Friday, 7 February 2020

Time to move on

First post here in absolutely ages since my new adventures in Thailand and I've finally decided it's time to move on and make the move to Thailand permanent.  I still plan to retain my MM2H visa (well, 70% certain) and will still return to Penang to visit friends here (although many visit me in Thailand too) but there comes a point where splitting life between two countries becomes somewhat tiresome, for me anyway :)

As there will doubtless be many people who live in Malaysia either on work contracts / visas or under the MM2H programme who may also need to repatriate or just move on I thought it might be useful to post some of the useful information I discovered as I made preparations for the final move including such things as selling the condo, selling the car (purchased under the MM2H tax free scheme that existed prior to 2019, selling my bike, selling off many of the condo contents and closing down services etc.

So for those interested, watch this space and hopefully you'll pick up a few tips to make the process as painless as possible.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Renew Driving Licence - Penang

Long time no post eh :(  Sadly too busy travelling to post much these days but I might get round to it again when time permits.

Recently though, had to renew my driving licence in Penang.  I'd read a lot about being able to do this at the Post Office but, at the time of writing, this applies to Malaysian citizens only, foreigners will need to go to JPJ.

Fairly simple process at JPJ.  You just need to get the renewal form from the reception desk (I'd suggest getting there early - 8:00 am) and if you've changed address since your last licence you'll need an address update form too).  One thing that IS important, if you have renewed your passport since you applied for your licence you will need a copy of the old passport, or an image of it on your phone that you can email the officer while you are there).

Once the forms are done it's just a case of taking a seat and waiting for your new licence to be issued.  Since applying originally they have changed the style of the licence to a photo card which is much better IMO. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Back soon!!!!

Sincerest apologies to my readers for the very VERY long delays to any updates.  This has been caused by me being particularly busy in Thailand of late.  Normal service should resume shortly albeit at first, the emphasis will be on the sister site to this - Pick of Phuket.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

iPhone repairs / replacement batteries: - E-Gate, Penang

One of the things iPhone owners dread, more so than owners of Android phones (most of which come with user replaceable batteries), is the time when your battery fails to hold a charge for long.  Depending on how you car for your phone this can happened at anything between 2-4 years of ownership, less if it gets damaged or abused.  The other two common problems besetting mobile phone owners include cracked screens and failed 'Home' or 'Menu' buttons.

It follows that when my iPhone battery eventually started to die that I was very happy to track down, following some extensive research, the excellent i2Fix outlet at E-Gate in Penang.

From their site you will be able to see that specialises in providing repair services for tablets and smart phones, specifically Apple devices such as iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5s, iPad1, iPad2, iPad3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPod Touch and MacBooks.

I went to the shop with my dying phone and it was expertly taken apart by the on-site technician who rapidly concluded the battery was indeed dead, damaged somehow so that a bulge had appeared in it, possibly due to a dodgy electrical circuit somewhere when it was on charge, or maybe a power surge.  In any event it was speedily replaced with a genuine part at a cost of just RM 160.  Some might think that expensive but it's not too bad when you consider the cost of replacing batteries at an Apple Store in Europe or the US.  I know some people do these things themselves, and I have to say I'm generally of the DIY type when it comes to 'techy' stuff, but given that these batteries are glued to the phone and the need for some specialist tools that I just don't have (not do I consider them worth buying given Apple's penchant for chafing things of late!!) I was happy to just pay up and get it done by people who do this every day. Penang can be found at:  E-Gate Commercial Centre , 1-02-05 Lebuh Tunku Kudin 2, 11700 Gelugor, Pulau Pinang and they are open Mon - Sun : 10.30am to 7.30pm.  They can be contacted on +60 4 824 9241 or by email at:

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Looking for a decent mobile phone car mount?

There are a lot of phone car mounts around ranging from mega-expensive device manufacturer specific mounts to cheap, rubbishy 3rd party crap that tend to fall down at precisely the wrong moment (e.g. with your device in it AND in such a way that it positions the screen perfectly to smash it!!).

