Tag Archives: malaysian food

The Last Laksa

And so after a hectic 24 hours of flying to Malaysia, late-night commuting to the hotel and a stressful morning at both the immigration office and our bank, it was time for some fun. Given Kuala Lumpur’s sweltering climate and lack of enjoyable walks, that means doing two things; eating and shopping. While Diane would be fine if she never ate Malaysian food again, I’m a huge fan of sambal chili paste (impossible to find in Thailand), laksa (even harder to find outside Malaysia and Indonesia) and beef rendang (the Southeast Asian Muslim world’s best culinary contribution). Thankfully, Diane’s memory towers over mine and she knew exactly where my favorite place to eat laksa was in the seventeen miles of mazes that make up life in downtown KL.

The menu highlights

Regretfully, my stand became a western food place and Malaysia gets my vote for Southeast Asia’s worst version of all western food from burgers to ribs. Determined to eat laksa and nasi lemak (Malaysia’s national dish and Diane’s only choice for local food), we embarked on a quest but only had to take a few steps through Level UC of the mall named “Avenue K”. Possibly my favorite casual fast food restaurant in all of Malaysia, Ah Cheng Laksa serves one of the most flavorful and complex bowls of soup in Southeast Asia. According to their Facebook page, their origins date back over 56 years and one of the family members brought the unique family recipe to the Klang Vallery in 2004. For me, nothing beats a bowl of Asam Laksa, a sour fish and tamarind based soup. Its perfect combination of flavorful ingredients includes small mackerel of the Rastrelliger genus, and finely sliced vegetables including cucumber, onions, red chilies, pineapple, lettuce, common mint, Daun kesum (Vietnamese mint or laksa mint), and pink bunga kantan, also known as torch ginger. Normally served with thick rice noodles and topped with a thick sweet prawn shrimp paste, it’s spicy, sweet, salty and tastes like a piping hot combination of perfection.

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Our Quiet Time

Where does the time go? Approaching the last few weeks of spring, it’s almost one year since Diane and I stepped off the airplane in Malaysia to begin our Experimental Overseas Early Retirement. Already in full swing, Ramadan began a few weeks earlier this year and coincides with the second week of Malaysian School Holidays. Commemorating the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islāmic belief, Muslims began fasting for 30 days and although it’s less noticeable in Penang due to the large Chinese population, some of our favorite Nasi Campur and other Malay style food courts won’t serve lunch for a month. Not really understanding why the island seemed so quiet last year, we now know that after school starts next week, it’s the best three weeks of the year for vehicle challenged expats like us. With more room on the buses, we’re not totally clear why it’s so much less crowded but if I had to exist on no water and food from sunrise to sunset in such a hot and humid environment, I’d probably be hospitalized quickly from dehydration so maybe those who observe the fast simply have less energy to travel around.

promo15-ramadanIronically, the word Ramadan derived from the Arabic root ramida, meaning scorching heat and dryness. Knowing I’d make a lousy Muslim since fasting is almost physically impossible for those who engage in cardio training almost daily, Diane and I happily hopped on the empty bus the other day and headed for our favorite food court in Penang. After one year, we find ourselves gravitating mostly to the same food courts and haven’t really found all that many restaurants worth the extra cash. Granted our point of view is probably in the minority because we disagree with Penang’s claim to be Southeast Asia’s best food, but after watching a slew of culinary series’ featuring chefs, restauranteurs and average folks traveling and discovering food all over Southeast Asia, we’re convinced Malaysia’s food is the least interesting of all ASEAN nations. Having said that, there’s a few places we consider above and beyond the others like Chang Sern Enterprises Hawker Center in Palau Tikas. Probably the standard by which all food courts should be judged, this gem is clean as a whistle, has friendly attentive vendors and staff and some of the best local food on the island.

