unfinished blogs – no. 11 – What health ideas have worked for me and what haven’t

I’ve been writing this blog for three years this month, and have accumulated many partially written blogs that remain unpublished. I may as well just publish them as is, and if I ever feel inspired to finish any, do so later.


June 26th, 2013

Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.  This article is about what works for me.

fasting –
cupping –
PLR, acupuncture, reiki –
colloidal silver –
sun gazing –

oil pulling –





Alternative Media this week

Reiki in the news.

Not alternative media, but alternative treatment publicised in mainstream media.

Interesting thoughts or articles I noticed from the alternative media this week. I don’t endorse or dismiss the ideas – and in many cases I have been aware of these ideas for years, but perhaps there is additional information or there is something new.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – episode 1

It’s the tropics – everything grows like weeds, right?  Couldn’t be easier growing things?!  Er, no.

The easy way is to see what your neighbours are growing in pots, and just grow the same.  But with the exception of bougainvillea and a couple more, I had more interesting plants in mind. And I want mostly things I can eat. Oh, and everything should be organic. I want to be able to grow food – and I know it would be much cheaper and easier just to buy it at an organic shop. Following is my experience from May 2011.

I have no ground as everywhere is paved, so apart from a 30 square foot raised brick bed I had made on a concrete slab, everything else I have to grow in pots.  And I move the pots around if I think the plants will be happier with more / less shade, cover, etc. I painted the concrete floor, walls and planter box with a special white paint that reflects the heat – it is manufactured in Ipoh and they deliver.  This means I can walk on the floor and not burn my feet, the plants are cooler, and the house is cooler.


30 square foot planter box, shade cloth and lattice

I’d buy local seeds, sow them, and absolutely nothing would germinate.  Even in my raised bed, nothing would germinate.  I would compost the fruit and vegetable remains, and then put the compost in my raised bed.  And from this little seedlings appeared.  I would nurture them, and they’d grow to about 1″ or 2″ tall, and then they’d wilt and die.

LESSON 1. It’s too hot.  I put up a pergola with lattice, and put shade cloth over the top of the garden bed.  Pots could also be shaded.  I put another layer of shade cloth directly over the raised bed for the hottest part of the day.  And then I watered frequently to keep it all cooler.  Doing the same kind of thing with seeds in seed pots brought some success – carrots, cabbages,  cherry tomatoes…  Shade cloth, watering to keep cool.

So now I had some plants growing up from my compost.  I often did not know what they were, and neither did the nursery man.

LESSON 2.  People tell you there are no seasons and you can sow seeds / plant plants anytime. I don’t believe it.  Passionfruit I grew from seed became about 9″ high and then stopped growing for months – then suddenly around October they took off and grew rapidly all over the lattice.  Now, mid-February, I have had one flower, and a fruit is now growing.  I have 20 plants, so I hope many more will follow. Similar experience with other plants – the time of year makes a difference.

LESSON 3. Talking about passion fruit – if you want to grow the vines, all you have to do is buy the fruit at the market or even Tesco recently (buah markisa – hooray, I can count from 1 to 5 in Malay and I know the word for passionfruit), and then save some of the seeds.  Just have them dry on a dish. If you wish you can rinse them with water to remove the clingy pulpy stuff (sorry, technical language).  While at Tesco, or an organic shop, buy mung beans – other legumes that can sprout may also work for you.  Then put a seed or two in tiny pots, along with a couple of mung beans.  The mung beans will increase the success rate of germination from about 15% to about 90%. Once they have grown enough, repot, and repot until in a pot of at least 12″ diameter.  Full Malaysian sun seems to be OK once they are 9″ high or so. This is where I am up to now.  More info as I observe it.

I tried many seeds in the raised bed – okura, tomato, carrot…. Nothing germinated.  But one day these incredibly strong seeds appeared to germinate – and so quickly – bitter gourd.  I had tried sowing them in this spot, but they also could have come from the compost as I had bought the vegetable at Tesco, eaten them and composted the seeds.  Of course, at this time I had no idea what they were. They are climbers, and eventually they took over the entire pergola.  They fruited like crazy for two months, and I cooked them, froze them, juiced them, and eventually cut down the vines and composted them once their lifespan was complete.  The biggest success so far.

