Month: March 2014

Is Malaysia’s dry season finally over?

It’s been the driest dry season here for 15 years, according to the local Sun newspaper.

It rained on us here in Pulau Tikus once in February. Then sometime last week, from memory, and on Saturday. Not so much rain, but at least something. For a few days now, there have been clouds around early in the morning, but they have cleared. But this afternoon it has rained heavily twice. The second downpour has been continuing for over an hour.

rain at last - and it is heavy

rain at last – and it is heavy

So the garden will be happy after today for at least a couple of days, and I have collected enough water for two to three days use after that, so I don’t need to use the town water until Saturday at the earliest – if there is no more rain until then.



Gespräche mit J.C. auf Deutsch 50: 28. März

2012-12-31 14.52.51s

Jede Woche treffe ich mit meinem Freund JC, mit wem ich Deutsch lerne. Unser Zweck ist Deutsch zu üben und wir besprechen immer verschiedene Themen. Diese Blog handelt von unserer Gespräche. Bevor jedes Gespräch bereiten wir jetzt ein bisschen.  Wir gebrauchen ein Buch, dass kategorisiert Worten nach Thema, aber wenn wir ein Wort nicht kennen, benutzen wir auch ein Wörterbuch.


Unglaubhaft – mein 50. Blog von Gespräche mit J.C. auf Deutsch!!

Gestern Abend hatten wir ein kleines Fest, weil eine Bekannte aus Thailand uns einlud. Wir haben mit ihr eine sechsjährige Bekanntschaft, und wir begegnen mit ihr wenn sie nach Penang einen Besuch machen. Sie kam allein, aber ist nicht einsam, weil sie hier viele Freunde hat. Anwesend an der Feier waren sieben oder acht Personen, mit vielen Staatsangehörigkeiten und Rassen. Ein paar Leute waren auch abwesend.

Nach dem Abendessen fuhren wir zu einem Chinesischen Tempel, mit einem Blick von dem Meer. Die Tempelangestellten gaben uns Bier. Sehr gute Gastfreundschaft! Und dann hatten wir da auch eine Party. Wir tranken Bier in einer Hütte. Zweimal pro Monat hat der Tempel eine Veranstaltung mit seinen Götter auf einem Boot. Ich weiß nicht die Einzelheiten, aber ein meine Freunde wohnt in der Nachbarschaft und ich kann ihm fragen.

Neue Wörter für mich:
das Fest (e) = celebration, party, festival
der, die Bekannte – friend, acquaintance
die Bekanntschaft = acquaintance
begegnen = to meet
einsam = lonely
anwesend = present
abwesend = absent
die Feier = celebration
die Staatsangehörigkeit = nationality
der Tempel = temple
der Blick = view
die Gastfreundschaft = hospitality
die Party (s) = party
die Hütte = hut
die Veranstaltung = event
die Nachbarschaft = neighbourhood
die Einzelheit, das Detail = detail

The Cloud in Malaysia moves so slowly

For years we’ve been told to keep things in The Cloud – that amorphous space on the Internet – Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, Google’s Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive (although I have the feeling they recently changed its name to OneDrive) etc.

They tell us that we don’t actually need much storage space on our phones because data, music etc. can be stored on the Cloud. Apple and Google enforce this by providing no possibility of expandable storage on their devices.

So we are talking about using either Wi-Fi or 3G/LTE on a phone or tablet, and uploading and downloading data – in my case usually podcasts, varying in size from about 10MB to about 90MB each.

But it is just too slow here in Malaysia. Maybe there are places where there is a better speed – maybe TM Unifi is good where you can get it.  And every six months I ask Telekom Malaysia when I can get it, and they say in six months.  I have been asking for two years now.  The fibre optic cable has been in my street all this time.

In theory the fastest should be using one’s Wi-Fi at home. If you are talking about the 3G/LTE data volume you would use when you are out, I would use my entire month’s allowance in just a few hours.  So it is only practical to use at home, anyway.  Maxis doesn’t provide the unlimited data plan they used to years ago.