I have to say I'm not a fan of manufacturer specific mounts or cradles, especially when they have an integral charging cable mount.  Manufacturers are not unknown to change their charging connectors (Apple take note!!!), rendering your mount useless.  In addition you may wish to change devices at some stage or indeed slot a friend's or travelling companion's phone in the mount. 

Prior to now however I've not really found the need to buy a phone mount for the car as I've never really been that bothered about using the phone hands free while driving (if I get a call or message I'll return it, or not, when I reach my destination) until that is I installed the WAZE, the excellent GPS style mapping app with turn by turn navigation which is IMMENSELY popular (and therefore more often than not up to date and accurate!)(see previous post here).

Without going through the countless different brands I looked at and discounted I'll just run through my requirements:
  • Non manufacturer specific
  • No built in charger (I prefer to use my own long 3rd party cable)
  • Strong bond between the base of the unit and the surface to which it is attached
  • One-handed insertion and removal of device
  • Able to take a range of device sizes (up to 6" wide)
  • Preferably tested in the extremes of heat experienced within cars in SE Asia
  • Holds the phone in such a way that a charging cable can be connected
  • Swivel head mount to tilt / twist device to landscape / portrait orientation
Sounds not too demanding maybe UNTIL you try to find one and one with a good reputation.  Enter the 'Dash Crab' universal mount from Korea.  Without repeating it all again I'll just say that this one ticks all the boxes in terms of the spec I needed and thus far has proved to be a VERY reliable and robust mount.  What's more it comes at the very reasonable price of just RM 89 from one of my favourite online sellers in Malaysia - Superbuy.  The Dash Crab can actually be found here.

I have to say I'm most impressed and completely satisfied with the Dash Crab thus far and will report back again after 6 months of use.  The only thing I will point out is that it will not adhere to the leatherette textured plastic type dash covers that you find in many small family saloons and hatch backs, it may do IF the texturing is VERY fine but on a Toyota Vios it won't leaving you to choose one of the smooth surfaces or even the windscreen.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

GPS / Mapping App: WAZE (Top Pick)

Since moving to Penang, and including the times when I drive in Thailand, I have always relied on my Garmin 3790 GPS.  In some ways, and as a fallback, I still do.  The trouble is, as time goes on, the maps get more and more out of date, with constant re-routing of traffic and changes to one way systems being as much responsible as new or re-badged roads.  yes of course you can update the maps on these devices but the updates are costly, not so frequent and often out of date svn when quite new.  These GPS devices also lack updates about current traffic conditions and hazards on your route such as jams, accidents, road closures etc etc.

Enter WAZE.  WAZE is one of the leading community based traffic and navigation apps and, most importantly is EXTREMELY popular in Malaysia and SE Asia in general.  The app is very useful and very powerful in that it accepts live updates to any traffic situations you might encounter and reports to delete them if, once you arrive at the location, the problem has cleared.  The maps are also updated from user /community engagement so new one-way routing and road closures are very quickly updated to the maps which I have found to be VERY accurate indeed.

The turn by turn navigation is very good and rarely sends you off on a wild-goose chase and those user generated reports are great for avoiding traffic problems.  Given that often when I switch on WAZE I'm advised that there are 1,000 + 'Wazers' nearby it's not surprising that it's so useful.

It has day and night navigation modes, good turn by turn commands, the ability to lock 'North up' if you wish, the ability to 'go invisible' should you desire and a very accurate ETA calculator and a host of other features that can be found here.

WAZE is free app which is multi-platform and can be downloaded both from iTunes (for IOS devices) and from the Google Play store for Android devices.  I think WAZE is an absolutely brilliant app, one that I definitely would not be without, and one that has largely replaced my use of dedicated GPS devices both here and in Thailand and it gets a very well deserved 'Top Pick'.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Optician: Vision First - Ground Floor, Block B, Prangin Mall, Georgetown (Top Pick)

After what was really too long a wait I finally decided to go get my eyesight tested to see if any prescription variation was needed.  I have to say I spent a LOT of time researching this as I wanted to find a place that I felt I could trust, somewhere that would ONLY recommend a prescription change if I really needed it based on a thorough testing.  I also hoped to find somewhere where the service was good and the prices reasonable.