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Happy Chinese New Year (Malaysian Style)

As the wind whipped on the eve of our First Super Bowl Monday (kickoff at 7:30 AM Malaysian local time), it’s also the eve of Chinese New Year. Celebrated much differently on this side of the world, most Chinese families eat a meal with family tonight. According to various sources (our Uber drivers), the day of Chinese New Year is usually reserved for friends and family hanging out together, like Thanksgiving day in the USA. Unlike North America, however, the celebrations first begin after the real holiday and can run up to three weeks. Although it varies depending on social status and financial means, almost all Chinese run businesses (about 60% of Penang’s shops) close for at least three days. We’ve observed some of our favorite food courts already boarded up with signage saying “see you in three weeks”. Since our neighbor from Hong Kong is off to Singapore, our other friends are either mostly Brits and Diane’s family is 7,000 miles away, that left us sadly unprepared for anything remotely resembling Chinese New year dinner.

imageAlthough we did visit the wet market on Saturday, it was so filled with Chinese shoppers we couldn’t get anywhere near the crowds and besides, they jack up the price as much as three times as much for this weekend. (Hong Kong prices are even higher right before CNY). Unwilling to pay US prices while living in Malaysia, we did visit Cold Storage, the local supermarket but found much of the same; crappy meat and chicken and no vegetables worth buying. Fortunately, we live in Malaysia so we decided to do our first take away order from our favorite Malaysian food stand. Easily cooking the island’s best Nasi Campur, the friendly proprietor at Umi Nasi Campur helped us scoop bits of whatever we wanted into individual plastic bags and happily smiled at us. Knowing us as one of her best foreign customers who always buys more than most locals, she tallied it all up and came up with 50 ringgit (about $13 USD) but given the amount of food we took, we think she gave us a bargain. Most online sites rip her apart for being way too expensive but by our standards it’s one of the best $7 lunches anywhere so we figured why not make it dinner?

Loosely defined as rice with any combination of meats, fish and vegetables and, you eat Nasi Campur buffet style. Usually they give a huge dollop of rice and you pile on whatever looks good. Always having trouble with foreigners who always take way more than locals (usually for financial reasons), many of them just eyeball it and come give you a little post-it note with the bill while you’re in the middle of eating. Probably one of my favorite things to eat in Penang, it’s one of the few things difficult to find in Thailand and even though there’s Malaysian food restaurants all over Melbourne including Ipoh style“, “Little Penang” and various others, don’t even think about eating there if you want to know what Malaysian food really tastes like. Taking beef randang, chicken curry, mutton, sambal tofu, fish with okra, caramelized pineapple, and a host of delicious veggies, our Chinese New Year Dinner proved as delicious as our last Christmas celebration with Diane’s family in Edmonton (ironically, at a Chinese restaurant because unlike in Asia, North American Chinese restaurant owners think cash is more important than a few days off).


So now our stomachs are full and we can get a good night’s sleep in time to hop up at 6;30. Enough time to cook Super Bowl Monday breakfast, Diane will find a CBS feed somewhere on the internet as we do with NHL hockey, North American network TV, news and almost anything else you’d wanna watch (all free). And then I can get ready for all the Facebook requests from my Bay Area FB friends about “What’s the final score since you live in the future”? Wishing everyone a prosperous Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai (The Hokkien way of saying it)

Ironically,  Gong Xi Fa Cai (or however you’ll say it) is not really a “Happy New Year” greeting. Because Gong Xi (恭禧) is congratulations or respectfully wishing one joy and Fa Cai (發財) is to become rich or to make money. Thus, Gong Xi Fa Cai means wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year

Enjoy the Super Bowl !!!


That Dreaded Foodie Post

Promising our posts are not designed to mimic “food blogs” and knowing I’m not talented or patient enough to be one of those so-called “experts” that spends their lives visiting every food court, coffee shop and restaurant on the island, we’ve nonetheless begun to amass a small collection of “favorite” places after living here for ten weeks. Not claiming expertise in any subject, I’m simply sharing some thoughts on delicious experiences at relatively economical prices in Pilau Pinang. Nothing more. Having set that, let’s jump right in. Here’s some of our favorites in four different categories.

