differences in greeting each another? I think I have finally figured out what is the Malaysian code. It is perfect, because in an instance we become familiarized or sometimes even family.

Kuala Lumpur || Kodak Serba Guna 400 EXP2008

The most important marketing technique applied in this country, is the ever present leng zai [靓仔] or leng lui [靓女]. Without it, hawkers would lose out to their competitors. The moment these magical words are said, the hawker has successfully grabbed the customer’s attention. The customer is smiling widely and they will now consider buying the product because their beauty (hidden or not) has been acknowledged.

When you are placing an order, asking how much a product costs, and especially when you’re asking for a discount or favor: abang, kak, adik, and mak is essential. Dragging it–for example, kakkk or banggg–is even more effective. (Ooh..sudden revelation. I think the Malaysian [almost] equivalent of aegyo[애교] is manja).

Online boutiques, blog shops and forums have taken it up a notch. Questions such as ‘Is this still available in M?’ ‘How much is this?’ ‘Best price please!’ or ‘Including postage?’ will be answered with some affection: ‘Last piece left, dear!’ ‘RM25 only, babe!’ ‘Sorry bro, best already.’ ‘Without postage ya.’ For some reason, buyers have adopted the same habit even when they are the ones buying. Maybe we are all just getting closer.

Today I learned that what I once thought was just part of street smart Malaysia is no longer confined as it has already found its way through formal doors.

Today, the lady at the dispensary called me babe.

Central Market, Kuala Lumpur || Kodak Ultramax 400 DIY Redscale

* leng zai [靓仔] – handsome boy/guy
* leng lui [靓女] – pretty girl
* abang – older brother
* kak – older sister
* adik – younger sibling
* mak – mother