Luckily a managed to find Mr Patrick Ung's 'Vision First' in block B of Prangin Mall (the block that has Pizza Hut on its corner), Georgetown.

Luckily when I called in the were able to slot me in straight away for a very thorough eye test, more thorough in fact than I'd experienced when using highly recommended opticians in the UK.  Patrick did the testing himself and I have to say that he is a very personable and friendly guy, putting you at ease, allowing you to relax which is important for the testing.

Once the test was completed a number of options were discussed in terms of my long and short range vision needs with reading being the main issue.  At this point you become more involved with the rest of Patrick's staff who are also very friendly and helpful.  We discussed a variety of lens and frame options and, importantly, there was no attempted up-selling to detract from what I wanted.  As it is I opted for multi-coated, thin shaved lenses in an ultra-lightweight titanium BCBG Max Azria frame for a total cost of around RM 630 and a wait of only 4-5 days.  That to me is VERY good value and very good service!  Patrick also cleaned up and replaced the nose pads on my old glasses, advising I keep them for computer use.

If you look on Trip Advisor you will see that Vision First has a lot of positive reviews and it's easy to understand why.  Patrick and his staff are very professional, very friendly ands very welcoming and I found the service, and indeed the cost, second to none.  What is particularly worth mentioning is that Vision First are more than happy to provide a level of service particularly suited to visitors to the island in that they will even arrange to pick you up from your hotel (or wherever you are staying) and take you back, and even deliver the your order to you.  Come across that anywhere before?  Somehow I doubt it.  Vision First can be contacted on: +60 4 262 8132 / +60 4 263 8132 or can be emailed at:

So, there it is.  My experience with Patrick Ung, his staff and Vision First and what a pleasant one it was.  As it stands, I see no reason to go anywhere else in the future and Vision First gets a very well earned 'Top Pick'.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

UK Passport Renewal (Overseas Applicants): Long wait times and a woeful lack of information continue to plague applicants

Many UK nationals will be aware of what can only be described as the complete and utter shambles UK passport application / renewal descended into this year and many will be familiar with images, similar to the one above, of the boxes and boxes of unprocessed passport applications, with a backlog of some 500,000 when the crisis was at its peak in June 2014.  Prior to that (and the catalyst that drew attention to the problems) people had waited 8, 10, 12 weeks plus for a simple passport renewal and the internet was awash with complaints and news stories, attracting national and international media outrage, again in June, as the situation worsened with denial of there even being a problem to intervention by the Home Secretary when it became obvious just how serious the problem was.  Literally thousands of people had plans disrupted, often at significant cost, as a result of the now outrageously long passport processing times.  The cause?  It was said that the passport office was facing unprecedented demand for passports in June 2014, unprecedented maybe, unforeseeable, hardly.  In early 2014 regional processing offices around the world were closed and all passports then had to be applied for, and renewed from, the UK.  So those applications were going to go where exactly?  Oh yes, the Passport Office.  Derrrrr!

While it SEEMS that the situation might be improving, since publishing a couple of articles linked to UK passport renewal recently, I have been contacted by numerous readers with continuing tails of woe.  So, for those who may have to apply or renew in the future I thought a summary of the key issues being highlighted might be useful.

