Some Helpful Links on Product Management

One of the things I have noticed in Penang is the incredible amount of competition there is for street food. There are areas called hawker food centers where street stalls congregate. While there is some differentiation, the reality is that most of the demand congregates around well-defined categories: char koay teow, hokkien mee, curry mee, and to a lesser degree, cendol.

Cendol is an interesting desert made essentially of five basic ingredients. Unlike the other foods listed above which have way more than give and involve actually cooking something, cendol mixes together shaved ice, pandan noodles, gula melaka, coconut milk and red beans. That’s it. No real cooking involved.

However, two things come out from this: one, the basis of competition has to be around the quality of the components. This truly is a commodity business in that regard where either the lowest price or the best quality components/final product win out.

At the intersection of Penang Road and Lebuh Keng Kwee sit two stalls selling the exact same product: cendol.

However, time after time, you will see massive lines in one, and startk emptiness with idle workers at the other. They sell essentially the same product and, from what I hear, the same quality (I will try for myself soon to find out).

This was a scary moment and it made me realize the power of positioning and word-of-mouth: the one product “known” as the best gets all the customers. :w

List of to Visit Places in Penang

So there are always new places to try, especially to eat.

But I’ve noticed that because many of them are stalls with varying times of the day they are open, I haven’t been very effectively at going to them. Especially since in this heat, walking from one location to another is burdensome, I have to be very precise in where I am heading, versus my normal MO of heading in the general neighborhood and then walking.

So this is my first attempt at trying to put some sense and order to where I’m trying to go by breaking them down into times (morning, afternoon, and night):


Tiger Char Koay Teow @ Carnavon Street

  • Carnavon Street and Lebuh Melayu
  • 179 Carnavon Street
  • Hours: 8AM to 2:30 PM

Pitt Street Koay Theow Th’ng

  • Mornings
  • Between Malay and Prangin
  • Dry

Chowastra Porridge


Char Siew @ Carnavon

  • Arrive by 12:15pm or it’s over
  • Carnavon & Cheonng Fatt Tze

Quick review

The char siew was alright. I also tried the roast pork and duck. Nothing incredible. I prefer Sky Hotel better.

Keng Pin Coffee for Chicken Rise

  • 11AM - 1PM
  • Penang / Sri Bahari

International Hotel Nasi Kandar

  • Best get there around 11:30 AM
  • Jalan Transfer at the corner of Jalan Sekerat
  • Suggested Items:
    • Whole fish with onions
    • Eggplans with chili
    • Acar

Macalister Cendol

  • Burma Road and Lorong Macalister
  • Open at around noon but varied

Anonymous Penang Porridge

  • What2See
  • SamLee
  • TheStar
  • Business Hour: 11.30am till 4pm
  • Closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • GPS Coordinates: N 5 24.817 E 100 19.794
  • The stall is located at Gaik Ten coffee shop along Magazine road, just opposite Trader’s Hotel.

Char Koay Teow – Khoon Hiang Cafe

  • Address: Khoon Hiang Cafe, Jalan Dato Keramat
  • Opening Hours: 8.30am – 2.30pm (closed on Thursday)

Kimberly Street Char Koay Teow

The stall is outside Kedai Kopi Sin Guat Keong and is one of the famous 4 in Kimberly Street. It is different from others as it is served with mantis prawn. It is a famous hangout place for supper hunters at night. Average price ranges from RM3.20 to RM4.90.

  • Address: Kimberley Street 四大天王 (Stall outside Kedai Kopi Sin Guat Keong)
  • Opening Hours: 5:30pm – 12midnight (Daily)

Sky Hotel Wai Kee Char Siew

Brief Review

This was excellent, especially the char siew, soup and greens combination. I’d come back for lunch.


Sky Cafe 348 Chulia Street Penang

Business Hour : 11.30am – 2.30pm

GPS Coordinates : N5 2507.6 E100 2006.7

Right afterwards, just a block away behind, is the below Nyonya store. It’s a great combination.

