Tag Archives: holiday weekend

My Independence Message

Ahh, long holiday weekends. Almost missing the joy of wrapping up work early and beating the traffic, we’re off to Bangkok for eight days of eating. Well, perhaps we’ll do some other things but honestly, it’s mostly eating. Basically, we chose the 4th of July for two reasons. Falling only two days after July 4th, the Muslim holiday of Hari Raya will soon shatter the overly serene atmosphere we’ve enjoyed for over three weeks. Commemorating the end of Ramadan, July 6th and 7th are national holidays in Malaysia and being mid-week, many people will stretch it into a long five-day weekend. As we learned last year, throngs of people leave wherever they’re from and flock to our beach community for some R&R. As vehicular challenged overseas expats relying on buses and Uber for our basic needs, this means either hunkering down at the pool and living on whatever food is in the house or enduring 90 minute bumper to bumper crawls on two lane roads to get anywhere. Always craving real Thai food, we decided to escape to Bangkok for eight days and see what’s changed in seven years.

Train 36

Train 36

Modernization played a role in the second reason we’re leaving on the 4th of July. Originally planning an overnight train excursion two days later, we discovered they replaced the otherwise convenient direct train to Bangkok with a commuter train to the border. Thanks to high-speed trains unfit for Thailand’s rail system, passengers need to transfer at the border town, buy a different ticket for the Thai train (if there are any available) and then hope the Thai train arrives as scheduled. With heavy travel to Southern Thailand where most Muslim Thai people live, we defaulted to Air Asia’s daily non stop instead of fighting the crowds. Planning on attending our first Muay Thai match at the new Lumpinee Stadium, visiting some floating markets, shopping for whatever catches our eye and escaping the downpours at some museums, we’re happy to leave the hoopla behind. Bypassing Bangkok last year on our first trip to Thailand as MM2H holders, we love Bangkok’s controlled chaos more than most big cities but fully understand why so many urbanites with disposable cash flee the noise and traffic for quieter northern enclaves like Chiang Mai (as we hope to do next summer).

Statistically, more than half my readers come from the USA and before wishing everyone a healthy, safe and happy Independence Day holiday, I need to get something off my chest. Understanding I promised to lower the political content on my expat blog, I’d be remiss without commenting on the unacceptably high level of really ugly, vile hatred I’ve seen on American social media towards the entire Muslim religion.


Since Trump turned ignorance and closet racism into an acceptable form of mainstream communication, America is more dangerous than most moderate Islamist nations. Representing a very small cross-section of Facebook, I’ve only got 120 or so friends, mostly childhood acquaintances and a smattering of Bay Area and Canadian friends from our working days. Already forced to de-friend dozens of old neighbors I once called friends for constantly smearing an American who voluntarily lives in a peaceful Muslim nation, I’m absolutely sickened by the racist shit I’ve seen and often pinch myself to make sure I’m not stuck in some World War II Nazi Germany alternate universe.

fascistRearing the ugliest part of technology, too many people use Facebook as a means to validate hatred and while I’m all for freedom of expression, it’s time to take stand and draw the line somewhere before one raving lunatic potentially ruins 240 years of progress. The experiment called American democracy is failing miserably and mimicking some modern version of white supremacy with moronic suggestions like “profiling American mosques” needs to go before it’s too late. Sick of defending myself and knowing I can’t erase ignorance from those blinded by hate, I’m hopelessly ashamed of what America’s become and hope anyone reading this shares my blog with someone willing to preach tolerance as the real “American Way of Life”. My America is black, white, Mexican, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindi, Buddhist and everything in between. Multicultural. Like Malaysia.


Happy Independence Day !!


Bring on the work week (for them, not us)

Retired expats hate long weekends. Right when we felt like Penang Island was almost always our own personal space, Hari Raya arrived and the end of Ramadan brought thousands of visitors to our little resort town. While totally unnoticeable if we stay in our condo, walking around a town with limited sidewalks and bumper to bumper traffic in both directions proves challenging at times. Leaving to go anywhere by four-wheel vehicle is even worse. Unused to the throngs of young people flocking to all the beaches and crowding all the food stalls, we decided to spend the day in Georgetown since we had a potential meet-up scheduled for that evening anyway. Unfamiliar with the scope of traffic in resort areas, Diane and I never travelled on long weekends in either Calgary or San Francisco because her two-hour daily commute proved enough and I certainly didn’t want to sit in long stretches of traffic. During her nursing years, she picked up overtime shifts and I simply hung around the house. Disclaimer; the featured picture is not actually Malaysia but I used it to add emphasis: it us from somewhere in Southeast Asia 

The UNESCO Heritage areaBecoming early retirees changed our attitude a bit and we figured there might be fewer people in Georgetown than Batu Ferringhi since there’s no beach to speak of in the UNESCO Heritage area. Experiencing our first crowded bus adventure quickly changed our attitude about leaving the condo for three days the next time a long weekend rolls around. Hopping on The 101 route sometime around the noon hour, the bus was full and barely had room for us to move, let alone be comfortable. While not as insane as buses in India, the pleasant and fast trips we’ve enjoyed came to an abrupt end as more people piled on until he finally stopped picking people up. Although the stench was not as bad as I remember my New York City subway commutes, the bus still whipped across the turns and we became sandwiched in for almost 40 minutes. Wondering where they were going and why most of the town was leaving, we passed Tesco and not one soul moved nor did anyone ring the bell at the major mall shopping areas or anywhere else for the next fifteen minutes as the bus passed all the places we expected people to exit. Finally half the bus emptied out somewhere between Komtar and the end of the line so we hopped off at the next stop.

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