But, the Internet speed is still as slow as years ago, and you are still paying the same amount – it is not getting cheaper as in most countries – for the same slow Internet. I pay RM 140 per month for 4mbps speed. I note in the UK with TalkTalk you pay £2.50 (RM12.50) per month for 16mbps, with unlimited allowance. Four times the speed, 1/11th the price of Malaysia.

I thought I’d try just now uploading three podcasts to Dropbox. About 175MB in total.  At present Dropbox tells me it will take about two and a half hours – in the middle of the night, when the network should be at its fastest.  Of course, download speed could be up to 10 times as fast – but that is still 15 minutes at best.

I won’t bother checking exact figures with other cloud services, but Google Drive, SkyDrive etc. that I tried were all incredibly slow.

The idea of The Cloud is data availability everywhere and on every device.  But it is so slow at home, worse anywhere else, and I don’t know of any data plan where you could actually access it when away from home cheaply and easily anyway.

Alternatives? – use your home network directly – on Android ES File Explorer is good.  Try to get a phone / tablet with SD card,  carry a portable hard disk which connects wirelessly with your phone / tablet, or get an attachment so you can connect an SD card etc. externally.

So, not a cloud in the sky in these parts.


Gespräche mit J.C. auf Deutsch 49: 21. März

2012-12-31 14.52.51s

Jede Woche treffe ich mit meinem Freund JC, mit wem ich Deutsch lerne. Unser Zweck ist Deutsch zu üben und wir besprechen immer verschiedene Themen. Diese Blog handelt von unserer Gespräche. Bevor jedes Gespräch bereiten wir jetzt ein bisschen.  Wir gebrauchen ein Buch, dass kategorisiert Worten nach Thema, aber wenn wir ein Wort nicht kennen, benutzen wir auch ein Wörterbuch.


Heute sprachen wir über die Hochzeit und die Familie.  Für ein Mann, zuerst ist er ledig und ein Junggeselle; dann vielleicht verlobt er sich, und nach der Verlobung wird er endlich mit seiner Verlobte heiraten.  Die Hochzeit könnte auf einem Standesamt oder in einer Kirche schließen.  Da gibt der Verlobter seiner Verlobte einen Trauring.  Der Bräutigam und die Braut feiern, und viele Leute ihnen gratulieren.  Wenn die Ehe nicht gut ist, dann könnten sie sich scheiden. Nach der Scheidung  würden sie einen Geschiedener und eine Geschiedene sein. Wenn sie  ein Ehevertrag hätten, ist es einfacher das Eigentum zu teilen.  Das würde der Zeitstrahl sein.

Ansonsten, wenn die Ehe erfolgreich ist, werden sie viel mehr Angehörigen haben. Ich habe Angehörigen in Großbritannien, die Vereinigte Staaten, Japan und Australien. In Großbritannien und Japan wird die Lebensdauer vergroßt.  Meine Verwandten in Japan können meistens nicht Englisch sprechen. Auch mein Schwiegervater und Schwiegermutter.  Jedoch, mein Schwager kann Englisch sehr gut sprechen.

Neue Wörter für mich:
der Junggeselle – bachelor
die Junggesellin – spinster
sich verloben – to get engaged
die Verlobung – engagement
der Verlobter – fiance
die Verlobte – fiancee
das Standesamt – registry office
der Trauring – wedding ring
der Bräutigam – groom
die Braut – bride
gratulieren – to congratulate
die Ehe (n) – marriage
scheiden – to divorce
die Scheidung – divorce
der Geschiedener – divorce
die Geschiedene – divorcee
der Zeitstrahl – time line
der Ehevertrag – prenuptial agreement
das Eigentum – property
ansonsten – otherwise
der Angehörige / der Verwandte – relative
die Lebensdauer – lifespan
vergroßen – to increase
der Schwiegervater – father-in-law
die Schwiegermutter – mother-in-law
der Schwager – brother-in-law