BITTER GOURD RECIPE FOR DUMMIES: Even I could do this.  Cut in half along the fruit and remove seeds. (You can save these if you wish).  Then cut into 1/4″ slices.  Heat a frypan, put in olive oil (and later butter if you wish) and then bitter gourd. When reasonably soft, throw in three eggs per person, and remove from heat before eggs cook too much.  Can add chilli and pepper.

LESSON 4. Seed sowing times/months  I have had success with. As mentioned above, although I have been told you can grow anything anytime, this has not been my experience.  You may be successful at other times, but so far this is my experience:

  • Bitter Gourd. Sowed seeds  in mid-August in planter box, mid September fruit started to appear on vine, 2nd October harvested first bitter gourd. I had three vines. Thereafter the fruit produced copiously for about two months. You can pick green, like the locals, or wait until it turns yellow and it is sweeter.

bitter gourd on vine

  • Cabbage. At the end of September I sowed Gardenic cabbage seeds.  Nothing germinated. On 28th October I sowed Copenhagen cabbage seeds, and they germinated in about three days.  A few days later I transplanted them to pots, and a few weeks later some of them to bigger pots.  They seem to prefer shade.  They are growing very slowly, and here are a couple of photos:

cabbage after germination - November 2nd

February 15th - the biggest and smallest from those seeds

  • Cape Gooseberry. TBA
  • Carrot. TBA
  • Chilli. TBA
  • Lentils. Seeds seem to germinate any time, and grow until about 12″ high, quite weak and spindly looking, and then wilt and die.  I gave up after three tries.
  • Mung Beans.  They germinate after only one or two days in the ground, grow quickly, and then flower, and produce pods with mung beans in them.  All quite fast.  I simply use them as a companion plant for passion fruit as they hugely increase the germination rate of passion fruit seeds, and help them grow well.  Mung beans are great for sprouting and eating in salads, but it is far too much work to grow the volume you need, and even organic mung beans are very cheap to buy.
  • Okra. Absolutely no luck so far germinating them in the planter box or in seed pots.
  • Papaya. Very easy.  it seems any time is the right time. See Lesson 5.
  • Passion fruit. Can germinate seeds anytime, and plants will grow to perhaps 6″ to 9″, and then just stay the same.  But from about October my plants suddenly started growing quickly.  First flower mid February, first fruit – two days after flowering.

passion fruit plants 19th, November with mock orange to left

  • Tomato. My holy grail. Most days I eat some. I love tomatoes, and started growing them first when I was a child.  But is it too hot in Penang to grow them?  No, but it is difficult, and so far the crops are very sparse.   I tried sowing tomato seeds – both from packets I bought and seeds from tomatoes I had bought in Tesco.  None germinated.  But plants did come up in the planter box from the compost, which I discovered in late August. I nurtured those plants, transplanted some into pots and some I spread throughout the planter box.  The plants in the planter box grew much faster and produced better tomatoes.  The tomatoes were not so big, but they were delicious.  By late November I was picking tomatoes at the rate of about 4 a day. After a couple of weeks the fruit flies discovered them.  So I wiped each baby tomato that appeared with white vinegar on a tissue – and had no more problems with the fruit flies. I had tried spraying the tomatoes with vinegar, but it was killing the plants from the overspray onto the leaves.  Cheap vinegar is fine.

tomato plants


  • Cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes may be easier, grow happily in pots – and they are much less bothered by pests. Early January germinated cherry tomato seeds from some cherry tomatoes.

cherry tomatoes - biggest and smallest from same seeds. Germinated early January, now 15th Feb.

LESSON 5. The closest I have to 100% success, no matter what you do, is papaya.  But papaya in a pot, so possibly no fruit, unless you eventually put them into the ground, or find a miniature variety.  I just compost the seeds from any papaya I buy at the market or Tesco; or just save the seeds, wash and sow them.  And up come papaya seedlings.  Repot during/ after rain or when cool.  I like them as decoration, anyway, but am hoping for fruit one day.  I also have three in my planter box that are 10 feet / 3m high.  So far little fruit grow, but the trees shed them and they don’t grow to maturity. Also, papaya need both male and female plants to fruit. Apparently with several plants, I have at least one male.  Growing just one papaya, unless your neighbours have trees too, will mean it’s unlikely to fruit.

baby papaya - they germinate and grow so easily


Roller blades to Reiki – my spiritual journey

A few years ago I was living and working in central London, and enjoying most of what London had to offer.

