Our Malaysian Life

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I can’t believe it has been over 2 weeks since I last posted.  We really haven’t done much in the past few weeks; just everyday regular life.  So I am not sure how exciting this post will be.

Ella’s School and Sports Day

Through out Ella’s rough start to school, she has been looking forward to this special Sports Day at her school that they have been preparing for.  We weren’t sure what to expect as it is hard to get a straight answer from Ella these days (she seems to create fictional people and events often).  We do know in Asia they take their sports demonstration seriously and we were wondering if we should expect something like this:IMG_7126 IMG_7084 IMG_7069 IMG_7066
It ended up being like a giant play day and was actually quite cute.  Ella had a great time and was thrilled with her medal at the end.  Have a look…  Ella’s Sports Day Video (Ella is wearing the purple hat)
Ella is doing really well now at school.  Like most expat parents here, I still struggle with the philosophy of the school.  I wish there was not so much emphasis on writing and “seat work”.  My three year old daughter even has homework in the afternoons!  We had parents night the other day where we got progress reports and had an interview with the teachers.  I think they are genuinely baffled at why we are not concerned that she doesn’t hold the pencil right, colour in the lines or be able to write out the alphabet freehand.  They are really nice about it all and Ella actually does seem to like practicing her letters and such, but I can’t help yearning for her preschool at home.  Ella seems to particularly love PE and Music and she has even managed to teach me a few words in Chinese and Bahasa.  She really enjoys her new best friend Tasha down the street and carpooling to school has been working out really well. IMG_0238 IMG_2367

Buying a Car

The car I am currently driving right now is a rental and so we are now actively looking to buy a car for myself.  The problem is that we need a fairly large car by Malaysian standards because we need to be able to fit 3 car seats in and we would like to have 3 rows of seating to carry guests and for carpooling.  Cars here are much smaller and much more expensive.  Malaysia has two national car companies, Perodua and Proton that have been heavily protected and account for 60% market share.  Foreign made cars face import duties of 100-300% depending on engine size, which results in very underpowered cars.  For example Paul’s 2007 Jetta that we sold in Canada, would cost $40,000 to purchase here (yes, that is for a 2007 model)!  Because Perodua and Proton have faced little competition, they turn out poorly made, but expensive cars. The Malaysian government brings in 6 billion dollars a year in automobile import duties.   Since we need a large vehicle (bring on the minivan) we are looking at about $33,000 for a 10 year old Toyota minivan!  To get around the exorbitant import duties, there is a Malaysian company called Naza that through franchise agreements with foreign automakers produces foreign models in Malaysia.  For example the Kia Sorrento becomes the Naza Sorento, thereby avoiding import duties.  Because we do not want to spend a ton of cash, we will likely buy a Naza minivan (the Ria, aka Kia Carnival).  Needless to say, car shopping has been very frustrating and not a lot of fun!  From an economics teaching point of view, it is very interesting to consider the implications of Malaysia’s protectionist strategy.  Interestingly enough, these duties don’t seem to entirely deter people from buying foreign cars.  I feel like quite the bum driving Ella to school in our Proton rental, amongst all the BMWs and Mercedes (and hey even those $100,000 brand new Toyota minivans).

Daily Life

Aside from work Paul started playing in an indoor football (futsol) league with coworkers from work once a week.  The first few weeks he showed up in his running shoes and they got quite a kick out of that.  So he quickly went out and got proper futsol shoes, of which it was very hard to find a size 10.  The game is played indoors with no air-conditioning and Paul comes home sopping wet.  Paul is getting into a rhythm with work and I will force him to write about work in the next blog.

I am continuing to get to know other expat Moms better,  It is amazing the diversity of expats here in Ipoh.  Our Mom’s group has women from the UK, Poland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Libya, France, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan…and many more I am sure.  We meet up once a week either at someones house or go on an outing.  It is great because it has allowed me to see some nice parts of Ipoh – parks, nature reserves, caves.  Gavin and I have also started doing kindermusik with a bunch of other Moms and toddlers. Gavin loves music class, especially the instruments although he does not like to relinquinsh the drum sticks.  A family from Germany left this week and it was sad to see Sandra, who had become a friend leave.  I suppose that is what the expat life is like – people are always coming and going. IMG_0264 IMG_0252

April brings visitors and Bali!

Tomorrow my parents arrive for a spontaneous 4 week visit.  We are thrilled to have our first visitors and it will be great to show them Malaysia.  We will be heading off for 2 weeks in Bali (well minus Paul because he has to work, although he is managing to join us for 5 days).  It will be great to have some extra hands around to help out with the kids and I’m really looking forward to seeing Bali, which is only a 3 hour flight away.

D.R. Seenivasagam Park

D.R. Seenivasagam Park

Our favourate Ipoh food - Vnam

Our favourate Ipoh food – Vnam

Ipoh streetscape

Ipoh streetscape


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