Month: August 2014

My favourite trips in Malaysia (from Penang)

Sitting here right now gazing out at the grey skies and the drizzle, I am thinking of my favourite trips in Malaysia. And of what I have yet to do and see. I won’t bother with more photos as there are plenty in the links. After six years here this is what I think.

the beach

the beach

By far and away my favourite place is the Perhentian Islands.  The beaches are lovely, the sunsets can be stunning, and the snorkelling great.

Then comes Sabah – particularly a jungle tour to cruise the river and see proboscis monkeys.

After this, Langkawi, which we have visited many times.

Next would be a couple of nights in Malacca.  I don’t think there is so much to do or see, but the very centre is nice, and staying near the river is pleasant.

Then, a train trip – the quality of the rolling stock and service is very low, but it’s still fun, especially if it is the first time.  It could be the jungle line up to Khota Bharu from Gemas by day, or simply Penang to KL.

The next would probably be a few nights in KL – staying in a first class hotel.  First Class hotels in KL used to be very good value, but perhaps less so now.  Still, as long as you don’t really intend to get around by car much, as the traffic is terrible, based in a nice hotel near the monorail allows you see to a few fun things and eat some nice food.

Then the Bird Park in Butterworthor in KL, which is bigger but I don’t like as much – to see hornbills.

I also quite like a couple of nights in Ipoh. There are a few things to see nearby,

And an early start from Ipoh to Pangkor Island allows you to spend the day there without spending a night – seeing as the hotels there are pretty bad.

Then there is Penang itself – Little India in George Town, Penang Hill – walking up is better than the funicular if you have the energy and start at dawn – before the heat, Spice Gardens…

A nice drive is also from Penang over to Kota Baru. I’ve done this by car and by bus.

And what I have yet to do – while I have circled Malaysia by train I haven’t by car – I want to see more of the east coast beaches.  Then there are a few east coast islands to see – Tioman Island etc.

What I had expected to be able to do, and can’t is to spend time in the jungle and to camp. Mosquitoes and other biting insects are the main problem, with heat and humidity secondary.  Locals think you are crazy if you want to camp, and they are right.  It is unlikely you’ll get malaria or dengue, but the more mosquito bites you get, the greater the chance.  So stay in hotels, wear long sleeves and trousers at dawn/dusk and where mosquitoes are – but generally, stay away from places where mosquitoes are.

I’ll report back when there is something to add to the list.


Perhaps the simplest meal I ever made – stew

I hadn’t had stew for a while, and I wanted it to be easy, so rather than thinking, checking recipes etc., I just did this:

Put a big pot next to my chopping board and cut up vegetables until the pot was three-quarters full.

These were the vegetables I had on hand that I put in:

  • carrot
  • potato
  • garlic
  • cauliflower
  • pumpkin
  • onion
  • tomato
  • cabbage

I put in chopped up soup meat, salt, black pepper, parsley, and basil – which I happened to have.

Then I just filled the pot with water to the top of the vegetables, then heated until boiled, and then simmered on low heat for a couple of hours.

And it turned out delicious.

Dessert at Hui Lau Shan in Gurney Plaza, Penang

In Malaysia you find quite a few dessert restaurants – dessert restaurants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea…

Mrs Tropical Expat wanted to try one in Gurney Plaza, and so we entered Hui Lau Shan a little after lunch.


Hui Lau Shan

There was only one other table occupied at this time, but the atmosphere was very relaxed and pleasant. On the menu there are also dishes other than desserts, and also drinks, but what attracted our attention was the mango desserts.





So Mrs TE ordered Mango Romance, and I ordered Margo Feast.  Now, I bought one kilo of mangoes at Tesco the other day for RM7.90, and with cream and a homegrown passion fruit they are delicious.  But a new interpretation is always interesting.

mango romance

mango romance

Mango Romance was quickly delivered.  And then we waited, and waited for mine.  We were now the only customers.  The two waitresses were playing games on their mobile phones.  And the three kitchen staff did not seem to be doing anything at all.  None of these five staff seemed to be particularly conscious of the fact we were not eating, but waiting, or that there were two orders written on their order form, and the fact they had only delivered one.  In the end I asked where my order was, which galvanised them into action.  While waiting I tried to connect to WiFi, but there was none.

mango mania

mango feast

With Mango Romance the mochi was the most interesting – but kind of strange.  And with Mango feast I liked the kind of nougatish icecream shown above on the left.  It was all quite nice, but I prefer my desserts at home.

Of course, I should have contested the Service Charge, considering the blatant lack of service, but I didn’t bother.



