50 Years in 24 Boxes

With two weekends left until Diane and I pack the car and vacate what used to be our primary residence,  it was time to load our remaining possessions into a truck and drive them to a storage locker. Thinking it makes more sense to keep the stuff in California than ship it away to a city we’ve never visited and have no address in, the plan is to have our awesome next door neighbor drive the boxes to a local port after we’ve been in Malaysia for a few months. Fortunately, a reputable storage locker is right around the corner, making transport quite easy. Providing a free truck with move-in, the property managers were very friendly and we chatted about our move while providing payment information and buying a lock. Needing only an 8 X 10 locker, it seemed  odd how 50 years of my life (14 married)  all crammed into 24 boxes in a locker the size of a large closet. They assigned us #532.

Utilizing the amazingly successful app known as OfferUp.com, Diane and I continue to liquidate almost anything we can sell and people drive from as far as four counties away to buy crap. Cleaning out the kitchen ware of everything but the important stuff like some plates, coffee maker and basic silverware, someone came and paid us $95 for a bunch of pots, pans, some utensils and various other little sundries, bringing our total to almost $4,500. Not realizing we even owned that much, the pile of unsold items gets donated to our local Hospice thrift shop this week and fits into about two medium boxes. Unfortunately, nobody seems to want our custom-made Italian microfiber maroon loveseat that we bought in Canada. Waiting almost two months for the delivery, we paid over $800 and can’t even dump it for $50. Unable to find a buyer but needing something to sit on anyway, I scheduled a Salvation Army pick up four days from our departure date. So much for anyone understanding quality merchandise.

innovativeHaving spent most of the afternoon packing, Diane headed downtown for the last $77 haircut of our California life. Those of us whose hair is mostly not on the head will never understand how women’s salons get away with this highway robbery but we never argue because everyone wants to look their best and here in the land of the overpriced, that’s a small price to pay. Since dinnertime was fast approaching and I had nothing much left to cook with anyway, we decided to check out one last yuppie dinner in trendy downtown Walnut Creek.

Unfamiliar with almost any dinner outside the house that costs more than McDonald’s, I had no clue where to go so Diane chose a restaurant that’s actually stayed in business since 2008. Equivalent to a 114 year old life in restaurant years, we lucked out because it was only 4:30 PM which means “happy hour” menu items are in full swing. (Nobody in The Bay Area ever eats before 8 PM due to 90 hour work weeks and four-hour commutes). Using the tagline “Innovative California Cuisine”, Diane and I looked happily at each other when we saw reasonable prices but realized they hadn’t yet taken away the lunch menu. Understanding quickly why nobody in America can ever retire early, we grimaced at the prices and realized once again why we chose Southeast Asia over insanely overpriced California. Not to mention how nobody can retire here at age 50 with less than $10 million or more.

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Thankfully, the “happy hour” menu proved worthy of a reasonably priced dinner. Defying the true meaning of offering lower priced food meant to be paired with $100 worth of expensive California wine or $15 martinis, Diane ordered a $3 Corona and I chose a 22 ounce Widmer Pale Ale for $6. Already half drunk from our wimpy little alcoholic binge, the waiter brought out three appetizers big enough to be called main dishes in most suburban enclaves. Starting off with calamari served the way it should be, the plate included deep-fried battered lemons and a sauce unlike most that tasted like a southern style clam bake dip. Fried to perfection and steaming hot, we decided this place was OK

calimari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seemingly delicious enough to order some more we decided to order some Fried Ravioli and beef tacos. Here’s the thing: Living in a state whose demographics have now rendered those not of Mexican ancestry as minorities, Mexican food is more common that rice anywhere in Asia. Normally shying away from generally unhealthy and flavorless slop made from corn and flour that lies in your stomach like a rock, the menu picture looked good and the dish turned out to be uncommonly good for Mexican small plates. Loaded with copious amounts of real flank, homemade guacamole and a salsa that rivaled the best I’ve ever had, we devoured it quickly and jumped into the ravioli. Dripping in mozzarella and piping hot, we learned the benefits of being old farts and arriving early for the Seniors Discounts.