Moh Ten Pheow Nyonya Kuih

Kek Seng Ais Kacang

  • What2See Kek Seng Coffee Shop 382 – 384 Penang Road 10000 Penang Business Hour : 11am – 4.30pm GPS Coordinates : N05 2459.4 E100 1946.5


Koay chiap stall @ Kimberly

  • 7PM
  • Between Cintra and Pintal Tali

De Happy Restaurant

  • 9PM
  • Porridge
  • 58, Macalister Road


  • North and South Indian Food
  • 11AM - 11PM
  • No. 20 Lebuh Pasar

Tek Sen

  • Opens at 6pm

China House

Chulia Street Fried Snacks

Business Hours : 8pm – 11.30pm Closed : Monday & Tuesday GPS Coordinates : N 0525’5.66″ E 10020’11.36″

Strategic Spots for Georgetown With Very Young Kids

Traveling in a hot, humid country with kids, especially young ones (2 years old and 9 months old) can be extra brutal. The kids’ bodies aren’t equipped to handle the extremes in temperature, especially when they are used to more modest climates like San Francisco.

We noticed that they would whine or cry when we were eating or walking in the extreme heat, so started to orient our travels around places we could “recharge” with some air conditioning.

Sometimes the destinations, themselves, we airconditioned. Sometimes they were just selected pitstops from which we would rest and then try to get to the spots we really wanted to get to.

#1: Yes Hotel

Yes Hotel has air-conditioning, but there’s not a ton in this area on the outskirt of historic Georgetown.

However, it is really close to International Hotel. For lunch time, this has so many options.

The food is sumatran, and what’s amazing about this stall is there’s probably 50 different dishes. Some of these are really kid-friendly. Our two-year old, for example, at the following:

  • white, silky bean-curd
  • crispy fried “fish chips” – small whole fish crispy, like potato chips
  • dried anchovies with peanuts – slightly spicy, but she was okay with it with rice
  • beef lung – okay, I snuck this in, and she was eating it for a bit – it’s super tender

This is probably a shorter excursion, but I think it’s worth having because the food is so good and of amazing variety.


60, Jalan Transfer 10050 Georgetown Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

#2: E&O Hotel

Nice view, comfortable inside, and relatively close to Fort Cornwalis.

The appeal here is the view along the seaside. It’s one of the few wide side-walks I have found where there are no cars.

Our two-year old would walk around, look at the ocean, then go inside and wander up and down the stairs (to my chagrin since I needed to go up and down with her).

The lunch was actually fantastic for not only us two adults, but for the 2-year old, as well. I ordered the Executive Lunch which serves several tiffins of nyonya food. Nyonya food is my favorite cuisine in Penang. Some of was spicy, but some of the non-spicy dishes mixed with white rice were surprisingly appetizing for the toddler. Normally I have really low expectations for hotel food, but the food at **Sarkies Corner was good.

Yes, more expensive than a regular Penang meal. For us, we were the only people there, so even though Rachel was acting up a bit, there weren’t any other patrons to bother. They were really nice and even gave her her own plastic dining set (even though she tossed it).

Sarkies also has some nice desserts, which also helped the little one settle down.

Not much else to do here, but a good 2-hour excursion. If you have a little more energy, you’re really close (a short walk if only Georgetown were strollable), to the Bayview Hotel’s Three-Sixty. Or you could save it for another time, which we often do.

#3: Bayview Hotel’s Three Sixty Sky Bar

This can be a stand-alone activity with the kids, or it can be combined with #2’s E&O Hotel.

The outdoor Sky Bar gives you a great view of Georgetown. The metal fence around the area is safe but there are chairs and sofa up against the fence that little toddlers can climb. So this does need you to be pretty vigilant.

Our 2-year old just enjoyed walking up and down the wooden deck, which made it easy to monitor her while looking at the beautiful skyline.

