Tag Archives: blogging

Not so Shabby

On September 30th, 2014, I decided to give blogging a shot for the first time. Horribly unskilled at coding, websites, and almost everything else technical, I spent two months self-tutoring on WordPress basics and another few weeks picking a theme. Figuring out to start an expat blog a half-year before actually leaving the country also proved challenging. Finally deciding on a theme that combined our decision to retire early due to an unexpected layoff, the challenges of moving overseas to a destination we’d never visited and some stories of “expat destinations research vacations“, I didn’t expect to garner much interest. Seventeen months later and eight months into the overseas experiment, somebody must be reading even though my comments page is sorely lacking compared to many other similar blogs. Having just passed 50,000 page views I’m grateful to anyone that visits our page and extend a big thank you for taking some time out of your day to read our stories.

Trying to craft the blog a hit differently than typical expat blogs that talk endlessly about tourist destinations, restaurants and budgeting, I always try to be a storyteller and inject some more insight into the topics. While trying to keep negativity out of the stories, anyone who’s lived overseas can tell you there’s good and bad so I like to inject my own sarcastic overtones but still keep it lighthearted enough. Hoping I’ve succeeded most of the time, it’s been fun, challenging and often very interesting hearing from so many people. Life in Malaysia is always interesting to say the least and for now, I leave you with the most ridiculous product we’ve seen sold in this nation.

image

Understanding not everyone can appreciate what’s an obviously silly product, let me fill you in. Keeping in mind these are observations and not judgements, we’ve learned that Malaysians park anywhere and everywhere. Double and triple parking, blocking traffic, buses, and pedestrians is routine. No Malaysian would ever care about blocking your driveway and asking them to place a sticker on their car so someone can call them is a ludicrous notion. Motorbikes drive on the sidewalk and think nothing about driving on the wrong side of the road if it can save a few minutes. Although laws probably exist, they’re never enforced, there’s no penalties or ramifications for driving recklessly and parking illegally and even if there was, nobody would listen anyway.

That’s part of the fun of living in Southeast Asia. Basically a free for all where anything short of violent crime goes, it often feels like living in 1950’s America before anything we take for granted today became law. Sometimes it’s even like the Old West when law and order was mostly an afterthought (minus the guns of course). They also love making noise. Fireworks galore all year long, mysterious popping explosion sounds that sound like cars backfiring, putt putt motorbikes with no exhaust and who knows what else. Fortunately, it’s safe and inexpensive so putting up with little things like horrible drivers, daily poisoning of the air from burning garbage, and lack of tissues, toilet paper and clean bathrooms is just part of the experience.

Thanks for Following along !! We love comments and insights 

 

Problem Solved (Kind Of)

Through a half-baked answer I didn’t really understand from WP.org I finally figured out what happened to the dashboard drop down menu on the App. I’ve always hated the “New and Improved Posting Experience” option that comes up when you add a new post while using a PC. Since they never forced you to use it, I never did and stuck to the “old-fashioned” and obviously antiquated dashboard menu screens. (in their eyes anyway). Finding WP very easy to learn when I started blogging last year without needing to memorize 100 icons and shortcuts, it always worked well for me. This is especially true for uploading pictures from my Iphone, the source of most blog pictures.

Apparently, the developers decided it’s too bad on those of us who don’t want to use the “old version” of posting and the only way to use things you’d use in a new post (like adding new images or videos to the media library) must now be used via the “new and improved posting experience“. After hours of playing around I still see nothing that replaced the “Media Library” menu option and the alternative I see is to go to the “Featured Image” option which brings up a Media Library option where you can upload new pictures, documents or videos, despite the fact I’m not trying to add a featured image at that point. There must be an easier way to do this but I guess I’m not hip enough to figure it out. So posting on the Ipad now means I’m forced to learn their wonderful new and improved posting system.

old dashboard

The “Old Dashboard” option. Now gone from the WP Apps

The "New and Improved" posting experience. I've always hated it.

