Making Connections

I am a connector…of people, of places, of skills, of needs.  My brain and being happen to function in a place to seeing connections where someone or something might be beneficial for another.  It is not particularly a skill that I cultivate – it is just part of who I am.

Landing in a new place without my network had me somewhat concerned that that part of me may end.  I did not know of a great local for coffee, or the best place to get pastries, or a terrific country drive with lunch at a romantic spot just an hour outside of the city.  I did not know someone who could redo your garden into an idyllic oasis, or a great plumber, or a guy who could fix the pointing on your chimney.  It was all new to me – an exploration as I discovered new things for myself.

It occurred to me the other day that suddenly – a few people were coming to me for answers to pressing questions.  And surprisingly – I made the connections.  And I was thrilled.  I am feeling more and more back in my own skin.  No longer an outsider trying to figure things out.

When I looked at how I arrived at this place – I finally recognised some behaviours that helped me along the way which I thought I would share.

  1. I scan my surroundings.
    • In grocery stores, along streets I walk, in shops I walk into randomly.  I look around, check things out and make mental notes of what I saw.  For some reason, my brain registers weird stuff that “might” come in handy.  Sometimes I make notes, sometimes I chat with shop owners, sometimes I take business cards.
  2. I talk to people
    • I am always amazed at how many people have such unique skill sets.  Not only do I listen to what they say they do or did – I also listen for what they need (though they may no be overt about it).  I mentally file away bits of info – then when someone needs someone I can usually access that odd bit of info and make a connection.
  3. I am open about my experiences
    • I find the more open I am – the more I hear about the experience of others.  From this I can glean what worked for them and create a synergy that allows me to adjust and improve my experience to relay to others when they have a need.
    • One caveat however, I have also been stung by this.  Some have misinterpreted my enthusiasm or experience in a way that may create negativity or a perception of my criticism.  I have found it is necessary to be mindful of how your experience lands for others.  Having said that – I can only control how others want to perceive me just so much!
  4. Be ok if your connection does not work for others
    • As an extension of the above – everyone uses connections in different ways.  And their interaction with others or experiences will be coloured by who they are.  It may not turn out as well for them as it did for me.
  5. Generosity is key
    • I may be thanked for my help or not.  That is not why I do it.  Being a connector makes me feel good and lifts my spirit.  It is how I can give of my skill and talent in a way that feels right for me.

All the above to say that as an expat – things will be new and strange and different.  But with a bit of time and awareness, one can be comfortable and local in no time!  But it is up to you to make the connection!

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Food Glorious Food!

I have started a food blog on AHOY Penang where I am trying to slowly keep up with the delicious eats around this little Pearl. Here are the first two (and I will post here as well). I seriously don’t know how Anthony Bourdain keeps so slim!

Links to the food blog can be found here!


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At the Six Month Mark…

So here we are – six months into our crazy adventure of just doing life differently.  Looking off into the distance with the Straits of Malacca in front of us, and a full moon glowing orange as it rises and dances across the water we do our regular check in as a couple.

Glass of wine in hand I look over at Jacques.  “Six months now, eh.”

“Yup” he replies taking a sip of his wine.

“Regrets?” I ask.

“Not a single one” he states,  “you?”

“None, I love it here” I respond.

And that’s it.  The check in.  The conversation we have on a monthly basis to be sure we are where we want to be.  It does not take much except the diligence to ask and the courage to do something about it if one partner is not aligned.  I could go on about how important communication is in relationships, but the fact is we all find our own rhythm and what works for us.

A friend of ours, Keith Hockton, just published the article below on our experience here.  Keith is not only a publisher and a writer here in Penang, he has become a great friend.  Keith is an example of the many interesting people we meet here, who with his fantastic wife Lisa, choose to live with a passion and joy that is off the beaten path.

Give the article a read, get a feel for why we love it here from the practical side.  Know that on the heart side, it is the people here who make this place truly special.

IL Hockton Article 2017

Posted in Birding, Blog, Malaysia, MM2H, Penang, Togetherness, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Dim Sumptuous!

Food. My joie de vivre. We are in what is called one of the world’s food capitals. Seriously you cannot walk anywhere without finding something delicious to eat.