A few 40 year old photos of Penang

Back in 1974 I spent a few days in Penang. Today I unearthed some old photos (they are not good quality), taken it seems from the E & O Hotel, and then from beaches on the north coast.

looking from E & O towards Gurney area

looking from E & O towards Gurney area

I always liked lion dances

I always liked lion dances

E & O

E & O

looking from E & O towards Gurney area

looking from E & O towards Gurney area





Learning to drive and getting a driving licence in Penang in 2014

You may know you have a common law right to travel – of which using a car is part of that right. It is a right, not a privilege. And I’ve rented cars without a licence in Thailand and Malaysia anyway. But if you want to be government sanctioned in Malaysia, here is the story.

And to give you another angle, there is a blog written in 2010 about getting a licence in KL, which may be of interest: Getting a driving license in Malaysia. But be warned, as with so much else, the government changes its rules every month or two. Nothing is certain for long.

First of all, anyone with Malaysian IC(identity card)or foreign passport holders who are over 17 years old can apply for Malaysian driving licence class D, including tourists.  You may need two months in total from the beginning to finally receiving the Provisional licence; it depends on JPJ, Road Transport Department Malaysia to process your documents.

This blog is written by Mrs. Tropical Expat, who decided finally to get a licence.


First I found a list of driving schools in Penang, and found the closest in Pulau Tikus – next to Police station – it’s in a printing shop, but in a corner is a chair and table used by the driving school.

The lady showed me an ‘all inclusive’ price list, cost RM1650 – she had no handout to give. She couldn’t explain what was included in the price because of her English speaking ability.  I asked a local friend for help, even so the itemised prices didn’t add up to RM1650.  I wasn’t sure about this place.

I found the next nearest driving school – one in Jln Fettes in front of Prima Tanjung.  It’s called Cathay Driving Institute. Cathay is run and managed by a family, a father and a young daughter are the driving instructors and a mother is a coordinator. They all speak good English. They explained the process to get a licence and pricing in detail to me.

I bought two books at RM20 each.  One is a handbook & test CD.  The other is a road safety book which tells you traffic offences, driving manners etc.

The process:

1                   To attend KPP theory lecture for Test Part I

2                   To pass KPP Test Part I (traffic code & safety computer test)

3                   To attend a practical lecture for Learner’s licence

4                   12 hours driving practice

5                   Pre-test

6                   Test Part II (A-hill stop & start. B-parking  C-3 point turn)

7                   Test Part III (on road driving route D or E on road driving)

8                   Driving is allowed after receiving Practical Licence

Cathay explained:

12 hours driving time is compulsory before you can take Test part II and III. But 12 hours is not the actual driving time. It starts from the time you arrive at JPJ practice field until you leave it. Cheaper schools have 4 – 5 students in one go, but hire only one JPJ car, so you have to wait for your turn to practice.  So with a cheap school you are mostly waiting around for your turn, and in three hours maybe only have 30 minutes actual driving. You may need to buy many additional lessons as a result.

Cathay’s students usually buy only 1 or 2 extra lessons.

  • You need to book with a driving institution.
  • You can’t judge an institution by the price they state
  • 12 hours driving time is compulsory before you can take the test
  • The 12 hours is from the time you arrive at the government driving licence agency to when you leave it. Cheaper schools have 4 – 6 students in one go, so you have to wait for your turn to practice. So with a cheap school you are mostly waiting around for your turn, and in three hours maybe only have 30 minutes actual driving. Once the 12 hours is up they will tell you you need more practice – you may have only got two hours actual practice. You must buy more lessons. So a cheap school turns out more expensive and wastes more time.
  • In this 12 hours you have to practice in the government driving course and when you are ready you drive on the road with an instructor next to you.
  • So I recommends Cathay. People come from all over Penang to learn with Cathay.  They are busy, so it was hard getting bookings, and it took about three months to complete the course.


