So once we had a great place to live it was time to set out for some basic furnishings. Not realizing this was easier said than done, we took the bus and went to Tesco, the island’s leading superstore and the place everyone told us is the obvious choice for all one’s basic needs. Visualizing a British version of Costco, we expected to find all the necessities of home furnishings and then some. Honestly, although the store is big by island standards, the selection is very mish-moshed and lacks some organizational skills used when it comes to stocking the aisles. But this is Asia and most products are smaller, not as well made as we’re used to and usually not from companies we recognize. And that’s OK by us because it’s part of leaving an old life and starting a new one. Strolling down the aisles, we did find some basic kitchen ware like cutlery, paper towels, a few kitchen gadgets and a relatively solid stoneware dish set. Understanding the budget is part of early retirement, we tabled some of the other items for a mall excursion on another day (more on that later and some lessons learned on disparity of wealth when countries develop quickly as Malaysia has).
Absent from the juice aisle is almost everything with no sugar added but eventually I stumbled upon some mango juice sweetened only with stevia, marketed with the benefits of stevia’s natural sweetening properties. As the only zero calorie drink available, I bought that and some mangosteen juice with no sugar added (also almost impossible to find In a sugar loving continent). Surprisingly, the fruit selection in Tesco is not as extensive as expected although it’s obvious that wet markets have fresher and cheaper stuff anyway. Additionally, selecting canned tuna, sardines and mackerel is an effort in futility as almost every can has tons of added preservatives, spices, sugar and everything that defeats the purpose of eating healthy protein for breakfast. Settling mostly on canned mackerel, I did find some better options at Cold Storage the next day but the prices run the gamut from dirt cheap to insanely expensive for products that look similar . Trying really hard to avoid the “gourmet products” that I love including everything from pickled items to sausage and deli meats, I reminded myself that food is inexpensive but not when you want European items and brand names. Knowing it’s all there is good enough for me but I simply won’t pay 45 ringgit for my delicious jar of herring in wine sauce and Diane would not be a happy camper if I gave in so for now, I’ll just relate to all the grumbling I read from British expats about the high cost of their native foods.