Every (week) day I walked to work across Hyde Park, and had to cross Park Lane at the traffic lights at Upper Brook Street.  These lights are very long, so I used to ask for the timing to be right each day so that I arrived at just the right time for me to cross all the way to the other side.  And this is what happened – perfect timing to cross almost every time.  And I said, “thank you” after. But if I forgot to ask, a long wait. I didn’t realise it, but I was asking my guardian angel.  This is a topic of another blog.  But a small start towards spirituality.

Walking across Hyde Park

Being bored with jogging, I bought some roller blades and while practicing in Hyde Park one morning had a spectacular accident, and landed on my hip. I was limping around and walking with a stick, and it wasn’t getting better.

Physiotherapy helped, but after many consultations with doctors, and many x-rays and cat scans the best they could suggest was a hip replacement. But these only last 15 years, so I would have to have several operations throughout my life.

At this time I discovered acupuncture, and it was the first treatment that really helped and gave me hope. But it was expensive to continue for too long.

Soon after I moved to Malaysia, hoping the tropical climate would help.  The type of acupuncture I was receiving was not available in Penang. Then I heard a gentleman called Lee Crock talking on a podcast about an electrical device he sold called an energy cleaner.

energy cleaner

I corresponded with him a couple of times, and he said I could do the same with my hands as with his machine, but the advantage of his machine is that it requires no effort – and it can be used while sleeping, too.  I tried the procedure with my hands, and it worked, so I bought the machine and used it for a few months several hours a day – and still do now, several years later, while sleeping.  I still use the procedure with my hands sometimes. I recently learnt he passed away, about two years ago,  in 2010, and his web page no longer exists.  Anyway, I gradually got better, and returned to normal.  I could walk properly, and even run.

So, now I had found that I can use my hands to heal, and also a small electrical device.

Then a friend told me of some Reiki classes I could take locally, so I took several classes in 2010, practiced,  and became a Reiki master.  This is using universal energy for healing, and I use it on myself and on friends.  Mostly I use it remotely – it doesn’t matter where your subject is – with you, or 10,000 miles away.  Now I use it every morning, before I start the day.

Listening to another podcast while making a trip by car in Malaysia I first heard Dolores Cannon talking about past life regression therapy.Podcastsweb page The purpose of life is to experience – and while alive to help others.  You have perhaps 600 to 800 lives, until you have experienced all and have learnt what is necessary, and worked out the karma you have accumulated, and then you ascend, and no longer need to do this.   If you did not live a good life, then you will have more karma to work off in following lives.  Reincarnation is part of Buddhism and Hinduism, and was part of the doctrine of early Christianity, it is said, and in some groups it was still espoused a millennium later. See p14 for reference to reincarnation.

Dying is not a scary thing. There is no hell. You don’t suffer when you die, but go to a nice place accompanied by someone you know, see people and pets who have passed away that you’d like to see, and pass time very pleasantly.You review your life and what you learned.  At some stage you need to go into another life, and before doing so make a “soul contract” on how you will pass the next life, and when you will die etc.  Your soul goes into a body at birth, at which time the “veil” comes down and you cannot recall past lives, your contract, or anything.  But you have free will, and you don’t know your soul contract, so you may or may not more or less fulfill  the contract during the life.

There is karma you have to work through. And in some lives you will be a good person, and in others a bad person.  You will have lives where you are rich, others where you are poor, etc.  This gives a different slant on life. If someone is evil or does you wrong it is not up to you to punish them – they will have to work off the karma by doing good either in this life or a future life(s).  If you envy someone something, you can think it’s just their turn to experience having that appearance, talent, wealth or whatever it is.

What regression therapy does is use hypnosis to learn about significant past lives that are causing a problem in this life for a person, and then having the unconscious mind understand and eliminate the bad effects, and having the unconscious heal the person.  It can heal almost anything except
schizophrenia, and can’t so easily be used for children.

So I did a course with Dolores last year.  I have degrees in psychology, and have done hypnosis in the past, so it fits in nicely with my background.

So now I continue with meditation, Reiki, and regression therapy… And all this really started with an accident in Hyde Park one morning.

