Southern Thailand by car from Malaysia

border crossing

A friend often drives up to Thailand and has given me some details which may be useful for some readers, so I share them here.

He has used the Bukit Kayu Hitam crossing many times…


Fake News repeal legislation Blocked!

There I was, blithely snorkelling in the sea at the Perhentian islands and…

“Malaysia’s opposition-led Upper House blocked an effort to repeal a law against fake news” (on September 12th).  I didn’t even notice until I was made aware today.

So much for my cheery post a month ago.

Starbucks coffee prices now, post SST

With the introduction of the 6% SST (tax) from September 1st, prices have risen again, almost to the same level as with the GST in the case of coffee and restaurants.

price list


These prices are before SST is added.  And, as I mentioned before, unlisted is the “tall” option, which, at least for Americano coffee, is RM1 less than indicated above. I suppose they have to have this option because some of the flasks they sell can contain only the Tall volume, the others taking the Grande volume.  Presenting a flask grants you a RM2 discount, so long term it pays for itself.  I tend to use the loyalty rewards I collect for times when it is inconvenient to carry the flask – and especially at the airport where prices are much higher than elsewhere.

Starbucks works out pretty economical compared with many coffee houses, and if you ask for less water is often pretty good.

This same blog appears on the site I’m currently setting up –

Post-election Malaysia

Well, I more or less ceased blogging until the new government repealed the fake news legislation.

And since then I have been too busy.

elephant festival

I was away for a trip to Sri Lanka, my third trip there.  It’s a short inexpensive flight from KL.  There we saw the amazing elephant festival in Kandy, visited the highlands to benefit our bodies with some cold weather and clean air, and see tea plantations, and bought some Ayurvedic oils.

Later I was on an end-of-season trip to the Perhentian Islands.  We were last there in April, and it was (even) more relaxed in early September. And from the islands you could see the mainland, so the air was clearer.

the mainland from Perhentian

So, what’s been happening here in Penang?  I haven’t been here to notice too much, but the Gurney Wharf project is progressing.  A lot of sand (?) has been spread on the reclaimed land, and more of the bay has been reclaimed.

The 6% GST was abolished, as promised by the government, but at the beginning of this month, a 6% SST was imposed.  This makes some things the same price as before, although it’s supposed to be imposed at wholesale level.  My Starbucks coffee went from RM7 with GST, to RM6.50 without GST to RM 6.90 with SST.  Restaurants are charging the full 6% on the bills.  However, some retail shops have signs up saying that prices won’t rise after the SST.

The rainy season again started early this year, and it’s been cool.  This has been the trend for the last few years, generally getting cooler and cooler each year.  This is nice, actually.  If, but really when, an ice age starts, obviously the tropics is the place to be.

In the years of trying to grow papaya at the back I’ve only ever managed to harvest one papaya.  Although it’s very easy to grow the trees – just save some seeds from a store-bought papaya and sow them where you want your trees – somehow the ants conspired to kill or weaken them and I got no fruit.  I decided to grow some trees in my roof garden, not in pots as I never got fruit from potted papaya, and now I have lots of papaya fruit growing, and I’ve already harvested and eaten some.

so many papayas

ready to eat

Other things keeping me busy are working on setting up an e-business and trying to work out how to export this blog to, having bought the domain.  The WordPress export function didn’t work properly, and only moved a small fraction of posts.

Since Grab and Uber merged I notice that now fares are about 25% higher, and discounts almost non-existent. And the other day we were out when everyone else also was, and had to pay surge fares – over double the normal.  However, it was still preferable to driving, as the traffic jams were monumental, and parking presumably very difficult.

This time of year there are many public holidays, so sometimes it’s a bit hard to get things done.

Fake News legislation repealed – hooray!!

Fridays’ newspapers reported that Malaysia’s Fake News legislation has been repealed, as promised.

While in much of the western world free speech  is more and more restricted, Malaysia has struck a blow for greater freedom. And politicians kept their promise! I’m impressed.

So after a two month hiatus I can slowly get back to blogging again, now that I feel safe.  I don’t really cover politics anyway – except where it directly affects me, such as in this case.

Malaysia keeps on improving so it continues to be a good country in which to live and retire.

blatantly bad birds – (Countdown: 3)

park next to Gurney Plaza

On a walk this morning I noticed birds behaving badly – flirting in the park.

birds flirting

Can’t they read the sign?

sign in the park

It seems it’s mating season, and I also notice birds building nests recently.

Doutor Coffee in the Gurney Alfresco area has closed

I’d been meaning to have a coffee there, but it’s already closed.  But another coffee shop will replace it.

Doutor coffee is being replaced with another coffee shop – so there’ll be four coffee shops in a row – Dome, Doutor replacement, SF Coffee and Starbucks. And that’s just on this side!

And it seems there was an altercation with a pole on Gurney Drive.

I suppose this happened last night

Otherwise it’s fairly quiet this week.

Cheapest – and best? – coffee shop in Penang – (Countdown: 4)

One can get a coffee at PBC Coffee in the First Avenue Mall for RM2 – the catch is, you prepare it yourself – including grinding the coffee beans by hand. The first time a staff member will show you the procedure.




coffee grinder


we’ve ground the coffee now – you can filter the coffee or use a French press

carefully pour in boiling water


the coffee – in a ceramic mug – not in those undesirable paper cups

the wall

Grab had a discount the day we went – so catching Grab from home to First Avenue and back cost us RM5 – then RM4 for two coffees. RM9, or about USD2 for a day out.  Not bad.

And as Grab sometimes has special discounts – it cost us RM2 to get to First Avenue from home, and RM3 to get back