Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Malaysian anxiety on Vegetarian food...

I take vegetarian food during weekends and sometimes at night. Yes, I know what comes into every Malaysian thoughts. 

"Eat vegetarian food, no energy lar".
"Vegetarian food, bad lar, too much gluten".
"Too oily lar".
"Vegetarian food, huh, why lar?".

These are the five primary concerns when I tell people I am having vegetarian food for the night. Sometimes, I find it freakish that Malaysian are apprehensive against vegetarian food. I started vegetarian about a year ago during my time looking for a good source of protein and trying to get as lean as possible. So I found out vegetarian and organic source. For a start, those 5 primary scary concern is not true at all.

"Eat vegetarian food, no energy lar"
It is all in our mind and how we were all brain-wash by our parents and school that food must consist of fish, chicken, vegetables, rice and fruit. That is what we had during our growing up years. Our family had fed us these throughout our growing years and we have grown used to it. "Ah boy, eat your rice otherwise you won't grow", ever remember how your parents tells you this? Yes, we all do. These are all your mindset which have been auto feed into us by our parents when we were growing up. Then comes the commercialized food on the other hand, commercialized food like KFC, McDonald's, Nasi Kandar and others has more exposure to us than a vegetarian meal menu. It's true. Do you ever see a vegetarian advertisement on the television programs. No and none will ever go there. That's why, people who started to eat vegetarian food will suddenly find themselves not being able to adapt and digest food that is non-meat based and hence, they feel weak. However, it's all how we were brought out. You need fish, chicken, beef and other meat based product. 

"Vegetarian food too much gluten"
Almost everything we eat from a piece of white bread to that ever glorious perfectly deep fried golden brown chicken thigh has gluten. Yes, I am telling the truth. If you are chewing a cracker or enjoying a nachos, you are swallowing a bit of gluten into your body. In theory, we all have been eating or digesting gluten for a very long time. So, does that make any difference if we suddenly change our meat based diet to a vegetarian diet? No, it does not make any difference. In a vegetarian based diet, we can always opt to have organics that is gluten-free. How's about that? Good right? This one thing I am always amaze why Malaysian harps on gluten when throughout their life they are already eating gluten. 

"Vegetarian food too oily"
Isn't the oil used to deep fried your bacon, fried chicken or beef from the Steak House, KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut or even your usual Chinese hawker stall oily? How bad is vegetarian using vegetarian oil like canola oil? I bet you won't know that vegetarian or organics shop uses canola oil and olive oil to cook your vegetarian meals right? Okay, olive oil will be expensive but canola oil? Canola oil or sunflower oil are mainly used in cooking vegetarian meals. So, I am wondering how oily can it be comparing to a chap fan stall cooking all those dishes for a hundred mouths on a day? I bet they don't even change those oils in the wok. Moreover, you have been eat those non-vegetarian oils for a lifetime... especially your favorite dish of char-koay-teow. 

"Vegetarian food, but why?"
My introduction to vegetarian was a number of reason. One, my girlfriend challenged me into a month's of vegetarian food. Two, i saw some benefit in it when I was doing my weight training, swim training and cycling training. As a matter of fact, there are whole lot of reasons for one to avoid vegetarian but so few are encouraged to start being a vegetarian. It is all a matter of choices due to personal beliefs, personal preferences, medical conditions or even religion. So before you go asking why someone is having vegetarian meal, the same you should ask yourself, "Meat, why?". 

williamwilstroth... vegetarian diet...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It is an adventure to find a place to rent.

My searching for a place to rent have make some heads turning at me. "I thought your place is good, why move?", said A. "Why are you moving? Your place seems fine.", said B. "Your new place done, you are moving?", said C. For all these questions put forth at me, I replied, "Yes, my current place is fine. And no, I am not moving to my new place yet; it's not complete". So I told them my owner is raising my rental from RM950 to RM1050. That's expensive? Yes, it is expensive. 

My current place I rented has no water heater in the bathroom. There's no air conditioner in the bedrooms. And the whole place is near empty. The only request that I made to the owner was a fridge, some kitchen cabinets that I can cook and a washing machine. Otherwise it is an empty unit for RM950 per month. Is it expensive? Yes it is. If not my request, it would be horrendously money wasting rent. Anyway, I rented this place out of desperation because I want to move out as soon as possible from my previous horrifying owner. That was another story. Aside that, my partner was suffering from a horrifying house mate too. That was the reason i jump at the best opportunity to move. That was my first step. 

Now, it was time for me to move because I can't sustain the thousand ringgit per month rent anymore. Down the road I might need to start servicing my new house loan and this rental for-the-moment will become a burden. Getting a cheaper rental is good for me and my partner too. My partner can help me out paying the rent. I can focus on my new house and plan for the renovation. Getting a house is not as easy as one think. There are many other things to consider until you say, "Okay, it's done, let's move in" and stay there forever. 

So began my journey to start looking for a better and cheaper apartment to rent. Some may say, "Oh, it is a tiring process". Well, you should look at it positively. You get to see many types of apartment and look at their structural design, layout and how furniture are put in place to entice you to rent that place. Just imagine you are walking through IKEA but one difference only; you get to rent it. 

Here's what I found along the way until i found my place :

1. Some place were dinghy and dirty; it was cheap rent. If you are bending on getting cheap and you want to save a lot, this place is the best. You will have to close one eye on a lot of things like the lifts are not well maintained, the cracked pavements, the dimly lit path along the corridors, the noisy neighbors, and many other things that you will say, "Eeee, this place... oh god...". Well, it is cheap for a reason so don't sulk about it. Oh, this place is mostly low-cost flats.

