Can’t find a baby monitor in Penang

If you’ve been following this site, you know all about how we’ve recently had a baby and how we went through all the necessary hoops to get him a new passport.  I’ll be sharing more about living with a baby in Penang in the coming weeks.  The first thing I want to share though is the incredible hole we’ve found in the baby market.  Why can’t I find a baby monitor in Penang?

I will admit that we did not conduct an exhaustive search for baby monitors.  We probably tried a total of eight retailers and malls to find one.  And came up with zero.  And it made me think, why can’t I find a baby monitor in Penang?

My Theory for no baby monitors

Years ago I was on a driving range with an American buddy in Bali.  As I was swinging away and launching my golf balls dozens of yards in to the distance, I saw a Balinese man on foot collecting the balls back into buckets, to be sold to the next customers.  I pointed him out to my friend.  He said, “In the US you’d see a vehicle driving around scooping up all those balls.”

It’s true.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person collecting the balls on a US driving range on foot, and doing it by hand.  We tend to have technological solutions to our problems.  There are even robots who do it for you now.

Human solutions rule in Indonesia, and, as I’m learning, in Malaysia as well.  A problem might have a technological solution, but a human solution might be just as well, and often cheaper.

Who needs them?

The problem being solved by a baby monitor is to hear your baby crying from another room.  Well for many homes that we’ve been in, that hasn’t really been much of a problem.  In fact, you can probably hear babies crying in other homes from your own home.

Nannies, babysitters, and relatives are available to tend to your child if you can’t.  There is a whole culture of ah-ma nannies and house keepers.  There are reputable (and otherwise) agencies that will find live-in child care from all over Southeast Asia.  I’ve met many Indonesian and Filipina nannies when I take my own kids to the neighborhood park.

We need a solution

Well we can’t get a baby monitor because we can’t find anyone who sells them.  And we don’t want to hire anyone to watch our child.  So what will we do?  I’ll share my solution later this week.  Stay tuned.