I’ve written about Thaipusam in the past on this blog. It’s a red-letter public holiday that is one of the Hindus’ most important days. It is a colorful festive display with most of the celebrations focused in four locations: Penang, Ipoh, Batu Caves in Selangor, and Singapore. Thaipusam is a really big deal.
It is also well captured on social media, especially Instagram. As a service to my readers, I’m curating the Thaipusam pictures that I’m finding on Instagram into a series on the Tumblr feed, livinginpenang-illustrated. The Thaipusam pictures can be found under the hashtag #thaipusam.
Find more images from Thaipusam on the Tumblr.
It’s that time of year in Penang. The malls are getting decked out in garlands and lights. The weather is supposed to be shifting from rainy to not. (Recent years have had local old-timers perplexed regarding weather) And the whole island is abuzz with activity. I’m going to leave off the shopping bit for another post. Today, let’s talk about all the festivals that are going on this time of year.
Nov 29-30 2014
We’ve just finished up the George Town Literary Festival downtown. It’s held at The Whiteaways Arcade, Lebuh Pantai. The venue is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Arcade is a bunch of shoplots with cafes and arts venues.
Sorry if you missed it. It’s a great opportunity for writers and readers to connect. Writers also have workshops t o help hone their craft. This year, there is a seasoned editor giving a lecture about what Publishers are looking for.
The funny people at Say it Like You Mean It offered up a pair of evenings filled with Original Music, Poetry, Comedy and just a good time. They perform year round so you can see where they’ll be appearing next on their facebook page.
Dec 6-7 2014
This isn’t the Annual Dragon Boat Festival that happens in June. This is another race, but just as popular and just as fun. Dragon Boat Teams from around the world will be gathering at the Teluk Bahang Dam. Photographers, I think this is a great opportunity to get a lot of color and culture. Get out there for some fun.
Dec 4-7 2014
After the day at the Boat Festival, stay in the North End of the Penang Island for this annual Jazz festival.
Check out this video of one of the performers coming this year
Tickets can be purchased online at TicketPro.
Just received this from the US Embassy.
U.S. Embassy Town Hall for American Citizens Living in Penang
The Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Consul General and other embassy representatives will hold a town hall event for U.S. Citizens in Penang on November 5 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm. Embassy representatives will discuss services offered for U.S. Citizens and answer questions from participants. Limited consular services (passport applications and notarials) will also be offered.
Venue: Penang Public Library, Training Room, (Bilik Latihan, Second Floor of the Library)
Address: JKR 2936, Jalan Scotland
Date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Time 1:30pm to 3:30pm
All town hall participants MUST RSVP by e-mailing us at [email protected] (include your Malaysian contact number). Participants will not be admitted without prior RSVP. Additional details will be provided after RSVP is received.
For American Citizens who cannot attend the town hall, there will be limited American consular services at the Dalat International School on Friday, November 7 from 9:00am – 12:00pm
Venue: Dalat International School – Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Tel: (04) 899-2105
Date: Friday, November 7, 2014
Time 9.00am to 12.00pm
If you will be visiting the Dalat School for consular services, e-mail us at [email protected] and include your Malaysian contact number.
So the big announcement is that a new Ikea outlet is finally being built in Penang. The announcement was made in Jan 2014 that the project was greenlighted for the popular Swedish home furnishings store to open a new location in Penang. This past week, the announcement was that Ikea would be the anchor store for a large RM 8 billion shopping complex. It will be located in Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan, on the mainland side of the new (sometimes called second) Penang Bridge.
The construction is expected to start at the end of 2014, with the first phase scheduled to be completed in 2018. This is going to be the shopping mall with IKEA. I know what you’re thinking. Phew, we needed another mall! Actually, that area is pretty empty (for now) and you’d have to drive 10 maybe even 15 minutes to get to a mall.
The second phase is scheduled to go until 2025 and will include high rise residences, an international class hotel, health care facilities, an international school and a branch campus of Britain’s University of Hull.
We’re all very excited to not have to drive to KL to go to IKEA. That’s where we get Swedish Meatballs!
One of my goals for this website is to provide a resource for those who are looking at Penang as a possible place to live. To that end, here is a list of the international schools that are here on the island. I have no association with any of these schools. If any representatives from these institutions want, please contact me and I can give your school some more space here on this website. Same goes for any institution inadvertently left off the list.
Find a list of International schools in Penang on LivinginPenang.com as well.
I sure would appreciate it if you could please help promote Living in Penang on Facebook by liking our Facebook page. It would help us boost our reach to be a better guide for foreigners Living in Penang.
What do I share on Facebook?
For the last couple weeks I’ve been finding links about the recent Malaysia Election, GE13 as it is sometimes called. My goal isn’t any political agenda — I don’t have a horse in the race, as they say. My goal is to help you guys who are living here, get a better grasp of the issues and the sides.