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Almost two-thirds through my large beer our stomachs were so happy we finally gave in and ordered a main dish from the Milleniums-Pay-Way-Too-Much-For-Everything Menu. Although lamb should be plentiful in Southeast Asia, it’s not usually the most popular menu item here unless it’s an entire rack and that might cost us a large chunk of our escrow proceeds in most cases. Disguised with cooking show speak for sweet purple sauce, the pomegranate shallot reduction sounds great after you’ve had some alcohol so we went for it. Deliciously tender and surprisingly well done, the meal was complete and all for the basement bargain happy hour price of less than $80 including tip. Yes, I’m saying that with the sarcastic tone it sounds like since we spent time later that evening perusing Georgetown eateries with incredible looking food for about one tenth the cost.

lambRarely indulging in delectable desserts, especially in trendy places where they line up for 45 minutes, I decided it was OK to finish the meal at Walnut Creek’s busiest ice cream creation specialty store. Specializing in two homemade cookies layered in ice cream and dipped in coating, Cream served us the best dessert I’ve had since living here and almost made me wish I could eat it regularly and still have an HDL to Total Cholesterol Ratio that ranks half as low as the average white male for heart disease. Luckily, I hate chendol and with the extra palm oil, noodles and other goodies I’ll soon be eating it looks like I’ll be at that awesome new gym they just opened in Penang quite often. (Mine had strawberry cheesecake ice cream between two oatmeal raisin cookies).

dessert

Finishing out the last two weeks and a few days before hitting the road, one of the hardest parts is last. Figuring out what to pack and how to get it into two suitcases and a backpack might be harder than all 114 pages of paperwork we filed for our MM2H Visa. Wishing it was as easy as packing the computer, printer and keyboard into one more box, I’ll begin this fun task next week. Staying out of Diane’s way will be the key issue here since she derives more stress from packing than just about anything I can think of. And making it more confusing is the four weeks we’ll spend in Canada before booking plane tickets to Malaysia. Understanding Canadian weather is akin to one of those formulas you see on the whiteboards of A Big Bang Theory Episode. Good luck to both of us !!

Now Seeking Comments on How to Pack for Southeast Asia when you don’t plan on leaving for a while; Please share your comments if you have experience

Coming next: One last American destination post for the road

 

18 thoughts on “50 Years in 24 Boxes

  1. Mari

    You won’t need much in the way of clothing but you’ll need more swimwear than you ever believed possible. Male shorts should be longer rather than trunk style and you’ll need at least one pair of long trousers for temples and formals. Most clothing you can buy easily and cheaply here and there are plenty of tailors. Our walking boots fell apart because of the humidity, if you’re bringing yours pack them with those dehumidifying sachets when you get here. You’ll need a sweater for going to the cinema and Diane may need a pair of socks too – I always do. Cinemas can be freezing and we have had to resort to using a blanket. And don’t forget to bring something a bit warmer if you’re planning to visit Japan or Korea in the spring.
    Malaysia has Sephora and most brands of cosmetics but sometimes you have to look hard for deodorant that doesn’t have skin whitener in it. Can’t get TCP and we brought Ibruprofen with us because it’s cheaper.

    English books are readily available and there are booksales such as Big Bad Wolf when new books are sold at 8rm.

    Malaysia is an easy country to live in and I hope you’ll be happy here.

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi Mari
      Thanks for all the great advice. We have packed almost everything just about to the way you’ve described here and have heard the malls and theaters are freezing so we expect that. Getting the money together along with a place to live ahead of the visa approval appears to be the biggest hurdles so far as we’ve now heard conflicting information from our banker and our MM2H visa agent

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      1. Mari

        You might have difficulty signing a long term lease without the magic stamp but that could work to your advantage because it’ll give you more time to find out exactly where you want to stay. I can’t imagine you’ll have a problem getting a short term let at a serviced apartment.
        Not sure about opening a bank account without it. One thing you can expect is that you’ll only be allowed one cash card with a Malaysian bank even though it’s in two names. You’ll probably also need to deposit money if you want a credit card. HSBC has a presence here, if that helps, because but I actually use a local bank.

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      2. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

        Hi
        Thanks again for more great info. We were thinking the same issue on the shirt term rental; our HSBC debit card works in any currency anywhere in the world where there is an HSBC and I’m confident someone will take cash for payment.

        Obviously we do have an HSBC premier account (based in my last sentence) and I placed some extra cash in there above the Premier limit for the very purpose of using it should we not be able to open the account. We withdrew some Canadian cash and the FX rate was astoundingly great for an ATM card, probably due to the Premier account status. (Within half penny of the actual trading rate)

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      3. Mari

        Ps Suncream if you’ve a favourite brand. Not a huge amount but maybe four or five tubes. All suncream is expensive here. I use my rash vest a lot both for swimming and use it with the leggings for other sports under shorts when I don’t want to keep slavering the lotion on.

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    2. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      PS
      Pardon the ignorance of my readers but can you please email us offline via the contact page so we can keep you handy in our Malaysia contact folder fir Gmail?

      Where do you live currently? We are looking to meet people as soon as we arrive in order to help us acclimate.

      Thanks !!