You can also go inside and sit on sofa/chairs that are low to the ground. They have mostly regular dining tables, but about three clusters of lounge-style chchairs which are low enough to have young kids sit up in.

#4: Tek Sen Restaurant and China House

A regular dinner outing for us has been to take the toddler and baby to Tek Sen. Unfortunately, they do not have air conditions.

Howver, Tek Sen has a wide open dining area with lots of windows for air flow, and they have a clean and ready supply of baby chairs. Warning: the baby chairs’ pretty much all have broken straps so while it was fine for our 2.5 yo, not the safest for the 9 mo.

From Tek Sen, it’s a decent walk along Campbell and then Armenian Street to get to China House. I found it’s okay to let the toddler to walk if one of the section is totally empty, or to play with the crayons in the area right outside of the wine bar (unfortunately, ours liked to pick at the crayons with her fingernails after she got bored of drawing, and then took to the playing cards and tossed them around. Oh well).

The courtyard with the small pool is nice for the toddler to walk around, as well. I wasn’t sure if it would be swarming with mosquitos, though, given the standing water, but the few times she’s walked through, she has been fine.

There are parts of China House where a loud toddler would not be welcome, so I would try to keep her away from there. Unfortunately, once in a while, she would break free and head over there, so that is the word of caution.

The upstairs has an art gallery, but it is not kid friendly. There are stairs and actual drops from the platform straight to the floor, so while a good way to get a feel for the local art-scene, you’d have to hold and carry the kiddies in this area.

That said, we took both of them with us multiple times. Why? In the end, gula melaka ice cream quiets any toddler down.

#5: [Hameedya] and then [Moustache Houz]

I’ve written about Hameedya under my post on Indian food in Penang and it is a good starting point for kids.

First, it is air-conditioned and spacious on the second floor. When we went in 2014, the area we new, so clean, as were the baby chairs.

The food was palatable to our normally picky eater. The famed murtabak – egg, chicken, flour wrap – was consistently muched by our 2 year old, as was the mango lassi and the bandung – a drink made from rose milk syrup. The latter two are nice and cold. Plus the naan is always a fave.

From there, we typically would walk to Moustache Houz. They do have private rooms upstairs, but you need to spend RM80 minimum, so we would just stay downstairs, have a crepe cake and the toddler would be relatively fine. Just need to make sure she doesn’t break free and go up the stairs.

#6: Prangin Mall

This could be a destination of its own. After all, it is a mall.

But as a visitor, I actually have been trying to avoid needing to spend too much times in a mall. Malls basically look the same, whether in Penang or in the midwest, so why bother?

That being said, here were some parts of Prangin we could recharge with the 2-year old:


Some very basic play areas that were pretty fun. Adults can’t actually enter most of the areas with the kid, so 2-years old was about pushing things. But I could go with her into the ball room (you know, those rooms with lots of little plastic balls)….and I did sneak up one level in the maze area just to make sure Rachel was okay (she wouldn’t climb up otherwise).


Well, we didn’t have the coffee. But it does have a familiar decor with air conditioned comfy chairs to take a break before heading back out.

Some dining options

There wasn’t anything that specifically stood out for eating, for both toddlers and adults. They did have a pancake stand which, obviously, was appealing for the toddler. But nothing substantive.

Penang Famous Cendol

If you want to try cendol with a place that is both air conditioned and has places to sit, you could try this.

Hardly the best cendol around, but it’s not gag-awful like some that we have tried.

Armenian Street Heritage Hotel

Thought this was close to something. But it wasn’t. But spaacious with a few seating areas. Little one could run around relatively safely while we took a break.

Exploring Penang Hill – Some Tips

This isn’t going to be the most useful of posts, but I wanted to write something while it was fresh and I had a moment while the babies napped.

Yesterday we went to Penang Hill. I had heard that it can be about ten degrees cooler and thought it would be good to know what that was like.