It certainly looks like the election story shows no sign of ending. Join the discussion and ask your questions here or on the facebook site. And Malaysians, please chime in. As expats we would really like to know what you’re thinking and value your opinions.
Family living stuff
I’ve been coming across deals and info about events for families. I am sharing them on Facebook. I hope to do more of that kind of thing, so if you’re interested in family activities in Penang, please click on the Living in Penang page on Facebook.
As I read other blogs, I’ll be sharing and liking them on this page as well. And I hope you do too.
THANKS in advance.
(You’re response should be, Ne’mine)
What is Living in Penang?
I’ve been thinking a lot about what this site, Living in Penang, should be about. I started out with a guide, with some suggestions on where to find furniture, dentists and hospitals. Those were good ideas to be sure, but I could not possibly list every dentist that opens, or keep track of those that close. I have also written some information about visas, in particular, my own visa process to register a Labuan Offshore Company.
There is informational posts about public holidays in Malaysia, as well as the surrounding countries. There are posts about practical things like getting a water filter, and flights in and out of Penang.
A food blog
As I thought about what it means to live in Penang, the first thought was the food. So I wrote about the different fruit that we have here. Fruit like red dragonfruit, durian and nona are quite new to us.
And nothing says Penang like the street food that we have here. It topped the list on CNN Travel for Asian Street food. I wrote about some of my favorite foods like char koay teow and roti canai. I also reviewed some restaurants, but that was not sustainable. I don’t have the budget to eat at every restaurant. (Although, anyone willing to feed me for a review, please contact me)
A language and culture blog
There are a few posts about languages here, particularly Bahasa Melayu. I would like to write more about these topics as I learn more. I have written some about the culture here. There are festivals and holidays that I can highlight more.
I’ve written about general culture pertaining to living here as a foreigner. I wrote about whether or not we should tip in Penang.
Who is the audience
I think there are three kinds of people reading Living in Penang:
- People who live here and are looking for information
- People who are moving here and want to know what to expect
- People who have friends actually living in Penang are curious about what their lives are like
I don’t prioritize between these groups, I want to satisfy all of you. So please help me out. In the comments below, let me know which category of reader you fit into, and what you would like to see more of?
This is the next part of the series about our road trip. Part 1 was the ferry ride to the mainland and then driving malaysian highways. This post is about driving our Malaysian car in Singapore.
Look around Penang and you will see that Penangites have smartphones. It is just part of everyday life. The two popular smartphones are the iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy family.
Recently I decided to look into upgrading my iPhone 3 GS to the iPhone 4S.
Apple Switch store
The official Apple reseller outlet is called Switch. In Penang, Switch can be found at Queensbay, Gurney Plaza, Straits Quay, Sunway Carnival Mall and Jaya Jusco BM. I went there thinking I could get a new phone and stick my old SIM into it.
I was told that I can only buy one with a Celcom plan included. They no longer sell iPhones without carrier plans. I was disappointed and decided I might be able to get a better price with one of the carriers.
I went to Digi first, simply because they were the closest store at the mall. To say it is complicated, is an understatement. They have something called the Smart Digi plan which is a data plan. It took me a while to finally understand that this is a data only plan and voice and text will still be ala carte, as in additional fee per month.
iPhones also have something called iDigi plans which will give you certain amounts of data, voice, and text for the levels. The more you pay monthly, the less you pay initially for an iPhone.
My head was spinning from the complexity. And to be honest, my wallet was reeling from sticker shock. So I put off buying a new phone that day — and the next three days I went to the various stores.
Several online outlets have places to buy used phones in Malaysia. Some of them aren’t even used, in fact they are places for little cell phone shops to list their excess stock. I have some queries to some people who are offering iPhones at half price. I will have to post at a later date about how well this works (if at all).
A few days ago, this is the scene outside my daughter’s window as I was getting her up from nap. Forgive the fuzzy photo, but that is a monkey out her window.
Behind our backyard is jungle. It’s pretty awesome, especially hearing the birds in the morning. We also have less people around us. We have more greenery, and that’s a good thing. But I guess there’s the downside of having the possibility of monkeys in our yard.
Monkeys are wild animals. We can’t be sure they aren’t carrying diseases. We can’t be sure that they won’t harm us, or the children. We are not pleased that they are invading into our backyard and into our space.
So what can we do about it?
The prevailing piece of local advice is to smear belacan around the edge of the yard. Belacan is shrimp paste. In Indonesia it is called terasi. The smell of it is pretty awful and pretty potent. When we lived in Indonesia, we had to have anything made with terasi cooked outside, not inside because the smell overtook the whole house.
Apparently monkeys cannot stand the smell of belacan either. One old man said that he has seen a monkey get the stuff on his nose, and rubbed its nose against a tree until it bled just to get the smell off.
My plan is to put the stuff around the edge of the yard along the fence, and up on the eaves of the awning, which is where the monkey got up. It is currently raining, so I can’t do it right now. I will keep you updated on how well this works.