driving

Penang – the traffic is getting worse, but the drivers are getting better

Drivers here are becoming more polite.  Often they will wait until I walk across a driveway before they come out, rather than taking priority.  Drivers more often let you in than before when you come out of a street into a crowded road, or when changing lanes. They use their indicators more.  As the roads become more and more jammed, politeness makes it much easier to cope.

However, there are many issues that need to be addressed.

When either driving or walking you need to look both ways when crossing a one-way street. Bicycles and motorcycles, (and occasionally cars),  often ignore traffic flow direction.

In the paper, someone was caught and fined in KL RM5,000 for dangerous motorcycle riding – riding the wrong side down a street.   Well, I see this tens of times a day – if the bikes are actually on the road rather than the footpath.  A bike was beeping me the other day as I appeared to be in his way as I walked along a footpath and he approached from behind.

this is a one way street, in the direction of the arrow on the road

this is a one way street, in the direction of the arrow on the road – as you were told when you were a child – look both ways when crossing the road (even if it’s a one-way road)

Footpaths are a great place to park, too, you can see.

very successfully blocked the footpath

very successfully blocked the footpath

 

double blockage

double blockage

But when cars park on the footpath you are often forced to walk onto a busy road.

no consideration - there were legal parking spaces on the road

no consideration – there were legal parking spaces on the road

Another article in the paper has someone from the Road Traffic Department union suggesting everyone install dashcams in their vehicles to record traffic offenses and then emailing the recordings / images to the department.  Just imagine!

The first time I have seen a police roadblock locally for a very long time.  They only stop cars without valid tax stickers. And for bikes the same, and not wearing helmets.

roadblock

roadblock

 

They installed a couple of ridiculous traffic lights on the road to Straits Quays.  So, to avoid stopping for no reason, one could simply veer  left, then right, and carry on – so now they have put in those white barriers you can see to ensure you waste your time.

the road from Straits Quays

the road from Straits Quays

And finally, some cute forklift parking.

what's the countable noun for forklifts? A bevvy of forklifts? A traffic of forklifts?

What’s the countable noun for forklifts? A bevvy of forklifts? A traffic of forklifts?

 

two forklifts, one parking space

two forklifts, one parking space – well done

 

 

Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show – November 2013 (KLIMS)

If you are considering visiting the motor show – http://www.klims.com.my/– as I write this it is the last day, so it might be difficult.  But after my experience there a few days ago, I am definitely thinking of going again next year. This year it ran from November 15th – 24th, with weekday tickets costing RM15.

KLIMS November 2013

KLIMS November 2013

In September I visited the Frankfurt Motor Show, apparently the world’s biggest show, and I enjoyed it, but it was so crowded – much more so than my visit in 2009 – and so big that it took from opening around 9AM until 5PM to visit every hall.  For the last hall I visited, Audi, I had to queue for over 10 minutes. KLIMS is relatively small, with four halls, so my friend and I saw everything in about two and a half hours. And, perhaps because we started at opening time on a weekday, there were not hordes of people, and it was easy to see the cars.

There appears to be no canteen or cafe – very different from Frankfurt, where there are plenty of bars selling beer and sausages, food stalls selling all sorts of things, and cafes.

KLIMS lacked many exhibitors – Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Renault etc. – but these are way beyond the possibility of most purchasers here, including me, so it didn’t particularly worry me.  The makers who were represented tended to be the more affordable ones.

Most exhibitors followed the traditional concept of adorning their cars with sexily dressed girls, and it was often hard to photograph a car without the girl  – who then poses for you.  In Frankfurt this appears no longer acceptable, and most girls are dressed like office workers.  Compare this photo from the IAA in Frankfurt in September with this one at KLIMS.

IAA - Frankfurt 2013 - showgirl is in blue

IAA – Frankfurt 2013 – showgirl is in blue with VW

Showgirl and Ford at KLIMS

Showgirl and Ford at KLIMS

There is not so much else to say, so here are some photos.

They didn't actually do anything - just went up onto the stage

They didn’t actually do anything – just went up onto the stage

NS4

NS4

the mirror is an electronic camera, so you see the display on a screen in the cabin

NS4 – the mirror is an electronic camera, so you see the display on a screen in the cabin

concept car

concept car

Isuzu were very keen to explain their vehicles

Isuzu were very keen to explain their vehicles

There were a few lorries too - with an 11 litre engine!

There were a few lorries too – with an 11 litre engine!

and only a couple of Chinese manufacturers

and only a couple of Chinese manufacturers

and some colourful cars

and some colourful cars

including Hello Kitty cars

including Hello Kitty cars

Honda had a contest, and I thought once I reached 11,300 I'd beat my friend, so stopped - but he got 11,500!

