Month: February 2016

new seafront park planned for Gurney drive

Last week I saw an article on plans for a new seafront park in the Star newspaper.  It looks great to me. I do wonder if it will be safe and healthy to swim from the beach, though.

Here is an online article about the plans, including readers’ comments:

http://www.penangpropertytalk.com/2016/02/gurney-wharf/

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A good day to stay off the roads

It’s the first business day of the week, and the last day of the month.  Plus there is a cruise ship docked here, with a great many foreign tourists.

The roads are chaos.  It is even more difficult to park than usual. So people are parking illegally, and more important, very inconsiderately, and blocking the roads.  And there are more cars on the road, but less space to drive on with the parked cars blocking progress.  Drivers are just pushing out when they feel like it.  You can see minor accidents as a result, creating even more chaos.

After completing one task I just went home as I didn’t want to put up with this any more.  The other tasks can wait. Tomorrow is the first business day of the month, so possibly also bad.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in February 2016

It’s been very dry and hot recently – fairly normal for this time of year.  I have to water every day.

My guerrilla gardening / growing of papaya trees has not been very successful.  Mealy bugs have been destroying the trees.

I had to prune many papaya branches off several papaya trees - mealy bugs

I had to prune many papaya branches off several papaya trees – mealy bugs

 

mealy bugs

mealy bugs

And then strong winds have knocked some over, after which a lorry drove over them and killed them. Plumbago has possibly   killed one tree by hogging all the water.  So now there are only four  (clumps of) trees left.  And in four years and so much work I still have only managed to harvest one papaya.

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Plumbago and remaining papaya

 

leaving this bud on plant to collect roselle seeds.

leaving this bud on plant to collect Roselle seeds.

 

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Rosemary and a few baby limes are growing well.

 

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Lime

 

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papaya

 

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They seem to have recovered the moved from one pot to two

 

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Baby limes have little shoots now

 

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Plumbago is happy with water and sun

 

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I moved this lime to a sunnier location from elsewhere and it’s recovering

 

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I also moved these mock orange to a sunnier location and it’s helped them a lot

 

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I have been harvesting the limes from the tree

 

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The pumpkin vines are growing all over the place

 

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I normally get two mini pumpkin a day

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Nice weather for Bougainvillea.

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Thirsty, but doing well

 

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A few red chillis

 

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lemongrass

Visiting Pangkor Island – 10 best things to do

Easiest is to drive there.  There are car parks available at the ferry terminals.  There are also buses and maybe minivans.  Or a twice weekly flight (Tuesday & Thursday) on Berjaya Air from KL to the tiny airstrip on the island.

If you drive you can catch a ferry either from Lumut, which costs RM10 return and takes about 30 minutes – first stop on the island is Sungai Pinang, and the second and last stop is the one to take if you are staying on the west side of the island.
Or you can catch a ferry from Marina Island, which costs RM10 and takes only 10 minutes to Pangkor.
Marina Island entrance

Marina Island entrance

My GPS really did not want me to go there, and was determined to direct me to Lumut.  You simply go straight instead of turning right to Lumut at the big shell sculpture.

 

ferry timetable from Marine Island

ferry timetable from Marine Island

 

ferry

ferry

 

Pangkor terminal

Pangkor terminal

 

Pangkor terminal

Pangkor terminal

On the island you can rent a bicycle, a motorbike or a car from the ferry terminal. Touts are waiting outside to do just that.   Or you can just catch a taxi.  If you want to see the sights of Pangkor renting a motorbike or car for one day is enough.  Otherwise, a taxi will do.

 

a car we rented

a car we rented

 

taxi rank

taxi rank

 

taxi fares

taxi fares

 

The 10 best things on Pangkor in order of increasing interest:

10. Drive around the island – costs RM70 by taxi – about 40 minutes without stops.

09.  Dutch Fort.  Something to see near the town and ferry terminal.

Dutch Fort

Dutch Fort

 

Dutch Fort

Dutch Fort

08. Fu Li Kong temple – has a mini Great Wall of China. it’s quite fun if you happen to be nearby.

 

Chinese temple

Chinese temple

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

 

07. Jungle walk – presently under repair and due to reopen in three months, or so I am told.  I am also told the walk takes about two hours.