DAY1         AttendingKPP lecture for Test Part I, whole day

There is a dress code for both males and females: collared, sleeved shirt and trousers. Shoes that completely cover your feet.  Although I saw a boy wearing flip-flops.

I went to Cathay at 7.15AM, the Mother took us to the JPJ practice field next to Penang airport.  She helped everybody to get a smart card. You need ID and RM20.



The six-hour course starts at 9.30, but with breaks and lunch it is about four hours.  In Penang it is all in Malay.  Tutors didn’t mind if you leave for phone calls, toilet, or if you sleep, read, play with iPad etc. Since I didn’t understand anything, I can’t write much here.  Cathay kindly gave me a lift home.



DAY2 – KPP Test Part I (traffic code & safety computer test)
The dress code – upper body – collared shirt.  They can lend a jacket for RM1.

After attending DAY1 lecture, it took 10 days for KPP to prepare my paper for the next stage, Test Part I.

KPP was so slow, but it was mid December 2013.

♫ ♬ Christmas is everywhere  ♫ ♬

The computer test venue is in Taman Green View area; registration starts from 9:30am.  You hand in your passport, smart card and RM10 for them to take a digital photo. They will call your name again when a PC is available.  You can’t take your belongings in – but can keep them behind the booking officer. Practise with CD and remember KEJARA demerit points, then you’ll be ok.

DAY 3 To attend a practical lecture for Learner’s licence

3 hour lecture in Malay. As before you can ignore it and read, listen to your iPod etc. Bring passport & smart card.

DAY 4 – 3 hours, off road practice

Driving at JPJ practice field.  In my case, two people were picked up from the school.  One boy was an intermediate level and I as a beginner. So the Father instructor can let the boy drive by himself while he was sitting teaching next to me.  The first three hours for an absolute beginner: driving within a lane, turning, roundabout, blinkers…   Actual driving time 2 hours this day.

DAY 5 –  6 hours, off road practice

Learned how to park & three-point turn.   Actual driving time 2 hours this day. Gave 2 ID size photos for Learner’s licence

DAY 6    –    9 hours, off road practice

Learned how to stop & start at hill.  Actual driving time 2 hours this day.

DAY 7 –  12 hours, on road practice

Finally driving on the road with the daughter instructor.  The route is fixed, only two choices. Drive on road towards Balik Pulau (route D) or Batu Maung (route E). Actual driving time 2 hours this day.

DAY 8  Pre-test, half day & extra 3 hours lesson

This is a day to take Pre-test with government examiner for Part II & III. The driving school picked me up at 7.30am.  There are many people (60ish) waiting for their turn, so I bought an extra lesson so that I can practice while waiting for my turn instead of sitting bored.  Actual driving time 1 hour this day.

DAY 9  – extra 3 hours lesson

I bought an additional 3 hour lesson just in case – but you don’t have to.  Actual driving time 2.5 hours this day.

DAY 10   – Test Part II & III whole day

Thursdays are the test day in JPJ field! 150 people are waiting for the test. You give your learners licence and passport and they clip with your documents and keep. They give you a laminated number board which you hang around your neck.  Mine was No44, in session 2, there are about 100 people in front of me. The coordinator mum estimated my turn would be around 2pm, and she was right.

The waiting area has been divided into 3 sections.  One is an air-conned seminar room, two are placed outside.  There is no information or announcement in the seminar room for which number has been served, so you have to go out and check yourself occasionally. When your number becomes closer you then go outside and sit in number sequence.

When it’s your turn you start with Test Part II:

A-  hill stop & start,  only people who passed can proceed to B

B-   parking,  only people who passed can proceed to C

C-   3 point turn  – finish, now wait for the final Test Part III

LULUS, yeah I passed!

