Public Bank is rubbish, Maybank not much better either

Date July 28, 2015

Went to Public Bank to pay company GST for the first time. Was told that I can’t pay over the counter at Public Bank. Can only pay on-line. BUT with their business account, I can only view transactions and all on-line. I can’t do nothing with on-line payment. Pay SOCSO, NO, Pay EPF contributions, NO. Bank transfers, NO. Now GST return, can’t even do it over the counter. Bloody hopeless. If you want to be able to do the above on-line, you need to pay extra. Over RM20 a month to use their on-line service. How bloody thick of them, when they should really be encouraging customers to move on-line. Especially now that they charge RM0.50 to process each cheque, and that hasn’t even included GST! Public Bank is like a dinosaur in the modern world, slow moving, clumsy, outdated, but blood sucking at the same time.

Customer service rep however “kindly” told me that I can pay at Maybank or CIMB nearby. I hope she is ashamed of the bank she’s working for. So I have to drive to Maybank. Maybank, as I have been told before, is the most Internet friendly, even for business customers. I have a Maybank personal account, but which I have not been using for such long time that it has gone inactive, I know their on-line services are pretty good. But at the counter service is so very frustrating. They just take a long time service a customer. Compared to Public Bank they are just so much slower. I really don’t understand how they can be so slow. I waited over half an hour for my turn. During that time only 8 were served, with 6 active counters. And when I wanted to reactivate my account, which I needed to queue separately for customer service, there was only one counter that could deal with my problem. But there just seemed to be so many staff around, and so many counters. I filled up my form already, but there is just only one active customer service counter. Appalling. I gave up. I need to think again whether I want to switch our business account over to Maybank.

McDonald’s at AEON Kinta City has closed shop

Date July 25, 2015

Find it difficult to believe that even McDonald’s packs up in a busy shopping mall. The customer service in AEON Kinta City confirmed this. I heard that McDonald’s want to do 24 hours drive through service which they can’t do at the shopping mall that is why they decided not to renew their contract. There is however already one next to MH Hotel. So this can’t be the sole reason they want out. It is likely they want to relocate somewhere else. But from what I can see it’s good business in AEON Kinta City. It’s a loss they chose to relocate in my view. But I obviously I don’t know how much Kinta City was asking for rental which could make it less profitable than a 24 hours drive through business model. I heard that Black Canyon is paying RM33,000 a month so McDonald’s was probably paying that kind of money previously. It would be difficult for Kinta City to find a new tenant to occupy that space for sure with considering that it is a premium ground floor lot. With the upcoming AEON Big in Klebang, I can foresee rental to remain suppressed for years to come in Ipoh, especially when the economy is looking dire at the moment. You see even McDonald’s don’t want to do business in a busy shopping mall anymore!

Getting a new car in a couple of days

Date October 7, 2014

Been having a few problems with the little car we bought last year from a second-hand dealer. And frustratingly problems showed up when we were about to go up (or going up!) Cameron Highlands. One time there was a puncture in the T metal connector connecting the pipes for cooling the engine. Temperature on the indicator shot up as we were climbing up the hills. Switched off the engine, waited for the engine to cool down before continuing again, but problem persisted. Eventually we parked our car on the roadside, next to a car who was driven into the drain by a drunkard! Thanks to the people around, who stopped by to help the poor chap, the leaking hole was temporarily “bandaged” using rubber (believed to be from tyre tube) found on the road. We drove the car back to Ipoh, but not without lots of top up with water as water still kept leaking out. Even my daughter now knows that we need to make sure the car is alright before we go on holiday otherwise we will need to stop the car many times to fill the car with water! After much huffing and puffing, we got to a workshop at Simpang Pulai. Apart from having to replace the T connector, the connecting rubber pipes were old and stiff and needed replacing. Rust were flushed out and coolant replaced. Hundreds of Ringgit changed hands.

The second time recently, the air-cond stopped cooling on the night before we wanted to go up Cameron Highlands. The air-cond got noisier the next day when we switched on the air-cond and it stopped cooling altogether too. We eventually swapped car with my mum and went up Cameron Highlands anyway. Turned out that the compressor of the air-cond needed replacing. Same for the condensing unit, as according to the mechanic something went black as a result from the failed compressor. Lots of money changed hand again. That was that. But what was annoying was we got some clancking sound as we drove the car away. Asked the mechanic to test it the next day, the sound was nowhere to be heard. But we still heard it, especially in the morning, and when we released the handbrake. Then days later, smoke came out and the air-cond stopped working, again! Went back to the same shop (called 福利, across the road from the Honda dealer Ban Hoe Seng), furious, and was told that the air-cond fan needed replacing too. Told them about the sound we still heard, one of the mechanics didn’t seem too interested in our problem. And this shop was recommended, highly, by my brother. Not sure why to be honest. Just lots of frustration with service we received in Ipoh.