06. Pasir Bogak beach – four minutes and RM10 from the main wharf by taxi.  Quite a nice beach.

Pasir Bogat beach

Pasir Bogak beach

 

Pasir Bogat beach

Pasir Bogak beach

05. Walk to Giam Island at low tide from Coral Bay beach.  About 10 minutes walk through shallow water.  The trick is to wear flip flops to protect your feet from the rocks.  Without flip flops it may take over 20 minutes as you have to tread very carefully.  For the sandy parts you can take off the flips flops, of course.

walking to Gian Island

walking to Gian Island

04. Chinese temple – Lin Je Kong.  Perched on the rocks at the northern end of Coral Bay, in a perfect setting.

Chinese temple

Chinese temple

 

Chinese temple

Chinese temple

03. Fresh fish – BBQ’d fish (ikan bakar) at Nipah Bay.  Often Malay restaurants don’t sell beer (a couple of years ago they did) – but  you can buy it at the convenience store and bring it to the restaurant.

fresh fish

fresh fish

 

BBQ fish

BBQ fish

 

BBQ fish

BBQ fish

02. Beach – Coral Bay – just past Nipah Bay.  A lovely beach with clear water literally a few minutes walk from  Nipah Bay.  There are cafes on the beach with nice food and beer, and sun lounges, and showers you can use after a swim.  And great sunsets.

Coral Bay beach

Coral Bay beach

 

cafe on Coral Bay beach

cafe on Coral Bay beach

 

cafe on Coral Bay beach

cafe on Coral Bay beach

 

sunset at Coral Bay beach

sunset at Coral Bay beach

01. Hornbill feeding – you can feed wild hornbills.  This is really the best thing. For directions on where to feed them and videos of hornbills see here.

hornbill feeding

hornbill feeding

 

hornbill feeding

hornbill feeding

 Note that you can do the 1, 2, 3, 4,  and 5 best things just by catching a taxi from the ferry to Nipah Bay – where there is also the most accommodation. ( 12 minutes and RM15 by taxi from the main ferry terminal.

I made my third visit in late February, 2016.  The more I visit the more I like this island.  My blog from my first visit tells you more details, and not much has changed.  Except it has improved.  It’s cleaner, and monkeys are less of a problem.  Again we stayed at the Anjungan Beach Resort and Spa.  Their breakfast is now good, and their Internet speed and coverage is better.   The staff are now much better and more knowledgeable.

videos of hornbills on Pangkor Island and where to see them wild and free

I am just back from a longer stay on Pangkor Island. The best thing there is being close to hornbills.  Outside of a birdpark I’ve never been closer to them. And these ones live in the wild.  Penang Birdpark at Butterworth is a nice place to see hornbills if you can’t go to Pangkor Island.

If you stay at or near Nipah Bay on Pangkor Island, your hotel may get a hornbill as a visitor.  Or you may see one at the beach at nearby Coral Beach.

However, every evening for the last 14 years the man at Sunset View Chalet in Nipah Bay town has fed them at 6.30PM.  On the main road through the town, find the Nipah Water Front Beach Resort and take the side road next to it.  Two or three minutes walk down it you’ll find the Sunset View Chalet.  Thirty or more birds will turn up to be fed.

 

take the side street next to this hotel

take the side street next to this hotel

 

walk along for two or three minutes

walk along for two or three minutes

By the way, the Sunset View Chalet man feeds the birds bananas and doesn’t charge viewers anything.  In fact, he helps you feed them yourself.  We gave him a small gift in appreciation.

Langkawi or Pangkor Island?

Nippah Bay

one of the beaches on Pangkor Island

If you are in Penang, Langkawi is kind of north, and Pangkor Island kind of south.  So as far as the weather goes – rainy season or not – they have the same pattern.