  • Renewal for ALL overseas passports is now handled directly by Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) in the UK.  In some countries, primarily those where there are concerns over postal security, theft and fraud (Malaysia, thankfully, is not one of them), one or even two trips to the UK Embassy may also be needed (e.g. Thailand).
  • Applications are made online and for simple renewals is a very easy process.  At the end of the application you will be asked to pay by credit card (approx £102 for a standard size passport and £110 for a 48 page 'jumbo' size).
  • Once the online application is finished you will be given a user name and password.  Be sure to write this down correctly and don't lose it.  It is your only means of checking your application status (for what it's worth!) online.
  • Once completed, you will need to download and print out a declaration form (make sure you sign this WELL within the box) and send the form along with your old passport, 2 passport photographs and any other supporting documents your application requires to the address designated on the form (usually in Durham).  I would suggest using a courier such as DHL.
  • Provided you are still recognisable from your old passport photo, counter-signatories will not be required in most instances.
  • Passport photo requirements are now VERY strict.  Make sure you adhere to ALL the HMPO guidelines or risk rejection and a further wait while you send further photos.  There is an article here about getting the right type of photo in Penang.
  • The 'Application Status' checker is still in 'Beta'.  Very much so!!  There are only three indicators: Awaiting further information from applicant; Being processed; Dispatched.  The courier delivery tracker, available to UK residents, is not available for overseas applicants.
  • Your new passport will be sent separately to your old passport (and any other supporting documents you may have sent) by courier, AFAIK usually DHL.
  • Processing times, it appears, have reduced with new passports being received by applicants within a 5-6 week.  BUT it doesn't end there!
  • Your old passport (the speedy return of which will be vital if you have a 'live' residence visa and /or work permit) will likely take at least a week, or more  to arrive after you receive your new passport!  For many this will render the new passport useless until the old one is returned as you will not be able to travel unless you have your residence visa to show immigration upon exit or re-entry.  In addition, unless you report your old passport as lost, it will be next to impossible to get your residence visa transferred to the new passport.  It is not clear whether HMPO distinguishes between old passports with 'live' visas (that would likely be needed urgently by most applicants) and old passports that are merely dead or not, it seems not however.  Certainly covering letters stressing the urgency of the return of the old passport seem to have no impact whatsoever on wait times.  Clearly there is little point in getting your new passport early if you can't use it due to your need to wait for your old passport.  So for applicants in that position, the effective processing time will be the time it takes to receive BOTH passports, not just one and that can have significant impact overall.  It seems (see below) that you will need factor in an extra 7-14 days after receiving your new passport to get the old one back if getting the old passport (because of any visa in it) is critical to travel
  • The HMPO helplines and e-mail contact forms were, without exception, described as totally useless, frustrating and ineffective with HORRENDOUS (and costly) wait times, operators either unwilling or unable to provide meaningful information, promised phone calls never returned and slow or no response to emails (with some emails containing what seem to be 'stock' replies with nothing specific the application in question or queries raised).  Readers, and I can also attest to this, also complained of email responses from HMPO REPEATEDLY asking for the same details about the application that had been provided time, time and time again.  Was the HMPO e-service actually designed to piss people off or is it just luck??
  • Incredulously, and this particular issue I find ABSOLUTELY beggars belief,  HMPO, neither by way of the 'Application Status' nor by any other means, DOES NOT notify you of of ANY tracking number for the courier service for either the new or old passport! So you will have NO idea when you should receive them.  Equally, how are people to know if their documents have got lost or stolen if they have no idea of when they SHOULD arrive?  How long should people wait, for example, between receipt of the new passport and the old one?  One day, three days, a week, 10 days, two weeks, a month?  The HMPO website is of no use whatsoever as the 'Application Status' will merely indicate 'Dispatched' and clicking the FAQ link about return of supporting documents merely informs you that they will be returned to you separately by courier - how about giving people an indication of WHEN!  It shouldn't be hard, most couriers operate fairly standard levels of service depending on the price paid, guaranteed 2 day, 3-5 day etc. etc. so it's not as if this information is a mystery to the courier service.  But it seems, it remains a bridge too far for HMPO!  If I order something costing as little as £5 / RM 25 online in Malaysia I get a courier tracking number so how come this simple, but I would suggest VITAL, information cannot be made available to applicants by HMPO?  Maybe it's time to start investing some of the £70 million profit HMPO made last financial year to provide AT LEAST an acceptable standard of service!  
