Pinang Peranakan Mansion - 27th March

Had wonderful Street Café food last night just up from our hotel.

Kafe Fountain 262-264 Lebuh Carnarvon is a typical café with several stall holders within. I had a plate of spicy fried noodles and Erica munched on a dry dish with accompanying yummy soup. Cost was only 9RM or about A$3.20 for two. Drinks were extra! The stall keeper was a mine of information. He said he lived nearby and bought his house in a quiet neighbourhood about 5 years ago for 120,000RM. It is now worth 500,000RM. The neighbourhood is now noisy as the vehicle numbers have increased and although on paper he seems to have done well with his real estate he is unhappy. He explained that he could not buy a place now that was as in as good a position as his house was 5 years ago. This must be the price of progress.

It appears to us that the current condominium construction boom in Georgetown is purely fuelled by wealthy foreign investors. Up to half the condominiums in any one building may either be sitting empty or rented at very low rates. These rent returns do not reflect normal returns on investment. The end game is capital gain for these owners. For example one can rent a 3.5Million RM apartment for about 7000RM per month. This is just over a 2.2% return and it would have to be fully furnished to get that rent. The conundrum is will the big capital gains these investors are looking for eventuate? We have been here too short a time to make comment on this but rest assured if we decide to settle here we will be renting!

A word on our hotel The Armenian Street Heritage. When we first arrived we made some disparaging remarks about it in our blog. As time has gone on we have grown used to its inadequacies and are starting to appreciate our large room with chairs, chaise lounge and writing desk. For longer than a few days you could overlook the fact that teaspoons are not provided as the room size makes up for it. A curious thing is that on our floor just one young man services all the rooms (may even be the whole hotel) so your room may not be done until 3pm. As we are very clean, not too much residue has built up over the 6 days. He still only mops but smiles as we lift our feet so that he may mop beneath them.

Have noticed that there has been no visible graffiti anywhere we have been so far in Malaysia. Have also not felt threatened or in danger to date. Our Kafe Fountain stall holder tells us there is crime and that the constabulary cannot be relied upon for help. He is involved in what they call “community policing” and offered to help if we ever needed it. Surprisingly he also knew all about MM2H visas and the restrictions introduced in December last year to prevent expats buying the cheaper condominiums.

Traffic in Georgetown

Traffic in Georgetown

The pollution haze in Georgetown has so far been a constant companion. The locals say it is forest burning in Indonesia but we rather suspect that it is the fumes from the 1.2 million vehicles that ply the islands roads.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Visited the Pinang Peranakan Mansion and it has to be said it was a luxurious statement of Straits Chinese wealth in the late 1800’s to the 1930’s. The artefacts, jewellery, clothing, photos furniture and kitchenware from this period were breathtaking! At this time the Chinese immigrants were living high on the hog. As well as Chinese things they had brought many English items to their house. Included was their own Temple on a grand scale. Something one should definitely see when in Georgetown.

Off to the Kafe Fountain for dinner before we leave for Ipoh on the Butterworth ferry in the morning. Georgetown, we will return.