Johor Bahru's population is about 2.7million consisting of mainly Malay, Chinese and Indian.
Johor experiences a tropical climate with humidity ranging from 82 - 86% and daily temperature varying from 21 to 32 C. The mean annual rainfall is at 177 cm. There is rain and sunshine throughout the year.
The monsoon season in Johor is from the end of the year to around February. Many foreigners are worried about the monsoon season. I feel that it does not make much difference as it just rain more days, but the rain will not last long, especially during heavy downpour. During this season, it is only the beaches and islands that will be affected. There will be more floods in undeveloped villages. In JB, monsoon or non-monsoon season are the same. Well, sometimes it is better to have the rain to cool down the atmosphere in the hot weather.
The Malays, Chinese and Indians consider the head to be a sacred part of the body. Do not pat a child on the head. Sometimes the parents are more relax about that.
When signalling someone to "come here", do not use the second crooked finger as it is a rude gesture or telling the person you are angry or worse wanting an argument or fight. Instead wave the four fingers of the right hand with the palm facing down. In Europe, I think this gesture is to ask someone to go away.
Pointing with the second finger is considered rude. To point , do it with the palm closed with the thumb resting on a fisted hand. Point with the thumb.
When dining in a Chinese restaurant or coffee shops, you can always ask for fork and spoons. Knife and fork are seldom used, except for our so-called "western food" such as chicken chop, fish and chips, etc.
Usually, fork and spoons are for rice. Chopsticks and a spoon (like a small laddle) for the soup are used for eating noodles. However, you can request for fork and spoon. Remember, not the knife. Chinese share the food, except the rice. Everyone on the table will have a plate or bowl of rice. If it's in a plate, you will be given fork and spoon. If it's bowl of rice, chopsticks and spoon will be used. The rest of the food are shared in the center of the table. Use your chopsticks or fork or spoon to get the chicken, fish, vegetables, etc. Remember to make sure there are no rice stuck on your spoon or fork or chopsticks before dipping them into the food. For soup, westerner will say it's broth, use the spoon for soup (a small laddle). That "laddle" is only for the soup.
If you go to an expensive restaurant, you can usually request the soup to be served in individual small bowls for each person. Some people are concerned about the hygiene.
Sometimes we have some food that are not bite sized. To "cut" the food into bite sized, use your fork and spoon. We usually do not use the knife for that at the table. I was stared at in the UK for using fork and spoon for cutting food into bite sized.
I have not acquired the skills of eating rice with a fork and knife as in the UK yet. My rice keep dropping. I still prefer fork and spoon. It is much faster.
Traditionally, Malays and Indians eat with their right hands. No fork and spoon, just use your hand. Remember only the right hand as the left hand is considered dirty. In a Malay restaurant, a kendi (water vessel) may be placed on the table so that guests can wash their hands before tucking in. Otherwise, wash your hands first at the sink.
The way you eat with your right hand:
Keep four fingers together, bend the palm slightly to create a hollow with the thumb. The food and rice will be pressed and squeezed slightly to be able to pick up a mouthful. The food is then picked up with the tips of the fingers, using your thumb to press it. The food is then pushed into the mouth with the thumb.
Usually every person will be given a plate of rice. The meat, vegetables, curries, etc will be shared. Just pick the ingredients with your fingers. For curry or anything with soup, just use a spoon. Alternatively, you can request for fork and spoon.
There is a strong Indian influence in central JB. Apart from the Sri Mariamman temple, which looms large over the city, there are numerous shops, restaurants and traders. There were also rows of houses and buildings on the same block painted different colours, which added an Indian feel to the city.
Apparently only 7% of the population of Johor Bahru is of Indian descent. This surprised me, as they seem to be a much more prominent part of the community (at least numerically). For most of them, their ancestors arrived in JB late in the 19th and early in the 20th century to work as traders and labourers. My wife is a Trinidadian of Indian descent and for me personally, there is something comfortable and familiar about smelling all the delicious curries and seeing the sights. The only thing missing was cricket...
Malaysians show respect to older people. When making introductions, the elder person is named first. The Western handshake is accetable to all races between members of the same sex. Between members of the oppossite sex, however, let the women take the lead. If she does not extend her hand, a nod and smile will do. Generally, the Malaysian handshake is softer and gentler than the Western counterpart.
Traditional Malay style of greetings:
The traditional way of greetings is still widely practiced, especially when greeting the elderly Malays. This is done by lightly touching their palms with both hands and bring their hand to your chin (looks like kissing their hand, but it is actually not kissing, just bringing the hands to the chin). Then use one hand (your own) or both hands to touch your chest lightly. Generally, older Malaysian use only one hand because they are of higher status than younger people. Males shake hands (gently) when greetings each other and then bringing one hand to the chest.
You can also show respect to an elderly Indian by greeting them in the traditional way: put both palms together, raising them to your face, and bowing your head slightly. When departing, avoid hugging or kissing even between members of the same sex.
If a Malaysian gives you his or business card, receive it with both hands, and study it for a moment before placing it in your pocket. Business cards are also given with both hands.
We spent only a couple of hours in Johor Bahru, time enough to bring a good impression of local hospitality.
Of course, most of it was performed for tourists, in a commercial environment, but... being received with folk dancing is one of the best ways to touch me.
They did, and... we bought something, of course.
All visitors (both men and women) are required to cover their arms and legs. In other words, wear long sleeves tee, and long pants or jeans. Women are required to wear a headscarf to cover the head.
Remember to remove your shoes before entering the mosque. You can either leave your shoes outside or hold your shoes wherever you go in the mosque.
There are two types of Orang Asli people. One group in the mountain and another group along coast. We call them in Hokkien "sua huan"(mountain) and "hai huan"(sea). The mountain ones will hunt for wild bore, etc and they live in the jungle or forests. There's a group that lived near my small neighbourhood in JB (in the forest nearby) when I was young. I used to see them every early morning with lots of dogs and all with spears, big knifes, etc, and with their hunt for the day. For the sea ones, they live on food from the sea. They hunt in the sea.
The Orang Asli have their own language. They are the minority in Malaysia. The majority of them are less educated but the government are buidling schools to educate their younger generation.