Our family has been in Malaysia for a week now. What a whirlwind!
We have settled into an apartment in Penang Times Square, which is right in Georgetown. The bottom five floors of the building are a shopping mall. The apartments are on top; 23 stories high. We are on the eleventh floor and we have a great view of the city.
We have started to figure out the details of daily life here. There is a very large Chinese grocery store just down the street from us called Gama. That will be where we go for day-to-day groceries. I’ve also made some forays into other parts of the city. There’s a Tesco (basically a British Wal-Mart) and a Mydin (and that’s the Malaysian Wal-Mart) to get a sense of what’s available where.
Transportation has also been a big learning curve. Sidewalks here–especially in Georgetown–are some of the worst I’ve ever seen. So walking from place to place, as I’d intended, is nearly impossible with a toddler. Instead, we’ve been using Uber, the mobile car hiring program. For the uninitiated, Uber is an app for your phone. You type in your location and your destination, and a private driver shows up to take you there. Your credit card info is stored in the app, so no money exchanges hands during the drive. And a receipt is mailed straight to your inbox. We’ve also taken some bus rides. There are several buses that stop in front of our building and many more just down the street at Komtar. Local rides in town are only 1.4 ringgit (about 33 U.S. cents), so that’s certainly affordable.
And then there were all the appointments. On U.S. Monday (our Tuesday morning) I video-conferenced into a city council workshop for the first time ever, and it worked pretty well. My plan is to do that every other Monday, and it seems like all the technology is there to make it work.
Later on Tuesday, our whole family went to Island Hospital for my first Malaysian pre-natal appointment. As everyone had promised, Dr. Narinder is warm and friendly. I will have a private delivery room and a private recovery room, and all the nurses seemed quite nice as well.
On Wednesday, we made our first trip to Universiti Sains Malaysia, where we met with the staff of the International Office. The Malaysian staff have done an incredible job of organizing the logisitics–now Joel and I just have to catch up and learn all that they’ve planned for us!