And, yes, it is definitely cooler and gives a pretty nice view. It’s a typical tourist attraction, complete with a fun but out of place miniature zip-line for kids. It was hard to find a good place to really enjoy the view and the incredible lush greenery. I had hoped to find more of it. But here were some takeaways that could be helpful for a traveller with kids:

Add mosquito repellent

We haven’t been wearing either mosquito repellent or the handful of clothes we did treat with premetherin (which I do highly recommend doing). Away from the city, there are alot more plants and, particularly near the restaurant at the top, still water, there’s lots of mosquitos.

Bring extra cash - RM$35 per adult for the funicular

Good thing we brought it, but I was totally expecting to pay with a credit card. They do accept it, but their dial-in wasn’t working. This has happened before (for us, it was at Seven Terraces, another surprising location for something like this).

Hm, nothing much else I can think of. We went and had tea with scones and jam at the restaurant at the top at David Brown’s. Perfectly fine. Couldn’t really sit in the garden area because of the said mosquitos, and it is only really there you can see the incredible view of Penang.

It was worth going once but I don’t think it will be the haven from Georgetown I was originally hoping that it would be.

What is interesting is the ride up gives you a view of Penang’s mountainside that is very different from what you see in the city. Not only in terms of luscious greenery, but the types of housing scattered along the hill, connected with poorly maintained roads.

Doing Research on Hand-made Soy Sauce

One of our attempts to make feeding the kids a little easier in the blistering heat has been to make food ourselves at lunch time (the other has been to stock up at hawker stands and keep it at home – haven’t tried that, yet).

So…I tried to make some noodle soup with fish cakes at home. But it was missing something. First, I realized that the soup stock is the big secret to the taste of the food. And that takes boiling bones and pig feet for long periods of time and (possibly) adding MSG (also know an anjinomoto).

Compromise? Buy hand-crafted soy-sauce. Yes, it will contain natural-occuring glutamate which is still bad; but it will make the home-made noodles taste alot better. I hope.

So I did some research. Thank goodness for the internets:

Two places to try:

Kilang Kicap Kwong Heng Loong No 7A, Jalan Pasar Pulau Tikus, Penang, Malaysia Tel: 04-2265452

Thin Seng Soy Sauce Factory 79 Jalan Gemas 10460 Penang Phone: 04 283 2998

How to (Not) Carry a Two-year Old While Traveling

Downtown (Georgetown) Penang is barely a walkable city for grown adults. It’s definitely not a walkable area for children.

No sidewalks. Scooters that zoom right along the side of the road. Large moat-like water drains (sewage?) all along the roads.

As a result, I need to actually carry the two-year old for good treks through the city in 90-degree plus weather in 80%+ humidity. Ugh.

Well, we had two of the “classic” baby carriers and they both absolutely sucked. I am searching for one that can do the trick (I may have found it, but it might not be the right size).

Why these others fail

  • Poor weight distribution
  • Can’t wear them alone without the child
  • Impossible to install by oneself
  • Look pretty uncomfortable
  • Really hot in material and by pressing the child against my skin

The rant

I don’t get it. Baby carriers are a perfect example of poor design. Many of them remind me of old-school Japanese products with the confounding manuals and complex installation and deployment. The old joke about VCR’s with lights flashing and their accompanying manuals with arcane icons, filled with needless features, is perfectly applicable for baby carriers.

Have you seen some of these instructions?

They have so many straps and wraps with umpteen steps just to get a child strapped in. The big cardinal sin? They pretend it’s easy!

It’s obviously so not easy. But that doesn’t stop them from using photographs and text implying it’s easy.

I have been trying to use the [x] carrier with Dragon Baby on my back. It’s a pretty huge production to get her loaded, adjust the straps, contort myself to actually lock in the straps, adjust her butt from leaking through the side of the crrier, readjust all the straps, hoist her back onto my back, and then start marching off with the straps putting all their weight on two nerves on my shoulder.