Honda had a contest, and I thought once I reached 11,300 I’d beat my friend, so stopped – but he got 11,500!

I found this car interesting

I found this Honda interesting

the Honda's steering

the Honda’s steering

an electric shuttle bus

an electric shuttle bus

b

another Honda

between ssome halls you cross the river - it's quite nice

between some halls you cross the river – it’s quite nice

Proton were there

Perodua were there

and the escalator led up to the classic cars

and the escalator led up to the classic cars

many of these were for sale, but the price was not displayed

many of these were for sale, but the price was not displayed

nice!

nice!

not sure how you open the doors in a crowded car park

not sure how you open the doors in a crowded car park

Looks a bit like an Aston Martin - but is a Ford

Looks a bit like an Aston Martin – but is a Ford

20131119 (74)s

another Ford

yet another Ford

yet another Ford

and a somewhat earlier model Ford

and a somewhat earlier model Ford

A few of the exhibitors handed out show bags, and almost all had brochures, so a show bag was handy for carrying them.

Frankfurt is supposed to showcase new technologies, and this year there weren’t any major new ideas – it just seemed to show an evolution of previous ideas.  Before were petrol – hybrid vehicles, and now plug-in electric vehicles.

KLIMS didn’t really show anything major either, but it did show some fun concepts, cars within many people’s price range, it was a nice size, and not crowded so you could easily see the cars. I enjoyed it a lot.  Luckily I had two coffees just before I went in, so I survived the lack of cafes.

A Penang solution to errant biscuit purchasers

JULY UPDATE

I haven’t noticed a police presence for a few weeks.  But so far I haven’t seen people blocking the road with their cars, or been caught in a jam there.

——————–

On Burma Road there is a shop selling traditional Chinese biscuits which is very popular, and the customers park their cars inconsiderately, thus blocking traffic so badly there is sometimes a traffic jam back to George Town.

2013-04-07 09.31.49

the shop when closed

Of course, it is far more important to the customers not to have to walk far from their cars than the massive traffic jams they cause, and the waste of 15 minutes to half an hour of each driver’s time to get through the jam. Not to mention the problems they cause the local churches and residents.

But others did not think so. Initially the police made this section of the road a tow-away zone.

2013-04-04 14.24.44

And then they set up a semi-permanent police presence on location, where three policemen/women sit under an umbrella to deter errant parkers. It seems to work.

2013-04-04 14.24.49

I have heard that a car park will be built nearby for the shop’s customers – but this will mean they will still have to walk a little, so we’ll see how effective this is.

Oh, here are the cause of all the problems:

biscuits

biscuits

Penang parking

The aim of this blog is to give the general idea about parking a car in Penang – it is not a definitive guide to all prices and all locations.

Gurney Plaza parking

Gurney Plaza parking

In Penang your choice of parking is as you would expect.

On the road

  • either free
  • or at parking meters – you’ll need coins, and the price varies, but is perhaps 1 sen per minute.  Quite often the meter will be broken – I carry a sign to put on my dashboard to cover such a possibility.  You can park there, and if an attendant happens to come around, your sign saying “broken meter” should save any problems.  Attendants do occasionally come and check meters, so it is better to pay, and be back before the meter expires.
  • but a third possibility is that you will be charged by the half hour by someone who hangs around the area, probably on a motorbike, but sometimes on foot.  There will be a sign that tells you, but in Bahasa probably.  Either the parking attendant will come and you tell him how long you want to pay for, or you will find a docket under your windscreen wiper.  Depending on the area it is usually 30 or 40 sen per half hour (half hour being the basic unit of time for them). It is best to hunt down the attendant and pay before you go. Otherwise, sooner or later you will get a hugely inflated bill in the post from the council. of course, if you park in such a place and you have no docket under your wiper when you return, then you haven’t been noticed, and you have just parked free.
  • another possibility is that your bank will have a few dedicated spaces for customers, and you can park free there for a certain amount of time. Examples are HSBC across the road from Queensbay Mall, or CIMB in Northam Road area.
  • and finally, around Megamall in Butterworth, and in some places in other parts of Malaysia, they have a coupon system, where you need to go to a shop and buy a book of coupons for parking. You then mark the starting time of your parking, and put it on your dashboard. In Megamall last time I was there it was about 20 sen half hour. And which shop can you buy the coupons from?  You’ll have to ask someone nearby, or in a shop. Again, there will be a sign in Bahasa telling you this is the system.  Look at other people’s dashboards to work it out.

Parking Areas

Shopping malls, hotels, open parking lots. Sometimes it is free, sometimes there is a flat charge for parking, and sometimes it is time based. A few examples.