With the incredible myriad of cultures here it is no wonder that you can find just about anything to tempt the palette. I was on the hunt for Dim Sum or Tim Sum as it is called here. Despite my ongoing discussions with The Google and chats with locals, I still have not figured out why they call it Tim Sum. Having said that, I can now say I want to go to Timmy’s and instead of a double double* – I find myself with a har gow. (Note – that is a Canadian joke likely lost on the rest of the world but have included links for the cultural edification of all).

Image result for tim hortons meme

* dou·ble-dou·ble
noun: double-double; plural noun: double-doubles
  1. 1.
    a cup of coffee with a double serving of both sugar and cream.

Much to our delight new friends suggested we go to a local place called Yang Yang on Anson Road.  For a hawker market, it is impeccably clean.  The green tea is very strong, and was a perfect morning wake up.  Kept me going all day and well past bed time.  Note to self, caffeine is not your friend.

I had hoped for the sisterhood of the travelling carts – but alas it seems like many places have decided to reduce staff.  No more yelling over one another trying to figure out what the heck was in the little white pockets of rice, it was now self serve.  That meant going to the counter and pointing and miming to figure it all out.  I suppose the advantage is now there is a bit of exercise going back and forth, and you can get what you want right away.  Though I have to say I liked playing “cart roulette” as you anxiously turn around watching carts go by, waving frantically and pointing to that little delectable that makes your mouth water.

On the plus side, all the dishes were recognisable, including the chicken feet (pass).  There was even my favourite deep fried taro root and sesame balls.  Fresh, well prepared and lots No automatic alt text available.of fun.  All in for four people it cost us about $15.00 CDN.  Not a bad breakfast/lunch!

The hawking signage left me inordinately entertained:

“New dim sum recommendations~~Faster come to have a try!!”

“Good morning everyone~~this weekend we have variety types of fish to delicate ur day n stomach…..”

“This is new out of the quicksand Cape Conus. Remember this week to try oh”

“All kinds of Dim sum & Noodle r still available. Faster come to have ur lunch now at our restaurant~~”

Image result for Dim sum

This place goes on my list of places to eat when you want little portions of little dumplings in little baskets – and brain jet fuel if you need to pull an all nighter.

Let’s eat!


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The Gift of 2016

We had a total of 20 people for Christmas dinner.  Twenty.  Not a feat I would typically undertake under the best of circumstances.  Having lunch with a new friend last month – she mentioned that they usually have a big group of expats – but were lacking the space.  “use ours” I piped up.  She looked at me like I had two heads.  “Are you sure?  You guys are just new here” she asked.  “Why not?” I said.  In her lovely Aussie way she responded “Goodonya!”

And so the whirlwind began…

I sat and watched as a guest list was created, and people stepped up for the potluck dinner.  This group had had Christmas dinner together before – and they knew just what to do.  I made it clear that we had very little in the way of “dishes, cutlery, serving spoons etc”, and people started emailing “I have X …” and dropping stuff off.  We rented tables and chairs – and Christmas dishes, cutlery, crackers, decorations and ice boxes started to arrive.  It was magic to behold!

The organisation and co-operation of this band of friends was fantastic – and we were lucky enough to be welcomed into it.  One woman explained this all to me a few weeks back.  “We are family”, she said. “All of us are far away from ‘home’ and we rely on each other – in good times and bad – to step up and help out.  We have to, and you will too.”

I realise what a privilege it is to be welcomed into this “family”.  The past three months in a new country could have been very isolated, lonely and frustrating.  It’s tough to be the new kid – not really knowing the lay of the land.  All through this, people have answered my goofy texts as I needed certain things explained, or places to shop for basics, or navigating paying a bill.  Like big brothers and sisters, they helped – happily.  When I remarked on this to someone they said “we were all new here once.  It’s what we do, and it’s what you will do when someone needs info.  Just pay it forward”.

As I think back over this decision to move to Penang – and our wonderful family and friends back home who helped make this happen – and our new family who welcomed us into their arms – I am struck by how fortunate we are.  The transition has been seamless.

I recognise how idealistic this all sounds.  Very warm and fuzzy and kumbayah.  I am really not that sappy.  But the edges are softening, and the best of people keep showing themselves to me.  Is it the place?  Maybe.  Is it the stage in life? Perhaps.  Or maybe, as we see 2016 come to a close, it is the realisation that the best of people was always there.  I have just found the time and space to see it and experience it.

And that is the gift I wish for each and every one of you.


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