2. Some places are nice but lacking a parking spot. Now, it is one thing in Penang about properties - it is never enough for a family which has more than one car. And it is never sufficient for developers to create more than one car park. All this involves money. So car park is also another well sought after perk by people who are living in Penang. The apartment you are looking at is great, it has all the basic stuffs like fan, light, curtain, kitchen, fridge and washing machine BUT there's no car park. It's kind of let off right? Well, this is the turning point you will have to debate within your heart. What if I can't find a parking spot after a hard day of work? People who are working and living in this island has gotten used to parking very far away from their apartment. If you don't mind walking far then this apartment is your choice. However, you will start to compare the rental - "What?! For this rent, I can't get a car park?" No kidding, this happens!

3. Nice place, cooling and good but it's far away. The place is nicely build near the hill, it's chilly at night and peaceful. The neighbors are quiet and the place is well maintained. Certain things, you can just ignore like there's no fridge or no washing machine. It's a one off trade that you need to include in your consideration because not all rentals are perfect. There's bound to be always one thing you need to let it go. So, you come to this unknown park or taman, and it's so far deeply located in the island but the place was nice. The rent, it's on the average that you can afford. Unfortunately, it's far away and traffic are heavy. Again, you need time to consider over these factors. One, it is far. Two, heavy traffic. In your mind, you go, "Nah, I think over it and I give you a call tomorrow" to the agent. Most likely, you will never go back to that place again. 

4. Nice place but owner is calculative; non-negotiable. Of course, if you have experience looking for a place like me, you will bump into one of these owners. Yes, they will tell you they are agent too and they know the market price. Yet, they are not willing to negotiate and any special request to put in a fridge or a washing machine will immediately add another figure to your rent. The place may be nice, lacking certain basic amenities and because the place is strategically located in the center or near a good spot; this factor alone will make certain Penang owners deeply proud to mainpulate the rental as they please upon potential tenants. "Oh, he wants a washing machine, tell him either he share the cost with me OR I add up to the rent", said one owner cum agent. This kind of owner, my advice to you is to say no and move on. You will bound to have further complication from this kind of owner. 

Sometimes, you need to be less calculative when renting a place because you are not going to live at that spot forever. So, if you are like me looking for a place to rent whether long term or until your own place is done, it is better to look for a "well maintained" place and a good affordable rent so both you or your partner can help each other out. 

Finally, here's what you should think about when finding a place to rent:
- A well maintained place doesn't need to be fully furnish. As long as it has lights, fan, curtain, clean floor, clean working bathroom/toilet, and clean kitchen will be sufficient. All other perks like air conditioners, water heaters, fridge, washing machine, TV, internet are just additional stuff that will push up your rent. (if you can get all these for a reasonable and affordable amount of rent, you are lucky!)

- A good affordable rent are rents that you yourself or partner can afford to pay in the long run even if the owner decided to hike it up after a year or two when your contract expires. 

williamwilstroth... finding a place to rent...

Properties in Penang - are bought solely for investment?

I have been living in Penang for near a decade. Another 4 months it'll be ten years or a decade for me. One thing I am going to touch is about the properties in this pearl of the orient. Properties are selling like hot cake over here. No, it is not being bought up to live by the owners. It is being bought for investment. Penang people in the island like to buy up properties and rent out to others. So, they are hoping other people will help them pay off their property loan. I thought Penang living is cheaper than Kuala Lumpur. Well, I am wrong off the mark before I even came over here. That's what I thought.

Properties in Penang for a thousand or more square feet are selling about RM 700,000.00 and above. And most of these properties are ranging from apartments to resort condominiums. Landed properties shoots above a million ringgit mark so this is not for the average middle income earners. As for me, I just bought a resort condominium unit which will cost me my arms and legs and including my saving in the future. I am beginning to fear my retirement savings. Will I be able to retired in the most comfortable means of surviving in my old age... ?

There are many realtors or property agents in Penang island. Why? This is because it is a lucrative business. Imagine all the rental fee which they help owners to find potential tenants. They probably lived it off the agent fees. So, who doesn't want to be a property agent right? It's lucrative, for each unit, there's bound to be an agent representing the owner. You need to rent a place? Sure, you need to prepare an arm of cash to pay one advance, a deposit that goes by the years of rental contract, a deposit for utility bills and finally their eagerly waiting for you to pay their agent fee. Renting a unit may not be as expensive buying a unit but the agent fee will help this property agent to make a hell good of a living. Maybe I should moonlight as a property agent. Come on, people living in the island move from one place to another place like one is changing their clothes. Again why? This is because the owner will always have a reason to increase your rent when your contract is expiring. Lately, our national Bank Negara raised up the BLR (interest rate) and this makes a very good reason for any owners who wanting to raise their tenant's rent. Well, my rent got hike up too from my current owner. Nice, isn't it?

As a matter of fact, people in the island do move around quite frequently. Just looked at the advertising for rentals in and; every month there's bound to be 5 to 10 units waiting to be rent out. Rooms to rent are even abundant! 

In summary, looking for a place to rent is not a concern but the steadily and fast rising cost of property is a main concern for our future generation. Our grandfathers and fathers bought houses which is about three times cheaper than today's cost of properties. Now at this period and moving on, will our newer generation be able to afford a modest home? I think everyone in Penang need to become a millionaire.

williamwilstroth... does it cost an arm and leg to buy a house?