Relating to Penang

Northam Road drain and footpath work

They have been working on covering the open water drain along the eastern side of Northam Road aka Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. The plight of pedestrians is not considered, so one is forced to walk on the road among fast-moving vehicles for short distances.

They appear to be covering the open drain with concrete – and don’t know what the final plan is, but am hoping (probably very optimistically) that it could become a bicycle lane. Some photos over the last week or so:


growing some food and medicines at home in Penang

Being very near the sea, and growing plants mostly in pots it’s not so easy, but gradually we’ve been able to learn to grow food and some medicines at home.

There’s also aquaculture and vertical gardening to look into sometime, but the former costs more for the equipment, and both probably need more or less daily maintenance.

Here is what we’re growing at the moment:

tiny eggplants growing

tiny eggplants – great in curry – they taste a bit like bitter peas, but they are generally about 50% bigger

Pumpkin vine growing – no pumpkins yet this year,but we got quite a few previous years

crepe ginger sprouts growing

I collected a lot of sprouts this morning – good raw sprinkled on salads or curry

passion fruit on the vine – so far this season the squirrels haven’t attacked them, so I can let them ripen on the vine

a few ripe passion fruit

passion fruit growing

lime and neem



small limes

neem – to deter insects

pandan – use for wrapping food

a medium size lime

keffir lime – both the fruit and the leaves are useful. The leaves for mojitos and baths, the fruit for shower gels


roselle – jam etc.

lemon grass – tea, in baths etc.

basil – in pasta, stews

aloe vera – to drink and to put in home-made shower gel

rosemary – in stews, pasta etc.

more lemon grass

Free chocolate

Yes, at 68 Kelawei Road – the right side of the road – you’ll find a new chocolate outlet, selling Malaysian made chocolate.  Plenty of parking out front.  And when you enter they give you a sample size chocolate drink, plus at least 10 samples of the other chocolates they sell, as you move around the shop on your guided tour. They are Malaysian size samples – that is, very small.  But you can certainly taste them.

My favourites were white sesame chocolate, and dark durian chocolate.

You can buy in gift tins, packets, and in economy plastic packets – the latter being better if you’re just eating them yourself.

A few photos:

Harriston Chocolates


handmade chocolates

in the shop

in the shop

in the shop

economy packs

sample of curry chocolate

in the shop

CIMB Bank change of policy

I learnt yesterday that CIMB will not open new accounts for non-Malaysians unless their MM2H deposit is held by CIMB. Even if you have existing accounts with them.  You can continue to operate existing accounts, though.

As far cheaper peer to peer banking looks to replace the several hundred year old central banking model in a few years, making banking more difficult would seem to be the last thing a bank should do.

the neverending quest – for crisps

I like a nice packet of crisps occasionally.  Judging from the huge amount of shelf space they occupy in Malaysian supermarkets and convenience stores, I am not the only one.

However, whenever I find a nice brand at a reasonable price it soon disappears.  Or the price inflates enormously, then it disappears.  The cheap, local brands all seem to be full of nasty chemicals.  The more expensive imported and / or foreign brands are often way too expensive, and still have chemicals I avoid.  Anything that comes from the US is suspect and they do terrible things to what they call food – and you don’t know what they’ve done.  Have they irradiated it?  Does it have genetically modified ingredients?  For example, I think most canola oil from the US is GM – and many packets say that it may contain this.  And the labelling is often misleading. “Natural flavour” may not mean that the flavour is natural and not chemical, but rather that might be their (registered) name for some chemical concoction.  Artificial MSG may be hidden in another ingredient on the label, so you don’t know whether it is included.  And so on. It’s complicated.  Plain crisps are the least likely to have chemically enhanced flavours, so they are the ones I always check first.

So yesterday I found some crisps from Germany.  Looking at the label they seemed OK.  And Germans tend to reject GM substances.  And they love their potatoes.  And the price in Cold Storage is only RM5.99.  I bought a packet.  There is a strong MSG flavour, but it is quite possibly natural MSG, which is perfectly OK.  I enjoyed the packet.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in August 2017

It’s rained often on consecutive days, and then not rained also for several days – but overall it’s quite cool and there hasn’t been so much sun.  The plants mostly soldier on.

At the moment what we can eat from the garden are the ginger poker sprouts – nice in salads or desserts; rosemary, basil, passion fruit, limes, mini eggplants, aloe vera, roselle… and I’m hoping for papaya reasonably soon, and lemons sometime. Pandan is growing well here and there, so we’ll be able to do something with that, too.

back garden

papaya growing

tree getting taller

citrus in the sun growing fast

a small papaya has come up – a lot of competition so it is growing slowly

the grape vine survives

the white Bougainvillea is particularly happy


Canna Lily having a bit of a rest

after repotting the citrus is growing a lot on the previously bare lower branches

I left the limes a bit too long on the tree – they are yellow

It’s supposed to be hot, but instead cool and wet – so we have flowers and many unripe fruit

passion fruit flower

I have to pick them green or the squirrels get them

some limes I picked

birdie breakfast

birdie breakfast

birdie breakfast in the compost

birdie breakfast in the compost

birdie breakfast in the compost

the bird comes every day for the open compost container

papaya earlier in the month

papaya in a pot – it won’t fruit, but it’s decoration

plumbago battle on

ginger poker propagation

one of the many ginger poker around our place



rosemary – after a battle with bugs

we eat the sprouts in salads

and we eat the little eggplants from this plant

the citrus in the sun grow quickly


the pumpkin vine is growing fast – often where I don’t want it to grow

the bird often leaves leftovers lying around after it’s eaten