Test Part III – Everyone includes the people who failed Test Part II can take Test Part III.  I waited another 1 hour for my turn, and it was about 3pm.  I paid RM100 extra to book English-speaking examiner, and his English was good. He chose route E for me.

LULUS, yeah I passed and it’s all done!

After finishing the test:

And that’s it, apart from government administration. You can’t drive until the driving school gives you a P licence – which they receive from the government. It may take a month.


20.00 handbook & test CD

20.00 road safety book

20.00 smart card for lectures

195.00 seminar 6 hours & computer test

10.00 digital photo fee at computer test

500.00 practical theory lecture 3 hours

450.00 driving lesson x 4 12hours in total

300.00 on road extra lesson x 2 6 hours in total

50.00 pre-test & L licence fee

50.00 test

100.00 English speaking examiner booking fee

80.00 P licence fee





waiting outside

waiting outside

cars for road test

cars for road test


parking practice

cars for road test

hill start test

cars for road test

cars for road test

one's number

one’s number

Gespräche mit J.C. auf Deutsch 48: 14. März

2012-12-31 14.52.51s

Jede Woche treffe ich mit meinem Freund JC, mit wem ich Deutsch lerne. Unser Zweck ist Deutsch zu üben und wir besprechen immer verschiedene Themen. Diese Blog handelt von unserer Gespräche. Bevor jedes Gespräch bereiten wir jetzt ein bisschen.  Wir gebrauchen ein Buch, dass kategorisiert Worten nach Thema, aber wenn wir ein Wort nicht kennen, benutzen wir auch ein Wörterbuch.


Wenn wird man volljährig in Malaysia? Achtzehn oder einundzwanzig? Das Alter beginnt hier von 55 und von dann kann man verschiedene Rabatte bekommen.  Im Kino spart man RM1, und für ein Büfett spart man viel mehr. Das Durchschnittsalter von der Bevölkerung in Malaysia ist ziemlich jung.

Wir beiden denken,  dass es nichts schlechter gibt, als in einem Altenheim zu wohnen, oder zu sterben. Ein Freund meines Vaters wohnt noch in seinem eigenen Haus und er ist jetzt 96 Jahre alt.

Meine Frau bestand gestern die Prüfung von der Führerschein. Wir sollen feiern. Jedoch verstehe ich jetzt, warum die Strasse in Malaysia so tödlich sind.  Es gibt so viele Toten von Autounfällen hier.  Malaysia ist Nummer 20 tödlichest in der Welt. Das System von Lernen ist sehr schlecht hier.  Und man braucht nur 12 Stunden von Erfahrung, die ist sowohl in den Einrichtungen von der Regierung als auch auf den Strassen. Wir wissen nicht wenn ein Führerschein von Malaysia von anderen Länder erkannt wird.  Ich will ein zusätzliches Auto nicht kaufen.

Wegen heutiger Wörterliste soll ich auch “der Sarg”, “die Beerdigung”, “das Grab”, “der Friedhof”, “die Trauer”, und “das Beileid” benutzen. Ich glaube, dass diese Ordnung ist korrekt.  Nacher kommt das Testament, und wahrscheinlich erbt jemand einiges Eigentum oder einigen Grundbesitz..

Neue Wörter für mich:
volljährig = of age
das Alter = age, old age
der Rabatt (e) = discount
sterben = to die
der Durchschnitt = average
die Bevölkerung = population
der Führerschein = drivers licence
feiern = to celebrate
tödlich = deadly
der Tote (n) = dead person
die Erfahrung = experience
die Einrichtungen = facilities
sowohl … als auch = both … and
erkennen = to recognise
zusätzlich = additional
das Eigentum = property
der Grundbesitz = property (land)
der Sarg = coffin
die Beerdigung = funeral
das Grab = grave
der Friedhof = cemetery
die Trauer = mourning
das Beileid = condolence
das Testament = will
erben = to inherit