With a million thanks to our incredible relationship manager in Kuala Lumpur, I’m happy to report our Malaysian bank account is open ahead of our arrival. Defying conventional wisdom by accomplishing this from overseas, we’ve eliminated one major concern and can now concentrate on finding a place to live without worrying about financial issues. Flying directly to Kuala Lumpur on June 30th, we meet with our banker the next day where he’ll present us with checks, an ATM card and a credit card application form. Staying one extra day to catch up on sleep, we’re then off to Penang two days later where we’ll stay at the Copthorne Orchid Hotel for 11 nights while looking for a condo rental. Proving my research paid off, we opened a premier account in the USA a few months ago, giving us the go ahead to open overseas accounts before arriving. Granted you need the right relationship manager and ours was a referral from an old contact on the now defunct MM2H forum. Oh, and the KL to Penang flight on Air Asia was $19.50 USD.
Concentrating on getting a place to live, we wrote another one of our old contacts and she referred us to a local property agent who has a stellar reputation. Contacting her by email, she wrote back less than 10 minutes later and agreed to show us properties and drive us around the area as soon as we arrive next weekend. Reading up on the process, it seems a bit lengthy and costly by our standards with property agents wanting one month’s rent as a fee and landlords demanding upwards of two to three months rent up front as security deposits. Wishing to cover all the bases, we decided to look at third-party owners looking to rent properties directly which could potentially save money. Finding no shortage of availability, we used the forum on InterNations and found a few possibilities. Setting up meetings the following week, we hope to wade through the process relatively quickly without getting ripped off. Of course, our ethnic advantage should help and we even booked a meeting with a European business owner dedicated to helping expats.
Meanwhile, we traveled across the southern route of the province on Monday and made one last 600 mile journey back to our friend’s house in South Surrey, British Columbia, where we’ll squat until Sunday. Having made it over 2,000 miles with the check engine light still illuminated, it seems we proved the useless nature of idiot lights. Agreeing to fly to Vancouver, my brother in-law’s son is meeting us in Vancouver and taking the car back for his own use. Charging $1.00 on the required bill of sale, it’s probably the deal of the century as it seems our 2002 Honda CRV will last another 100,000 miles with only minor servicing. Possibly the best large purchase in our marriage, it’s off to the land of strange side driving although we have no intentions of buying a vehicle for some time, if ever. Along the way, the temperature reverted back to normal from Alberta (stupid) and we’re preparing for a record heat wave this weekend with inland temperatures hovering near 40, (114 Farenheit) absolutely unheard of for Canada. Guess we better get used to the discomfort (minus the humidity) .
Enjoying a few more days of Southern BC beauty, we strolled back to the beach yesterday and unexpectedly spotted some great wildlife. Perched high in the top of a tree right on the promenade pathway were a pair of majestic bald eagles. Ironically, most Americans have never seen one of their primary their national symbols since they’ve been long gone from most of the contiguous 48 states. Diane got spectacular pictures on the camera but as usual, she’s sleeping while I’m sitting at Starbucks typing so for now you get the crappy IPhone picture and I owe you the real stuff later.
Also spotting a songbird just siting there posing and some lil’ ducks wading around in the bay, the one day of overcast was good practice for wildlife viewing. Aiming to make it to Tasikoki Reserve in far eastern Sulawesi some day, Diane is starting to get the hang of her new camera, although she still refuses to read any manuals, instructions or anything else that would take away from her determination to always be smarter than me. (Which she usually is)
Having used the Great Canadian Western Road Trip as a combination extended visit with family and advance preparation for the move, it’s been a long five weeks and I’m already tired. Finding early retirement more taxing than work at times, we snicker at our friend’s constant comments on how hard her job is (she works from home which most working people can’t do so to us it’s not that bad). But we listen diligently in exchange for the awesome squatting privileges and expect she’ll be the first person to actually visit us in Penang.
So where do we go from here? We head to YVR, Vancouver’s enormous and crazily busy international airport on Sunday night bound for a 2 AM departure for Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, our first choice for intercontinental travel to Asia. Knowing they wake you up two hours into flight to serve dinner which always corresponds with the local time at the destination, I expect a few hours of dozing, a lot of offline Spotify music and perhaps a crappy movie or two before touching down at 6:30 AM, one day later of course. Paying slightly more for the better connection, we only spend 90 minutes at the airport and then board a connecting Cathay flight for Kuala Lumpur. Expecting to jump right into the local time, we’ll collect our possessions, find a taxi and use the Malaysian Ringetts we bought in Calgary to pay for cab fare to the downtown core. After collecting our banking materials, executing one large exchange from USD to MYR and staying one extra night to catch up on sleep at the luxurious Traders Hotel, it’s off to Penang to begin our new life as Experimental Expats. So far our net worth is in the black thanks to the stock market’s performance since we left but even with that, we look forward to a new life in an affordable country (Canada does not qualify).
Cheers from Southern British Columbia and thanks to everyone for following along.