Life’s too short for this much pain.

Every single time I put it on, I mutter to myself about how poorly designed it is at so many levels.

  • Not intuitive for putting on the straps
  • Not human centric in any way with the distribution of the weight
  • Horrible for transport when not in use (e.g. I have to roll it up, let all the cords drag themselves on the floor, and it’s about as big as a small pillow when rolled up — how is anyone supposed to carry that?)
  • Uncomfortable for the child (it just doesn’t look comfortable with the nature of the seat support)
  • Did I say it was impossible to use?

Some things that may make this better

I was very close to being pushed over the edge to try and make my own. Find a material designer, talk to people who worked in the backpacking industry, get an actual designer, and put it together. Ugh, that would be a hassle.

I happened upon one IndieGoGo project which looked promising with their final product. Some key things:

  • a bicycle seat to support the baby’s bottom
  • a five-point harness
  • the thing folds up so you can still wear it as a back-pack
  • metal seems to be made from aluminum (hopefully for strength and weight)
  • the carrier curves away from the the adult’s back to let is breathe

We’ll see. I don’t think what they have in stock fits, but I’m hopeful.

Key Things to Do for Families Traveling Overseas

Two weeks into our family trip overseas from San Francisco to Penang, despite out best to prepare for the trip, we’ve hit upon a couple of snags that I wish we had gotten some prior advice on. Some of the things I list below are things we actually did do but only through research before hand. I wish it were presented in a more consolidated form; other things we hadn’t done and now, with the benefit of hindsight, wish we had.d

Make sure to get a foreign transaction free credit card

This wasn’t common advice. It came from a chance happening upon an article or two from The Points Guy. We pretty much ignored any points we could earn when making the decision, perhaps not the smartest, but most of the good ones had an annual feel and we didn’t want to have to close down a card, and I haven’t gotten to a situation where I knew I would continue to benefit moving forward.

He had another list here.

The card I ended up picking was Capital One QuickSilver. NerdWallet’s article was pretty good. I didn’t actually read that before applying for it, but it’s a good reflection of how I made the decision (simple, no annual fees, cash-back, no foreign transaction fees).

Make sure your ATM fees are reimbursed

We don’t use the credit card all that often (one beautiful thing we do use in Penang has been Tesco’s online shopping because of the delivery for only MYR$10. Right now, that’s about US$3 to have them deliver right to our door, including heavy stuff like big jugs of water and diapers (key with the two-year old and 9-month old).

We probably go to the ATM at least twice a week so we have cash around without having alot of extra loose cash. Our bank, First Republic Bank has been phenomenal in this regard.

Tell your bank, credit card, and PayPal you are traveling

Once you have your ATM and credit-card set, make sure they know the dates and locations of your travel. This helps to ensure they work smoothly without any fraud alerts. One thing we did not do which caused a hiccup was PayPal. We just didn’t expect to use it. However, you just never know and it’s good to have options.

In our case, I had a food tour with Robyn Eckhardt and she was best paid via PayPal. But because we didn’t set up our travel plans before hand, I was locked out from using it when I logged in from a Malaysian IP address. Even when I went back in with a reverse proxy, it was too late. I ended up solving it because I had a business PayPal account which I was still able to use, but it’s good to be flexible.

Guess why? Because I didn’t set up the bank transfer (see below), I’m needing to pay for our short-term condo using PayPal! Yeah PayPal, but don’t bet on it.

Prepare your bank with international wire transfer authorization

There may come the scenario you do need to have money wired. In our case, it was the only way to pay for our condo fees. I hadn’t actually thought through what that payment scenario would look like, but in hindsight it’s pretty obvious we needed to prepare for a wire, which most can accept. The alternative is to prepare authorization for a Western Union, but so far, it seems that the wire should be sufficient. If the person you’re dealing with has a bank account, that should work.

