Footpath progress along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah / Northam Road

I’ve been out of action with a cold for a couple of weeks.  In the tropics one doesn’t suffer much – but I didn’t do much, either.

Then on Sunday I went for a walk, and was pleased to see progress has been made.

Outside Citibank

bus stop

Outside Citibank

they’ve finally started on this section

same section from the opposite side

And then yesterday I see they’ve done a bit more here.

When will this part be finished? It looks like soon – so one will be able to walk safely from Gurney Drive to Citibank. And will they continue on to George Town?  I hope so.


Another storm, another Telekom Malaysia Internet outage.

Yesterday evening we had a short but quite violent storm. And then the Internet went down.

12 hours later it’s still not working.

It’s thus always a good idea to have a backup. A mobile phone with Internet provides this.

Around midday I called TM, but they said everything was working fine at their end.  So I talked to a neighbour, who said it wasn’t working for them either, and that it had gone out at the same time.  Usually phoning TM takes a lot of time, and is a waste of time.

About 24 hours after it went off it suddenly started working.

“V” for, well, KL

I’ve noticed in recent months a lot of V number-plates.  I wondered where they were from.  But today I thought, that since they were on cars that seemed very new, and since most non-Penang plated cars are from KL, that perhaps they were a new plate from KL.

Checking online I found this to be so.  Apparently from June last year or thereafter.

A trip to the Customs Department at Butterworth

Until the walkway from the ferry terminal to the train / bus station is open, it’s better to drive to the Customs Department if you have a car.

By ferry you go to the bus station and turn right onto the main road just outside, and it’s about a five-minute walk to Customs. They are on the right side of the road, so you don’t have to cross the road.

The procedure when we had to pick up a parcel in February, 2018.  Procedures constantly change, though. Previously it was much simpler and only took a few minutes.  This time it took one and a half hours.  Also note that they close for lunch, so ensure you arrive early enough – or after lunch.

  • Go to the counter at the entrance and fill out a form.
  • Go to another counter further inside the office and unpack the packages.  Show what you have and explain anything – e.g. if second-hand.  They can tell you how much duty they want you to pay.
  • Go to another counter in Room 3 and wait a long time while they fill out a very complicated form on the computer – give your passport, and they print out lots of papers
  • Take these papers to the boss’ room. He prints out more papers.
  • Return to the Room 3 with previous papers and the new papers
  • In Room 3 they fill out more forms.
  • Take these papers to another office and pay the duty
  • Return to room 3 with the receipt and papers
  • You take a copy of the receipt and you can finally go with your goods – if you want to dispose of packaging you take it out to the skip in the parking area.

Current podcasts – 2018

I like to listen to podcasts while doing something else – gardening, cooking, exercising.  I cover a number of topics – politics, technology, films, health, current affairs, history, German etc. Here are most of the podcasts I currently keep up with – but I don’t listen to any particular podcast if the topic doesn’t interest me. They are very loosely separated into categories:



The Dusty Den – book and film reviews – only broadcast occasionally – film and TV reviews from the UK, but covers US too



Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten – Deutsche Welle – – comes with the script so you can read along

Was heißt das auf Deutsch – songs with English lyrics translated to German

DeutschTop-Thema – various themes in German, covered in two or three minutes – short teaching podcasts

News des Nachrichtens – from Berlin about Germany but in English – I met the podcaster in Berlin once

Radio Spaetkauf – from and about Berlin but in English – – I once attended the live podcast in Berlin

Slow German – every couple of weeks or so, covering one theme for a few minutes



Healing with Jennifer Daniels – now on Republic Broadcasting

Kick it Naturally – natural approaches to solving health problems



The Dangerous History Podcast – fantastic history podcast – but much is US based – long running political, health, history etc. podcast



Gadget Lab podcast – from Wired Magazine US – from Wired Magazine UK – from PC Pro magazine – UK

Reply All – US – idiosyncratic topics – sometimes really interesting, sometimes I skip it



News in Slow Japanese – and full speed, too – a few minutes on a specific topic

Disrupting Japan – in English – Tokyo based, in English, talking to start-ups


POLITICS & NEWS – Japan based, excellently researched politics, news, history

NovaraFM – far left UK broadcasts, but some more moderate coverage, too

Project censored – another mostly left wing leading podcast, that advocates no censorship

Free Man beyond the Wall – right oriented freedom podcast

Liberty Weekly Podcast  – right oriented freedom podcast

Brexit Central – mainly anti-Brexit

Brexit Podcast – pro-Brexit – right oriented freedom podcast –  – right oriented freedom podcast – right oriented freedom podcast – right oriented podcast – right oriented freedom podcast

Democracy Now – far left extremists – yesterday they were pushing marxism. Best are interviews with musicians, which they occasionally have.



SBS en español – from Australia, short podcasts on various topics

Radio Nacional de España – Nómadas –

News in Slow Spanish – weekly or so

Duolingual Podcast – a series of podcasts in both English and Spanish



Eschaton – eclectic, but interesting

The Mind Renewed – from the UK, sometimes also political or religious – from Baltimore, sometimes ecological, music… – from Australia – politics, too

Skip the ferry for the moment if possible

this situation has not changed

I prefer to catch the ferry to Butterworth rather than drive, but at the moment driving is the better option, if you have it.

Currently, when you alight the ferry you’ll find the normal walkway blocked, and instead you’re ushered onto a bus – where you must wait for far longer than the time it would take to walk to the nearby station or bus station.  At least the bus is air-conditioned, though.  When the bus finally departs it heads off on a long round trip , down a major road past the bus station, makes a U-turn, and then finally arrives at the bus station.  Returning to the ferry is the same, but at least the route is less circular. Very time-consuming.

So, until the walkway is reinstated, if you have the choice, avoid the ferry.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in January/February 2018

The four month cool and wet spell lasted into January, and then at last it warmed up as we approached Chinese New Year.  Thereafter it was hot and rained only occasionally of an evening. I have to water the plants almost every day now.

Canna Lilies happily grow and bloom all year.

this I grew from two cuttings from another crepe ginger – now there are over 10 stems

a young lime tree – some of its first fruit – still small

plumbago seems to be happy in this spot

I normally prune the passion fruit vines at this time of year – dry the cuttings in the sun, and then put on top of the soil to add nutrition back

I had put a lot of pumpkin seeds in the compost, so now in places where I’ve put the compost sometimes pumpkin plants appear. Then I transplant them. This grew from a tiny transplanted plant.

Another pumpkin plant I recently transplanted.

Lots of baby lines on my original lime tree

Over 60 passion fruit are on the vines now

I’m growing several papaya on the roof – today the first flower opened

Aloe Vera like this spot – I should harvest soon. They always have little babies growing nearby so there is always another crop coming

bought from Cold Storage – this plant is struggling

Basil is OK here

Mock Oranges are usually doing well

some of the many passion fruit growing

passion fruit I recently picked – or fell to the floor

these are very easy care – just water occasionally

some more crepe ginger plants


Duranta are happy if they have plenty of water


mini-eggplants. Great in soup.

So many mini-eggplants grow on one tree in a big pot

We’re spreading crepe ginger all over the place. So easy to care for and they look great.

One of our pandan collection

The original crepe ginger plant, from which we’ve cultivated about 15 pots

just starting cultivating more crepe ginger plants – it takes a few weeks.