Our Mini Expat Photo Essay

With the end of what felt like the longest holiday season ever, Penang returned to a calmer and much less crowded state. Literally thousands of cars from everywhere in Malaysia left in droves, restoring the traffic situation in our little tourist beach town back to normal. Taking only 18 minutes, we hopped back on the bus for the first time in weeks to resupply for our last few days before heading to Australia. Leaving with an obnoxiously loud bang, the raucous teens that arrived for their Annual Obnoxious Festival flew through the main road doing wheelies, running all the red lights, disrupting traffic and scaring the shit out of scores of pedestrians and locals. Apparently that’s the idea according to our Uber driver so mission accomplished and lesson learned by us. (Never be here for New Year’s Day). Anyway, the excitement returns in less than a month as Chinese New Year festivities begin and we’re looking forward to seeing it celebrated in Asia and not the usual lame Saturday night parade through San Francisco. Flying home on February 5th, we’ll be back just in time.

Reflecting back on our first six months of expat life in Penang, I realize there are hundreds of stories and thousands of pictures I could have shared as meaningful and fun blog posts. But somehow the days slip away and I’ve never yet reached the level I hoped I’d get to with the blog once we arrived. For that I apologize. As a small consolation, I picked out one picture from each month that tells a little story and decided to share them as the last post before our month-long work exchange trip to Australia. Unsure how much WiFi is available and not certain how many megabytes of space we’ll buy on our local SIM card, I hope to post once or twice a week but if I don’t it means we’re too busy having fun. After all, early retirement shouldn’t be a stressful time so for now, here’s a small glimpse of our past six months

July:
Our First Wet Market Trip

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The closet wet market is in Tanjung Bungah and opens daily every morning. Since we don’t have a car we don’t buy fresh meat or seafood but eggs, veggies and fruit are always a short bus ride away and make a nice alternative to the crap we found in our local California markets.

August:
Our favorite refreshing drink

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Diane’s favorite drink in the world is coconut juice carved fresh from the source. Found everywhere in Penang, we always stop for a quick and super cheap refreshment. And the dingier looking, the better as far as we’re concerned.

September:
Malaysian Sign Interpretation

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Ah, Malaysia; the land of contradictions. Almost too ironic to be real, do you think the person who parks his motorbike in front of a clearly marked sign that shows “No Motorbike Parking” feels some sort of entitlement? Unsure why they even have traffic signs, lanes, or any rules at all, Malaysia takes the cake as Southeast Asia’s most horrible drivers. Breaking every rule, somehow the traffic deaths are much higher in Thailand but we attribute that to the drunk driving that causes most of the accidents. Thankfully, Muslims can’t drink.

October:
Our favorite street art

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Easily one of the best reasons to visit Georgetown, Penang’s street art is one of the best collections anywhere. With over 95 streets having some sort of mural, sculpture or painting, we’ve yet to see them all and never get tired of walking the streets. As a UNESCO World Heritage City, visitors have plenty of interesting sights to choose from.

November:
Miss Loy Kratong

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Spending our first US Thanksgiving in Thailand afforded us a turkey dinner we wouldn’t have found in Penang but also happened to fall during Loy Krathong, one of the biggest and most colorful festivals in Thailand. Celebrating in Chiang Mai along with thousands of onlookers, these adorable young girls made my list of favorite pictures.

December:
How to fix a chair in Southeast Asia

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Ingenuity. In Southeast Asia, things are a bit different from what westerners know. When a chair breaks, most people don’t simply run to Wal-Mart and buy a new one. (even if there was a Wal-Mart here they wouldn’t buy a new one.) Rather, three pieces of anything lying around in the food court where we took this picture will do just fine. In fact, it’s more comfortable than before.

Hoping everyone has a healthy and happy 2016, please look for future posts from Australia as Diane and I try our first work exchange program in Tasmania, Australia. Cheers for now and thanks to all our recent new followers.

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