Mee Goreng

Possibly my favorite dish in Malaysia and also known as Bami Goreng, Mee Goreng is a spicy fried noodle dish commonly found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Basically, its core ingredients include yellow noodles fried in cooking oil, garlic, shallots, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, egg and other vegetables. Sounding simple enough, it’s interesting how many variations on the dish are found, depending on who’s doing the cooking. Searching various real food blogs, one finds many Top 10 Mee Goreng Lists along with all the other popular food but hardly any of them look alike. Depending on your preference, you can find it spicy, milder, with or without different proteins and most importantly (for me, anyway), differences in color. Preferring mine as tomatoey delicious as possible, ony mildly spicy and with lots of sotong, there’s really only one choice. If you’re like me and find the picture below mimicking what you belive a plate of mee goreng should be then your first choice should be Seng Lee Cafe.


Conveniently  located in Pilau Tikas, they serve this version in a small coffee shop on the corner of Lorang Bangkok and Jalan Burma and it’s expertly cooked by an Indian guy that’s been doing it since he was old enough to hold a spatula. Served with lots of squid by default, it’s possible to order it other ways but why bother? For me, the perfect combination of tomatoes, chilis and spices makes this my favorite lunchtime spot when we’re heading to Gureny Plaza. Walking distance for those rare expats (like us) that actually use feet instead of gas petals, it took us three tries to figure out when they’re open despite what Google, the internet or food bloggers claim. In Penang, anything cooked at a portable stand is subject to the whims of the cooker despite the “hours”. I should mention the other stands at this place are also awesome and include hokkien mee and one of tastiest Koay Teow soups we’ve had (at least that’s what we think it was; they speak very little English and didn’t understand Diane’s Cantonese). Highly recommended if you’re a fan.

Cantonese Chinese at a Food Court

Having read all of your comments regarding Cantonese Chinese food in a place that’s dominated by Hokkien style cooking which lacks the flavors and sauces we’re accustomed to, we stumbled on this place because it seems to be closed every time we walk past it. For the record, we did try Dragon-I in Gurney Plaza and it did live up to basic Cantonese style but came in at over 100 ringgit for lunch and that’s a bit rich for us. We’ve also simply asked many of them to “cook Cantonese” as suggested by some of you and had no success whatsoever so when we find something resembling what we know as Cantonese, you know we’ll be repeat customers. Set right in the middle of Batu Ferrenghi’s I Love You food court is Waterworld Seafood. One of the only places we’ve seen with a fish menu that includes “Hong Kong Style Steamed Fish”, they served us this beautiful red snapper in a deliciously light but flavorful soy based sauce dripping with carrots, spring onions and ginger.


Stumbling into them by accident, we were out and about on the Merdeka Long Weekend so lots of folks were milling about, albeit nothing like Hari Raya. Interestingly, this holiday appears to attract mostly Malays which means the Chinese gravitate to the best Chinese places in large numbers. Unlike most food courts, the tables set up around Waterworld are all family style, suitable for large parties and families with 8 or 10 people. Reading into this, that means it’s intended for Chinese folks that often dine with the entire family and order hundreds of dollars worth of food (good sign). Next thing of note: No written signs anywhere around the cooking area and menus are carefully hidden. (Diane and I had to find someone willing to dig out a menu). Subtly hiding menus and pictures from non-Chinese patrons is always a good sign and the tanks with lobsters was the first one we’ve seen. Listed as “market price”, they only served it as lobster thermidor, a sign that they’re not true Cantonese but instead probably learned that European butchery of a great food from an expat that explained how much money the dish commands. We saw one come out at the next table and it was huge but we only like lobster two ways: Real Chinese style (see above but substitute lobster) or with butter and lemon at a white (Guay Lo) seafood restaurant.


After finally getting a young employee to admit they had menus, we scanned through an extensive 15 pages and found lots of fresh fish (but mostly fried) and more veggie dishes than most Hokkien places have as well as a whole page of venison which I’ve never seen anywhere in North American Chinese restaurants (We passed on the game). Featuring six or seven bean curd dishes, we ordered from the grouchy woman taking orders but she said they only had “house version” despite the “menu” (another classic Chinese tactic). Turning out to be delicious and also cooked in a Cantonese style sauce that appeared to have corn starch (a key ingredient that somehow never reached the Hokkien), the bean curd were crunchy outside and soft inside as well as being served piping hot. Finishing the meal, we decided on sambal squid.

