Malaysia is a mix of cultural attitudes. It’s the first majority Muslim country I’ve been too. As I travel the world looking for the best countries to retire cheap in, I am thinking about if some cultures are better than others. My first thoughts were of course there is no culture that is better than another. Every culture is equal. Then I started to think is it? Traveling opens your eyes and your mind about what is “normal” and “accepted”. I definitely think that as a product of North American culture I have an internal compass of what I personally think is right and what I think is wrong. I thought, as a traveller shouldn’t I be embracing the culture of wherever I’m living?As I’m writing this post all the controversy about Donald Trump and building a wall from Mexico is going on. The main emphasis of the book “Adios America” by Ann Coulter (one of his ardent supporters where he gets a lot of his positions on immigration from), is that illegal immigration is wrong and should be stopped. It also emphasizes cultural attitudes and what she would like to see in America. I highly recommend reading it regardless of whether you agree with her position or not. (SPOILER : In case you’re wondering her attitude is “No more Mexicans!” )Here in Kuala Lumpur I really like hearing the call to prayer here, but as an agnostic I don’t have any urge to go pray. I’ve seen women swimming in burqas but besides the fact that it must be awfully uncomfortable and soggy they seem pretty happy. I really thought from my previous North America exposure to Muslims that they would be much more oppressed feeling? Isn’t shariah law barbaric and wrong?
According to Wikipedia, “Syriah (the Malay spelling of “Sharia”) refers to Sharia law in Islamic religious law and deals with exclusively Islamic laws, having jurisdiction upon every Muslim in Malaysia. The Syariah Court system is one of the two separate system of courts which exists in Malaysian legal system. There is a parallel system of state Syariah Court, which has limited jurisdiction over matters of state Islamic law (Shariah). The Syariah Courts have jurisdiction only over Muslim in the matters of family law and religious observances, and can generally only pass sentences of not more than three years imprisonment, a fine of up to RM5,000, and/or up to six strokes of the cane”Growing up in our secular culture, I can’t imagine a religion having a separate religious court, but it exists here. Should I embrace this part of the culture? Do I think a separate court system would work or be a good thing in North America? I don’t think that it would. I also think as a traveller you can realize the fact that different countries will have different values and cultures. After visiting here I realized one important thing.Besides my other checklist of items I need in my country. Such as, fast internet, healthcare and English speaking, I’m going to need the ability to enjoy and appreciate the culture of the country. Retiring cheap means that you will no longer be a tourist, but instead you’ll be an immigrant. In America they are talking about that border wall because illegal economic immigrants are just walking in from Mexico. As someone who is thinking of retiring cheap in another country aren’t I also an economic immigrants? Just reversed? I’d highly recommend staying at least month in a country before thinking about retiring there, because you won’t know what the culture feels like until you’ve deeply immersed yourself. I hope this article helps your planning, but truly nothing beats travelling to really help you make your decisions. And to the question are some cultures better than others? I’d say yes. They might not be a “better” empirically but like chocolate versus vanilla, some cultures are definitely better and more enjoyable for me. I’ll stay far away from a Muslim culture when I’m retiring. If you’re looking for a great pre-retirement checklist go here RETIREMENT CHECKLIST