  • Expanding further on delays to the return of old passports, one applicant who contacted HMPO about delays to the return of an urgently awaited old passport received the following reply: "Your supporting documents; old passport, birth certificate etc. will be returned to you separately from your passport. Her Majesty's Passport Office dispatch these by DHL for overseas applicants. They are usually delivered between 7-10 working days once the passport has been received."  Despite asking for a courier tracking number, none was provided.  HMPO also asked him to provide the following details: The application number, your full name and applicant’s full name if different, your full postal address and any further details such as when your application was submitted, the first two already being required when using the online form!  So I would suggest including ALL these details again in the main body of any message you may wish to send to HMPO using the online 'Feedback' or 'Complaint' forms.  After a follow-up e-mail the same applicant was told the new passport would arrive 10-14 days later, and the final e-mail indicated that no timescale for delivery of the old passport could be given!!  Hell of a way to manage performance I suppose, set increasingly lower targets, fail to meet them, then reduce them further!  
  • In respect of old passports the HMPO website states: "Uncancelled non-British passports: We strongly prefer to receive the passport. However in exceptional circumstances where you may need to retain the passport, we will accept a full colour photocopy of the entire passport (including visa pages). We reserve the right to request the passport at a later stage as we examine your application. Please provide an explanation as to why you need to retain your passport.".  Given the current state of affairs I would be inclined to retain it on the basis that it is the only acceptable form of ID in many countries that don't issue expats with ID cards and that there may be a need to produce your residence visa to the authorities.  At worst HMPO could merely insist that you send that passport to them delaying the process by just a few days. or you could sent it anyway and delay the ability to use your new passport by 1-3 weeks.  I know which one I'll be opting for!! Sage advice from one reader maybe "When this one's full, and if I can possibly get away with it, I'll be damned if I'll send it back to these clowns when it's time to renew".  
  • It also begs the question of course, why are the details of the 7 to 14 plus day delivery time and the use of DHL not included in the "Supporting Document  FAQ" as opposed the the somewhat useless comment that they will merely be returned separately?  One applicant, despite asking for a tracking number for an old passport, was told to contact DHL with his name and address and see if they had any due deliveries.  Trust me, that's not how DHL operates, their systems are geared around tracking / waybill numbers, a situation compounded here in Penang by the fact that the local office is in Georgetown whereas the office responsible for deliveries is the depot at Bayan Lepas and from there they go direct to consignee.  So forget the idea of trying to find out yourself when your delivery might arrive.  Wouldn't it just be SOOOO much easier if HMPO simply provided applicants with the tracking numbers for the courier service that they are charged for?
So, that's the situation as at September 2014.  Even after the emergency measures taken to fix this debacle (including extra staff), the need to wait around 8 weeks (if you are dependant on the return of both passports) for a simple passport renewal, given that it is the ONLY means of ID overseas workers / residents are able to use, is demonstrative of an ABSOLUTELY ATROCIOUS level of service and IMO is a damning indictment of public sector management.  It seems others agree.  One can only hope that the situation will improve in the months ahead but the service offered even now is a far cry from just a few years ago when, as an expatriate worker and /or resident, a passport could be obtained from your local Embassy within a week.  And as for not providing applicants with tracking numbers for such important documents, particularly as YOU pay for the courier service - really?  Are you serious?  Maybe the 'new' service will eventually become more efficient and effective in time but as it stands, I'm not sure you could design a more inadequate system even if you tried!  If HMPO doesn't already have a motto, how about this one, 'Inefficency by Design'.  

