Englishman Mat Dan goes native in Terengganu

MARANG: There’s nothing unusual when a Terengganu native who enjoys his mackerel with sambal belacan says: “Ni ikang aye masok singgang. Kite makang dengan ulam, sambal belacang jadi doh.” But it’s quite something when it’s said by an Englishman!

Having lived in Malaysia for five years is enough to turn Daniel Tyler, or “Mat Dan” as he is known here, into a fluent speaker of the local dialect.

The Caucasian is also often seen mingling freely with the locals and eating rice – served with ulam and sambal belacan – with his hand.

His fluency in the dialect has even affected his mother tongue.

“I began speaking broken English as I mastered the local dialect. When I was home last year for my brother’s wedding, my friends and family were surprised to hear me speaking a ‘different English’.

“It took me some time to get back to normal,” said Mat Dan, who now peppers his English with the suffix “-lah”.

Mat Dan said he had to learn the lingo because it was hard to converse in English with the locals.

“I picked up the dialect after three or four years,” the 25-year-old told The Star.

Mat Dan said he was travelling in Thailand and Laos when a friend suggested that he check out Perhentian Island.

“From there I discovered Kapas Island so I came here. The days turned to weeks, weeks to months, and five years later, I am still here. I simply fell in love with this place!” he said.

“The island is beautiful but Malaysian hospitality is the main reason why I never left.”

He said Malaysia was unlike England, where “people generally just mind their own business”.

Mat Dan even converted to Islam after a few years in Terengganu, changing his name to Kareef Daniel Abdullah.

The Bristol native arrived in the country in 2009 when he was 19, after completing his Advanced Subsidiary level.

The voluntary worker said sometimes he had thoughts of continuing his studies and perhaps pursuing marine biology but not just yet.

The angoh (second of three siblings), as he calls himself, has plans to tie the knot here next year.

InshaAllah (God Willing) ... next year,” he said but politely declined to disclose who the lass was.

His businessman father Kevin, 52, and mother Nicol, also 52, an administrator, have visited their son here a few times.

mat dan , terengganu