Before we even knew we slept, morning broke on the Tasmanian horizon and as promised, we hopped out of bed and prepared for the hard but rewarding experience of “trading” at Salamanca Market. Only having arrived the afternoon before, Ann already put us to work peeling 88 pounds of beetroot (simply known as “beets” in the USA and Canada) before dinner. Still tired from touring Melbourne, we wiped the slumber away and brewed a cup of strong coffee in the little one cup plunger Ann supplied us with in the lunchroom.
Thinking I’d have to go to work smelly, I forgot Tasmania is probably further south of the equator than Edmonton is north of it so fortunately the dawn breaks almost two hours earlier than Penang and by 5:15 AM there’s plenty of light to make your way from the small cabin into the bathroom (about 200 feet away) for a quick shower. Incredibly lucky with the weather, we may have picked the best week of the Southern summer and our day at the market was warm and sunny with very little wind. At 6:15 on the dot, Ann emerged from the main house and we all piled into the Market Buggy.
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.