Last night we were lucky enough to be invited to the home of Canadian expats Ellen and Jim to gain an insight in what it is like living in Penang.
They live in an extremely large modern condominium just north of the city. Security was tight and after identifying ourselves at the gate we were allowed past. Jim met us and took us up to the apartment. Ellen and Jim were kindred spirits in that they love travel and change. Details of their background can be seen under Real Stories on the Planet Boomer web site.
They welcomed us with a gin and tonic and there was an instant rapport. They gave us a tour and what you get in Penang is unbelievably cheap compared to say Singapore or Australia. The apartment had so much open space that some mode of wheeled transport inside would not have gone astray! You certainly get value for money here. Vast shopping complexes are nearby, hospitals and every other facility required by a baby boomer from the west was at hand. Views were sensational across the water.
Ellen and Jim ordered a taxi using an IPhone App (myteski) and it duly arrived. Jim took charge of directing the driver and when the driver said “I can’t see” there was some concern. It turned out it was just the low light in the taxi and he was not vision impaired. Had good local food including a Tofu and Eggplant dish that was superb.
We left Ellen and Jim later in the evening with the distinct impression that life is good for expats in Penang.
We now set off on a day of discovery. We took the 101 Bus from the Jetty to Gurney Plaza. Jim had mentioned last night that everything you could ever need was in this Plaza. He was not exaggerating. All the major world brands were there - Marks &Spencer, Top shop, Chanel, Gucci, and Dior etc. Indeed a western mall in every way. Any expat would feel quite at home here. All very civilised! Next door was Gurney Paragon Mall which was just as swish as Gurney Plaza.
Set out to walk along Gurney drive waterfront to check out all the apartment blocks. It was a pretty walk shaded by large trees. Passed many towering blocks of condominiums until we reached the display condominium of the under construction Seita Residences. As it was very hot we decided to take the tour and a nice young man called Jason did the honours. They have 2 types of apartment. The front ones are 2753sq feet and have their own shallow pool on the balcony facing the sea. Very well designed with 3 bedrooms and a maid’s room. There were a few left for sale at 3.5 Million RM or A$1.215Million. Seemed good value. Should rent when completed end 2016 at around 7000RM a month or A$2430. The smaller apartments had no view so were of no interest.
Having sorted out our potential residence we wandered along to the Proton Car Dealership on Jalan Sultan Ahmed Shah were the salesman Michael showed us the new Proton 1.6 CVT Premium. It is about VW Polo size. It has all the bells and whistles including reversing camera, satnav, leather seats etc. Priced at 62,901RM on the road or A$21,840 before discounts it would suit us as we no longer need a large car.
Starting to see why so many expats are choosing Penang to settle. Stephen and Colleens book was not exaggerating when comparing Penang to Sydney. It is indeed very affordable, natives are friendly and most speak at least some English. Decided we will return to Penang after our sojourn in Malacca.
Got back to hotel suffering mild heat exhaustion!