Month: July 2016

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

It’s been raining quite a lot in these few weeks.  Perhaps on average every second day.

The main thing that’s happening is old pumpkin vines are dying down, new pumpkin vines are growing, and as it’s passion fruit growing season now, they are doing so.

new pumpkin vines growing

new pumpkin vines growing


These passion fruit seedlings pictured below I transplanted in April are now growing tall – many of them several feet tall.


passionfruit seedlings - some had come from compost, and the ones in the brown pot from germinating seeds

passion fruit seedlings – some had come from compost and I replanted them, and the ones in the brown pot from germinating seeds

I subsequently bought some huge passion fruit in Cold Storage, ate most, but germinated some of the seeds.  These I transplanted into the garden last week, in several spots.

passion fruit seedlings

passion fruit seedlings in one spot

And I have got one passion fruit, green, but full size – so early in the season!

first passion fruit of the season

first passion fruit of the season

And there are also a couple of tomato plants that have come up out of the compost.

tomato plant

tomato plant

No real change with other plants, so it’s been another quiet month.




Penang – the traffic is getting worse, but the drivers are getting better

Drivers here are becoming more polite.  Often they will wait until I walk across a driveway before they come out, rather than taking priority.  Drivers more often let you in than before when you come out of a street into a crowded road, or when changing lanes. They use their indicators more.  As the roads become more and more jammed, politeness makes it much easier to cope.

However, there are many issues that need to be addressed.

When either driving or walking you need to look both ways when crossing a one-way street. Bicycles and motorcycles, (and occasionally cars),  often ignore traffic flow direction.

In the paper, someone was caught and fined in KL RM5,000 for dangerous motorcycle riding – riding the wrong side down a street.   Well, I see this tens of times a day – if the bikes are actually on the road rather than the footpath.  A bike was beeping me the other day as I appeared to be in his way as I walked along a footpath and he approached from behind.

this is a one way street, in the direction of the arrow on the road

this is a one way street, in the direction of the arrow on the road – as you were told when you were a child – look both ways when crossing the road (even if it’s a one-way road)

Footpaths are a great place to park, too, you can see.

very successfully blocked the footpath

very successfully blocked the footpath


double blockage

double blockage

But when cars park on the footpath you are often forced to walk onto a busy road.

no consideration - there were legal parking spaces on the road

no consideration – there were legal parking spaces on the road

Another article in the paper has someone from the Road Traffic Department union suggesting everyone install dashcams in their vehicles to record traffic offenses and then emailing the recordings / images to the department.  Just imagine!

The first time I have seen a police roadblock locally for a very long time.  They only stop cars without valid tax stickers. And for bikes the same, and not wearing helmets.




They installed a couple of ridiculous traffic lights on the road to Straits Quays.  So, to avoid stopping for no reason, one could simply veer  left, then right, and carry on – so now they have put in those white barriers you can see to ensure you waste your time.

the road from Straits Quays

the road from Straits Quays

And finally, some cute forklift parking.

what's the countable noun for forklifts? A bevvy of forklifts? A traffic of forklifts?

What’s the countable noun for forklifts? A bevvy of forklifts? A traffic of forklifts?


two forklifts, one parking space

two forklifts, one parking space – well done



Avoiding heat exhaustion in the tropics

Heat exhaustion can kill, can put you in bed for days, or at least give you a headache and a feeling of listlessness.

Obviously you want to stay cool while it’s hot and humid – perhaps between 10 am and 5pm.

I find I can be outside in the sun for about half an hour, provided I am wearing a hat, and I have drunk enough.  So I will drink before I walk, and after I get to my destination.  If I ever feel myself overheating I just enter a 7-11, petrol station store, bank etc. where they have air conditioning.  I don’t need to carry water for such a short time.  If I want to walk further than 30 minutes I just schedule a stop with air-conditioning on the way, and stay long enough to cool down.

I don’t have any problem when walking on the hills in the shade of trees, but in this case I might carry some water, as I will be out for more than 30 minutes.

Simple, really.

repelling unwanted visitors

When it rains heavily rats sometimes used to visit our garden and thus wreak destruction.  Then I’d have to use a rat trap to catch them and then dispose of them, which wasn’t fun.

pandan leaves

pandan leaves

Now, when I put some cut pandan leaves there, they don’t come.  I bought a handful of leaves from the Balik Pulau market for 50 sen (or 4RM in Tesco) and they will last several months, as it doesn’t matter if they dry out.

I can’t guarantee it will work for you, but at 50  sen for a few months you don’t have much to lose.

If I can find and grow pandan it would be even better…

driving and parking in Penang

Nowadays the window for light traffic is really only about 9.30AM to 11.30AM on weekdays.  This may or not be useful, as shops and businesses will not usually be open until 10.30 or 11.  However, government offices are open much earlier, and banks from 9.30AM, I think.

Saturdays doesn’t really have a morning rush hour, but as you approach midday it’s already getting busy. And Sundays is even lighter in the morning, but can be busy by midday.

We are hoping that once the major infrastructure projects are built in the next few years that the above will be irrelevant and traffic smooth.  And that I can even cycle safely when I want to go somewhere relatively nearby.

Parking on the street is done by coupon in the busier places.  If you see parking bays marked on the road then it is likely you’ll need to buy a book of coupons and place one or more on your dashboard to show the period you are parked.


parking bay with number – means you’ll need to use a coupon for parking



display coupon with scratched out date and time on dashboard

40 sen for half an hour would be the charge, and you can buy the coupon booklets from many petrol stations, convenience stores, or even sometimes from vendors who are hanging around.

a vendor on Gurney Drive

a vendor on Gurney Drive


some voucher booklets

some coupon booklets

Don’t try to cheat by being optimistic about the time you scratch on the voucher, as I have seen people booked even though they cheated by 5 minutes. There should also be signs around saying when the parking restrictions are in force.

There are three kinds of signs - the red one means the longest parking restrictions

There are three kinds of signs – the red one means the longest parking restrictions.  This one means daily from 9AM to midnight the restrictions are in force.



Coupons necessary for parking Monday – Friday, 9 – 5, and Saturday, 9 – 1

Parking in malls can be easy as you pay when you leave, so you do not have to guess how long you will be.  But some multi-storey parking is designed for micro-cars and it can be tight using the up or down ramps, and fitting the car into a bay, even.  Straits Quays is very tight, so since they eliminated the easy outdoor parking I no longer go there.  Gurney Plaza is good.  Gurney Paragon parking is confusing.  I tend to walk from the Gurney Plaza parking.  First Avenue in George Town probably has the best designed, most comfortable parking in Penang, except for the entrance where you pick up your ticket, which is very tight. Pragin Mall parking is also OK.   And Queensbay Mall parking is also OK.  Other than that I don’t really visit any malls, so I can’t say any more.

red dawn

This morning I was woken early by the red sky.


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is that a pigeon? It's white!

Is that a pigeon? It’s white!

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not much progress so far with the land reclamation

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is that a pigeon? It's white!

is that a pigeon? It’s white!

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they’ve locked the gate to the beach today!

It’s holidays in Penang, from Wednesday until Monday, inclusive.  Lots of people are out enjoying themselves.  But at dawn it was quiet, with a few walkers and joggers.