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Renewing a UK Passport from Penang

I recently had to apply for a passport renewal from Penang and thought I'd provide some information that might prevent so much running around for anyone looking to do the same in future.  In fact, save for the actual passport application itself, the related services could be used for any passport application.

Firstly, as of this year the UK centralised the issue of passports, closing a number regional offices that were previously responsible fro processing applications if you applied from overseas.  Aside from the well publicised problems over the massive backlog faced by Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) from around April onwards (caused by a variety of reasons) I actually think it's a better system from the application point of view but falls way short on service standards once you have applied.  For a simple renewal you can apply and pay online here then it's merely a case of printing out and signing your declaration and sending that together with your old passport, any other documents your application may require and two recent passport photos (which do not need to be countersigned if you can still be recognised from your previous picture).  I used the services of three excellent Penang based companies to facilitate my application.

These can be surprisingly difficult to get in Penang as they need to meet the strict HMPO guidelines.  I used HK Photo on the first floor at Midland One-Stop shopping mall, Burma Road who did the photos while I waited for RM 20.  The photos were accepted without problem by HMPO.  Further details about HK Photo can be found here.

One of the things I decided not to do here in Penang was buy a printer.  I don't do anywhere near enough printing to justify the costs which can be considerable given that inkjet colour printer cartridges dry up VERY quickly if you don't use them, such that at times you can get to use just 10% of the ink they are loaded with, and that laser printers are very expensive unless buying black and white only.  Given that I sometimes need to get documents in colour, these days I opt to use local printers.

I have already written about a very good print shop in Jalan Fettes, Tanjung Tokong here but as part of my running round took me to the Pulau Tikus area (see 'Courier' below) I was delighted to find this excellent print shop just to the left of Pulau Tikus Police Station on Jalan Burma.  Parking can be a bit tricky unless you're on a bike (but then isn't it everywhere?) but their service is very good and prices very cheap.  You merely go into the shop, take a seat at one of the numerous computers (I always use the two near the door), plug in your USB drive (if you use a Mac make sure your drive is formatted for 'FAT 32' and NOT 'Mac OS X Extended') and select the documents you wish to print.  You may need to delve into 'Printer Settings' if you want to print double sided or if you want to change to a colour printer but the staff will assist you if you are not computer minded.  I think I printed out about 20 pages while I was there (I had a few non-urgent documents saved up) and think I paid around RM 5-6!!

If you are using a car which you plan to park near to DHL to use the courier service after you get your printing done (see below) the print shop is only about a 5 minute walk from DHL.  This will be much easier than trying to park on or near Jalan Burma.

Not only did I want my documents to arrive quickly, given that my old passport with the live MM2H visa was in the package, I wanted as much guarantee as possible that they WOULD indeed get there.  I opted to use DHL whose Penang office is just round the corner (before)  the print shop in Jalan Cantonement, on the left before your reach Jalan Kelawai.

I'd put all of my documents into an envelope already and if you do the same DON'T seal it as the DHL staff will wish to take a photocopy of your passport details page as confirmation of its enclosure.  After that it's merely a case of filling out your details on the sales form and then double checking the recipient details they give you on the printed out receipt and confirmation of postage.  By default it seems they will suggest a fee of RM 250 which would guarantee my documents would arrive on the Friday (I was posting on the Wednesday) but I opted for the RM 150 option which guaranteed delivery by Monday, for me, the the few days extra wait (given that two were the weekend) didn't warrant the extra RM 100 cost.

I have to say I found the DHL service to be very good and by the Friday, just two days after posting, I had an SMS from DHL in the UK to say my package had been delivered to HMPO and even gave the name of the person signing.  It's worth mentioning that if driving to DHL you are best turning left into the small service road that skirts round the shop frontages, the entrance to which is on the left BEFORE you reach the traffic signals to turn left from Jalan Burma to Jalan Cantonement.

So that's it.  A fairly painless process made even more palatable by the fact that HMPO has now cut the costs of overseas applications considerably to £110 for a 48 page passport.  That said, that assessment applies JUST to completing the application, the service levels offered by HMPO are a different matter and, despite Government intervention to sort out the shambles, remain terrible when compared to the service you get could from UK Embassies a mere few years ago. Five, six, seven and eight weeks are still being quoted on internet forums as the turn round times for overseas applicants from this 'new and improved' HMPO centralisation with supporting documents (including old passports with 'live' visas in) arriving a week or even more after the new passport.  Fat lot of use it is receiving the new passport if you can't use it because you need the residence visa in your old passport!  What absolutely beggars belief though is that with documents as vital as passports (old and new) and despite the fact that you PAY for courier services, HMPO does not provide overseas applicants with ANY tracking numbers for either the new passport or the old one!  As such you have no idea where they are once sent and how are people supposed to know if either of the documents has gone missing if you cannot establish when they should have arrived?  Quite why HMPO does not provide such BASIC but vital information to overseas applicants is totally beyond me and, apart from the excessive 'wait' times, is the biggest failing IMO of the new system and demonstrative of the abysmal level of service still being offered despite HMPO making a profit of £70m last financial year!

Hopefully the above information will be of some help in short-circuiting some of the running round and research you otherwise might need to do when you come to renew a non-Malaysian passport from Penang.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

UK Passport Photos in Penang

Anyone looking to renew a UK passport will quickly become aware of the VERY stringent requirements Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) sets for a passport photo to be accepted.  Not only must the dimensional requirements be met but also those for the colour of the background - light cream or light grey.

