Penang blog

Penang to Kuala Lumpur by plane, train, bus and car – March 2017

You have a few choices travelling between Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

Plane

The main carriers from Penang to Kuala Lumpur are Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia.  Kuala Lumpur has two main terminals at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).  KLIA, which is where the full service airlines fly to and from, and KLIA2, which the low cost airlines use.  (There is another airport, Subang, which Firefly and Berjaya Air operate from, which is likely to be useful only if you wish to go to that area.)  Prices vary, but can be very cheap – as cheap as bus or train fares.

Air Asia web site

Malaysian Airlines web site

Air Asia

A flight takes only about 45 minutes, and in that time on Malaysian Airlines they serve a drink in a plastic container and a packet of peanuts, and then come around to collect the rubbish.  Those two activities take up the cabin crews’ time while at crusing height.

the cabin in economy

peanuts and juice

the seat back – screen not activated for use on this short flight

On Air Asia you would not normally be served anything, but of course the flight time is similar.

Train

KTM – train company web site – note that for purposes of the web site your point of origin is Butterworth, and destination is Sentral Kuala Lumpur.

For more information and links please see http://www.travel-penang-malaysia.com/ktmb-ets-schedule.html

Penang now has the ETS – Electric Train Service – meaning that the journey to KL from Penang-Butterworth can take as little as just over four hours. This  provides more comfort and safety than buses, in a similar travel time, and for a similar price as the better bus companies.

For my blog about a recent train ride from Penang to KL see here

Bus

Penang to KL by bus

KL to Penang by bus

Aeroline bus company

Transnasional bus company

Nice bus company

Konsortium bus company

There are many more bus companies.

Car

Driving from Penang to Kuala Lumpur

Heading south – typical landscape

And which is best?  Of course, this is hard to say.  Let’s compare them in terms of travelling time, cost, scenery and enjoyment.

Plane:

If your destination is KL, then let’s look at the time it will take.  You should be at the airport perhaps 1.5 hours before departure. Flight time is about 45 minutes, and then once you have landed it will take at least 45 minutes to collect your luggage if you have any, and to get into central KL, and more likely one hour or more. Thus total time from Penang airport to KL hotel is at least 3.5 hours.  That is faster than any other mode.  It can also be quite cheap if you catch one of the Air Asia specials. Catching a taxi to and from Penang airport, or parking charges there can add considerably to the cost, however.  There is no airport bus in Penang, just a local bus, which is not very frequent or reliable.  Using the Grabcar app from Gurney Plaza to the airport is about RM26. Uber may be similar. Apart from shortly after take off, the scenery you will see from the plane is not very interesting. It is more stressful flying, but if you are also flying out of KL, it can often be the easiest mode of transport.

If you are flying out of KLIA then flying is probably the best option.  The airline you choose usually depends on which terminal in KL you fly out from. In Penang, there is only one terminal, so there is no issue with convenience for any airline.  But in Kuala Lumpur there is KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) and KLIA2.  Air Asia flies to KLIA2, so if you are flying from KL on Air Asia, it makes sense to fly from Penang also on Air Asia. And if you are flying from KLIA, then you will probably want to choose a full service airline to fly on from Penang, as it will fly into KLIA.  Of course, you can transfer between KLIA and KLIA2, but it takes some time, and is less fun if you have luggage.

Train:

The train takes a similar time to the bus. It takes about four hours, or up to four and a half, depending on the schedule.  Occasionally incidents on the E1 motorway block or slow traffic,   which obviously won’t affect the train, but will the bus. You will also have the travelling time to the station at Butterworth, so add on at least an hour for the trip to the ferry terminal, and ferry to Butterworth.  It is very relaxing, though, and the scenery is better than travelling by air or road.