Being Malaysia, they still need to feature local styles like sambal but this version was a more ketchupy and not a very spicy version but filled with perfectly cooked big squids that looked more like North American style calamari. Another great point is the full juice bar that’s part of the food court they occupy and unlike most, you can order a huge size that doesn’t disappear before the meal comes. Searching them out on Foursquare or other sites, you’ll find only mixed reviews but this might be due to a mostly Hokkien population that doesn’t appreciate Cantonese anything except the TV shows where they learn to speak the language. For us, it was 7 out of 10 anywhere besides Penang but 9.5 on the  Penang Cantonese scale. Coming in a very reasonable 66 ringgit for the entire meal,  we recommend this place if you happen to be dying for Cantonese food the way you know it should be and you live in Penang.


Among the many foods available in Penang, we love Korean for its freshness and health benefits. Using mostly fresh veggies and rarely deep-fried, nothing tastes better after a long walk through Penang’s Botanical Gardens than a fresh lunch and since we usually walk back to the bus stop that takes us home, we’re always hungry. One of the busiest streets in Penang, Jalan Gottlieb is where we accidentally found Sa Rang Chae, an excellent choice for Korean with an extensive menu featuring grilled meats, soups and sides of all kinds. Normally not wanting to pay dinner time prices for lunch, we stuck to our favorite two dishes which happen to always be cheaper than main dishes  anyway. Bimbeebap is a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned veggies, chili pepper paste or salty soybean paste and topped with a fried egg and sliced beef. It’s stirred together before serving. Priced at around RM 28, it came out fresh and hot. Our other favorite Korean lunch dish is Japche, made from sweet potato noodles stir fried in sesame oil and served with carrots, onion, spinach  and mushroom. Garnished with beef and a bit of sugar, it was also one of the best ones we’ve ever had. They also serve a huge potion of Japanese side dishes and allow you to refill each one once. While main dishes are a bit pricey, I’m sure they’re awesome and we will no doubt visit for dinner one time. It makes great lunch stop if you find yourself in the area. (I couldn’t find the picture of the Japche so instead I’ve shown the Kim Chee Soup which I had on my second visit).




Japanese Charcoal Bar-b-q

Suggested by our neighbors after our trip to the back side of Penang, this style was totally new to Diane and me. Combining Japanese and a bit of Korea, each table comes with a small charcoal wok. KNK – Kan NIchi Kan Japanese Charcoal in Tanjung Bungah is similar to hibachi style or hot-pot but much better due to the extensive choices besides the bar-b-q items. The menu was too complicated and half in Japanese so we let Idy (our neighbor) order. Apparently they were having a special on the meats that came with beef tongue (took me back to my childhood in the Jewish deli), Korean style ribeye (very tender), pork wrapped in mushrooms (yum) and the tastiest squid I’ve had so far (due to the bar-b-q flavors maybe). Bringing out generous sized portions along with some Japanese sides, they also bring a dipping sauce and fresh garlic as well as lemon for the beef tongue (strange but very good).

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The onion blossom looking dish above came with the meal and nobody knew what it was but we ate it anyway. Thinking we might need more food (we didn’t), I wanted to try some soup and asked the guy if it was a small portion for one person and he said yes. Naturally, the piping hot bowl of spicy ribeye and Kim-Chee soup was almost enough for dinner and just to be sure, Idy ordered a cold soup that was one of the best things I’ve ever had. With noodles, eggs, cabbage, cucumbers and watermelon, I’d never heard of a whole page of cold soups but then again I’ve not yet been to Japan so what do I know? The entire meal came to just over 200 ringgit and we paid since they chauffeured us around the island all day. GIven the phenomenal USD to MYR advantage, this brought the total to under $12 each for all this food making it perhaps the best value for the money we’ve seen in ten weeks. Catering to a clientele  of all Japanese and Koreans (and maybe some Chinese; it’s hard to tell sometimes), it’s another example of how to choose an ethnic restaurant; look for crowds and no white people. Highly recommended and I’d bring visitors here in a heartbeat.



Use your Groupons !!