If you want to visit, the details are in the photo above.  There is no WiFi, which is surprising.  If you want a quiet spot where you won’t be bothered by staff, this could fit the bill.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in August

A short update on what is happening in the garden this month:

The passionfruit plants I germinated many months ago, and which grew to tiny seedlings – and then stayed tiny – are now starting to grow.

passion fruit seedling

passion fruit seedling

The mature vines are producing the occasional fruit.

passion fruit

passion fruit

Mock Orange are flowering and producing seeds, as normal, although mostly the birds get them before I get a chance.

mock orange seeds

mock orange seeds

However, the plants are only growing slowly, and none of the seeds are germinating.  Their growth spurt seems to be around the end and beginning of the year.

mock orange seedling

mock orange seedlings

mock orange flowers

mock orange flowers on a larger plant

The pumpkin are dying down now, but some new pumpkin seedlings have appeared.

pumpkin seedling

pumpkin seedling

The tomato plants are growing, and have flowers, but I have yet to see any fruit grow.  Growing tomatoes here is tough.

tomato plant

tomato plant

And the Cana Lilies flower sometimes…

cana lily

cana lily





Hiatus, MH370 and MH17, and Ebola – and my practical approaches

Tropical Expat is having somewhat of a hiatus. It is actually quite time-consuming writing a blog, and at present I am spending a bit more time on my German study, but also I only want to write when I have something to say – normally something positive that people can actually use. Also, I am quite distressed – but not fearful – by the Malaysian Airline incidents this year, and now by the media hyping the Ebola outbreak.

So, despite the fact I have over 40 partly written blogs waiting in the wings (no pun intended – my imagination just took flight [oops]), now I am not in the mood to finish any of them at the moment, and have been also spending a lot of time reading what I can about the Malaysian Airlines flights, and Ebola.

Both of these matters have put me off any travel until I can get a handle on them and have a strategy, or until the situation stabilises.  And travel is one of the topics I blog about – or presently am not as I am not travelling.

About the MAS flights I haven’t much useful to say.  There are many anomalies in the stories ,  and I have read a lot of web sites, and many theories, but don’t have access to hard facts.  I have been trying to form an opinion as to whether MAS is being targeted, and thus whether it is safe to continue to fly with them. MH17 was almost immediately used by western governments for political purposes – to blame Russia and promote sanctions and possible war – way before any evidence of anything was available.   This is one of the hallmarks of a false flag operation, and there are others.   I think MAS probably has been targeted, but if a third incident occurs it becomes too obvious, and thus hopefully won’t happen.

Christine Lagarde, IMF head, spent a little time talking about numerology and relevance of the number “7” this year in a January 15th speech  – and many of the incidents and crashes do  have a lot of 7’s associated with them.  Just raw 7’s – no adding up or multiplying or anything complicated. Just check the dates and flight numbers, passenger numbers and even times of air crashes and incidents this year.  And, of course, it is weird that the IMF head was talking about such esoteric matters.

So, where I am heading with this is that I would probably prefer to catch another airline other than MAS for international flights  – Air Asia etc. if in the region.  But I would also avoid any flight numbers or dates with a 7 in them.  I certainly do not wish MAS any harm, and hope the truth is revealed to us and I can fly with them again.

I read that Ebola is very contagious, can be transmitted by aerosol, can survive for days outside of a host, has an incubation period of over a week, and has a death rate of 90%.  One person on a plane sneezing could lead to many people catching it and then spreading it unknowingly all around the world.  “At the epicentre of the current Ebola epidemic is the Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone, which houses a US a biosecurity level 2 bioweapons research lab with links to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Soros Foundation.” says Rumor Mills, and and journalist Jane Burgermeister who writes about such matters, among others.  I have read elsewhere that people in Africa suspect the western doctors from, among others, Médecins Sans Frontières of spreading Ebola through vaccines etc. and keep away or run from them.

So, where I am heading with this is, I am going to avoid any medical prophilaxis and prevention methods, and again minimise plane travel. Oh, and wash my hands more frequently than ever. I have been badly hurt by vaccines before, and avoid them at all costs, and they have had far worse effects on a friend of mine, who barely survived a vaccination for flu.  I read that the cures for Ebola are colloidal silver or food grade peroxide, or possibly Vitamin C.  I want to look into the protocols for usage of them as I haven’t yet found any.

Now if you don’t believe in conspiracies – two or more people plotting in secret to do something usually bad – then I think you are naive, but I don’t want to argue about it.  I am just trying to present my opinion of some practical approaches.  Which is what this blog is for, anyway.