Bus:

Travelling time by bus can be from four and a half hours to more, depending on traffic. But you will probably leave home an hour before the bus departs, so this must be added to the total travelling time. Bus fares vary quite a bit depending on which company you choose to travel with. But the more expensive bus companies tend to be safer, and more comfortable. Aeroline, the most expensive company,   quotes on its web site a price of RM60 one way in March 2017. Of course, by bus or car the scenery will be the same, as either way you will be travelling on the E1 north-south motorway. Mostly, the scenery is not very exciting. However, around Ipoh, which is about half way, the scenery improves for a while. The bus can also be quite relaxing, depending on the skills of the driver – the cheaper the bus company, the worse the drivers, generally. Many people find the bus the most enjoyable way to travel this route. I would avoid any very late night / overnight bus journeys if at all possible, as bus drivers and other vehicle drivers have been known to fall asleep at the wheel.

Car:

When I drive, with three very short stops on the way, it takes about 4.5 hours in light traffic. By car you will presumably be driving directly from home to your destination, so it takes only about an hour more than flying. The road charges are about RM45, and I suppose you will use about RM70 for petrol, although this will vary quite a bit according to your car and driving style. Of course, there are other costs, but for me, as I don’t drive much anyway, it is really only these costs that count. RM115. Double the bus fare for one person, but if two or more people,competitive. Naturally you will be able to carry much more luggage, be able to visit other places en-route if you wish, and have use of the car in KL. You will have to pay for parking, however, which at many hotels is RM10 per day.

Is it fun to drive? Not particularly. It’s frustrating as the speed limit is pathetically low, and for the section of the road which is three lanes each way, the left lane is mostly empty, while most drivers drive in the middle lane, making overtaking in the left lane necessary when the right lane is also blocked by a slower vehicle. This is hardly ideal.

My conclusion:

The disadvantage of the train is that Butterworth station is a bit far from George Town, and you need to catch the ferry.  But the bus station has the same disadvantage, being next to the train station.  The other terminals for the bus are from Sungai Nibong or Queensbay Mall – also a bit far.  Then, you find the same disadvantages for the bus and train in KL, where the terminals are not central.  But the airport in Penang is further away, and the airport in KL is even further out, so really, unless you are flying out of KLIA, I find the train offers the best combination of safety, comfort and convenience to central Kuala Lumpur.

For historical interest you can see a much older blog on this topic

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A wander around George Town

I went for a wander around George Town’s Heritage Zone one afternoon this week. In the past I would not have done this, because it is generally too hot, but it’s been cooler lately, and so it was a pleasant stroll.  Here are a few photos…

an old public phone

an old public phone

Food Museum on Beach Street

Food Museum on Beach Street

big Cendol

big Cendol

big egg

big egg

big noodles

big noodles

Fire Station

Fire Station

Fire Station

Fire Station

main temple entrance

main temple entrance

temple

temple

temple

temple

for tourists

for tourists

Armenian Street - popular with toursits

Armenian Street – popular with toursits

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on a side street

on a side street

this is good to read

this is good to read

mosque

mosque

side street

side street

you see these all over George Town

you see these all over George Town

not so much traffic in this immediate area

not so much traffic in this immediate area

not so much traffic in this immediate area

not so much traffic in this immediate area

park at the end of Armenian Street

park at the end of Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

some people grow trees

some people grow trees

on Armenian Street

on Armenian Street

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a rare site - a bicycle path

a rare site – a bicycle path

mosque on Kapital Keeling

mosque on Kapital Keeling

it could be Hotlink - Maxis phone company's pre-paid

it could be Hotlink – Maxis phone company’s pre-paid

relaxing at a coffee shop - there are so many these days

relaxing at a coffee shop – there are so many these days

relaxing at a coffee shop

relaxing at a coffee shop – yum, marshmallows

clocktower

clocktower

Penang and other podcasts – update March 2014

I thought I would write about podcasts I listen to at the moment.  Podcasts are very efficient for me, as I can listen and do something else at the same time. If I am driving by myself, exercising in the gym, gardening, doing housework, shopping, climbing Penang Hill…

So far I have only found one Penang podcast, but it is very old:

http://www.podfeed.net/episodes.asp?id=3640&ct=1

and listening to his podcast he says there are only ten Malaysian podcasters.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find them.

