Apparently The Experimental Expats won’t be making an episode of a House Hunters International any time soon. If you’ve noticed there’s rarely any episodes made in Malaysia, it’s not your imagination. Overdeveloped condo units owned by almost all foreign investors, mostly from the Chinese mainland means you won’t see very many condo boards agreeing to show their precious properties on television, especially if there’s nothing in it for them. Despite the fact they might actually rent some of the dozens of empty units, we’re told they’d rather leave them empty than take a loss or even a small profit as this would be a huge loss of “face“, the most important cultural aspect of Chinese culture. Welcome to Asia.
The view from our pool
For the benefit of anyone considering a tryout for an episode filmed in Malaysia, let me save you some time. The most basic requirement of the casting producers is a signed release by the owner of your property (for renters only) and an authorized representative of building management (obviously not applicable for those who might own or rent a single family home: not very common in Malaysia). Seemingly the easiest step in the process, our western brains thought it’s a no brainer to gain exposure to the unit and is clearly in the best interest of owners on an island that has a sinfully low occupancy rate due to overdevelopment. Wrong. Moving right to the very tedious 16 page questionnaire, I spent several days writing and editing our responses which is an important factor when the producers are considering your overall audition. After constructing a wordy but thoroughly developed Word document, we sent it off to the producer and then emailed our landlord through our property agent. Basically not objecting but refusing to sign the waiver until we get condo board approval, we visited the guy in charge of building management and received less than a warm welcome.
Time flies when you’re having fun so first, I want to apologize for the long lag between posts. Out of thin air came our surprise first visitor and running around playing tour guide/host is fun but rather exhausting. Oddly, life can work in strange ways. Confident one of Diane’s coworkers would be first, we even encouraged a contest on our Facebook pages to determine the “lottery winner”. Inundating our friends with over 20 pictures and stories per day, almost everyone seems to love the idea but it’s the other side of the world, making it harder than just a quick three-hour flight across America. Surprisingly, an old female friend from the old days (before Diane and I met) happened to be visiting Phuket and Bangkok and decided to pop in for a few days. Possibly the last person I’d ever expect to be our first visitor, I haven’t seen her since 1995 and know only bits and pieces of her current situation from Facebook messenger conversations. Conveniently located only about an hour from Bangkok, she changed her plans for the return flight home and there she was, looking the same as I remember only 20 years later.
Additionally, we reconnected with a new casting producer at House Hunters International and after a phone conversation, started the next step in the production process which is a very long 15 page questionnaire. Spending two full days creating text that makes our story worthy of being scripted into an episode, we need to compile some pictures next and send that off so that also explains my blogging negligence. FInally, today is Diane’s 44th birthday and after we send Jamie off in a taxi headed back to Penang International Airport, we’re planning on a Western style birthday dinner at a bar-b-q rib joint in Gurney Paragon, the nicest mall on the island. So please accept my apologies for the lack of new posts and bear with us for the rest of the week. Oh yes, next week we’re traveling to Kuala Lumpur to complete the MM2H Visa and finally get our passport endorsements that allow unlimited exit/entries into Malaysia for ten years. Feeling like a long road is finally ending, our new experimental early retirement finally begins. Promising to update everyone on some of the things we did with Jamie before we leave for KL, here’s a few pictures.
showing Jamie the ropes
on the way to Monkey Beach
Jamie eats Hokkien Mee
Laksa at Air Itam
coffee in a bag
By the way, Jamie is also a Pilates instructor but even she was surprised by the effects of heat and humidity when it comes to fitness. Teaching us a few simple routines we can do right on the deck of the pool, we hope to continue adapting and meeting more friends. Thanks very much to all of you for the comments explaining everything unknown to us in recent posts including the Cantonese food restaurant recommendations (which we used, breathing a huge sigh of relief at the first sip of delicious noodle soup that has some salt). Thanks also to everyone posting questions and indicating interest in connecting with us in Penang. We’d love to meet anyone moving to the area, vacationing or just passing through. Cheers for now !!
Got any tips on Cantonese food in KL? PLease share
Usually as far removed from “reality” as possible, “reality TV” is normally not my thing. Unconcerned with what bachelor gets the hot desperate single girl, how many Twinkies Kim Kardashian can stuff down to make her butt bigger or what average singer captures the American Idol crown, Diane and I prefer comedies or sporting events. Admitting to one guilty pleasure, we indulge in one exception to the rule with House Hunters International. Now in its 11th year with over 1,000 episodes, we’ve seen hundreds of people from all walks of life share their expat escapades. Once we began searching for an early retirement destination, it seemed reasonable to digest dozens of locations even if the story lines are sometimes a bit cheesy.
Recently we began contemplating what it might be like to profileour upcoming move to Malaysia using the MM2H Visa as an episode the show. Ironically, we were recently contacted by a casting producer based in London whose responsibilities include finding participants for upcoming episodes. After a wonderful phone conversation, she thought our story is probably a good fit and we agreed to stay in touch over the next few months. Asked not to reveal any specifics about the production, we can’t go into detail but can happily report that The Experimental Expats hope to make their television début (and grand finale) as cast members for an upcoming episode of House Hunters International. Looking for thoughts from my Facebook friends, I was overwhelmingly surprised at the amount of support so we’ve decided to share the news with all of you. Please stay tuned for more details.
If any expats reading this have either done an episode or you know of a blog that’s posted about the experience, please share !!!!
And to all: Please give feedback, advice, comments or other ways to ease our fear of being on TV