The most common questions we face when entering a new country are:
Where is the nearest supermarket?
Is there a local daycare?
And for Penang… where can I find a swimsuit?
Supermarkets & Shopping Malls
For us at Miami Green it is approximately a 10-minute drive to a really big Tesco. They are open 8am to 1am everyday. They sell books, toys, clothes, food, baby stuff, you name it… Everything, except swimmers.
Tesco is great for cereals, bread, spreads, even fruit and vegetables. However we do have to warn against the meat. It may have been one time, but the chicken we ate was not good and we have not bought any meat from there since.
A little bit further from Tesco is Island Plaza, which holds a Cold Storage. Cold Storage seems to be a bit more pricey, but holds a lot of foreign foods. We can find good olives, sauce packets, baked beans, etc.
On from Island Plaza is Gurney. Gurney is a lot bigger then both and houses a smaller Cold Storage. Gurney has great food restaurants and delightful shopping including Australian surf stores. It is quite an upper-class mall, so don’t expect local prices. We have visited the cinema here several times though and tickets are roughly $2.50 each. Large popcorn and 2 drinks about $3. 2 Adult tickets, popcorn, two drinks = $10! And the popcorn is hot caramel popcorn, delicious!
The smart thing about the cinemas here in Asia is they make you exit through a different door, so there is no sneaking into another movie. The funny thing is this door leads into a completely stark, naked, boring hallway with none of the class the entrance to the cinema has. Hilarious!
Prangin Mall is in Georgetown and a great local mall. They have so many shoes and very reasonably priced between $10 - $15 a pair. It has plenty of food places and cafés, electronics, clothes, anything you want really on several floors and if that is not enough you can simply walk to the adjacent connected mall 1st Avenue and start all over again. Parking is roughly 30 cents per hour.
There are plenty more places I have yet to discover, so keep tuned. It's mall city here in Penang. Give me a tip if you know where else I should go!
Swimmers, Togs, Bathers, Swimsuits, whatever you call them
Day four in Penang all of our swimmers miraculously disappeared. It could have been torn from the clothesline on the balcony by the Penang winds (would have had to be really strong to dislodge the pegs), or it could have been stolen by our really lovely housemaid (highly unlikely), she is so kind and lovely. Perhaps we left them somewhere (possible), who knows where? But the fact of the matter is Mia, Caius & I no longer had swimmers and I had no idea where to find them.
Mia and Caius, granted would be pretty easy, however for my curvaceous figure I did not find Asia and it’s tiny people offering me anything adequate.
The stalls down at the beaches, while cheap, also had very cheap swimwear. Thin, not good material, I could see them falling off the kids within a couple of wears. Tesco had no swimmers, despite housing everything else. My next stop was Gurney.
Gurney, while deceptively unhelpful had a hidden treasure of swimwear stores. One level down from the Toys R Us is a swimsuit store. Plenty of burkinis, two pieces, but nothing in the cup size I needed.
As I started towards the Parkinson’s department store I spotted an Ogival swim store. The ladies were super helpful and once I tried on one knew what I was looking for and what size I needed and brought them out. The cup sizes still weren’t a good fit and they showed me how to take the cups out of them so there was more room inside.
I finally had found something to fit and was so pleased, it even came with a little swim skirt – cute! Mia and Caius were easy to find inside this store too. Caius a simple pair of swimming shorts and Mia a beautiful rainbow outfit. Only problem with my daughter is I had to get a large size for her top half, but the bottoms are swimming on her. Separates would have been a better idea.
Mine cost just over $30, Mia’s under $20, Caius $5. This brand name swimwear can also be found in the Parkison’s Department Store. Good luck with your search!
We had a lot of help looking for daycares from our friends at Our Travel Lifestyle & Penang Momma. And in the end decided to visit a whole bunch in one day to get a feel for them all.
We had heard that local daycares still use physical punishment so the one local school we did visit I immediately asked if they caned the children. There was a long hesitation, before the answer no. I immediately felt uneasy. Not only that but the children were all sitting on a tiled floor watching TV. They were going to get back to me on cost, but I did not need to hear from them. After this event we did hear reports that the school is still canning children and lying about it so I would be very wary of local daycares.
We visited several other private daycares in the area, some small, some big. AppleTree was highly recommended, but were very busy and could not spare time to speak to us. They never called back either. Cherie Hearts was a large daycare with a cubby house and trampoline in the secure front yard and 2 stories of space for the children. It is a bilingual school, which teaches under 4 Mandarin and English and over 4 Bahas, English & Mandarin. When I asked my kids which one they liked the best they voted on Cherie Hearts.
3 weeks in my daughter does not like it very much. When questioned she told me she doesn’t like going upstairs. Upstairs is where they work, learn languages and stuff. She loves playing and going outside, but not the work. The other day I asked if she could stay with her brother and the other 3 year olds downstairs (she is 4 in 2 months and because of her height they have been sending her upstairs with the 4+ kids). When I picked her up she had a great day. She showed me a rainbow lion she had coloured, her pants had mud on them from outdoor play and I was pleased with her vivaciousness.
They’ve had a week off for our Strangers in Penang party and next week my Mum comes (my mum yay!) so another week off and then we are going to take a midweek trip to Ipoh so the month’s payment we made will most likely cover the whole two months with all the time off.
A full day from 8am – 6pm, Mon – Friday (and Saturday till 1pm) is 800 MYR ($225 AUD) per month. Half day is 600MYR ($191) per month. We opted for 3 full days, arriving about 9am and leaving by 4pm. They agreed to half the full day cost. This price includes all meals (breakfast, snacks and lunch. It also includes the dreaded shower, which Mia is still refusing here in Asia and I have given my permission for the kids to skip the shower. A lot more then daycare in Bali, but still cheaper than Australia.
JUST ADDED - More Shopping Tips in Penang!
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