——————————–

Also I listen to podcasts from around the world:

http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/nonsubscriber.php Red Ice Radio is broadcast out of Sweden and Hendrick covers a really diverse range of topics, mostly interviewing experts in their fields. In English.

http://www.corbettreport.com/?i=Interviews The Corbett Report is from Japan, although Mr. Corbett is Canadian, and again covers a broad range of topics, mostly by interviews, but also some discussion panels etc. In English, although James briefly spoke Japanese (quite well I thought) once, that I heard.

http://www.thevinnyeastwoodshow.com/2014-archives.html Vinny broadcasts out of New Zealand and mostly interviews people on a range of topics.

http://www.thecrowhouse.com/radio.html Max broadcasts from Australia mainly on regaining our freedom, peacefully and spiritually.

http://fairdinkumradio.com/ is also broadcast out of Australia, and  covers who has taken and freedom, and how to get it back.

http://www.21stcenturyradio.com/audioarchives/2014/index.html  Broadcast out of Baltimore, U.S.A. Mostly interviews with a humourous approach, less political, more on health, spirituality, rock stars of the past…

http://vitalitycapsules.com/truth-files Dr. Daniels broadcasts from Panama, having escaped the clutches of the American Medical Association in the U.S., it seems. She tells the truth about pharmaceuticals, vaccines etc. In English.

http://www.pamkilleen.com/multimedia-content-february-2013-present-1/ Pam broadcasts from Canada on health issues.

http://www.wvfoundations.org/id3.html Broadcast from the U.S. Caucasian oriented. Topics of interest to me are history of rock groups or singers, history as not told in films, school history books etc.

http://republicbroadcasting.org/  Subscription based, out of the U.S.

http://thecommonsenseshow.com/category/radio-archives/  Out of the U.S., from Republic Broadcasting – but he only posts a few of his podcasts on his site.  Often about what is happening in the U.S. – implementation of Agenda 21 etc.

http://www.democracynow.org/shows  Out of the U.S. Really too politically correct for me, but often the second part of the show covers one particular topic – I enjoyed the interview with Oliver Stone, for example. A shorter version is also published in Spanish.

http://blog.ucadia.com/ Frank broadcasts from Australia on his political / social model.

http://thesyncbook.com/  From the U.S., I think.  I just found this, and can’t yet classify it in my mind.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/universalawareness – Out of the UK – nothing broadcast recently, but archives are often on using the real law – not statute law – to keep your freedom.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/americanfreepress – The Spingola Zone – Deanna Spingola is pretty fearless in telling you more or less the opposite of what the media, education and history has tried to make us think, and then backing up what she says.

For a great many years I was downloading to my computer, and then transferring the mp3’s over to my phone by either SD card or wi-fi. This was so I kept a copy.  But I almost never went back to listen to older podcasts. So recently I download directly to my phone, and then play and manage the podcasts using Podkicker.  Unfortunately it can’t find all the podcasts I want using Podkicker, so I have to download using the web on the phone for some, and play them with another app. But for the podcasts it does find it is great. And it’s much easier to listen to the podcast soon after it is posted.  Reading the comments, the free version is better than the Pro version – which currently costs $1.

Finally, for RM5 you can buy an earphone / microphone in Daiso – Gurney Plaza, Gurney Paragon, Queensbay Mall.  It’s not stereo, but for podcasts you don’t need stereo – giving you one ear with which to hear what’s going on in your surroundings, which is safer if you are out.  And you can use it for phone calls with the microphone, although to dial or answer a call you’ll have to use your phone itself.

2014-02-10 19.52.53

But don’t buy them all – I regularly break earsets – any brand, not just these ones – as I get them caught on things, and they can take only so many hard tugs.  So they only last me six months, and I have to buy another. A replacement, with the mike on the lead, from the phone manufacturer when I asked was close to RM100.

Penang and other podcasts

I thought I would write about podcasts I listen to at the moment.  Podcasts are very efficient for me, as I can listen and do something else at the same time. If I am driving by myself, exercising in the gym, gardening, doing housework, shopping, climbing Penang Hill…

So far I have only found one Penang podcast:

http://www.podfeed.net/episodes.asp?id=3640&ct=1

and listening to his podcast he says there are only ten Malaysian podcasters.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find them. His podcast only started a couple of months ago.

