Tropical Expat moved to Tropical

Tropical Expat has moved to Tropical I have moved the blog to a paid for site so I could have more control. At the same time I gave the blog a new look. And a few more features, like auto-translation.  The old blog remains, and contains the bulk of older blogs. This is because I could not successfully migrate all the blogs to the new site. Some blogs are just as relevant now as when I wrote them. On the new site I have updated some blogs, and am in the process of updating more.

Please subscribe to this new version. The menu on the right on the new site has a button to subscribe. The remainder of this article is a copy of the About page on the new Tropical Expat.

 retirement abroad where one finds such an idyllic beaches

What does it mean being a third culture kid?


Tropical Expat intends to be a blog about retirement abroad – in Penang. About living here, and travelling using Penang as a base. And why one would choose Malaysia for retirement.

Retirement abroad

This blog hopes to cover what retirement abroad in Penang is like.  And to give some useful information for those living here, or considering doing so. This includes activities and trips one can easily make. Either local trips, within Malaysia, or abroad. It also includes dealing with problems and dealing with the government. In addition it covers simple everyday experiences and events.  It is meant to provide information that is helpful and / or interesting.

Penang is getting better and better – changes since 2012

Penang has changed since I started writing this blog in 2012.  Apart from ever worsening traffic, all changes I can think of have been positive.  And even traffic improvement solutions are in the pipeline.  Being six years old, this blog is a bit of a historical record.  For anyone considering retirement here, looking at these changes can help in evaluation of Malaysia and Penang.

Most blogs written about Penang are about food – mostly about restaurant evaluation.  It’s unlikely the web really needs more coverage of this topic.  However there were many things I wanted to know about Penang and Malaysia, and couldn’t find on the web.  I hoped to help others with this by writing this blog.

Main blog topics – travel in Malaysia is most popular

You’ll find a menu near the top of each page: Photos, Retirement, Life in Penang, Health, Travel in Malaysia, Travel outside Malaysia All blogs are in one or more of these last five categories. Photos is a little different as it is a gallery of photos showing the best of Malaysia.

Travel in Malaysia is the most popular blog topic by far. This is relevant to both residents and travellers. Many retirees actually travel quite a lot.  Retirement abroad has many aspects, and I do cover other important topics. But here are some of peoples’ favourite travel blogs.

There are over 1,000 blogs. In some respects the information changes constantly, and in others very little, if at all. As I gather new information I either update older blogs if need be, or write new ones.

Events in 2018 that affected life in Malaysia

In early 2018 the Malaysian government came up with fake news legislation. So I put the blog more or less on hold to see what happened.  Truth was determined by the government, and the government was enforcing this legislation.  Blogging had become too dangerous, even if what I covered was not political and not meant to be controversial. It was always possible to inadvertently write the wrong thing.

A new coalition won government in May and they promised to repeal the legislation, and soon passed the repeal in the lower house of parliament. I started blogging again, and passed my 1,000th blog.  There has been a glitch because the opposition coalition controls the upper house of parliament. They recently blocked the repeal of the fake news legislation.  The new government appears to be allowing free speech. Even when the criticism is of the government or its members.  I feel safe to continue writing.  Malaysia has broader free speech than many Western countries now.

And the future of retirement abroad

The future of retirement abroad looks bright. Because of demographics and the changing political and economic situations in English speaking countries. The future in Penang also looks bright. Penang provides a good lifestyle, convenient location and a low cost of living for anyone considering retirement abroad. Ever more people are travelling. I have moved the blog to a paid for site so I could have more control. At the same time I gave the blog a new look. And a few more features, like auto-translation.  The old blog remains, and contains the bulk of older blogs. This is because could not successfully migrate all the blogs to the new site. Some blogs are just as relevant now as when I wrote them.


On this blog’s busiest day, 0.0000035% of the world’s population read it.

living in MalaysiaIt’s fun to see what expats in different countries are up to, as well.

Blog Expat: living abroad


The train from Malaysia to Chiang Mai

Bangkok Station

Bangkok Station

The train from Malaysia to Chiang Mai

The train from Malaysia to Chiang Mai is interesting and fun if you like trains. And a useful and safer way to travel if you want to make stops along the way.  And you’ll see some of the countryside, and have the experience. But if you don’t want that,  fly – if you’re flexible you can find cheap flights.

So you could make one or more stops or travel all the way to Bangkok in one go, and then take another train on to Chiang Mai. The latter is what I will describe here as in the past I have visited the below-mentioned.

Previously you could catch the train from Singapore to Bangkok on the one train. More recently it was Butterworth, Penang to Bangkok, but Malaysia has electrified the lines, while Thailand hasn’t.  So now one must change trains at the border of Thailand.

So the the train from KL and Penang to Chiang Mai is actually three trains. Train one to the border, train two to Bangkok and train three to Chiang Mai. For more photos and videos related to this trip, please see Part 2.

digital nomad – what, where and how

digital nomad:

A digital nomad. Someone who earns a living on their laptop often working remotely, and often abroad.  So they are working in coffee shops, hotel rooms, public libraries, co-working spaces, or recreational vehicles.  It’s a lifestyle that offers freedom from many of the downsides of traditional working.  Downsides such as office hours, office politics, a boss, a dress code, and commuting. And the downsides of living in just one country. Control and surveillance-obsessed governments and the accompanying bureaucracy. Not to mention confiscatory taxes. If you don’t like particulate restrictions, you avoid countries that impose such restrictions. Instead there are many of the fascinations of travelling. And being easily able to vote with your feet when tired of one’s current location, for whatever reason.

digital nomad top spot - Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, North Thailand – a hotspot for digital nomads



Assorted minor matters





Electric scooter

I noticed an electric scooter shop in Gurney Plaza – next to Mc Donalds.  I never go to the latter, so that’s why I hadn’t noticed – it’s been there for three months.  I found a web page. Basically, it’s a commuter scooter made in China, assembled in Malaysia, with a Bosch electric motor and Panasonic battery.  Maximum speed is 55kph, range about 80km, charging time around two hours.  It’s not useful for me, but interesting.  RM8,800 on the road.

Nui brochure

Nui brochure

Nui brochure

Nui brochure


Tesla is bringing out a Tesla Y model, so…

Tesla now has models: S 3 X Y

Spells “sexy”, when 3 is an “e”

Chicken feet

I was cooking them again today and realised I didn’t mention onions, so I have updated the recipe.