There is no question that what I miss most about living in America are my friends and family. But those aside, there are a few other stragglers that drive me nutso – even after all this time. Or maybe it is because I’ve been here so long, who knows.
These things aren’t going to send me running back to the US, but they totally suck and are part of my life now. I guess acceptance is the first step, right? And before you go and get your panties in a bunch, this is not a rag on Malaysia kind of blog. Obvi, we love it here, but that doesn’t mean we love every bit. Same goes for America.
Luckily my next week’s post is the antithesis of this one… so don’t worry, part two is coming. But until then, here are all the things I miss most about living in America.
1. I miss certain cuisines and foods
But it’s the variety that I miss. We get all the Asian cuisine, but not much else.
I would kill for an authentic Mexican taco. Not the kind that Malaysian’s make, which is pseudo-Mexican. Not bad, just not authentic.
I might even sell a limb for real Greek food. At this point, I would settle for Greek-ish food. Something remotely close would be good.
But it’s not just those specific cuisines that I miss. It’s things like the abundance of cheese options, good tomatoes (ripe ones that actually taste like something), Midwestern steaks, oysters.
And for the love of all things holy, AVOCADOS that ripen properly. I have never spent so much time nor money on food that just doesn’t… work – for lack of a better term.
Every time I buy avos, they are hard little nuggets, so I wait patiently (kind of) for them to ripen. The top half ripens, the bottom half stays hard. By the time the bottom half is a wee bit soft, the top half is rotten inside.
It’s a conundrum like none other. And one that sends me spiraling into avo madness weekly, because I haven’t learned my lesson yet.
I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much money on food that I have to throw out more than half of the time. I’ve bought avos from Kenya, South Africa, Mexico, you name it.
And you know what is even more annoying? EVERY country around us gets or grows gorgeous huge avos the size of an American football.
You can get avo shakes on the side of the road in Thailand and Vietnam. The Philippines too. It’s like they are taunting us with their perfectly ripe avocados while we suffer from half-black half-hard little nuggets the size of tennis balls.
The avocado struggle is real, my friends.
2. I miss the convenience of one-stop shops
In Penang, weekly grocery shopping goes something like this…
Stop 1. Cold Storage, the only grocery store that has a coffee grinder, beans, pasta, AND an OK cheese assortment.
Stop 2: The wet market for all our fresh produce, chicken, pork, and eggs.
Stop 3: Muthu and Cilantro for any type of beef or lamb.
Stop 4: The local fisherman on the side of the road (from 2:30-4 only) to get the daily catch.
Stop 5: The wine shop.
Stop 6: The booze shop.
Stop 7: The bakery.
Luckily, they are all within a 20-minute drive, but still, everything takes longer than expected, so this list could take days.
I’m not exaggerating.
Where is the Target when you need one?
3. I miss customer service
Customer service doesn’t exist here. It’s just not a thing. No one cares or even tries.
Let me explain…
I’ve stood waiting to pay for something until the teller is finished texting.
I’ve walked into a restaurant with a group of five people, sat down, and waited patiently for the menus. The waiter finally brings us a menu. ONE menu. So, I ask for four more, ya know, one for each of us. The look of annoyance I get is hilarious.
Mark asked a waitress if he could get cheese on his eggs. He told her he would happily pay extra for the cheese. She looked at him seriously and said, “I don’t think the chef can do that, there isn’t a button on the register for it, but I’ll check.”
Maybe their idea of customer service is following me around the store at an uncomfortably close proximity. Not because they can help with any information I might need, because they don’t know anything about what they are selling. If I do have a question, they have to go find the answer from someone else and often never return.
Maybe they follow me around because they think I’m going to steal something, which is
especially funny when I’m at a furniture store.
The best is when I walk in and ask if they have something, like mattresses, and they say no, all finish lah (sold out). Then as I’m walking out, I see them stacked up in the corner. Not sure if they are missing the concept of sales or literally don’t know that they sell mattresses, but I’m pretty sure no one is trained.
Now, I get especially excited when I ask for cheese on my eggs, and they just say OK. Well, here they won’t say OK, they’ll say “Can lah.” And I love that.
4. I miss clean public toilets with toilet paper
This shouldn’t be a thing I miss. I shouldn’t have to miss clean toilets. But Malaysia doesn’t get the importance of them, so I suffer in silence (who am I kidding, I bitch about them all the time).
Didn’t you learn “if you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat?” Apparently, that isn’t a well-known rhyme here because it’s just not done.
I get the concept of using water to clean instead of paper. I’m the first to admit I love the whole bum-gun idea in my own home because I know where the bum-gun has been. The same can’t be said for a public toilet. And, maybe if the hoses weren’t laying in the floor, in a puddle of who-knows-what, I’d be tempted to pick up said hose and use it.
So, give me some toilet paper, inside my stall, where I need it. Not outside to dry my hands with.
And by all means, clean the fucking toilets people.
5. I miss Amazon.com
We have a couple of paltry websites where we can get things pretty quickly. And in full disclosure, they are getting better.
However, they don’t compare to Amazon.
When you buy things here, returning them is a procedure, if it is allowed at all. Half the items on those websites are fakes but exchanging them becomes such a process you take that into account before you ever order. You suck it up and know you’re going to keep it no matter what, or you mentally prepare for the long, drawn-out process of trying to return it, or you don’t buy it.
6. I miss cheap and plentiful booze options
And affordable and good quality champagne. I also miss the vodka aisle. The gin aisle. The whiskey aisle. You get the point.
7. I miss local bars
I miss having a local to go hang out. There aren’t a lot of bars in Penang, and they are pretty expensive. But I miss going to the neighborhood bar, where everyone knows your name (I’m serious, it’s not just a song).
The Wrap Up
So, there you have it—all the things I miss about living in America.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog…what I DON’T Miss About living in America. Spoiler alert… that’s a longer post. Not to say I don’t love America. I do. I will ALWAYS be an American, no matter where I live. I just don’t have to love all the things American.