Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Malaysian Monsoons

While I am writing this blog post the late afternoon/early evening thunderstorms are raging. For the past 2 or 3 weeks the monsoon rains have been making daily visits to Penang. During the daytime the temperatures are hotter than hell and the humidity is in the 70's. Just walking from the bedroom to the front door is enough to be covered in sweat. After taking a short walk to eat lunch and run a few errands a shower becomes a necessity.

About 4 or 5 o'clock every day the skies darken, the wind picks up and the skies open pouring torrents of water over the island. The lightning shows are spectacular and the thunder is deafening at times. These displays then return at about 7 or 8 o'clock at night. These storms cool and clear the air and make sleeping quite comfortable. Luckily the rains are not as bad as our neighbors in Thailand have been suffering through.

Many people here in Penang have been complaining about the weather, but I am really beginning to enjoy the daily storms. As long as I have a fairly good idea when it will rain, my plans are not spoiled and I really enjoy the cooling effects of the monsoons.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Design Dream or Renovation Nightmare.

My condominium is comprised of 3 bedrooms. These include 1 master bedroom, a middle sized bedroom and an extremely small bedroom. The master bedroom would be considered a quite small bedroom compared to American standards, while the other two would be considered closets. I have been thinking for quite some time about converting the smallest room into a walk-in closet and the middle room into a combination office/guest room.  I would like to simply take out the built in bed and put in a desk and shelving units for books and storage. There is a window, which opens out to a very small balcony. The window opens enough for the cat, but not Kevin or myself. I would like to replace this window with a door or a window which would open wide enough so a person could actually fit.

This seems to be a simple enough project. If I were back home, a couple of trips to Home Depot would take care of the situation. But I am here in Malaysia. Everything is concrete. Even hanging a picture is a major project. I would also like to add some more electrical outlets, but this too is a major problem. For some reasons the contractors in Malaysia think that all electrical outlets should be placed in one central location in a room, which are convenient to them, but not the owners. When you need to plug in a lamp, hair dryer, shaver or some other small appliance you have to find the nearest outlet, which is most often not convenient. You could use an extension cord, but the ones sold here are only 2 or 3 feet long. So they are useless.

I have now started talking with contractors and designers about my ideas. I stress that I do not want a lot of hacking, as both Kevin and I are allergic to cement dust. I also stress that I don't want to spend a fortune. So far I am having trouble with the concepts of a combination office/ guest room and also a walk-in closet. Most contractors have no idea of what I am talking about. The shelves they understand, so I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. The biggest problem so far is that no one seems to want to do a project that does not involve a lot of hacking. In other words they want the more expensive alternative. I will now start visiting DIY shops looking for shelves and hoping I can find a competent carpenter to do the work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Where's Malaysia?

When I recently visited the US with Kevin he was frequently asked where he was from. We both proudly responded that we were from Malaysia. Most of the responses were either "What's that?" or "Where's Malaysia?". We then asked if these people knew where Thailand, Singapore or Indonesia was. They knew where these places were, so we simply said Malaysia is in that area.

Granted most people and especially younger people have a very weak knowledge of world geography, but why hadn't people even heard of Malaysia. There was only one person whom we met who knew about Malaysia and even Penang. He was an Indonesian-American working in the car rental place where we rented our car.  All of the time we were in the US we saw tourism ads on television about China, Singapore, Indonesia and several other countries. We didn't see anything about Malaysia. On the other hand living here in Malaysia and watching Astro we are constantly bombarded by ads about Malaysia. People watching these already live here!

People know that Singapore is the center of business in the East and is a thriving economy. People know Thailand for it's beauty, food and tourist attractions. People know Indonesia for the beautiful island of Bali, beautiful volcanoes, scenery and wildlife and the fastest growing economy in the area. Why don't people know anything about Malaysia?  Maybe the Ministry of Tourism should concentrate its advertising in different areas of the West and maybe they should help local tourism businesses to promote the wonders of Malaysia. Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Little Bit of Espionage and Paranoia in Penang

As I was on my way to visit my local pet shop I took a short cut through the Prima Tanjung shopping area. I passed by a new store selling infant and children's goods. I have noticed on other occasions hand made signs warning against loitering and solicitation. I believe the phrase they used was "no charities". Today I saw a new sign which caught my eye and really amused me. I had to take a photo of it. It read "COMPETITOR AND SPY ARE NOT WELCOME". CIA take notice. These signs really work. I can't recall ever seeing a customer in the store.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just What We Need.

The other evening after eating a nice Thai meal Kevin and I decided to visit our neighborhood Baskin-Robbins ice cream store. I don't go there a lot but it is very refreshing to visit once and a while and enjoy a decadent treat. They have real hot fudge there,  which is my favorite ice cream topping. A number of times we have bought an ice cream cake for birthday parties.

On the drive from Tanjung Bungah we both openly fantasized about what ice cream we would have. I settled on my favorite, pralines 'n cream with hot fudge. Kevin decided he would wait until we got there before he made up his mind. It would be the perfect end to a great Thai meal.

We approached Prima Tanjung shop lots, where Baskin-Robbins was located and began to look for a parking space. We pulled in front of the store and were instantly shocked. Baskin-Robbins wasn't there. Instead was another damn hair salon. Just what the area needs. In the Prima Tanjung area there seems to be a hair or nail salon (or saloon as some of them are called,  for some strange reason) every other store. I don't know why there needs to be so many hair salons in one area. You can't tell by looking at people in the neighborhood that they are any more stylish than anyone else. Across the street from Prima Tanjung new shoplots are being built. I am sure that at least 1/3 of the shops will be hair or nail salons!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another Update on the Missing Manhole Covers

On July 25th I published a post on a missing manhole cover near my condo. Shortly after that post The Star Newspaper ran an article about this situation, along with photos and a statement from the MPPP that the situation would be soon taken care of. A short time after this another cover was stolen only a few yards away, on the same side of the street.

On August 26 I went to the US for a 3 week vacation. I returned to Penang on September 18 and was not surprised to see that the covers are still missing and the caution barriers are down inside the drains. Today is October 2 and still nothing is being done. This is nothing but incompetence and total disregard for the public safety of the residents in this area,