Monday, 23 July 2012

Say it in Malay

For the most part you can get away with not knowing Malay (Bahasa Malaysia), but knowing at least a little bit of it can be useful. Learning it is simple because it is written in English, and you will come across many sign boards in Malay making it easy to remember certain words. One of the first words I learnt was 'Dilarang merokok', which means no smoking. Saw this sign everyday in a common area of our condo. Another one you would see quite often is Masuk (Entry) and Keluar (Exit).

The next few words we learnt were mostly while shopping specially while ordering food. I have been looking around for Malay classes for my children and found that most kindergartens offer classes. Also a local friend of mine who is also a teacher has classes at home, will be sending my kids there soon.

Here is a list of frequently used words.

Selamat Pagi - Good Morning
Apa kabar - How are you?
Kabar  baik - I'm fine
Berapa - How much
Awas - Caution
Makan - Eat
Minum - Drink
Air - Water
Buka - Opened
Tutup - Closed
Tandas - Toilet
Perempuan - Female
Lelaki - Male
Pasar Raya - Supermarket
Pasar Malam - Night market
Satu - One
Dua - Two
Thiga - Three
Empat - Four
Lima - Five
Enam - Six
Thuju - Seven
Lapan - Eight
Sembilan - Nine
Sepulu - Ten

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Cost of living in Penang

One of the most important factor to consider before making a decision to move is the cost of living. This is one of the first questions many expats will have in mind. I will share with you the cost of living for a family of 4. Two adults and 2 children. The biggest expense you will have will most likely be for renting of a home. You might either choose to stay in an apartment or landed property. Many expats choose apartments over landed houses because of security reasons as apartments offer 24 hour security in a gated community. And not to mention the facilities of pools, gym, landscaped gardens, children's play grounds, laundry and other facilities depending on the place you choose. Apartments are a good choice if you travel a lot, keeping the house unoccupied for a long period of time. In an apartment complex you will most likely be bumping into your neighbors more often and make lots of friends within the complex itself.

Landed houses are ideal for people who have pets and like large gardens. There are gated and guarded landed houses with a range of other facilities too in Penang. Renting a 3 bedroom apartment of around 1000 sqf  in the north of the Island will cost between around RM 2,500 to 3,500. Other areas are slightly cheaper.

Eating out is considered quite cheap and there is plenty of variety to choose from. Penang is famous for its hawker food, which can be found very easily. The food might look unusual but tastes delicious! A meal per person at a hawker center can be around RM 10 including a drink.

Electricity too is not too expensive and can vary from about RM 100 to 150 with air condition. Water is very  cheap at around RM 30 to 40 per month. Gas cylinder is around RM 28 which will last for about 4-6 months depending on how much you cook at home.

Another big expense if you have children is school fees. Fees for international schools are quite high, with the minimum per month being about RM 1000+. At kindergarten it will cost around RM 350 - 500 for the 3.5 hour program.

Groceries per month for a family of 4 can cost up to RM 1500+. All prices here are based on my personal experience and can vary from person to person greatly!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Pediatricians in Penang

Living in Penang with 3 young children we often have to make visits to the doctors. The most common cause having to get vaccinated. Since my elder 2 daughters had some of their vaccines in our home country which had a different schedule compared to the one followed in Malaysia we had to make sure we were getting the right vaccine at the right time. After a few calls we decided that Hope Children's Hospital was our best bet and is just a stones throw away from where we are. Its a nice little place that any child would love to go to, of course before they realize they are there for a vaccine :) There is a little play area and lovely fish pond that can keep any child happy.

For the past few years we have been seeing the same doctor at Hope, he was quite friendly. Few weeks ago the elder 2 had to get a vaccine again, now that they are bigger it is a bit more difficult to get them to the clinic. But this time they didn't know that they were going for a vaccine, and the regular doctor was not available! The doctor who we met this time was very friendly, and believe it or not my 2 girls didn't even know they got a vaccine until we told them! The doctor gave them a vitamin and asked them to chew it and while talking to them he gave them the vaccine. We were very satisfied with how things turned out. Thank you Dr Chew.

Details of Hope Children's Clinic:
Address: 66 & 68, Jalan Dato Ismail Hashim,
Sungai Ara, Bayan Lepas
Telephone: 04 6447557

Monday, 9 July 2012

International Schools in Penang

Its decision time yet again. Our eldest daughter starts primary school next year and the hunt for a suitable school has begun. This is what I have learnt so far into my research.

There are 3 main types of schools in Penang, which are Public (government) schools, Private schools and International schools. Public school follow the Malaysian curriculum while private schools follow the Malaysian curriculum in English and International schools follow recognized International curriculum. Here is a list of International and Private schools I came across while researching for schools for my daughter.

International Schools in Penang

The International School of Penang (Uplands)
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Location: Batu Ferrengi

Dalat International School
Curriculum: American Curriculum
Location: Tanjung Bunga

St. Christopher’s International School 
Curriculum: British National Curriculum
Location: George Town

Tenby International School 
Curriculum: National Curriculum for England
Location: George Town

Prince of Wales Island International School 
Curriculum: National Curriculum for England and Wales
Location: Balik Palau

Fairview International School
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Location: Bukit Jambul

Straits International School – Bayan Lepas
Curriculum: British Curriculum
Location: Bayan Lepas

So far visited Fairview and Straits International schools (SIS). Both seem quite impressive. But Fairview seems to be lacking the open spaces giving it a slightly crammed look. SIS is a new school which will be starting its first semester in September this year school building is not ready yet though.Temporary building is in Bayan Lepas. Please feel free to share your feedback (good or bad) on the schools in Penang. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The beginning....

Our new life in Penang started 3 years ago when my husband was offered a job here. We were excited and anxious at the same time, but our 3 and 1 year old daughters took our minds off by keeping us busy and entertained throughout the journey leaving no time for worry.

I loved Penang from the moment we stepped out. The climate, the people, the greenery and the food so far were really nice. The kids were thrilled when they saw the many playgrounds in our condo, we were very happy too with the choice of apartment. We settled in very fast. Finding food is very easy here as there are many different types of food and restaurants to choose from. Penang is known to be a food heaven for the variety of food it has to offer.

At Batu Ferrengi
The locals were very helpful in helping us settle down by recommending the best places for food, groceries, entertainment and everything we needed to know. Though we had a bit of a communication problem occasionally we eventually learned to overcome this.