The “New and Improved” posting experience. I’ve always hated it.

If anyone knows how to get back into the media library as seen below via the “new and improved” posting experience, please let me know

upload media

So please excuse any crappy posts once we leave for Australia next week while I figure out how to re-learn the art of blogging in the New and Improved WordPress World. Should anyone know another way to add new images to the media library via the app, please share this with me and comment. I usually upload all new images I want to use before I begin the post

Sorry for the interruption and we now return to regularly scheduled Experimental Expat Life.

What is this wet stuff?

Knowing the unseasonably beautiful weather wouldn’t last because this is Canada, Diane and I spent some time walking around over the past few days enjoying the amazingly green lush trails of South Surrey, British Columbia. Spoiled by long days at this latitude, when it’s nice in BC it’s spectacular. Climatically speaking, this is one of the highest growing zones for plant life and even the smallest seed will likely turn into some sort of beautiful blossom. Never knowing this part of the province existed, South Surrey is a suburban enclave that resembles where we just lived only greener and featuring modern two-story houses that are about 50 years newer than anything in Walnut a Creek. But all good things come to an end and as I awoke this morning, I stepped out on the patio and a heavy rainfall jolted me, even though it was nowhere to be found in the Yahoo weather prediction for the greater Vancouver area. After about four days of rain in one year living in drought stricken California, it felt like a new experience

The easy life

Enjoying a snooze on the patio

Undaunted, Diane and I are meeting the first blog contact of our newly retired life this morning at a local Starbucks. Coincidentally, she’s a young Canadian woman who recently travelled to Vietnam and Indonesia, visiting almost all the places I’m sure we’d want to explore and she happens to also be staying with friends in the area.  We also bought plane tickets yesterday from Vancouver to Kuala Lumpur via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific Airlines. Scheduled to leave on June 29th at 2:00 AM, the flights are similar to the San Francisco flights to Asia only much fuller due to the heavy Chinese population in Western Canada. An email conversation with our amazingly cool banker at HSBC Malaysia confirmed an appointment upon arrival for us to open our local bank account and explore downtown KL for one day as tourists before heading to Penang to search for an apartment. Having been contacted earlier this year by a sales rep from the Novatel KL City Centre Hotel interested in offering us discounted rates in exchange for a plug on the blog, I’m hoping to take him up on the offer.

Celebrating a second retirement party for Diane, our gracious friend hosted a barbeque last night with mostly healthy items like chicken, grilled veggies and salmon. Enjoying the perfect late afternoon sunshine that looks like it will never arrive after nine hours of dreary low clouds, everyone enjoyed the marinated meats and veggies while I watched game five of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Third round.  Expecting hockey withdrawal to set in after a while, we planned on staying in Canada at least until someone hoists the Stanley Cup overhead before leaving for a county where ice is found only at hawker stands serving chendol.  For anyone that cares, the New York Rangers lost in a shutout to the Tampa Bay Lightning despite having the home ice advantage.

Using today as a transition, it’s time to do some laundry, pack for another 900 mile drive across the province albeit with gas prices 40% higher than the last trip, and spend a night in Jasper, Alberta before heading to Edmonton. Exemplifying the craziness of Canadian weather, the forecast is 27 degrees Celsius for those next two days with abundant sunshine followed by 9 degree plummet with rain coming for the weekend. Remembering that Canadians spend their first summer long weekend camping in the snow, the temperature usually skyrockets up right as everyone heads back to work and this year was no different. Hoping to catch a morning in the most gorgeous hot springs you’ve ever seen without needing a winter coat and umbrella, we plan on staying one night in a hotel before squatting at Diane’s parents house for a while.