——————————–

Also I listen to podcasts from around the world:

http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/nonsubscriber.php Red Ice Radio is broadcast out of Sweden and Hendrick covers a really diverse range of topics, mostly interviewing experts in their fields. In English.

http://www.corbettreport.com/?i=Interviews The Corbett Report is from Japan, although Mr. Corbett is Canadian, and again covers a broad range of topics, mostly by interviews, but also some discussion panels etc. In English, although James briefly spoke Japanese (quite well I thought) once, that I heard.

http://www.thevinnyeastwoodshow.com/2014-archives.html Vinny broadcasts out of New Zealand and mostly interviews people on a range of topics.

http://www.thecrowhouse.com/radio.html Max broadcasts from Australia mainly on regaining our freedom, peacefully and spiritually.

http://fairdinkumradio.com/ is also broadcast out of Australia, and  covers who has taken and freedom, and how to get it back.

http://www.21stcenturyradio.com/audioarchives/2014/index.html  Broadcast out of Baltimore, U.S.A. Mostly interviews with a humourous approach, less political, more on health, spirituality, rock stars of the past…

http://vitalitycapsules.com/truth-files Dr. Daniels broadcasts from Panama, having escaped the clutches of the American Medical Association in the U.S., it seems. She tells the truth about pharmaceuticals, vaccines etc. In English.

http://www.pamkilleen.com/multimedia-content-february-2013-present-1/ Pam broadcasts from Canada on health issues.

http://www.wvfoundations.org/id3.html Broadcast from the U.S. Caucasian oriented. Topics of interest to me are history of rock groups or singers, history as not told in films, school history books etc.

http://republicbroadcasting.org/  Subscription based, out of the U.S.

http://thecommonsenseshow.com/category/radio-archives/  Out of the U.S., from Republic Broadcasting – but he only posts a few of his podcasts on his site.  Often about what is happening in the U.S. – implementation of Agenda 21 etc.

http://www.democracynow.org/shows  Out of the U.S. Really too politically correct for me, but often the second part of the show covers one particular topic – I enjoyed the interview with Oliver Stone, for example. A shorter version is also published in Spanish.

http://blog.ucadia.com/ Frank broadcasts from Australia on his political / social model.

http://thesyncbook.com/  From the U.S., I think.  I just found this, and can’t yet classify it in my mind.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/universalawareness – Out of the UK – nothing broadcast recently, but archives are often on using the real law – not statute law – to keep your freedom.

Finally, for RM5 you can buy an earphone / microphone in Daiso – Gurney Plaza, Gurney Paragon, Queensbay Mall.  It’s not stereo, but for podcasts you don’t need stereo – giving you one ear with which to hear what’s going on in your surroundings, which is safer if you are out.  And you can use it for phone calls with the microphone, although to dial or answer a call you’ll have to use your phone itself.

2014-02-10 19.52.53

But don’t buy them all – I regularly break earsets – any brand, not just these ones – as I get them caught on things, and they can take only so many hard tugs.  So they only last me six months, and I have to buy another. A replacement, with the mike on the lead, from the phone manufacturer when I asked was close to RM100.

Langkawi – December 2012. Holidaying here. Retiring here?

One Malay word you should know if you are in Langkawi – “Pantai” = “Beach”.

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Tanjong Rhu beach – in the north of Langkawi

I wrote a blog about Langkawi after my visit in April 2012, and I have just returned from my third holiday in Langkawi in about four years. I will combine my previous blog with this, adding more information. The smaller photos are from April 2012, the larger from December 2012 – so you can tell

GETTING THERE

  • In August 2008 we drove up to Kuala Perlis and caught the ferry over to the main ferry terminal in Langkawi.  All we had to do was phone a contact who ran a parking lot, give an approximate arrival time, and he bought the ferry tickets.  When we arrived we could park undercover and he gave us the tickets, and pointed out where to catch the ferry.
  • In April we flew on Air Asia from Penang to Langkawi, which is about 25 minutes in the air, but from when we left home by taxi to when we were in our hotel room about four hours had elapsed.  Which was about the same amount of time as driving and catching the ferry, although the flight was less strenuous.
  • In December 2012 we drove again to Kuala Perlis and caught the ferry over to the main ferry terminal in Langkawi.
  • There are other alternatives, such as a ferry from Penang to Langkawi, directly; or driving to Alor Setar, and catching a ferry from near there. See blog on this.