Driving survival techniques in Penang

As you pull out from your garage in your car, are you spoiling for a fight? Are you looking to cut up as many cars as you can, then give rude hand signs if they complain. Are you ready to out-intimidate anyone in your path, send any cyclists or pedestrians scuttling for cover, and push in right at the head of any queue you find? Are you prepared to swerve all over the road to keep those pesky cars you’ve outmanoeuvred where they belong – behind you? Are you ready to get there FIRST?

If your answer is, “no”, then perhaps driving in Penang is not for you.

Unfortunately, the standard of driving in Malaysia is generally poor, but in Penang it is appalling. A quick search on the web found this article: Penang Drivers!!  It seems a bit silly for me to describe what others ( thank you masterwordsmith) have already written about driving here in Penang, and written better.  I will just offer some suggestions about how to drive more safely and with less stress.

But, do you really have to drive?  Let’s examine the options.

  • Staying at home.  So far you cannot do Internet grocery shopping and await delivery, so you will have to venture out sometimes.
  • Walking.  This is possible safely as some places have footpaths. For example, on the ocean side of Gurney Drive. However, if you need to cross a road there will be no pedestrian crossing, or if one exists, it will be ignored by drivers. On occasion, to cross the road I have had to go and get the car to drive across.  In many cases cars and motorbikes will park on the footpath, blocking it so you are forced onto the road.  If it rains, cars will drive through puddles and you’ll be splashed. And there are many holes in the ground and uneven surfaces, so you must look at your feet while walking. In most cases and for most routes, walking is just too dangerous. Further problems are the danger of handbag snatching by a passing motorcyclist, and heat stroke if you are not careful and are prone to it.
  • Cycling.  Unless you are suicidal I suggest waiting until the government fulfills its promise of a round island cycle path.  However, unless it is physically separated from cars, it will still be dangerous.
  • Motorcycle.  Probably safer than cycling, as you have better acceleration and brakes.  But hardly what you’d call safe.
  • Taxi.  Unless you go out a lot, a reasonable alternative, if you don’t mind taxis. Many taxis are old, the drivers not particularly skilled, there are no working seat belts, and some try to overcharge.  However, if you use a taxi firm you trust, you can always be picked up on time, in a new car in good condition, and be treated politely and honestly. The price is reasonable for most places you’d want to visit on the island.
  • Bus. (Rapid Penang).  If you are in no hurry, and not carrying a lot, they can be OK.  They are cheap, air-conditioned, and the drivers helpful if they can be (they usually don’t speak English).  There are usually shelters at the bus stops, but a bus will often stop to drop you off or pick you up anywhere on its route.  There are not so many seats on board, so you may have to stand, the routes can meander all over the place so that it can take a long time to reach your destination and there can be pick pockets.  While waiting for the bus you again must be aware of whether the heat is affecting you adversely. I had to wait one hour once for a bus in the sun and ended up with heat stroke.  If I had a hat and some water I may have avoided it. Rapid Penang have web site,but it is quite basic.

If you think that driving is your best alternative, here are some ideas on keeping safe, and your stress levels down:

  • Keep in mind that it is quite cheap to repair panel damage, as long as you don’t use your insurance.  This should reduce your stress a little.
  • Drive defensively, yes, but also aggressively enough so you are not continuously bluffed by rude drivers who will take advantage of any perceived weakness to push in.  Remember, it is the aim of the Malaysian driver to arrive before the car in front of him/her.
  • Pick the time of day to drive if at all possible.  The roads are quieter Monday to Friday 9:30 – noon; 2PM to 4PM; after 8PM.  On weekends, the earlier the better, generally.
  • If you are turning, use your indicators (even if many don’t), as at least motorbikes sometimes pay attention to them – but you still have to check before actually turning if a bike is over/undertaking you despite all this.
  • When turning right the car behind may turn right at the same time and then cut in front of you – so keep an eye out for that.
  • Do let in other drivers from side streets in jams sometimes – it helps them, which may mean they help others, and it makes you feel a bit virtuous, thus reducing stress.
  • Of course, the bigger the vehicle, the safer you are in an accident, but it is more difficult to squeeze a large car through gaps, and to park it.
  • A GPS can be handy if you don’t know the roads, but also buy a map, and learn the roads as you drive. The GPS will often just send you by the main roads, which can be jammed. Once you know the roads you can think of better routes.