In theory Langkawi is quicker to get to, but in practice they seem to take a similar time to reach.

If you were to choose one to visit, which would it be? So here are what I consider the good and bad points of both.

  • Langkawi is more accessible, being able to travel there by direct ferry, car /  bus + ferry, or short flight from Penang.
  • Langkawi is more international so caters to a broader range of tastes – for food, spas etc.
  • Langkawi can be visited on the way to Thailand – e.g. Ko Lipe.
  • Langkawi has a marina
  • Langkawi has much more things to do than Pangkor
  • Langkawi has a bigger range of accommodation from homestays to very expensive resorts
  • And, of course, Langkawi is duty-free. Alcohol and even car rental is cheaper.

As for the bad points:

  • Excepting for the impact of duty-free goods, Langkawi is generally more expensive.
  • And, apart from expensive resorts, there are no bars or restaurants on the beach – with the exception of Scarborough Fish and Chips.
  • There can be jellyfish in the sea

As for Pangkor:

  • Pangkor Island is more relaxed
  • It is easier to find food when you want it
  • Pangkor is small and very easy to get around – by taxi, hire car, motorbike or bicycle
  • The ferry from Lumut on the mainland is cheap – RM10 return
  • The ferry is quite frequent
  • There are restaurants and bars on the beach
  • These restaurants and bars are reasonably priced
  • The beaches are nicer and I haven’t seen any jellyfish

As for the bad points:

  • Transport there is only by car / bus then ferry.  Berjaya Air used to fly there from KL  – but I am not sure if they still do.
  • Often Malay restaurants don’t sell beer – but they sometimes suggest you buy it at the convenience store and bring it to the restaurant
  • Being quite a Malay island girls might feel uncomfortable in a bikini on the beach – so will either go to a more secluded spot or stay with a few other girls in bikinis
  • There is not so much to do
  • The standard of accommodation is generally not high

You can have an enjoyable holiday on either – or if you have time – both.

 

 

 

 

Thaipusam, Chinese New Year, Windows File Explorer alternative

The Thaipusam festival was held a couple of weeks ago, and I’d recommend taking part in it if you are in Penang /Malaysia when it takes place.  I am on the mailing list of the Penang Tourist Office, but their email confused me and I missed my favourite part of the festival (coconut smashing outside Gama), as I got the impression from their email that it was on the Sunday, whereas it was on the previous day.  Moral – I should double-check in future. But I did enjoy the next day’s activities at Waterfall. Anyway, it’s one of the easiest festivals to see and take part in here.

a devotee

a devotee

Chinese new Year is almost upon us.  It starts on the 8th this year, so the Chinese families have their reunion dinner on the evening of the 7th, I believe.  I really like to see the lion dances – they are held in the shopping malls (you can check when on their programmes), at condos (but unless you live there you won’t normally be allowed in) at some businesses etc.

lion dance

lion dance

 

dragon going home after work

dragon going home after work

Years ago Microsoft told us that filing into folders will no longer be necessary as the search function will be so fast and efficient.  But that we could save searches as virtual folders if we wanted.

Very well, I thought. Let’s try it.  I didn’t find saving searches all that easy or intuitive, but worse still, with every new version of Windows over the past few years, searching has become slower and slower, until with Windows 10’s File Explorer a search within a folder with just files takes much longer than just looking with your eyes.  A search through nested folders is so slow that I need to devote half an hour or more to it.  In addition, in previous Windows versions photo thumbnails refused to work – and I tried all the workarounds.  In Windows 10 it was initially OK, but now the same problem is occurring.  And I ended up with a file with a very long file name that I couldn’t delete, move or rename – even using the command prompt and other workarounds.

Enter XYplorer.  This is a free version, although there is a paid-for version that doesn’t really offer anything significantly more useful for me.  It solves all the above problems.  Searches are fast, deleted my file with the long name immediately, and I can view thumbnail photos.  I’ve only used it for a few weeks, but so far so good.

新年好