WHEN

  • High season is supposed to be between mid-November and mid-April, which corresponds to the dry season -but we got low season prices in early April, and rain didn’t bother us. As I mentioned, we’d previously visited in August, and again we had no problems with the weather. In December 2012 it was often overcast, and rained sometimes, but it wasn’t a problem – however, prices are far higher in high season, so it really isn’t worth coming at this time, unless you have no choice. Car hire in December was RM90 a day for a smaller car than we hired in April for RM70 a day. Accommodation is also far more expensive – perhaps 40% more.

ACCOMMODATION

  • Langkawi has changed quite a bit in the intervening four years. Now there is a vast range of accommodation available – from very cheap to very expensive (resorts), and many choices in between.  Cenang Beach is the mass tourism area.  There are a lot of motels now, homestays all over the island, and you can even stay in a caravan at a beach. Or you can camp at the government fruit farm, mentioned below. Homestay seems to mean that the owner lives in part of the building, and has also built separate (often en-suite) rooms with separate entrances, so you have little interaction with the family. They are like motels.
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You can rent this caravan at the beach

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caravans

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a “homestay” – battled mosquitos for two nights

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another “homestay” – much nicer – and had mosquito screens

GETTING AROUND

  • Car rental is cheap – from RM40 or so a day for an old car in poor condition, RM70 for a newish car in good condition, and motorcycle hire is also available.  It seems you can also rent bicycles.  If you rent a car, check the tyre condition before you drive off, too.  They will also give you a road map, most likely.  Of course, there are taxis; and buses exist, but I saw very few, so you’d need a lot of time.

This one year old Proton Saga cost RM70 a day to rent, and RM50 deposit, in April 2012.

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A tiny Kia Picanto with 93,000km on the clock – RM90 per day in high season

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If you park in Kuah they have a parking voucher system – you can buy vouchers in the Panasonic store. I have never seen it enforced, but the vouchers are cheap, anyway.

DRIVING

  • The standard of driving in Langkawi is better than in Penang, and there are not so many cars on the road, so driving can be quite relaxing.  As Langkawi is quite small, it doesn’t take very long to get where you are going.  I think it took about 40 minutes to drive from the crocodile farm in the north-west, to Kuah, the main town,  in the south. Cenang Beach to Tanjong Rhu, about 30 minutes.  A GPS is handy, as the maps you get are not so detailed.
  • Petrol is cost the same as the mainland, at 1.90 a litre.  In three nights / four days we used about RM40 of petrol for about 250KM – but put in RM50 as we didn’t want to be low on petrol on the other side of the island where there is no petrol station so near. (Yes, this happened to us last time.) In December 2012 we saw many more petrol stations – in five days, four nights we put in RM50 and did quite a lot of driving.
  • You are warned not to drive at night because of cows and water buffaloes on the road.  Cows are a tan colour, and not so hard to see, but water buffalo are grey, and hard to spot.

cows wander the roads at night

ATTRACTIONS

  • As a tourist there are some nice things to do, and the airport tourist office has brochures and maps, of course.  I’ll just mention a few activities.
  • Our favourite beach is Tanjong Rhu in the north of the island – but there are some other nice beaches, too.  And I have never seen jellyfish there – so you can swim in the sea.  As you approach Tanjong Rhu there is an open manned barrier for some reason.  As of December 2012 you are stopped and given a sheet of rules to follow. From the second time we stopped and showed we already had the paper, and then were waved through. The speed bumps on this road are nasty, and there is one secret unmarked one near one of the bends in the road – watch out if you don’t want to become airborne.
barrier on road to Tanjong Rhu

barrier on road to Tanjong Rhu beach

  • Another nice beach on the north coast, past the crocodile farm – which is quite fun, but hot.
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Pantai Pasir Tengkorak, I think