Finally, a word about Groupon. For the unfamiliar, Groupon was once the Darling of Wall Street and had the greatest and fastest growing business in the USA. Fading quickly due to a host of copycats that immediately lowered the bar, the company faded into a bunch of crappy offers from dying restaurants like the episode of Seinfeld with Babu and his failed Pakistani food. Fortunately (for the CEO), the idea spread to other countries and should be used in Malaysia as a new way of exploring restaurants that might actually be worth something. Diane spotted this one for Oh Sushi restaurant, an upscale looking restaurant that suffers from lack of customers like almost all businesses at the beautiful but ridiculously underused shopping and entertainment complex known as Straits Quay. Usually offering a specified amount of food for a discounted cost, this place gave a choice of three different set lunch menus. Translating into $5.46 USD each, they surprised us by bringing  out two enormous meals. Proving you never know what you may get, mine had grilled beef, sashimi, salmon, miso soup, green salad, shrimp tempura and something resembling egg drop soup (a New York Chinese food invention). Not to be outdone, Diane’s had sushi, tonkatsu and a strange but flavorful soup with intestinal meat of some sort and cabbage. Use those groupons !!



Mosh-moshed among my 2,639 IPhone photos are a host of other delicious food pictures, usually all with a story but as promised, our story is about two people attempting early retirement in a place they never visited thanks to an unexpected layoff and this is not a foodie blog. Making no money and not interested in advertising, I write for fun and hope these places benefit you if you live here or inspire you to come visit if not. Now that our MM2H Visa is complete, it was time to stop wasting $114 USD a month on the storage locker so our 2 cubic meters worth of personal stuff supposedly arrives in Penang on October 24th. Most importantly, the computer is on that shipment and eventually I can finally go back to posting like a normal human being without the never ending hassle of using an IPad for everything in lide. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks and thanks for following along!!

Know any great Foodie finds in Penang ? Please share 


Small Packages

Continuing my recent discussion about why Penang is an excellent choice for MM2H applicants despite lacking “big city” atmosphere, I want to give credit to an amazing little place called The Camera Museum. Easily one of the most unusual and informative small museums anywhere, the guided tour and amazing arrangement of historical information make this mostly undiscovered place a hidden gem and warrants a spot in the best of class for all museums in Southeast Asia. Opened in 2013, it devotes an entire floor to the history of cameras, a seemingly mundane topic that actually has a fascinating history dating back to the 16th century. I’ll bet you can’t name the inventor of the first workable camera prototype (don’t feel dumb; hardly anyone knows because most museums stick to photography).

Love Lane

But more on that later. Back to the point, one thing we love about Penang is how you never know what you’ll find. Setting out with the general goal of visiting the museum, Diane and I took the bus to Love Lane, the main backpacker friendly area of Penang where you’ll find many coffee-house, hostels and cheap rooms. First off, unlike almost anywhere in Thailand, the first thing you’ll notice is Penang is much less crowded when it comes to the younger crowd. Primarily a Muslim country by population, Malaysia levies heavy taxes on alcohol which tends to discourage young party animals. Additionally, conservative values means less hotties in skimpy bikinis and no topless Europeans on the beaches which also keeps the younger crowd on the other side of the border in Thailand. Don’t get me wrong; I love hotties on beaches as much as any guy but could easily do without the excessive noise, rowdiness and stupidity that comes with college age crowds and sports bars showing football to drunks for thirteen straight hours. So for us, Penang makes a great choice and Thailand is a quick plane ride away should we get bored with the lack of nightlife.

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Home Sweet Home

Yay, we have a place to live! Having accomplished an amazing amount in a relatively quick timeframe, we’re glad to report we signed a rough draft on a rental agreement in the beautiful Bayu Ferrengghi apartment complex. Having spent another day searching in the areas closer to amenities, shopping and “the big city”, we decided that suburban living facing the oceanfront was more our style. Unlike many beachfront locations, Penang is a small island served with an amazingly efficient set of bus routes that are quick, clean and air-conditioned. Seven day Bus passes cost MYR 30 for unlimited rides and monthly passes are also available but you need to fill out a form and attach a passport picture so we can do that later. Served by two lines that traverse the entire side of the island from downtown Georgetown all the way our to Penang National Park, getting anywhere is easy.