I also use a few spiritual procedures:

  • Make a most benevolent outcome (MBO) request to your guardian angel as outlined in another of my blogs.  For example: “I request the most benevolent outcome for a rapid, safe, stress free drive home. Thank you.”
  • If you meditate, try this. Visualise your car completely inside a pyramid of white light, that will protect it and its occupants from all danger, and keep the car running well. If you don’t meditate, try it anyway – it will only take a very short while to do.
  • If you know anyone who does Reiki (to be covered in another blog) ask them to use it on your car.  If not; many consider everything has consciousness – including your car.  Talk to it nicely, and look after it.

If you are driving towards Penang on the North-South Motorway, when you get near to the turn off to the Penang bridge you notice the driving manners suddenly deteriorate.  Look at the number plates – yes, Penang drivers.  Welcome back.

Good Luck – it’s a jungle out there!!!

A typical day…retirement in Penang

I have so much to do, I don’t know how I ever found time to work.

So, what do I do now I am retired?  A typical day for me will include some exercise, some study, some spiritual practices, eating out at least once, some Internet, some gardening, some DIY, some reading…

I wake up about reasonably early – dawn varies from about 7am to about 7.30 depending on the time of year – do some meditation, some Reiki, and drive the three minutes to the club, where I sungaze, swim, sauna, use the gym for  few minutes, walk along the beach, and then after a shower relax with a cup of coffee and read the paper with a lovely view of the sea.

A short drive home and then I’ll check my plants and water them.

After this it’s a bit hard to continue with the “typical” theme

  • We might walk over to the local market to get some fruit (mangoes, passion fruit, papaya, dragon fruit…)
  • Or wander over to a local dim sum restaurant.
  • Or I might breakfast at home on some fruit and home made yoghurt, and then go out for a buffet lunch at the E&O Hotel.
  • But if we are eating out or socialising in the evening, then I’ll eat lightly, probably at home.
  • If there is no shopping to do I will proceed with some study, some Internet, or a bit of DIY around the house.
  • There is always some gardening
  • And books to read
  • A couple of hours German study a day
  • I try to keep up with my blogging
  • And listen to podcasts on various subjects
  • Of course, there are plenty of day or over night trips to make if we feel like it, to local attractions or nearby towns,or even up to Thailand (a two hour drive).
  • An afternoon nap leaves me with plenty of energy to do whatever we choose for the rest of the day. This is also a good time for a fruit smoothie.

Every day is different, and I never get all that I want done in the day, anyway. It’s a tough life.

Hello from Penang

Most recent on top…

Miami Beach, Penang


There are many things I wanted to know about Penang and Malaysia, and couldn’t find on the web.  This blog, will, I hope gradually cover these matters.

The blog also helps clear out my brain of things I think, so I can move on and think of other things.


I try to write a new blog every three days – e.g 3rd, 6th, 9th etc. of the month

I update previous blogs with new information, but often don’t really bother marking what the updates are.  Sometimes I might use italics to distinguish new material.


Now two thirds through “Blogging for Dummies”.

In the future I hope to cover:

  • Why retire to Malaysia
  • Buying a house, a condo or renting
  • Selling your tax-free car
  • Gardening in the tropics – aka – growing stuff on concrete under an unrelenting sun
  • A typical day for this tropical retiree
  • Local restaurants
  • The German invasion of Penang – the sudden proliferation of German restaurants in Penang this past few months
  • Living with (or hopefully without) mosquitoes
  • 20 pence per hour is too much for parking!!
  • To Singapore by train
  • To Bangkok by train
  • Attractions in Penang
  • Day trips from Penang
  • Walking in Penang for the non-suicidal
  • Couch surfing
  • Sunshine is good for you – sunscreens are not
  • Making your own… simple recipes for stuff that’s good for you
  • Tropical fruit smoothies – so nice you don’t even put vodka in them
  • Interviews with expats and others of interest
  • Expats who don’t speak English (or Bahasa, Hokkien, or Tamil)
  • Can you live without the Internet?

and some more esoteric topics

  • I threw away my walking stick and started running after I learnt Reiki
  • MMS and me
  • My guardian angel helps me park
  • Sungazing?  How’s that working out for you?
  • Past life regression – gee, you mean I wasn’t a pharaoh in a past life?


Hi.  I’m new to this blogging thing.  And I am only half way through “Blogging for Dummies”, so I’m planning to edit this page once I know what I am supposed to be doing.

Tropical Expat