a few things in March

After a long rainy season, from about mid-January we started the normal hot season for Chinese New Year.  Beautiful and sunny all day. But for the past three weeks it has rained about once a week – twice quite heavily.  And sometimes now it is overcast.  But mostly the beautiful sunny days continue.  Still, the hot season seems much shorter this time.

Chinese New Year seemed rather quiet this year.  Only on one night was I awoken several times by World War Three sounding explosions of fireworks.  Most years I experience several nights like this.  And the traffic seemed also quieter than usual. I guess it’s all over now.

A couple of days I was driving slowly in a back street, and saw a bird perched on the edge of a refuse skip.  A cat had snuck up underneath, and then made a sudden leap for the bird.  The bird flew off with millimetres and half a second to spare.

This action from a local animal seems rare.  There are many dogs and cats that appear to be stray. Some are, and some are owned by locals, but they roam free – (both the animals and the locals.)  Some have collars, and some not.  But neighbours feed the animals daily and so they are all very relaxed.

A few dogs chase cars,  but they are in the minority. They are rarely threatening to anyone, in fact, many are quite timid.  Just show a tiny bit of attention to some of them and they will follow you into your property, and generally act hopeful when they see you for the following few days.  Others are only interested in their owners and those who feed them.  And the population of these stray dogs is ever-changing.  They come and go. Some stay for a short while, some for longer.

I have heard that when people move properties they sometimes just abandon their pets.  And the pets are left to fend for themselves.  And then they breed, and there are more strays. But at least life is quite easy for them in Penang.

Since Starbucks introduced a system whereby you need to use a code on your receipt to  log into and use WiFi, and restricts you to one device and for up to two hours, it is less attractive to drink there.  For a start, we can’t log in with our iPad.  It just doesn’t work.  Then there is the extra fiddling around putting in codes.  And you have to log off one device if you even briefly want to use another device with the WiFi.  For a couple it makes sense to buy drinks separately so you have two receipts, one each, with a log on code each. Today I just couldn’t log on with my computer, and wasted a lot of time trying.  In the end I had to log on with my phone, and it’s  much slower typing into the phone.  So now I spend less time at Starbucks, as it’s easier just to skip it and go home and use my Internet there.

So generally it’s all pretty quiet.



  1. the starbucks code on the receipt for wifi is a new development for me. here in london, the coffee shops, (i am looking at costa), have a code on their receipts which changes everyday for use of their toilets. and some burgerkings and macdonalds have turnstiles to their toilets where u have to pay. do they do that in penang? and now u say they are making it so only customers can use their wifi. here in london wifi is still available freely for everyone not only for the customers. what about the shopping malls, do they have free wifi? maybe not anymore, though i did get free wifi in a shopping mall in malacca , when i was there a long time ago. it was slow though.

    1. It is a real pain, although I understand why they did it. Some people did spend many hours in Starbucks, possibly using more than one device. Toilets are generally not policed, although their quality varies from modern and clean to disgusting. The Penang Government has a free wifi service, for which you have to register – you can make up anything if you wish. But in many cases at coffee shops now you have to ask for the wifi password, although they probably only change it once a year, and there is no time limit. The shopping malls tend not to provide wifi, and leave to the shops to do so. But often the shops will just tell you to use the Penang Free wifi from the government. Speed does vary from OK to slow.

  2. i did not know that penang govt provides free wifi. that is good. though i suppose they will block certain sites. usually porn sites, but gay websites too; like in london. i guess with free wifi available it is not crucial that the shops restrict their own wifi to customers. i can see that having own home wifi is still necessary.

    1. I almost never use the Penang government Free WiFi, and I have no idea if they block anything. But you do need home internet unless you happen to live in the range of one of these free services – which are usually fairly short range. In London years ago I provided free wifi to everyone in my block of flats who wanted it – I just limited the total amount of GB they could use each month, which was no problem for them usually. If they asked I upped it.

  3. What a great blog, thank you for sharing your experiences! We’re moving to Penang soon (Batu Ferringhi area) and have just been told our great TM Unifi that we’re very happy with isn’t available in our new condo – it’s outside their coverage area unfortunately. I’ve found your blog while googling other service providers. Do you recommend a certain internet provider? We’re heavy users and are looking for a reliable service like TM Unifi has been for us in KL. Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. TM laid fibre in my street a couple of years ago, but Unifi is not still not available. Every time I ask them they say it will be available in six months. I’ve given up asking now. (Maxis, however, will provide a fibre connection, apparently, but only at 10mbps.) So I have to use TM Streamyx, at 4 Mbps. And I am a heavy user, too. Why haven’t I moved to Maxis? Because they sometimes have capped usage, although at present they don’t. And as you know, large Malaysian companies see fit to change their terms and conditions virtually without warning – I believe that is a breach of basic contract law, but I can hardly fight them.

      So anyway, with that caveat, Maxis might be useful for you. There is also a company called “Time” which you can find on the Internet. They seem only to provide condos, and they provide a fast service at a reasonable price. Their service is available in my area. But I live in a house, so can’t get it. Check to see if they will provide your condo. You could also consider the wireless services, but the caps were a problem last time I checked.

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