Lemak Laksa, unique to Penang

Lemak Laksa, unique to Penang

Proving everything you read on forums is not always true, I want to give an immediate shout out to our incredible property agent, Catherine Loh. Having read horror stories about agents that scam, steal, and don’t care about anything but getting paid, I’m happy to tell you there’s at least one agent with honesty. Acting with the same integrity as the realtor in Walnut Creek that got us 15% over asking price on the sale of our house, Catherine knows the island well, speaks impeccable English and genuinely puts the interests of her clients first. Not seeing the need to use any other agents, we realized that although there’s a lot of rentals available, many of them come with annoyances such as being in the middle of construction zones, being too far inland for those without a car or with occupants not in line with what we’re looking for. The famed Miami Green Apartments, for example, is the most popular expat complex on the island with an 80% expat population. Unfortunately, people come and go, security is lax, the road is dark and dangerous at night and its location halfway between Batu Ferrengghi and Tanjung Bungah make it impossible to walk anywhere. If you want to know these things, you need a good agent. Like Yvonne at Joy-Stay, Catherine is this agent.  (they know each other and thT shows the best work with the best) .Feel free to contact her at propsolutions.com or contact us for her phone number.

Compromising a bit, we decided on a ninth floor unit and not the original one we viewed in the 26th floor because its furnishings were more complete and it had a good feel to it. Although limited compared to the rest of Penang, a huge scale construction project is just beginning not too far from our complex and the view hides the ugliness and keeps some of the noise down. Everything in Penang is negotiable and interestingly enough, the owner of the higher unit wanted MYR 3900 but counter-offered all the way down to MYR 3200 when they discovered we found another unit in the same building that was much cheaper. Satisfied with our decision, we can get the keys next Monday and our tenancy begins in July 15th. Terms are one year with an option to rent at the same rent for an extra year and the owner pays all the condo fees.

Getting started in Malaysia is quite expensive compared to North American rentals. Most landlords demand two months rent, a half month more for a utility deposit, a stamping fee for legal paperwork and then most agents charge an additional one month’s rent as a fee. Considering this fairly exorbitant, be ready to shell out as much as 3 1/2 months up front. Luckily for us, Catherine agreed to charge us only half a month’s rent as a fee and we consider that very reasonable. Not even demanding proof of MM2H approval, we probably used the ethnic advantage so my advice to all the white guys is marry a Chinese girl if you want favorable treatment. On that note, everyone in KL speaks Cantonese so Diane understood everyone just fine. Penang Chinese people speak Hokkien, a dialect so strange-sounding that it may as well be Swahili to anyone speaking Cantonese. So although Diane can’t understand one word they say, the funny part is she can reposed in Cantonese and they all understand. Inquiring where they learned, they told us from watching TV. At least they don’t think she’s Filipino like in San Francisco.

As for shopping, there’s a large Tesco located nearby and we’ve already seen that’s the main place for just about anything. Open from 8 AM until 1 AM every day, there’s a myriad of American, European and Asian food items, housewares, toiletries and almost everything else. Already applying for a club card, I’m sure we’ll be there next week to buy bedding, laundry detergent, some cutlery and many other small items. Cold Storage is also here should you crave European meats, cheeses or various other sundries. As expected, alcohol is crazy expensive and even a cold Tiger beer at the hawker centers are expensive by Malaysian standards but since we had our fill of California wines for enough years, this is no big deal for us. (Although nothing tastes better than a cold one in the sultry heat of a food court, especially if you like spicy dishes like laksa and curry Mee)

Malaysians are possibly the most helpful and honest people in any country on earth and moving here has been surprisingly easy so far. Both of us think of a throwback to 1960’s America where people helped each other, everyone knew their jobs thoroughly and things ran smoothly and efficiently. Not really encountering the slow, inefficient island like speed that everyone writes about, we’re both equally surprised how easy navigating things is. Peacefully co-existing, it’s a far cry from the sad and pathetic depiction of Muslim counties that’s drilled into heads of every American. Graciously helpful, the staff in every store goes out of their way to help and if they don’t understand, they immediately find someone who does. Refreshingly pleasant, we’ve been able to get our bank accounts open, buy new cell phones even though the system is very different from North America and navigate the transit system. Our banker Shahreeman is possibly one of the coolest and hippest relationship managers anywhere. Email us if you need a referral in Malaysia.

