Vietnam has got easier. – (Countdown: 10)

After my second trip to Vietnam in five years I find it’s much easier to travel there now than before.

  • With many passports now you get a 15 day visa on arrival
  • There are no intrusive biometrics on arrival – no fingerprinting, no photos – they just stamp your passport – so nice and relaxing
  • It’s very  easy to get around using the Grab app and it’s a similar price to Malaysia, and much cheaper than taxis
  • You use the same app for Vietnam for Grab as Malaysia
  • Most cars used by Grab drivers are quite good – bigger and more comfortable than a Myvi.
  • There are more and more hotels
  • More people speak better English

Just saying – and with direct flights to Hanoi and Saigon from Penang, it’s an easy trip.

 

 

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Terima Kasih, Thank You, Shey Shey… – – (Countdown:11)?

post-election poster

This is the first time ever I have seen an election poster after an election, thanking the voters. I assume the last language is Tamil – I can read the others, but not Tamil.  I have seen a few of these posters around in the last couple of days.

coaches everywhere

Today (Sunday) and yesterday there were a huge number of these coaches parked around the Gurney area – blocking the roads and causing jams yesterday, but more considerately parked today, and thus not causing jams.

Mothers’ Day run this morning

Mothers’ Day run this morning

Mothers’ Day run this morning

Mothers’ Day run this morning

Very often there is some themed run on a Sunday morning, early.

a nice looking rooster

a nice looking rooster

a nice looking rooster

Chickens and roosters used to live near a small temple at the beginning of Kelawei Road.  Mostly I no longer see them, but today a rooster is around.

poster on a bus stop

Wednesday was voting day, and a public holiday. Then the new government declared public holidays on Thursday and Friday.  So tomorrow, Monday, is finally a business day.

Malaysia has a new government! – (Countdown:12)?

For the first time since Malaysia became independent 61 years or so ago, the federal government has changed, due to yesterday’s election.  I hope this is a good thing, but I won’t comment on it.

Penang will have the same party as government as it has had for the past two terms, so I imagine they will continue with their infrastructure projects.  I am looking forward to their completion.

So if the federal government abolishes the fake news legislation I could continue this blog.  We’ll see.

Malaysian election banners – (Countdown: 13)

This week elections are being held in Malaysia for national and state legislatures.  I won’t comment on any of this, but simply post a few banners I photographed on a walk around Pulau Tikus this morning, and also a few from the east coast of Malaysia that I photographed last week.  But understanding a little about politics here, I find some aspects of these amusing.

 

East Coast of Malaysia

East Coast of Malaysia

East Coast of Malaysia

East Coast of Malaysia

East Coast of Malaysia

East Coast of Malaysia

East Coast of Malaysia

And from a stroll around Pulau Tikus, Penang, this morning:

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang – I’ve never seen garden gnomes here.  But there are a couple of goats.

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

Pulau Tikus, Penang

The fish are biting – unfortunately, it’s me they’re biting – a trip to the Perhentian Islands, May 2018 – (Countdown: 14 )

OK, this is my fifth annual trip to the Perhentian Islands.  I’ve got to say something different, or there’s no point.

So, what’s new?

heading east

Firstly, this time we drove.  If you have a car this is the easiest option. It’s good for the car to get a bit of a drive – usually I either catch Grab, or drive very short distances.  Leaving Saturday morning at 6.45AM from Pulau Tikus meant a lot of traffic once over the bridge.   Better to leave on a Sunday or say, 6AM.  It’ll be light once you reach the end of the motorway.  Thus it took an extra 30 minutes driving to get to Kuala Besut – the departure point for boats to Perhentian.  That is, this time it took six hours – with stop for coffee and a detour due to road blockage for an election parade at Machang.  Alternatively you could fly to Kota Baru and catch a taxi or bus, or catch a bus from Penang. All involve more baggage handling than simply driving, and take more or less the same amount of time.

360m kilometres – with diversion. 359 on the way back.

Before you enter the wharf you have to pay the marine park fee.  If you are over 55 you can pay the senior fee, which is half the regular fee. RM15.

speedboat to the island. RM35 one way – no set time for departures – just when there are enough people

For many resorts you catch a speedboat from the wharf.  Tuna Bay resort has its own larger boat – it’s much slower, but smoother.  This time it was the roughest I’ve ever experienced on the speedboat and the boat bounced so much I was injured.  We boarded last, which meant we were closest to the bow – where it was worst.  Try to stay near the stern if it’s rough, and find something soft to sit on – a backpack with clothes in it, a spare life jacket etc.