So the new car seems timely for our trip, well to Penang, not Cameron Highlands this time :) Not sure if we are excited with the arrival of our new car, our first new car! As it costs lots of money. And it can get very expensive with this brand of car if it breaks down! We’ll see how it goes, hope the new car is not going to give us huge problems for many many years to come…*fingers crossed*

No entertainment on the day the Sultan passed away

Date May 29, 2014

The Sultan of Perak passed away yesterday. It is declared public holiday today in Perak. Nursery for my daughter is closed for the day. With not much to do, brought my daughter to Cheeky Tots. Turns out that they are closed too, along with entertainment outlets that I am aware of like cinemas and bowling alleys, as a sign of respect for the deceased Sultan. In fact apparently all gatherings, performances and celebrations shall be cancelled for seven days! If my memory served me right, didn’t hear any music in the supermarket that I went to in the morning too.

So went to my parents’ house instead. With not much to do there, we ended up watching tele, which normally doesn’t happen when we are at home with SA. Mum needs to keep herself entertained, hence my brother’s children are brought up watching a lot of tele too. In fact they know better than my mum how to control the set top box. No toys for SA to play so she got bored after some time. Brought her out to play a bit of badminton. But was drizzling in the evening. Played under the awnings instead. Very pathetic. But at least SA was kept amused until it was time for dinner…

Ipoh one of most affordable cities to retire

Date May 28, 2014

Interesting indeed that Ipoh is recognised by a western foreigner as one of the most affordable cities to retire. Not that Ipoh is not affordable to live in. My first thought is surely there are plenty of cities around the world that are more “affordable” to live in than Ipoh?! The blogger for US News came up with a figure, amounting to $897 a month, if you want to retire in Ipoh. But regrettably there is not a lot of further insights apart from two short paragraphs which only scratches the surface of what potentially makes Ipoh a desirable city to retire in.

Here are my take on what makes Ipoh desirable for foreigners:

1)      Healthcare, when you are in your old age, is comparatively cheaper than many places, especially the U.S. Well, where else in the world is not cheaper to get access to healthcare than the US?! It is also fairly affordable to hire a maid, from the likes of Philipine, Indonesia, to do your house chores, if not to take care of you as well. So the appeal for retirees is certainly compelling in this sense.

2)      Language should be a plus. Whilst folks in Ipoh don’t speak a lot of English, they can still communicate in basic English, by and large. So foreigners should have little trouble getting on with life, as long as they don’t wander too far off the city…

3)      Environment and infrastructure are not bad for such a city in a developing country. To start with, Ipoh is surrounded by mountains, which to me is very scenic itself. Air quality is okay, occasionally hit by haze from forest fire in neighbouring country, Indonesia. Development is catching up even in this sleepy town, with plenty of housing and commercial developments. Traffic is on the rise too although not choking yet. So not much to shout about in terms of air quality in general I would say. Stay away from urban areas and one on Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme told me that her husband is no longer suffering from asthma. Water is cheap in Ipoh, and in abundance. Most people however install their own water filter at home as water is not drinkable directly from tap. Traffic congestion is not an issue in Ipoh, especially if you are a retiree as you mostly only travel during off peak hours. You can get from one end of Ipoh to another in probably half an hour. But you do need a car to get you around, as local public transport is virtually non-existent.

4)      Wide range of food available, starting from very affordable prices. Eating out, decent local food, can be cheaper than cooking at home. And increasingly you can find more sophisticated gastronomic experience in Ipoh too. Whilst not as affordable as local food, the availability of such options is important as I can imagine that foreigners will fancy eating food  they are accustomed to back home sometimes having myself lived in overseas for long period of time before.

5)      Accommodation is fairly affordable. Used to be very cheap to own a house in Ipoh. But property boom in the far east has driven house prices up, even in Ipoh. Renting is however still comparatively cheap. Because rental yield is low, condition of rented properties is generally quite poor. So you may need to fork out more (i.e. at least RM1,000 to RM1,500 a month rental) for more palatable properties…

6)      Western influence makes it easier for westerners to adapt to life in Ipoh, from shopping malls, supermarkets like Tesco, fast food chains, to familiar household and food product names, you name it. Alcohol drinking, although expensive, is common in Malaysia, despite it being perceived as a Muslim country. And lately coffee drinking culture is catching up in Ipoh too, in settings as wide ranging as by the roadside type stalls to individualistic boutique cafes to chain coffee shops like Starbucks.  There are also affordable international schools to cater for families with children. Activities for young children, should you have any, are however very limited, whether to do with the hot climate or not. Having said that there is a very commendable indoor playground in the form of Cheeky Tots which even short stay tourists recommended it!

Hence Ipoh in my view is a good place to retire if you have a small budget, and want to live a simple, slow pace life. If you want further sophistication, there are no concert hall, quality museum, technology center or such likes to occasionally keep you occupied though…

Hot hot hot

Date February 27, 2014

It has been like this for the last few weeks. Very little rain. Once or twice, if you consider the drizzle as rain, at most over the same period of time. For months I’ve been taking hot shower. Nowadays I switch to bathing from water storage tank. Definitely can’t sleep without switching on air conditioner for a good few hours when I go to bed.

