Category Archives: Family

Buying our own house in Ipoh

Just placed a small deposit for a new house. Looks like we are finally getting on the proper ladder in Ipoh. Well, in about two years time actually because the house will only be ready by end of 2017 LOL. Considering how much property value has shot up in the recent 5-10 years, I thought we might never be able to buy anything decent in the short term, i.e. in areas we are interested in yet we can afford.

Shared swimming pool

We are quite pleased with the housing concept that we are buying into. It is like a town house concept, not so different from the house we have lived in in the UK. But these houses are more standalone, as residents don’t need to share the house, e.g. with one resident on the ground floor and another occupying the floors upstairs. And this has additional facilities like a swimming pool, shared amongst residents living in the gated and guarded area. The lot that we are buying shares a communal garden too, with residents between two rows of houses.

Communal garden

It is a good concept, as it can help forge community ties, which is increasingly lacking in modern society. Of course this is based on assumption that other residents are good going people, which I hope they are, as otherwise they wouldn’t be interested in such housing concept in the first place would they?

We are getting a corner lot so we’ll have some land on the side. Not sure what we are going to do with the space yet, but perhaps can grow some herbs and vegetables. We’ll definitely need to keep the grass in check. I do love a nice patch of grass in my garden. But I found that it is bloody difficult to keep the weeds out, especially when we have weeds growing wild in our neighbours’ house! Hopefully it is not the case at the new place.

Looking forward to the new house. Immediate concern now however is to get loan approval from banks to finance our house…’doh!

Entrance into Springfields Residence

Selling our little car

Finally got ourselves a buyer for our little car, after placing an ad on mudah.com.my for almost 2 weeks. Yesterday the buyer came paid a deposit of RM1,000 for our car. Now need go to Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalanraya (JPJ) to get my car a Puspakom inspection certificate, so the buyer can be certain that the car he is buying is a legal one, and get the necessary forms required for transfer of car ownership.

Once that is done, not forgetting money changing hands for the car, our little car will no longer be ours. Despite it having given us quite a few headaches before, think we will remember the car for a long time. It is after all our first car since we moved back from England. Our daughter still loves to sit in the little car even after we have bought a new car, our bimmer. Stark difference in quality in so many ways yet our daughter is indifferent to them all. Hope the new buyer will take good care of our little car though.

Updated 03/01/2016:
Some complications occurred which perhaps sellers should take note. Before sending your car to Puspakom for inspection, remove the glass tinting stickers first. Basically you will fail the inspection if there is any tinting sticker on the windscreen. Visibility needs to be above 70%. Without any sticker visibility is only around 75% already. So why there are still shops installing tinting for cars? Because JPJ has another set of benchmark which will allow certain level of tinting to be used on the road. So whatever numbers you see on the warranty card for your tinting is irrelevant when you send to Puspakom. It will cost you another RM31.80 for a retest. People really should complain about this double benchmarks which is illogical and a waste of motorists’ money.

Puspakom Inspection ResultWith tinting front windscreen was only 48% visibility. Windows of front passengers failed too, below 50%.

AEON Big Falim, the largest in Malaysia

AEON Big Falim
Here we go, AEON is opening another mall in Ipoh, on 18th December 2015. This time is AEON Big located in Falim, apparently the largest in Malaysia! As I wrote in my earlier post that the recently opened AEON Klebang couldn’t fill up all their retail spaces on their opening day, I think we are going to see even more empty spaces there. With a population of not even close to 1 million, at around 700k, yet Ipoh is going to have four AEONs (Kinta City, Station 18, Klebang and now Falim), a Parkson Ipoh Parade and countless supermarkets cum retail spaces, the retailers are going to be the biggest losers since customers are more and more spread out amongst these places. A recent article on The Star highlighted the similarity between the overcapacity problem in China and Malaysia. Shoppers in Ipoh are not stupid, convenience will ultimately be key after the initial excitement of new shopping malls wane. We shall see which of these shopping malls do worst. My bet is AEON Station 18 will suffer the most.

AEON Klebang opening on 21st October 2015

AEON is hiring, with a booth infront of AEON supermarket in Kinta City, for AEON Klebang, Ipoh.
Aeon walk in interview
When asked when AEON Klebang is opening, the girl told me 21st October 2015 is the opening date. Escalators in the shopping mall have all been installed too, as I know. I’m just a little surprised that it is so soon, considering that the market is rather soft at the moment. Very interested to know if they manage to fill up the retail spaces there on their opening day.

Updated 21/10/2015:
It’s the opening day of AEON Klebang. Here is their location if you don’t know where AEON Klebang is:
Location of AEON Klebang

Updated 22/10/2015:
Floor plan of AEON Klebang.
AEON Klebang Floor Plan

Shops directory of AEON Klebang.
AEON Klebang Shops Directory

Restaurants and cafes where kids can play

Recently came across this blog post that recommends restaurants and cafes where kids can play in Klang Valley region. These are fairly decent recommendations. As I have posted before, parents with children do yearn for places where they can sit down and relax while their children can keep themselves busy. However I couldn’t help but to find that these restaurants/cafes, when compared to Cheeky Tots in Ipoh, where I now live, rather underwhelming. By and large they source their toys from IKEA. Some hardly much space or toys for the kids to keep themselves occupied for long.

This baby/toddler play area in itself is already bigger than those you can find in any of the cafes above.

Baby toddler play area

And you have these playhouses,

Play houses

castle,

Castle

reading corner, with some toys too,

Reading area

and of course this elephant in the room (taken from their website).

Main play frame

The Ipoh folks should count themselves lucky to have such a family and kids friendly facility around, as I think it is hard pressed to find something equivalent in KL. In fact anywhere in Malaysia. Sure it is not free to enter, like other cafes or restaurants. But with deals like this, it is as affordable as you can get.

After school deal

No entertainment on the day the Sultan passed away

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

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…

Our own little car in Ipoh

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

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.

20130405-171441.jpg

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

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, so 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. We had to ask again, this time a shop keeper, then only 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.