Balik Kampung means “heading back to your hometown” in Malay. This refers to the mass exodus that happens during the festive seasons, typically Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
During this time, many Malaysians will travel back to their hometown to spend time with families and visit relatives as these are special times for reunions.
For the newcomer, it is important for you to understand that this seasons have a lot of influence on culture, lifestyle and events and here are some of the things you need to look out for.
Where did everyone go?
You may find all your local friends travelling during this time, so, you may need to re-arrange your social plans. If you live in the hustle bustle of the city, you will find it to be pretty deserted. Streets that are normally buzzing with traffic may suddenly be empty as most traffic will have left the city. So make plans, otherwise you will feel like Will Smith in “I am Legend”.
Some businesses may close shop, so if you have anything urgent to get done, you would probably want to make sure it is done before the long holiday. Most people will not only take a day or two off, but they will arrange their leave days around Balik Kampung. This means that if your urgent matter was not done before the holiday, you may have to wait for a week before completion. Do be mindful of this when submitting your Student Pass Renewal Applications too. This may also affect the availability of clinics available to do your medical screening.
Balik Kampung Too
If you have local friends, they may invite you to Balik Kampung with them. Yayyyy!!! This is a fantastic opportunity for you to meet their family and also experience true Malaysian culture. Never take it for granted if they invite you to their home. This is part of the rich hospitality culture of Malaysians and it really helps you to settle in. You will also get to experience authentic home cooked traditional dishes. You can’t beat this experience!
If you have travel plans
Travelling during Balik Kampung can be a challenge. This is because everyone else is travelling. So you can expect traffic jams along major highways. If you hate traffic, you may want to plan travel at another time. Also accommodation and holiday prices may be higher around this time as there is higher demand from holiday makers.
What is an Ang Pao?
An Ang Pao is a money gift stashed away in an envelope and given by the elders to the unmarried ones. So if you have any older friends in Malaysia, don’t be surprised if they hand you an Ang Pao during the Balik Kampung season. It is just a gesture of goodwill, love and blessing! A red Ang Pao is for Chinese New Year, A green Duit Raya is for Hari Raya (normally from Malay Muslims) and a Purple envelope is for Deepavali (normally from Indian Hindus). It would be a lovely gesture for you to give a small Ang Pao to the young ones too.
When people Balik Kampung, they take a lot of gifts home. Because it is reunion time, this is also a major time for shopping.
Shopping = Sales.
Sales = Savings.
Savings = Good for ANY student.
So don’t be caught sleeping, be on the look-out for discounts and save. Just make sure the shopping fever doesn’t make you spend money you never plan to spend.