  • You can  also swim in waterfall pools in the jungle.

waterfall pool – the wet season hasn’t yet started, so water level fairly low

  • When we were there we could walk off into the jungle and not get attacked by mosquitoes – much.  We did get the odd bite, but nothing like the jungle, or even anywhere outside,  in Penang.
  • The government agricultural research facility – Taman Agro-Teknologi is interesting. They take you on a bus within the grounds to eat the fruit in season, and then drive you around, stopping to show you different fruit trees and landscapes.

Dragon fruit plants at the Taman Agro-Teknologi

  • And the Bird Paradise and Wildlife Park is worth a visit if you like birds.  Many attractions charge tourists a higher price than Malaysians. I dislike this, so I asked if I could get the lower price as I was a resident; and I showed my Malaysian visa.  I was charged the lower price, which was RM15 instead of RM22.  The tickets we were given had printed on them that they were children’s tickets. This question is worth trying everywhere there is discriminatory pricing.

one of my favourites

and this is a friendly one

  • There is far less litter than much of Malaysia. It was so nice to see beaches and jungle paths with the only litter being leaf litter.  This is so different from elsewhere in Malaysia.
  • You can fly micro-light planes at a spot on the perimeter road of the airport.

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  • There is a Thursday night market, and a Sunday night market in Cenang Beach area. We went to the Thursday night one. Half of what they sell is food, but also clothes, knick knacks, etc.
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Thursday night market

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  • Oriental Village in the west of the island.

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  • Oriental Village is really just like a craft village with the cable car, restaurants, and a hotel. The cable car is the star attrraction. You can read reviews here. In high season, arrived at 10AM, the starting time, and already there was a very long queue.  There is no guidance as to how long one will have to wait. Plus, one member of a large family might wait in line, and just before boarding the rest of the family will turn up.  This can really slow down the queue. The adult price is RM30 for a ticket, but if you pay RM50 extra per person you can jump the queue – but not so many people were doing this the day we were there.  A major problem is that the cable car is often suspended because of the wind.
part of the queue for the cable car

part of the queue for the cable car

VIP queue - extra RM50 per person, please

VIP queue – extra RM50 per person, please

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  • It is a pleasant enough place just to wander around, and there are other attractions too, as shown in photos below.
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it’s nice just to wander around

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shops selling clothes, souvenirs, and there’s even a Zon Duty Free shop.

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you can rent Segways

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flying fox

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or take a duck tour

  • I really enjoyed the island hopping tour.  We found one for RM25 per person from an agent along the Cenang Beach road, with a 9AM pickup from accommodation, and a 1PM drop off.  As we were staying on Jalan Pantai Tengah it was only five minutes by van to the launching beach. First you visit an island with a fresh water lake in the middle, which is a ten minute walk from the jetty, and you can swim and/or hire a paddle boat. Then you go to a spot where you can see eagles flying. Finally you disembark again at an island beach where you can swim for an hour.  There are too many photos to display here, so please see another blog I wrote on island hopping.
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About five minutes walk uphill, and five downhill to the lake.

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RM20 to rent a paddle boat – but guess what – they are all rented, so you have to rent a solar “powered” one for RM30. Bait and switch. You still have to paddle as the “power” is almost non-existent.

plenty of eagles to see

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we had an hour to swim and laze on this beach. Guard your belongings against the monkeys!

FOOD AND DRINK

  • Food is more expensive than Penang and it is much more expensive to eat out, and there is less variety.
  • Since we live in Penang we didn’t really see the point in spending a lot on food. In April 2012 we had a big breakfast at the hotel, which was included, and ate fairly lightly later in the day. In December, there was no breakfast included or available where we stayed, so we ate some fruit and chocolate we’d bought, and had an early lunch.
  • The biggest variety of restaurants is in Cenang Beach. Kuah, the main town, of course has restaurants, too, as do the various malls. And there are the usual hawker centres and roadside stalls.
  • It is difficult to get enough vegetables. There are markets around the island, however, where you can buy them.  Or ensure you have a hotel buffet breakfast to ensure you have your daily allocation of vegetables.
  • We enjoyed fish and chips on the north coast, at Scarborough Fish and chips.

