Living in Penang, Malaysia

We spent the last couple of months in Penang, Malaysia. The island is interesting with its Malaysian mix of people. There are the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians plus a lot of Western pensioners who are after warmer weather and cheaper living.

The island is densely populated and touristy, much more than we expected. Some parts remind Spain’s Costa del Sol with ugly high risers and terrible traffic. It is a pity because the island itself is beautiful. There are only a few unspoilt places left.

We had a chance to live in a Chinese neighbourhood away from the hassle. People greeted us in the street and dog owners stopped to talk with us. Because we were always walking, people offered us rides probably thinking that we are too poor to own a motorbike. Sometimes they thought we were lost because we were so far away from the touristy areas where the Westerners hang out.

Easy Living

The tiny island is quickly explored. Normally a couple of days should be enough for a visit. We stayed longer because we finished writing the Finnish manuscript Global Nomads—Adventurers or Vagrants which was interrupted in Africa by the scamming landlord. We had a possibility of signing a rent agreement of a nice condo with a sauna, swimming pool and gym at affordable price for one year but we thought the contract was too long and flat too big. Now that the manuscript is in commentator’s hands for some months, we are free to explore.

The weather is quite nice outside the monsoon season which is supposed to be from November until February. This year March and April were exceptional. There was plenty of torrential rain. On some days, we couldn’t take our daily walk. The humidity makes everything grow mold so we experienced some flu-like symptoms like coughing. In Malaysia mold is considered an aesthetic problem rather than a health hazard. The marks are covered by paint. We are using vinegar to kill the mold.

Penang is good if you want low living costs and easy living without much excitement. That is why so many pensioners choose Penang. For Europeans, the visas are easy. You get automatically three months which is renewed with every exit for free.

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