However, it does take some paperwork that needs signature and time to set up. We didn’t do that and it’s not that easy to find a printer on demand when traveling. So….we’re now waiting on PayPal (see above) but you don’t want to depend on that.

Why couldn’t we use our ATM? Well, like in the US, there are withdrawal limits. In our case, it was MYR$500 per bank. We needed to pay an advance of MYR$10,000 so that just wouldn’t fly.

Research how you’ll have internet access

Even though Malaysia has a relatively modern internet infrastructure, you can’t count on it being available in your condo. If you’re planning on being in a specific unit for over a year, then it might be worth while to actually pay for the installation of a modem. I’m not sure if it’s all that fast, though, since my experience in San Francisco is that it could take at least a week for the set up, perhaps longer if the building hasn’t been properly wired.

Maybe it would’ve been easier to do that, I don’t have the actual experience (but would like to know) and it was hard to tell.

The way I solved it was to just by a MIFI (after doing quite a bit of research on which provider had 4G coverage in Penang – so far, only YES. Not only did it seem to have the only 4G in Penang, it had the only option to subscribe without contract. That’s key for our 2-month stay.

It wasn’t the cheapest, but wasn’t horrible.

I purchased the required MIFI Huddle for about MYR$400 (US$133) – hopefully I can resell it to someone else, somehow. The plans aren’t awesome: I started with the 2GB per month (not a ton but good for regulard surfing and email) at MYR$48, which is US$16. We’ll see how it goes in terms of usage. But getting speed and no-contract was critical.

For bigger downloads like videos for the kids, we used the condo’s community wifi which worked out great.

Unlock your phones

I am so glad that I unlocked my iPhone. I am on AT&T and so was able to do so. My wife didn’t think she would even need the phone, but I am so glad I got a local Malaysian number. Once it was unlocked, I went into a store and asked for a Digi. Again, the hard part as with YES, was figuring what plan. Most of the ones advertised seemed like they were for converting to a longer-term post-paid plan which typically requires a contract.

I just went into a mini-mart and asked for a MYR$20 SIM card and paid for pre-paid coupons. Maybe if I were heard for longer than two-months, I would just get a contract, but the coupons are easy to get and to reload right off of the phone.

I did see a way to buy prepaid online but not sure how easy that is since they would need to ship a SIM card. It would make it easier by reloading online, which you can’t do (as far as I can tell) using a store-bought SIM card.

Load the MyTeksi App

Why would I need to use my phone in Penang so much? The top two phone calls were with real-estate agents and with taxis. Without a phone, you’re kind of SOL. With the two kids, being able to call a cab made such a difference. But what made it even easier was having internet access and phone access combined with the My Teksi. This allowed us to punch in our current location, our destination, and then provide what the approximate fare would be (important so that you don’t get overcharged, which happened several times before we used the app).

A life saver for us. We had the phone numbers of drivers we liked, but even that was more of a hassle at times than just using the app.

Some other valuable apps

  • Opera set to “mini” – load pages faster on your phone
  • Google maps – even helped us with bus lines
  • WhatApp – all the real-estate agents used it for communicating

There are probably some other things we would do to prep in retrospect, will add to this or in a subsequent post.

Living in Penang Part 2

Key factors when living in Penang with kids

Much of our decision on where to live has been determined by needing to accommodate kids, as well as understanding our actual goals. These can be hard to pin down, but talking about them and stack-ranking them as a family (me and my wife) helped. Here are the factors we considered, and we would suggest you do the same with your own set of priorities:

  • swimming pool
  • playground
  • nearby strollable area
  • walkable access to food
  • sea view
  • access to mini-mart
  • deliverability by Tesco

These look very much like “conveniences” and we had to take a hard look at the objective of coming here. If we wanted to replicate life in San Francisco, well, we would have been better off living in San Francisco.

So, as a result, we asked ourselves, “What can we do that we really cannot do in San Francisco?” and “What do we want to experience?”