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  2. Stacey

    Love this post! Looking forward to following your blog after the move and hopefully meeting you guys in 2016 once were both settled in our new homes! I’m packing items in duffle bags, “easy to store” is my goal. I’ll have one suitcase, my backpacking bag, duffle bags and a couple of boxes for teacher things. I have to pack for a couple of seasons but at least my Bay Area wardrobe will be just fine in my new place. Hoping I have as much offer up luck as you guys but so far people are flakes!!

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi Stacey
      Thanks for writing; Please refresh me about where, why and when you’re going? Will you have this email? If so, I’ll bookmark in the blog contact folder and make some comments for future meetings !! Even though I’m organized, it gets hard to keep track of who is where and we’re trying to ensure we keep email contact with anyone that we can be friends with in SE Asia; especially Bay Area people; please write us via our contact page !!
      Thansk

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  3. Moani Hood

    I love Cream! Lol. I’ve only been to the one in Livermore though. I love your entertaining take on the Millenial world 🙂 made me crack a smile! I guess I would fall into that category 😉 my husband would probably love that restaurant. I’ll have to recommend their happy hour. Good luck with the end of your packing! Sounds like you guys are just about ready 🙂

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi Moani
      They have Cream in the UK? How awesome. I try very hard not to indulge in that kind of stuff and fortunately, my labs show it’s worth it. I’d rather be active at 80 and sacrifice now then live out the older years fat, tired and lazy so I’m willing to keep it down to a treat every now and then. In fact, it’s 6 AM on Saturday and I’m off to the gym for one of the last three times I’ll be going here in Walnut Creek. Thanks for the comment !!

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      1. Moani Hood

        Oh I live in the Bay Area as well 🙂 I meant Livermore, CA. It is definitely a rare indulgence. I eat vegan mostly so they have vegan cookies and soy ice cream there which are just delicious.

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  4. Mike

    I would say ditto to the first comment about clothes, even if you are not an “Asian” size and need XXL clothes custom made they are so cheap it is not worth bringing too many clothes “just in case”.
    If you are into hiking and the outdoors and plan to explore any national parks etc I would suggest bringing a good pair of hiking boots though, I have n’t seen any decent outdoor stuff here in BKK (compared to Aus.)
    From what I’ve heard from female expats it is worth Diane bringing an adequate supply of cosmetics and other girly stuff to last until she finds a local brand she likes …apparently this sort of stuff is important to the fairer sex ? 🙂
    PS after jumping from Education to tourist to short term non-0 visas for 18 months or so, yesterday I finally got my 12 month retirement visa stamped into my passport ….no need to deal with immigration until late May 2016 !

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    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Hi Mike
      Thanks for all the great advice. Fortunately, Diane and I will never be XXL by USA standards but we might be two sizes bigger than normal in Asia.
      Diane is not very “girlie” and she’s already placed an order on Sephora.com for all her cosmetic needs (only $61 USD worth so not bad). We both love hiking and outdoors stuff although getting used to it in the heat will be harder. I’ve got plenty of micro fiber, dry-fit and other misc stuff for wicking moisture; been to the outdoors stores more times than I want to admit recently. I plan on living in t-shirts and very light short sleeves so I’m not concerned about style very much.

      Glad to hear you finally got a “retirement visa” but one year is way too short and is certainly one reason we went through 114 pages of paperwork for MM2H.

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      1. Mike

        Yeah, unfortunately Thailand only gives you one year at a time but as long as the paperwork is in order you should n’t have any problems renewing it indefinitely…mine was done in about 8 minutes, plus many hours of waiting around.

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  5. kspoints

    How to pack, hmmm, excellent question. We moved out of our house last June and in with a family member for two months before coming to KL, so similar situation. We had the luxury of being in the same city though, with access to our storage unit, as we figured out what we didn’t want/need. Since we had never been to Southeast Asia at all, we were at a complete loss for what to do. I think you guys have a big advantage, having been in SEA generally…even though Penang will be new.

    In terms of clothes, I brought way too much. I thought I might need long sleeve clothes, due to needing to dress conservatively. I feel completely comfortable in short sleeve shirts though. So there’s half a box we didn’t need! (I also thought I might be working, so I brought a lot of professional clothes…wasn’t able to work, so there’s another box and a half we didn’t need!) My advice on clothes is to be very judicious about what you’re bringing, you can probably get by with less than you think you need. You’ll likely not have space for very much anyway, most of the living spaces we’ve seen here are small by American standards.

    Incidentally, we were in Penang for the long weekend (Labour Day on Friday and Wesac Day on Monday). We loved it and wish Micah’s employer was there instead of KL! It just felt like more “real” people lived in the city, well George Town anyway since that’s where we stayed. KL often feels like a tourist’s playground, especially in the area where we live. We noticed a lot of tailors that offered custom clothes for very reasonable prices, so should you find that you need more/different clothes, that could be an option! I also think we ate (really well!) all weekend for about $80.

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