water taxi routes and prices from Mamas on the big island

While discussing transport, this time we used the water taxis a lot.  Walking through the jungle one way is OK, but by then you’re hot and sticky – it’s just easier – and far quicker – to catch a boat back.

boat to the village

We caught a water taxi over to the Malay village on the small island so we could walk around the island.

the village mosque in the distance, and to the left the wharf

the beach to the left of the village

We started off anti-clockwise, heading through the village and past the mosque and over the bridge – the same way we went last year.

the start of the walk

the start of the walk – so far the path is good

Then we continued on in the direction of Long Beach.

the path deteriorated

sometimes it was under water

mostly the path was overgrown

It was hot and sticky going.  A few mosquitoes. We kept moving to avoid bugs as much as possible.  As we approached Long Beach there was the option of continuing along the path, or scrambling over some rocks  – we tried the latter, but it was very tough and slow going, so we returned to the path.  Thus we wasted about 15 minutes.  It looked like the path would continue around the back of Long Beach so we took a shortcut through a resort.  Excluding our rock scrambling, the walk was about one hour.

Once near the beach we took a shortcut through a new resort

Long Beach

Long Beach

But by the time we’d reached Long Beach we abandoned our plans to walk around the island – we were hot, sticky, thirsty, and tired.  The paths were just not good enough or well maintained enough for our liking.  We drank, swam, and then caught a water taxi back to the big island.  Shoes were a better choice than flip-flops.  No need to take anything, as it’s only an hour.  But you do need flip-flops for boarding the water taxi, so you need a day pack to carry them when you’re walking.

Now, those biting fish –

lots of fish

some living coral

A couple of times I was bothered by fish nipping at my shoulder or ankles while snorkeling over the reef.  I just moved on.  I find it better to keep moving, too, rather than staying in one spot.

Still on the biting thing, we walked around to the Perhentian Island Resort. It’s got a beautiful beach and lovely soft sand.  But swimming there little biting things seemed to be annoying me in the water.  The same as last year. I have so many bites on my body after coming here – I counted at least 60 bites.  I don’t know what to do about that. UPDATE. Apparently these invisible biters are called jelly bugs. They are normally eaten by fish, but in this part there are few fish. And there are far more jelly bugs around the full moon – which was the day before.  If you have oil on your body you will be less affected.  But they also detox your body, so that is some consolation.

the beach at the Perhentian Island Resort

We caught a water taxi back to our resort after, rather than brave the jungle track.  It’s not hard, but, well…

Back at our resort

The boat back to the mainland.  8AM, 12 noon or 4PM departures, I think.

After disembarking the boat we had brunch at the April Cafe, and left Kuala Besut around 9.45AM.

April Cafe in Kuala Besut – a nice place to eat

April Cafe in Kuala Besut – a nice place to eat

The return trip on a weekday took five and a half hours, with a stop for petrol and another for lunch included. So, driving time, around five hours.  The traffic was much lighter than the trip out.

So, the infrastructure on Perhentian hasn’t changed much, but staffs’ service level has improved, and some resorts have been refurbished, and some new ones built.

Best of Penang – (Countdown: 15)

Living in Penang is a nicer than you expect as a visitor.  Here are some of the best things about living here.

  • If you live around Pulau Tikus / Gurney area you can walk almost anywhere you want to go – and there are footpaths
  • Grab is a very cheap way to get around when you don’t want to or can’t walk
  • It’s always t-shirt and flip flop weather
  • The people are friendly
  • The people are honest
  • The government leaves you alone
  • The police leave you alone
  • Motorists are not cash cows for the government
  • Parking is relatively cheap – RM1 per hour is a bit expensive
  • The cost of living is reasonable – especially some utilities like water and gas; and the cinema
  • Tropical fruit
  • Chip magazine, a Malaysian IT magazine, has become quite a good read
  • Almost any brand of smartphone is available
  • The airport is quite close and has some international flights
  • Some countries have consulates here
  • There are lots of festivals during the year
  • There are lots of different activities you can join in

 

Gurney Wharf Project progress photos No. 22, April, 2018 – (Countdown: 16)

I think progress is rather good.  Now the land has been created and filled in about as far as Pemenang Street – about two-thirds the way along Gurney Drive, with the exception of a channel of water between Gurney Drive and the new land.  On other parts they have dumped big piles of rocks – for the retaining wall? and big piles of sand or soil.

The plan shows that the area yet to be done is quite a bit wider and requires more in-filling. Still, it seems to be going well.  Here are a few photos:

looking out from Bali Hai

Looking towards Tanjung Bungah

looking out

looking towards George Town

Opposite Pemenang Road – more or less as far aas they have come

Opposite Pemenang Road – more or less as far aa they have come