Month: November 2016

If the duty free status of Langkawi is important to you for your retirement or trip there – rules have changed

From the beginning of this month – November 2016 – the Malaysian government has tightened rules on duty-free purchases in Langkawi and other duty-free islands.

As a resident in Langkawi, or as a visitor, it is now less attractive.  You are restricted in the volume you can purchase, and where you can purchase duty-free.  It appears, for example, that eating at a restaurant you will have to pay duty for wine etc.  with your meal.  If you want to use a car you have purchased duty-free on the island on the mainland you will have to pay a very high bond, apparently.

Overall, apart from making me less likely to visit Langkawi again, it doesn’t really affect me, living in Penang as I do.  If you think it might affect you please check yourself, as I have only briefly read about it and don’t know the complete details.

 

Will manufacturers learn from exploding batteries?

I, like many consumers, like to be able to put an SD card in my phone.  But many phones ceased providing them.  I had to buy a phone without a slot, and soon, just as I had imagined, I was out of space – so I didn’t keep it long.  One requirement of the subsequent phones I have bought is an SD card slot.

I, like many consumers, like replaceable batteries.  When the phone’s battery no longer lasts long enough, a quick purchase on eBay and the phone is like new.  Had Samsung a replaceable battery in its Note 7, instead of the debacle of replacing and scrapping the phone, they could have had a simple solution – replace the battery.  Will manufacturers learn from this? Not only give the consumers what they want, but cover their bases?  After a year and a half my phone battery lasting power is lamentable.  I must carry a power bank, too. Like I see many others doing.

I, like many consumers, like to get the latest Android version not too long after it is released.  My(Asus)  phone came with Android 5 – Lollipop – and more than a year after Android 6 – Marshmallow – was released I have yet to get it.  In fact, Android N is out now, so I am two versions behind. Marshmallow was finally released in September for my phone, and I downloaded it, but the phone won’t install it, so I have to wait for the over the air (OTA) release.  My Huawei tablet is the same, and still on Lollipop.  The closer to stock Android the software is, the easier and sooner the update can be provided.  Thus it is unlikely I will buy from the same manufacturers given their track record on this, although otherwise I am very happy with my choices.

I, like many consumers, don’t  like bloatware.  This also means it takes longer for manufacturers to update to the latest version of Android.

One thing Apple does is update all previous models of phones and devices of recent years.  But otherwise it leads the way in denying what the consumers want.  Now they’ve eliminated headphone jacks – something I use for hours a day.

I tend unsurprisingly to buy products that have the specs I want.  Motorola, which I had in the past, but had to replace soon due to its lacking an SD card slot, now looks pretty attractive again.  The SD slots are back, and some models are modular and can have parts added.  They also have almost stock Android, with no bloatware and just a few useful apps.

In the bar going to Bar – Part 2/2 – Balkans trip anecdotes and photos

This blog mainly concentrates on providing information that will help in living or travelling in Malaysia. However, I do blog a little about trips abroad. On my recent trip to the Balkans I’ll do a series of short blogs providing one anecdote per country, and then a few assorted photos of the country unrelated to the anecdote.

Photos from the Montenegro border on to Bar on the coast.  The train was running over an hour late and it was dark before we reached the capital, Podorica.  Then it was another hour or so to Bar.

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And finally arrived at Bar Station close to 10PM.

And finally arrived at Bar Station close to 10PM.

 

In the bar going to Bar – Balkans trip anecdotes and photos

This blog mainly concentrates on providing information that will help in living or travelling in Malaysia. However, I do blog a little about trips abroad. On my recent trip to the Balkans I’ll do a series of short blogs providing one anecdote per country, and then a few assorted photos of the country unrelated to the anecdote.

Bar is a lovely town on the Montenegro coast.  I caught the train from Belgrade to Bar as this trip has a reputation as one of the most beautiful rail trips in the Balkans.  Thus I had booked a window seat so I could get the best view and take photos.  So the story goes like this.  After relaxing in the cafe before the train departed, I embarked about 15 minutes early, just to be sure I had the right train, could easily find the seat etc.  However, my seat was already taken.  In the Balkans people very often ignore seat assignments, but when I request my seat they will politely move elsewhere.  If the train is empty, then fine, but I could not find another window seat anywhere, and this man refused to move, backed up by his friend seated opposite at the other window seat in the compartment.  I could use the conductor perhaps, I thought, but then I discovered the bar.

And so I spent the entire 12 hour trip there.   This was in fact far better, so I am actually thankful to that rude guy.  At no time did the bar become crowded.  The windows opened on both sides so I could take photos – in the compartment the glass is dirty and the windows don’t open.   And I had a constant and quick supply of coffee, sandwiches and beer whenever I wanted.   My bar bill came close to the cost of the train ticket, but I really enjoyed the trip.

Novi Sad station early in the morning

Novi Sad station early in the morning

 

For the first time in a long time it was a nice new clean train

For the first time in a long time it was a nice new clean train

 

nice and new inside - with power points on the walls

nice and new inside – with power points on the walls

 

Belgrade Station

Belgrade Station

 

Cafe for breakfast

Cafe for breakfast

 

beer is much cheaper than coffee

Cafe for breakfast

 

Cafe for breakfast

Beer is cheaper than coffee

 

Friendly conductor

Friendly conductor with the train on the right

 

on the train

on the train

 

on the train

on the train

 

in the bar

in the bar with my coffee

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and now we are approaching the Montenegro border.

A stairway to Gurney Paragon

As I have mentioned before, no city planner seemed to give any thought to the really obvious movement of pedestrians between Gurney Plaza (mall) and Gurney Paragon (mall).  It’s about a five-minute walk in the sun or rain between them, with multiple obstacles, busy driveways to cross and the weather to tolerate.  One can walk between them either on the Kelawei Road side, or the Gurney Drive side, with both almost equally unpleasant to negotiate.

Four years on, nothing much has changed.  Except that a few weeks ago, the usual pedestrian route to enter or leave Gurney Paragon via the Gurney Paragon Condominium car park entrance next to Brussels Beer Cafe on Gurney Drive side was blocked, and they put up signs saying “Private Property”, and had security guards trying to enforce it.

These two photos below were taken two weeks ago, at least a week after they started this work.

the previous pedestrian route

the previous pedestrian route

Now, a little further on they are building stairs to provide a new entrance close to the front of Brussels Beer Cafe, having destroyed part of the garden there.

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The stairs in the making

This seems to have turned into a multi-week job.  They’ve put up some temporary fencing now.

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Hopefully this great engineering feat will be finished before Christmas, and preferably before the Christmas season.

Wet, wet, wet – the rain continues in Penang

This rainy period started in perhaps early September, and still it rains almost every day.  So now it’s well into its third month. Which is unusual. And thus it is cooler than usual and has been cool for all of this period.

Some parts of Penang are experiencing flooding, and I read yesterday that a landslide cut off Teluk Bahang on the north-west of the island.

In Pulau Tikus the government has done extensive drainage works, that are still ongoing, and now it doesn’t flood where I am – whereas it used to, although never so bad the water came into the house.  Although it came close. I had sandbags and a barrier prepared.  In the past I also occasionally moved my car to a multi-storey car park just in case, but that is not necessary now.

So, if renting or buying a property, this is one factor you might want to consider.