Marsha and I were talking about the cost of living while we were eating lunch at the food court at Langkawi Fair shopping center.
“You can eat out for 5 ringgit” (less than $2) Marsha said while I was savoring a dish of Thai origin, tom yam soup with shrimp, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, and chili peppers. Marsha P. Waren, a US native and teacher in Thailand, was visiting in Langkawi, Malaysia.
The food court had cafeteria style tables, air conditioning, and several counters displaying dishes made with fresh ingredients, including fish, chicken, eggplant, string beans, ochre.
|The food court at Langkawi Fair offers $2 feasts|
After the cost of a plane ticket, however, many expatriates enjoy a pleasant lifestyle at relatively low cost. Tevi, for one, chose Asia mainly for that reason. (See “Why Asia ? Simple Economics,” on Tevi’s blog, teviotshome.blogspot.com.)
Tevi (top photo) has been teaching English in Asia for more than five years since a friend called to ask if she would like to teach in his school. It took her just seconds to say “yes“ to the job offer in Inner Mongolia, China. Since then, Teviot Fairservis also taught in Thailand and Laos.
In Asia, Tevi became TV. She introduces herself like this: “I’m Tevi, like television. My Chinese students used to call me TV.”
When Tevi and I were 20 something, we were friends in Sharon, CT., USA. I was then working at my first newspaper job as a reporter-photographer for The Lakeville Journal. Tevi was absorbed with activities related to The Sharon Playhouse, where her father was a partner. Soon after she studied Asian theatre at the University of Hawaii; later, she became a producer and director for East-West Fusion Theatre.
|A dense green view from penthouse terrace|
A neighbor/spa worker gave us one-hour body massages for $10. Or, for $11.50 at ACC Beauty & Massage, we could buy a foot massage and a session in a “fish spa,” where 300 tiny fish nibbled at the dead skin on our feet.
Amenities in the building included a large swimming pool. However, there were “third world” touches; a woman with a broom swept the pool area, hallways on 11 floors, and the parking lot of the building.
|Third World touch: Daily a woman sweeps the building|
Also among the neighbors were New Zealanders Pam, who managed some rentals in the building, and her husband, John of Asia Pacific Super Yachts, who provided services for “yachties.“ Other foreign neighbors were not from western cultures, like Rayna, the writer from India, and Farouq, the karate champion from Iran.
Nikolai of Uzbekistan was among those from Muslim countries. Asked if he prays five times a day, like some devout Langkawi Muslims, he slapped the top of his head and said, “When gray, pray. No now, no old.”
Malaysian neighbors included Liza the reporter, who might tell you she was dashing off to do a story on a new kind of fish at the aquarium, Underwater World. Another neighbor, Yuh Yee, a Chinese-Malaysian, was a coast guard; Azam and his wife of Japanese origin recently opened Sunday Surf shop.
Together we lived in an east-west fusion building.
Story & photos by Earthy Reporter, Carola C. Reuben, Copyright 2011