We took a ferry from the Kuah port in Langkawi. The port is watched over by an enormous eagle, and the terminal is very modern and large. We wandered through a few huge and empty halls (except for unused security equipment) before arriving at our waiting area.
About 3 hours after leaving Langkawi, we arrived in Penang.
From there, we booked a Grab car to take us to our AirBnB home for the next month just outside of George Town in Miami Beach.
Our condo is a 3-bedroom suite on the 17th floor of a 4-building complex. The kitchen in the open plan unit is at the back, looking out on a jungle mountain. With the kitchen and living room windows open we have amazing breezes blowing through the suite.
The next few days were a whirlwind of social events, which is strange for us since life is pretty quiet on the social front, even when we are in familiar territory and among friends and family. In our first 5 days in Penang, we participated in 4 events:
- Our first order of business once we had dropped our bags at our condo was to head out to the nearest grocery store, Tesco, to pick up supplies. While grabbing a quick bite to eat before shopping, we met up with a couple who was staying in our building for 4 months. We hope to meet up with them again by the pool. While shopping, Ken spied a Vancouver Canucks T-shirt and couldn’t resist speaking to the wearer. That resulted in us meeting Chris (a Brit) and Edith (another Canadian), who also live in the same building. They offered to take us to a market nearby. A couple of days later, we joined Chris and Edith at 8:15 a.m. as they drove us all to the wet market in Tanjung Bungah. It was really great to have a guided tour of the stalls with kind people willing to share their knowledge.
- While we were still in Chiang Mai, we were unsuccessfully searching for a place to stay in Penang. Our hotelier, Kishore, got us on the phone with his Australian friend, Mary, who was about to move from Chiang Mai to Penang, to see if she could offer any ideas. Mary was so nice, and suggested we join the Expats in Penang Facebook group and post a note about our search there. We didn’t manage to arrange a meetup in Chiang Mai, but within a few days of our arrival we were at a dinner party at Mary and Steve’s beautiful new condo, with another Aussie couple, Ryt and Julie. An Aussie BBQ with 4 Aussies and 2 Canadians in Malaysia. What fun!
- Another Canadian, Karen, saw our note on Facebook, checked out our blog, realized that her and her husband, Rick, had been living parallel lives with us for the last couple of years, and got in touch. We made a lunch date for our third day in town, met up in the center of George Town at the China House, and spent a couple of hours talking and laughing about travels, housesitting, and the many places we had both visited (we had both stayed for a month at the AirBnB of now-friends Wayne and Christine in Pedasi, Panama).
- Every Monday morning at a mall coffee shop there is an expat and visitor meetup (check the details on the Penang Coffee and Chat Facebook page). Karen had clued us into this one and we showed up at the Brown Pocket coffee shop on the sixth floor of the Paragon mall, along with about 30 others. We even knew some of the people there already (Karen, Rick, and Ryt).
Here we were, the first time ever in Penang, Malaysia, and we had a full social calendar.
Everyone we have talked to has been so welcoming and helpful, and we’ve heard several stories about the kindness and generosity of the expat community here. We are delighted and honoured to have met so many already and look forward to spending more time in their company.
In between all of these social engagements and hanging out at our pool, we have managed to check out a bit of Penang. More on that in future posts.
- Ferry from Langkawi to Penang: We booked online, but had some challenges since the ferry site (langkawi-ferry.com) would not accept our credit card, and many booking agents charged high admin fees or inflated ticket prices. I finally found easybook.com, which only charged 2 RM (66 cents CAD) booking fee per ticket on top of the standard ferry price and it accepted our card. Cost including admin fee: 72 RM ($24 CAD) per person.
- Grab from Swettenham Pier to Miami Beach (where we are staying): Trip is about 14km, 30 minutes. 18 RM ($6 CAD).