Kim Chee pork and rice

Kim Chee pork and rice

Receiving word yesterday from Joy-Stay that they signed our MM2H Conditional Letter of Approval, the visa process is almost complete. Unfortunately, it requires another trip back to KL to complete but they give you six months from the date of the approval to do this. Thinking we need some time to relax, we’ll probably go in late August once we’ve had time to settle into our new condo unit. Requiring a trip to Joy-Stay’s offices, Yvonne will arrange a medical appointment which is quick and simple and hand us the hard copy of the approval letter. Returning to our banker the next day, we’ll place the fixed deposit of MYR 150,000 and receive a bank lien letter. With everything already set up and the funds transferred, this is a painless and easy issue. Proving timing is everything in life, the Ringgit continues to weaken against the U.S. Dollar and our deposit comes to just under $40,000 USD, an astounding drop of over $10K since we began researching the program. Given the currency rates, now would be a good time to convert more and not less and having all our money based in the U.S. Is highly advantageous at the moment. (The ringgit,is it this low versus the Euro so Europeans don’t enjoy this benefit).

Jack fruit at Tesco

Also needing to secure a medical insurance policy for one year as a requirement for the Visa, we’ll visit one of the many multi-global companies with a presence in Malaysia like AIG or Allianz. Typical insurance premiums for healthy people run somewhere in the range of a few hundred US dollars for all the standard coverage. After that, we will probably pay as you go for any routine medical treatments. The ministry also insists on applicants shelling over ten years worth of annual fees at one time which we think is excessive but there’s nothing we can do about it. Finally, we will visit Putrajaya with Yvonne and get a stamp in the passport allowing for ten years of unlimited entry in an out of Malaysia, renewable indefinitely. Hello new life.

Having so much more to share, please accept my apologies as I end this post for now. Promising a food based topic next time, we’ve already enjoyed scores of Penang favorites lite Laksa, Curry Mee, Mee Goreng, Char Kway Teow and Popiah (the best spring rolls ever and unique to Penang). We already made a new friend as one of the hotel employees is an awesome 30 something Malaysian woman who went way above and beyond to help us get out of the crappy Copthorne. She lives five minutes from our new condo and we exchanged contact info so we can get some personal tours of the area and find out where the locals eat. Cheers for now as we’re off to the hawker center for dinner that will no doubt cost under $5 USD. Selamat Tinggal.

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A New Friendship for Our New Life

Needing a desperate retrieve from calendar watching, preparing the house for staging and general house husband duties, Diane and I ventured north last weekend for a rather long but easy road trip to meet the first new friends we’ve made in our soon-to-be early retirement. Thanks to the wonders of blogging, Eric and Marlina stumbled across us last year and showed us it really is a small world. Through an amazing set of coincidences, they are also moving to Malaysia in a few months and generously agreed to let us stay with them briefly when we first arrive to help lessen the overwhelming culture shock that inevitably awaits us.

Ipoh's Train Station

Ipoh’s Train Station

Since we need to leave North America soon after we sell our house and I can’t apply for the MM2H Visa until late April when I turn 50 years old, we’re expecting an “in limbo” period in Malaysia while we wait for approval of the visa. Amazingly, Eric’s situation is similar to mine and he also decided it’s easier to try early retirement than re-conquer the workforce at middle age. Luckily, his wife Marlina is of Singaporean descent, speaks fluent Malay, has family in Southeast Asia and understands Malaysian culture quite well. Having visited several times, they’ve already established a network of friends and are both looking forward to the beautiful town of Ipoh . Since Eric is one year older than me, there’s no need for them to wait so they filed their MM2H visa application a few weeks ago.

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12 Reasons to Live in Malaysia

I misled you. Shame on me.

We’ve never been to Penang even though we’ll be moving there in 2015. I’d be remiss if I described 12 reasons that I’ve not yet experienced. However, we have eaten some of the food on our exploratory trip to Borneo and Singapore. Penang is world-renowned as the premier gastronomic food destination in Southeast Asia. Anthony Bourdain raves about it so who am I to argue? Continue reading