How To Talk Like A Local: Malaysia’s 5 Minute Rule

local Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Everyone in Malaysia wants to help out the traveler, and no one wants to do it with the wrong information. Locals you ask, locals you don’t ask, all smile and offer their best advice: “5 minutes, 5 minutes.” This rule is the answer to everything – though nothing, ever, is 5 minutes from truth.

“How far to the hostel?” “5 minutes.” = It is somewhere on this street, which stretches from coast to coast, but if you keep walking in this 35 Celsius heat, with 31 pounds on your back, it should appear eventually.

bicycle taxis Malaysia

“How long until the bus comes?” “5 minutes.” = The driver slept in and the engine broke 1,000 kilometers outside of town; kind locals are now pushing it by hand; but, if you wait in the  middle of this parking lot long enough, it will pull up between morning and midnight. Otherwise, there is a nice laaksa stand next door.

“What time does my Air Asia flight board?” “5 minutes.” = We have four airplanes all scheduled to leave right now, but won’t finish our dice game to determine which flight goes first until someone runs to the corner store and buys us iced Milo, so we can keep playing. But if you stand in this flood of confused passengers and wave your hands, we’re bound to announce it at some point today.

making roti Malaysia

“I ordered an hour ago. Is my food still coming?” “5 minutes.” = I didn’t even understand what you ordered, and so told the cook to make you a roti; but, if you keep asking, I’m bound to feign apologies and bring you something else entirely different. Otherwise, there is a nice laaksa stand next door.

“Where do I catch the teksi?” “5 minutes.” = This doesn’t even require a time limit, but if you walk around this block three times, stop for an iced lemon tea, pull out your map twice and consult a policeman, a taxi might just find you. Eventually.

How do you use Malaysia’s 5 Minute Rule?

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