There are many photo and printing shops in Penang where you can get passport style photos done BUT you need to be aware that many are unable to provide photos that comply with the UK's HMPO requirements, the background colour posing a particular problem.  And while some can get the overall size right there can often be errors with regard to the min/max dimensions WITHIN the picture.  Having done some scouting around though I came across one shop that could supply them.

The shop is called HK Photo and it is located on the first floor (this means the first level up, not the ground floor which '1st' often means here) of the Midland One-Stop shopping Centre on Jalan Burma. The centre is just past Penang Adventist Hospital on the opposite side of the road. On entering the shopping centre via the main steps you go straight down and take the passage way to the left which will bring you inside the covered shopping area with escalators, go up to the first level and HK Photo is on that floor, straight ahead on the left as you go up the escalator

The staff are very friendly and helpful and, importantly, as soon as I mentioned UK passport photos they immediately pulled out the the current details of requirements and with what I was wearing etc. even suggested the cream background.  The photo's are taken on-site and can be collected after just a 15-20 minute wait and cost just RM 20.  For this you will get your 4 passport photos plus a disc with the images should you wish to save them and print more yourself for other purposes.

The phone number for HK Photo is: +60 4 227 3120 and there are also two mobile numbers that you can use +60 16 470 0341 (John C. H. Tan) and +60 12 459 2953 (Tony Tan).  They have a website and you can email them at:  While this article is about UK passport photos HK Photo can supply photos for any passport and also provide a wide range of other printing services.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Join the MOB!!!! Monday 18 / Tuesday 19 August 2014 - Georgetown!!

One concept, two great events! MOB Party at Traffic (Bishop Street) and Traffic (Queensbay) on Monday 18th (7pm til late) AND the MOB street catwalk fashion show around midday Tuesday 18th @ Beach Street, Georgetown brought to you by Chan Brothers & Big Cartel.

Looking forward to seeing great chums, who also just HAPPEN to be some of the hottest talent around, including guest DJ and celeb Leng Yein, the famous Chan Brothers Ambassadors Cecilia Black, Jenny Lim, Elene Ong, Ann Liew and over a dozen stunning Penang catwalk models including the beautiful Joelle Tan, Jinju Koid and Roxanne Khor.

Monday night kicks off with the first of two launch events, this one at Traffic Logan (Bishop Street, Penang) from around 7pm with guest DJ Leng Yein and the Chan Brothers Ambassadors. Good music, good atmosphere, meet the organisers and many of the models and of course, photo ops. The tour will then move to Traffic (Queensbay Mall) for around 9pm, with the same line up, to return to Traffic at Bishop Street just before midnight.

On Tuesday 19th, from the early hours there will be a row of sports cars parked up at Beach Street, Georgetown to set the scene and provide a nice backdrop. Then from around 12.15 the show will start with the street / catwalk fashion show featuring some of Penang's top models and of course, Chan's Ambassadors.  Sure to be a great event and the first of it's type in Malaysia. One not to miss I think :)

NB:  An album featuring shots from this event, primarily from the Fashion MOB street parade can be found here.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Astro releases the 'HDMI Out' port for non-HD subscribers


For those not already aware the 'HDMI out' port has now been made available to all users whose Astro boxes have been upgraded to the latest Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), currently dated Jan 2014.

Previously, unless you subscribed to HD, the HDMI port on your Astro decoder was disabled, forcing you to use the combined analogue cable (with red, white and yellow connectors) either direct into your TV or an AV receiver and that is how the installer would have got you up and running.  Much as I would love to subscribe to HD our building is not currently rigged for it so I had to accept the analogue connection.  While there is no discernible difference between the analogue and HDMI connection for video, HDMI does allow a full 5.1 audio signal to be carried, IF it is being transmitted (very useful to those with home cinema set ups) versus the standard stereo signal only which is available through analogue.  I also find it tidier to have the one HDMI cable to connect , whether it be to a TV or AV receiver.

So, if you've been longing to connect your Astro decoder or PVR by HDMI, you should now find that you can.