imageSo the first week of house squatting has come and gone in the blink of an eye and it’s time to waste some more time further east. Unfortunately our friend’s cabin in the lake an hour outside of Edmonton is already being occupied by another squatter whose house is apparently under construction making it highly unlikely we’ll be enjoying any serenity through cabin life anytime soon. Very disappointed, it looks like we’ll be acting like newly married kids staying at the parents house because we can’t afford to go anywhere else. Comfortable enough, this is not my first preference but adapting to unexpected situations is clearly part of being an Experimental Expat so I suppose this is an early lesson.  Hoping for some sunshine, cheers for now from Western Canada

Quick postscript:

Having constructed this unpublished post before our above referenced meeting, I wanted to give a huge plug and enormous thank you to Jordan for meeting us today. Along with her friends Ben and Mark, Jordan generously offered almost three hours to share some information about her trip, blogging and life on the road. Promising we’d stay in touch and help promote each other’s blogs and interests, I want to share a link to her awesome blog covering the trip to Southeast Asia that covers the adventures she enjoyed overseas. Titled The Travel Years,  Jordan’s story is well worth your time. Please pay it a visit. A more insightful post about the advantages of meeting blog contacts will follow but since we’re heading out on the road tomorrow, I’ll revisit the topic when I can devote more attention to it.

Calling any expats in Malaysia willing to help us negotiate the first few weeks in July; Please use our contact page to connect or share whatever you can as comments 

The Popular Crowd

Staring the blog just over five months ago, I set out to share some transitional stories and tales of our previous expat destination research trips disguised as vacations. Completely new to blogging, I had no idea how inspiring (or uninspiring) my posts would turn out. Understanding expat blogs are not the most widely read topic, I went in hoping to attract a few friends and perhaps make some new ones. As an old guy (almost 50), none of my Facebook friends blog or even bother to read blogs so I really have no comparison to measure my success (or failure).

unsureAlthough interaction remains lower than I’d hoped when it comes to comments and followers, I attribute some of that to my pathetic lack of participation on social networks. Unapologetic for neglecting to spend more time on devices and PC’s than I did at work, I am legally blind in one eye so please understand one reason I chose early retirement after my rude and unexpected dismissal from the workforce was to relax the burden placed on my healthy eye. Through it all, however, someone must enjoy my stories and getting 10,000 page views in five months is probably no great accomplishment but is rather satisfying.

thanksAnyway, we offer another big thank you to anyone who devotes some of their time reading our stories and we hope we’ve earned your loyalty and readership for years to come. We’ve met new friends and many of you have offered help, advice or agreed to meet us once we arrive in Malaysia. With our residence on the market next week and 38 days left until my 50th birthday, the MM2H Visa application will soon be in the mail and the real adventures begin. With no clue where to start in a city we’ve never visited, it promises to be interesting and educational if nothing else. We appreciate everyone’s support !!

thanks

Next post:
Our empty house gets “staged”, photographed, advertised and hopefully sold fast !! Please stick around for the next 10,000 hits.

Why Malaysia?

Although blogging is not exactly the same as print media, all wanna-be journalists, writers, authors and poets still enjoy seeing their work posted somewhere besides their own blog. Having completed my first request for a guest post, the nice folks at Retirement and Good Living published my article today. Compiling a series of reasons we’ve chosen Malaysia for our early retirement, the article summarizes one of the most commonly asked questions we face from friends, relatives and bloggers.

 Yay; my first internet guest post

Yay; my first internet guest post

Covering a bit more ground than most posts, I’ve included a list of some other countries we considered and why we ruled them out. Sharing a bit about our transition process, it gave me an opportunity to speak about multiple items at one time. Aged much less than a fine wine, my blog is still less than a month old so the article gave me a chance to share information I haven’t gotten around to posting yet. Thanks once again to Simone for finding me and her timely processing time from email to publication.

You can view the post here

As promised, I’m now returning to my Liebster Award Post. ETA is Friday. Having already missed Game 5 of The World Series in favor of starting the post, I refuse to miss Game Seven and I only have four hours left until the first pitch so Ciao Bella for now !!