  • Tesco and Giant supermarkets – free
  • Botanical Gardens – free
  • Many businesses have parking within their premises, and it is free
  • Cold Storage in Island Plaza – RM1 per hour from memory
  • E&O Hotel RM6 flat rate until 10pm, RM10 after 10pm, but RM 1 higher the day before holidays and weekends, and on holidays and weekends.
  • Gurney Plaza – RM1 for three hours on weekdays, then RM1 per hour. Weekends and holidays – RM3 for three hours and then RM1 per hour. You can also pay with your Touch ‘n Go card, but pay an extra 10%
  • Queensbay Mall – from memory the same as Gurney Plaza
  • Hotels in Batu Ferringhi – usually free

Bear in mind that Malaysians hate to walk, so if you are prepared to park a little further away and walk, you may be able to park free. And if you are attending a festival, it makes a lot of sense to park a little further away, and avoid monumental traffic jams when you leave.

Parking Fines.

You may received a parking fine if you are caught illegally parking.  This would be either from the council, or the police. Many people ignore the council fines for years, but if you don’t pay the police ones you can’t renew your local driving licence or car registration, so you’ll need to pay at that time, if not sooner – or such is conventional wisdom.  A police fine is probably RM30.  If you want to contest it, they are not very friendly, and letters you receive will be in Malay, and will ignore any questions you’ve asked that they don’t want to answer.

Parking in Penang I

Apparently in Kazakhstan they are even more selfish than Malaysia. They have a website – I parked like an ass.

But drivers in Penang still do excel in this regard. Whether it is quintuple parking outside the convent school and causing a jam a couple of km back; parking on the footpath forcing hapless pedestrians to walk amongst cars doing 60kph; or parking motorbikes across an entrance so that you have to use an entrance further away, or clamber over the bikes, they do pretty well at considering no one else but themselves.

Here are some photos of their sins:

Nice – I really like walking amongst fast moving traffic, or stumbling in the dark over uneven pavement on the left of the car – these are you choices if you’re walking.

Had he parked further over at least half of the footpath could have been clear – but hey, who cares about pedestrians?

Actually this is in KL. Well, the bike is completely blocking the footpath, but at least you can safely step into the road, because of the illegally parked car.

OK – not a parking issue – guy in old car decided not to wait until the next traffic light to cross the intersection – but the police passing on the motorbikes (no car can get through) do nothing

The footpath was totally parked out – if you are slim you can squeeze by.

The footpath was totally parked out – if you are slim you can squeeze by.

He’s parked right across the corner on the footpath – must walk onto the road with all the cars and motorbikes to get past – preferably wearing light coloured clothes so you can be seen

Same again – I just have to wait until the car door is closed to squeeze by.

Another parking free for all – except for pedestrians.

Where do “B” number plates come from?

I appears the purpose of the footpath is actually to put pot plants and park on – if you want to get past you can step down into the drain, though, or perhaps jump.

I didn’t try very hard to get these photos, and just took them over a short period.

Ah, a car from KL double parked in front of a double parked Jag, also from KL

Ah, a car from KL double parked in front of a double parked Jag, also from KL

2013-01-25 14.09.42s

It took a six point turn in the end to turn right into this street, after reversing because it also became one lane, and a car came the other way.

Langkawi – December 2012. Holidaying here. Retiring here?

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

20121221 (27)s

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.

http://tropicalexpat.com/retire-in-langkawi/

Langkawi – some observations from my latest visit. And could I retire here?

Tanjong Rhu Beach

I have just returned from my second holiday in Langkawi in about three and a half years. So, while I cannot claim any vast knowledge, I would like to make a few observations.

For a newer version click the green button.

http://tropicalexpat.com/index.php/2018/09/19/cleaning-my-air-con/

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.
  • This time 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.
  • There are other alternatives, such as a ferry from Penang to Langkawi, directly; or driving to Alor Setar, and catching a ferry from there.

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.

ACCOMMODATION

  • Langkawi has changed quite a bit in the intervening three 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.

You can rent this caravan at the beach

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.

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.
  • Petrol is slightly cheaper than 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.)
  • 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 black, 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 there are no jellyfish – at least at this time of year – so you can swim in sea.  As you approach Tanjong Rhu there is an open manned barrier for some reason – just slow down and drive through.
  • 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.

FOOD AND DRINK

  • Food 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, so we had a big breakfast at the hotel, which was included, and ate fairly lightly later in the day.
  • 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.
  • We enjoyed fish and chips on the north coast, however.

English style fish and chips

  • Of course, Langkawi is tax-free for at least alcohol and tobacco products.  There are many duty-free stores, but probably the cheapest are in 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

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. Certainly the tax status of Langkawi is attractive, though.
  • 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.