English style fish and chips

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The menu – very reasonable for Langkawi – but it is on the north coast, so perhaps not so convenient. Good to visit after the beach as you can use their shower, and change.

  • Very basic restaurants charge quite a lot for each dish, perhaps RM20 – RM30. There were a few restaurants that had food not available in Penang, and thus of interest to us, but the prices were way too high for an open-air shack where mosquitos would eat you alive at night. If you spend a tiny bit more you can eat in much nicer restaurants. We particularly liked the Little Mexican, and its charming hostess, Karima.  We ate outside, and there were no mosquitos there.
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at the top of Jalan Pantai Tengah, on the right hand side.

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fish fajita – delicious

  • Restaurants close quite early, so try to get there before 8PM. Rasa (Malaysian and International cuisine), on the main Cenang road, seems to stay open later, and is popular, good, and a similar price to other restaurants.
  • Of course, Langkawi is tax-free for at least alcohol and tobacco products.  There are many duty-free stores, and Cenang prices are about the same as Kuah.  It also means restaurants often charge a lot less for alcohol, too. A can of Royal Stout cost me RM1.80 in a store.  Sparkling wine costs RM30 and up, and champagne RM150 and up. For more, read this on Langkawi’s tax status.

this cost RM47 – the view somewhat more per night

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beer prices in a duty free store – cold or non-chilled are the same price

COULD I RETIRE HERE?

  • I think it is too quiet for me to retire here, and too isolated – you can’t just drive onto the mainland and go somewhere.  And I would miss the variety and low price of food in Penang. Vegetables are a big hard to track down in Langkawi, and eating out is a bit expensive in Malaysian terms.  There is not such a variety of things to do.
  • Certainly the tax status of Langkawi is attractive, though.  As a result, you can afford to drink alcohol in restaurants.  And Malays are much more relaxed about alcohol than elsewhere in Malaysia. The chocolate selection in shops is good, and far cheaper than the rest of Malaysia. The driving standard is better than Penang even though some drivers have yet to discover indicators in their cars.  And police leave you alone – I have never seen police roadblocks there. The beaches are quite nice, and are swimmable with no jellyfish in north that I have noticed.
  • A local Japanese lady we spoke to said that the two downsides of living in Langkawi are you really need to speak Bahasa, and for some hospital treatment you have to go to the mainland – Penang etc.
  • However, if you wanted a very quiet life, perhaps it would suit you, if you had no medical concerns. Bahasa doesn’t strike me as too difficult to learn.

A moving experience. (When I moved to Malaysia I wish I had brought…)

WHAT TO BRING:

Short answer – everything you can.

It is quite cheap moving from the UK to Asia, probably because many goods are being shipped in the other direction, and there is plenty of space on the ships when they return.

Especially, bring kitchen items, oven, dishwasher (very expensive here), mattress and bedclothes, furniture, DIY items. Electronic goods tend to be cheaper here than the UK, but furniture, crockery, glassware, etc. may well cost far more here, if you can even find what you want.  If you have possessions you like, it can make a lot of sense to bring them.

So bring as much as you can, and as long it is used, if you have an MM2H visa, it should be free of duty. Don’t leave any unused space in your container.

Of course, it makes a lot of sense to come here with the minimum, and not ship your goods until you have  decided both you do want to live here, and where you want to live.  This will take at least six months, and perhaps a year or two.

SHIPPING AND DELIVERY OF YOUR POSSESSIONS:

If you ship your goods before you settle here, be aware that if you use a reputable  international company, and have paid for a door to door packing, delivery, and unpacking service, it should go quite smoothly, although you will still need to supervise the packing, and especially the delivery and unpacking on the Malaysian side.

