Jane's Travel Blog

New Chapter: Explore the World


Nice Routine in Penang

It’s been pretty low-key since the quick move to our new apartment.

I’ve made a habit of walking the promenade, shopping at the public wet market, and enjoying the yoga community. When walking the promenade, I see the same red-hatted street sweeper each day. The walk ends at the wet market where I often partake in Nasi Lemak, which is coconut rice, half an egg, a bit of mackerel and sweet hot sauce served on a banana leaf, all for 2 ringgits. That’s about 50 cents. On Fridays, yoga is held outside in the botanical garden with a waterfall as our music. Sometimes the monkeys come to watch. All and all, it’s a great routine.

We’ve of course found a few nice hiking trails into the jungle and drink tons of water on the hikes. It’s hot and humid here.

I discovered a Vipassana Meditation Center just up the hill and decided to enroll for a 10 day session. Unfortunately, it was closed to students, but still open to servers, so I applied and was accepted.

The best way to describe the experience is “difficult”. We were short handed and the center was “temporary.” Translated – primitive. Again, serving was outrageously difficult, with little rest.  I always try to see the positive and see the lessons, so here’s the positive.

My meditation reached a new level, I met some amazing people, learned a ton about Malaysian cooking and food, and learned once again, that a common language is not necessary to create a strong bond with a person. I’m pretty sure that Ah Bek, our 82 year old cook, and I are best friends.

Ukeko from Japan and I had no shared language, yet worked in the kitchen for 11 days with lots of smiles, points, and demonstrations. The rest of the team consisted of Connor, a Brit, Chow, a Malaysian with great English, Joe, a real yogi and Jessica who saved the day with her experience at the center and her incredible curry.

The cliche “what doesn’t kill you, makes your stronger” applies here.

Jessica  and Connor came back to our apartment to shower, do some laundry and recuperate for a few days. It was good to rehash our days of selfless service and relax for a bit.

One day after recuperating, I created my own walking tour of the UNESCO Historic District and explored the jetties and the murals. The jetties started when Chinese workers stayed near the water before and after work. Eventually the jetties evolved into permanent homes. Each jetty represented a different Chinese clan. When walking through a few I felt I might be invading personal space, and while walking in others, it was clear that tourists were welcome.

In the afternoon I hunted down the murals of Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic. He was commissioned in 2012 to paint whimsical murals around the city. I love this work because he incorporated actual objects into each mural. My favorite is a child standing on a chair on tiptoes reaching for a window. The chair and the window are real.

Two weeks left in Penang. We have a short list of must-dos before we leave. We recently visited Penang Hill which has “the view” of George Town, and wandered the Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple exploring its nooks and winding staircases. It’s one of the largest temples in Southeast Asia.

We are back in North America in May for a three week house sit in Vancouver and then head to the East Coast to visit the kids and grandkids. My nephew, Kelley, is getting married to a wonderful woman in June, so we will be in Wisconsin for their wedding.

The experiment continues and it’s going quite well. We are approaching year three.  We’ve lived in twelve countries and on five continents. As I wrote in my first post, “Holy Shit. I’ve sold almost everything I own, am living from one suitcase, and traveling the world.” It’s still true, and we love it.  Let the adventure continue.





Malaysia, The Best Laid Plan

We’re in Malaysia now, specifically Georgetown, Penang.

Our Plan – 3 months

First  month, rent historic shophouse.

Last two months rent near the sea.

It was a great plan. Many of the shophouses were built in the late 1800’s. Usually two stories, the business on the first floor, the shop, and the residence on the second, the house.

We were very excited to live in a bit of history.

Well, that historic living lasted three days.

We moved because of one creepy-crawly reason…



Yep, those disease-carrying-unpredictable-scurrying-evil-beasts wanted to share our shophouse.

NOPE, not happening. Jane doesn’t live with cockroaches.

Within the first half hour of checking out the place, I meet my first beastly crawler in the upstairs hallway. A quick inhale, some fancy panicked footwork, and a quiet scream to Bob and I’m on edge.

Oddly, there’s a can of roach spray right there and I empty it on that bugger. It crawled over a wooden Buddha sculpture sitting in the corner, then flipped over dead on it’s back. When we left the house, it was still leg up next to the Buddha.

(Hmm, first clue, why was there a can of roach spray right there?)

I begin my research on the unwelcomed guests. One article suggested misting the floor with vinegar to prevent them from coming into the house, so the next morning I’m armed with two spray bottles and lots of vinegar. I spend the next four hours cleaning the kitchen and misting all the floors in the shophouse.

I’m trying to be a trooper, but I’m on edge. If my pant leg fluttered over my skin, I would quickly brush my leg. When walking around the house, I would stomp the floors announcing my presence showing those beasts who’s boss.

Well, on night three, I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve misted many times, I’m stomping, only eating in the kitchen, and keeping all food in the frig. I can do this.

So, on night three, I’ve settled into bed to watch a little Netflix when Bob comes in to talk. I sit up and there it is. A cockroach crawls across the sheet, IN MY BED. I’m on my feet on top of the bed screaming, “There’s a cockroach. Look Bob, there’s a cockroach!” Bob sits up and the roach turns left and heads toward the head of the bed and crawls down over the edge.

Now, I am truly freaked. I’m not ok. I’m not the boss. The cockroaches have won the war.

We email the owner of our next apartment asking if they have cockroaches and if not, asking if we could move in early.  That night we sleep on the couch, and no, I didn’t sleep.

Luckily, we hear back about the apartment the next morning, and we moved by early that afternoon.

It’s taken me a few days to catch up on the sleep and relax. AirBnB helped us negotiate with the host of the shophouse, and we got back half our money. They said I should have taken pictures.

It makes sense, but at the time, I wasn’t thinking documentation. I was thinking, “Get the hell out of here!” Next time – Wait, I hope there’s never a next time with those creepy crawly evil critters.

On a happier note, since we’ve been in our new wonderful apartment, we’ve been to a Chinese New Year party, went to an Thaipusam Hindu festival, explored the coast a bit and are enjoying the beautiful seaside promenade. The markets are plentiful, and my kitchen provides all I need to prepare healthy wholesome meals.

We have two and a half more months in Penang. Let the exploration continue in our bug free apartment.

Here’s a few pictures of Penang. (no pics of cockroaches)