Looking around my house, grass is not growing, except weeds which is seeding. Luckily I’ve not been keeping plants, yet. Except the one plant that my mum gave me which I have to remind myself to water it everyday. And that’s hard work already for me. Any outdoor activity is out of the question for me. Having said that, went for a dip in the swimming pool with the family yesterday. I’m now feeling pain on my shoulder, probably a sun burn. What else can we do when it’s such hot!!?

Shipments from the UK arriving tomorrow

Date June 2, 2013

Three months. Three months after we shipped our belongings from the UK that they are finally going to turn up on our door step tomorrow. When we chose to use Anglo Pacific, we were unaware that our belongings would be shipped to Singapore first. They arrived at Singapore on the 2nd May. And it wasn’t until last Thursday that they arrived at KL. Why it took so long I have no idea. Our commercial freight were shipped later, almost about a month’s later. But arrived at Ipoh two weeks ago. Incredible. W is rather excited that our stuff are finally going to be here tomorrow. I on the other hand just hope that all 86 boxes of them are going to appear in my living room unscathed.

Our own little car in Ipoh

Date April 16, 2013

For the past few weeks we have been relying on our mums’ cars to get around. We tried our best to work around the time at which they need to use the car. Our mums need to use the car for going to the wet market in the morning. And they need car to send their grand children to kindergarten or tuition centres. So often we have to plan our day to allow us to come home on time. Life is difficult without a car in Malaysia as public transport is hopeless here. And it is very hot here. Not only do we need a car. We would like to have a car with good air cond too, which one of mums’ does not have.

Also both cars do not have CD player. So we have not been able to play our daughter’s nursery rhyme CDs whilst driving our daughter around. Can’t really blame her for not feeling very keen to go out with us. And that she keeps reminding us every now and then, “no Malaysia, no Malaysia”.

So it is such a big difference it makes when we bought our own car, albeit just a small and second hand car. A 1.3 litre Myvi, made in Malaysia. We just feel like our “basic” need is satisfied. It has good air cond, a CD player, in good condition and a joy to drive. In fact we are more than satisfied. We are happy. We can do our own things without worrying about the time. And we can get more things done in a day. No need to move the car seat in and out from our mums’ cars everyday. This is in spite of a certain disapproval from some of our family members on why we have chosen to buy such a small car. It does feel like the car you drive in Malaysia will give out a certain signal about your social standing in the community. But whatever, I don’t give a rat’s ass about what other people think of me.

Yukids in One Utama

Date April 5, 2013

Visited an indoor soft play in Kuala Lumpur today, called Yukids, and it is located in one of the largest shopping mall in Malaysia, One Utama. I must say that it is not the kind of soft play I’m familiar with.

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As you can see from the picture the stuff is very different from what I’d expect from a soft play in the UK. No big climb frame. No fibre glass type slides, only air inflatables. There are quite a few standalone play items, like revolving drum, small slide that looks like water fall with water flowing underneath etc. Quite interesting if you have not seen them before. But for the children I think the play can be a bit disjointed as they are rather randomly placed. I must say that my daughter seems to enjoy the soft play nevertheless. As children generally likes to play anyway. But for parents, there are not that many seatings though. Only four tables and about 20 chairs. I can imagine that if the place gets crowded parents will be annoyed by the lack of seatings. The entrance is RM20 on weekdays, for whole day play. But I can’t see children feeling too keen to spend the whole day in there, let alone the parents. On weekends or school holidays, it charges RM28. Not expensive considering that this is KL, and located in a popular shopping mall. But for me it is still a lot of money for not a lot of things to play with.

Kidzoona in Aeon 18 Ipoh

Date March 21, 2013

We are back in Ipoh again. Visited Aeon at Station 18 for the first time. It is a new shopping mall, biggest in Perak I think. We went there to do a bit grocery shopping, mainly to buy some food stuff for our little one.

We heard that there is an indoor soft play, called Kidzoona. So we decided to pay that a visit first before we go shopping. It is located on the first floor. But since we did not know the whereabouts of it, and the floor plan that we found did not show its location, we I volunteered to ask a security guard. But turns out that he did not know where it is yet told us to go up second floor. Very annoyed that some people would give direction even though they don’t know the location. So we asked again, this time a shop keeper, and we found the place.

The play area is actually rather small. Well, compared to what we are used to anyway in the UK. The climb frame is tiny, and is only suitable for children under 1.35m. SA went in once and that was it. There are some push karts which SA always like to play with. Particularly filling the boot of the kart with random bits of toys. There are two giant inflatables, one is a slide and the other is like a bouncy castle. The indoor soft plays in the UK have moved away from inflatables and use fibre glass slides many years ago. Anyway I guess it is much easier to install inflatables than proper climb frame, especially in shopping malls.

Can’t say we are overly impressed with Kidzoona. But at RM10 for entrance on week day I think it still represents good value. In the UK we can get into over 10,000 sq ft indoor soft play with £3, but situated in a warehouse. That is the kind of difference.