Pick up for Malaysian delivery, in London

Pick up in London for storage in the UK

They take care of the paperwork, so there is nothing you need do about that, and once the delivery date is set, be at home, with at least two of you – one to watch the unloading from the lorry, and one to watch the delivery into your house or apartment.

On delivery in Malaysia, I watched in shock as six delivery men formed a line spaced about six feet from each other, and started to throw boxes marked “fragile” from the truck along the line to the last man, who was to load the trolley with them. I soon put a stop to that. So these men need supervising.

If you decide to ship your goods before you have chosen your home, you will find that there are no storage facilities here.  So you will either have to keep your goods where you are living – fine if you have the space – or rent an apartment for your goods.

Moving locally is a whole other matter.  It seems impossible to rent a lorry so that you can do it yourself.  But finding good local removalists is very difficult, at least for a reasonable price. You can book a lorry and the number of men you think you need for the job, but you do need to supervise closely.

moving locally

This will cost upwards of a few hundred ringgit. But for many of my things I didn’t trust anyone else, so I made multiple trips by car, in addition to using the lorry.  As I have moved around a bit I have also found that the lorry drivers seem to have very little idea of the roads in Penang, despite them living here, so I have had to have them follow me.

Some lorries have no roof, so if there is any possibility of rain on your moving day, ensure the one you hire does.

hope it doesn’t rain

Your estate agent can help with organising the utilities, post etc. If you are using TM for your phone and or Internet, they can take weeks to transfer the connection, and they will still charge you even though you had no connection.  When you complain you’ll get a refund. So, go into their office and stress it is urgent. When we did this in their main, Burma Road, office,  it took two days – and they gave us a free new phone, even.

If you live in a condo you’ll need to inform management, and security, about your moving, and probably the number plate of the lorry.

So, there are a few tips.  If I recall others I will add them, but it has been a while now since we last moved.

A nice daytrip from Penang – Kulim Canopy Walk and Penang Bird Park

On a sunny day, this is a pleasant day trip.  Pack a picnic lunch, or BBQ if you are ambitious, swimming costume, towels water, hats etc. You don’t need hiking boots, as flip flops will do – although shoes would be better. No liability accepted etc. etc.

The general idea is to visit the recreation area and take the canopy walk, then optionally swim (?) or splash around in the nearby river, and after picnic next to the river.  Later, head back into Penang State and visit the Bird Park in Butterworth.  It’s a short drive back across the bridge to the island, thereafter.

And check the site for current information: Tree Top walk. There are plenty of sites with information, so I won’t bother repeating it.  And besides, I was there twice in 2010, so my information could be a little out of date. Another site about tree top walk.  And check the route, too – I don’t entirely trust this map.

Another site gives the coordinates of Sungai Sedim Recreational Forest as 5°24′49″N 100°46′49″E

map

And check the latest on the bird park, while you are about it.

Kedah map

In light traffic it takes about an hour and a half to two hours to reach to the canopy walk. Park near the river where you’d like to picnic later.  There are toilets, and you can change into or from a swimming costume when you wish.  Then walk through the arch and up the road for a few minutes to the actual entrance, where you pay the admission fee.

entrance arch

You can see a map of the walk.

canopy walk diagram

Just don’t get shot.

A few photos of the walk

Entrance

a river runs by

the forest you are walking through

quite high

If you are lucky you might spot hornbills

sometimes you see wild hornbills

one of a pair of hornbills

After doing the canopy walk you can return to the car park, and then swim in the river.

the river near the car park

Well, soak, or play in the river would be more accurate.

it’s quite shallow, but quite a strong current in places

butterflies on the rocks near the river

a lot of butterflies

After your swim, a picnic by the river is nice.

Then drive back to Butterworth for the Bird park. Check what time the shows are so you can see one if you are interested.

bird show

http://www.penangbirdpark.com.my/

Bird Park (Penang) Sdn. Bhd. Jalan Todak, Seberang Jaya, 13700 Perai, Penang, Malaysia.

Tel : 604-399 1899 Fax : 604-3991899