Considering the past week relatively successful, Diane and I are spending the last weekend in temporary housing, this time at the beautiful Holiday Inn Resort in Batu Ferringhi, just down the street from our new condo. Wanting to give a huge endorsement to the staff at the Four Points Sheraton Penang for going above and beyond and rescuing us from the depths of the horribly dilapidated and sadly pathetic Copthorne Orchid Hotel, we can’t say enough good things about them. Our new friend Afi is one of the front desk staff and happens to live a stones throw from our new house and she made everything perfect from start to finish. Already texting Diane daily, she’s going to show us around the area where the tourists don’t go once we get settled in on her day off. (Malaysians work six days a week for the most part which is too bad because it doesn’t leave a lot of time to enjoy the beautiful country). Unfortunately nobody cancelled their weekend stay so we packed our bags and went up the road. While waiting for the van to shuttle our 10 bags of stuff over to the other place, I partook in a great conversation with the general manager about everything from Malaysian politics to American films. Amazingly candid, expats should never engage in this kind of talk unless engaged by the other party but let’s just say I gained some valuable insights on how average citizens feel about the prime minister, at least in this state. Kudos to the hotel for a job well done.
Initial reaction to expat life in Malaysia so far is nothing but positive. Briefly touching on our first week’s agenda, getting around the island is easy. Modern, clean and very well air-conditioned buses traverse the entire main road of the island from the downtown core of Georgetown all the way to the end of the road at Penang National Park. Figuring we needed a pass, Diane and I navigated our way down to the “jetty” where the buses end and bought a seven-day unlimited pass by showing our passports and paying MYR 30. Needing a form for monthly pass that includes a the passport picture, we settled for the weekly one and used public transit all week while starting to investigate the ins and outs of where to shop and what to do. An even better option is Uber and although we haven’t used it yet, we downloaded the app and there’s no shortage of cheap available cars willing to come get you any time of day or night. People complain about taxis but maybe those people have no experience with real crappy taxis as we’ve only met friendly drivers willing to call another one should they be waiting for another passenger. Recently passed legislation removes haggling by using a metered system but we’re told some drivers refuse to use it, citing difficult economic times. Considered one of the cheapest countries in the world for taxis, we don’t have any issues with pricing.