That helped us start to refine some options.

I don’t want to belabor the full weighting and discussion, but one of the things that came out was recognizing that Penang is known for its diversity of food. And even though we live in a foodie town like San Francisco, I actually found the diversity of street food to be low, as well as often unaffordable. So being able to explore the diversity of foods here easily and readily became a factor.

Proximity to hawker centers as one heuristic

Initially, we thought to explore where the different hawker centers, the area with the congregation of street food stalls, as a determining factor. We found a list of hawker centers online here. Of those, as of this writing, we tried the following:

  • Northam Beach Cafe
  • Gurney Drive Hawker Center
  • Air Itam Food Market Court
  • mini version of Pulus Tikaus Hawker Center

Georgetown Little India

We also walked around Georgetown Little India. I started to read more of Robyn’s blog which described a life of walking around and exploring food, often in Little India, but often beyond. When we have our first morning in Little India and literally just stopped by to have a roti for breakfast which was awesome, then stumbled upon a pretty solid dimsum place called Prosperous Dim Sum somewhere adjacent to this, I started to think that maybe Georgetown was calling us.

Even though we liked the views and feel of The Breeza out in Tanjong Takong, it felt far: a good 15 minutes from Georgetown by taxi. We wouldn’t go out if we did that.

Originally, when we were walking around the Georgetown area near Times Square it just felt like a busy, hectic part of town and not that appealing. But we ended up walking around historic Georgetown and that started this internal shift.

We’re still not completely decided, yet. We plan to go on one of Robyn’s walking tours on Wednesday to help us get a real feel for life in the city vis a vis the food and sites in historic Georgetown.


We found three primary ways of getting around, and again this was key with the kids:

  • taxis
  • public buses
  • CAT (hop along)
  • walking/strolling


What helped us initially was using the iPhone app MyTeksi. The most important part is that it gave you an estimate of the fare. Without it, we realized that many taxi drivers were inclined to overcharge us. With it, we had at least some reasonable baseline. And most of the time, they came relatively quickly.

Yes, they are supposed to use a meter. But many won’t. Some will say that people in Penang don’t use meters, but we did meet people who used meters.

When we did find ones we liked, we kept their phone numbers handy. We found two that so far have served us well:

  • Paul Neoh: +6-013-531-6610
  • Sivam: 012-445-9663

That being said, the cost can start to add up.

Public Buses

These have been very nice and air-conditioned. We actually took one all the way to Air Itam, and tried again today to go to Penang Hill (but for some reason, Miniature Baby had a meltdown, I don’t know why, so we got off in Air Itam and cabbed it back).

These appear to be geared for longer routes, versus short inter-Georgetown trips.

CAT (hop along)

There’s a free hop-along bus which I was hoping to get on today. But, for whatever reason, the buses just kept accummulating at the stop, but no one was taking off. The lines built up, and no bus drivers were to be seen. Very bothersome. But, in principle I liked it, and kept it in the back of my mind. You can see a pretty good write up on the CAT line here.


This is hard. The only place we found that was strollable was Gurney Drive. As a result, we started to lean very heavily on living along Gurney Drive. It wasn’t super-close to Georgetown, but it did have it’s own Gurney Drive Hawker Center. Lots of reviews said that this is more pricey and touristy…but honestly, it wasn’t that bad.

Living in Penang Part 1

Two days ago we finally completed the painful flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore to Penang. To my incredible surprise, the place that my wife got us for less than $90/day US has been a great short-term spot while we look for longer-term housing: Park Royal Resort. I will add photos when I can, but the short of it is there’s a beautifully landscaped area where we can look out on the beach and then cool off in the pool with the kids.

But this will only be short-lived. Right now, I am focused on figuring out where to live longer-term.

Yesterday we did a tour of possible areas based on an excellent blog series from The blog posts were:

From the series of excellent posts, I distilled some key ideas to help us focus in an areas:

Top neighborhoods and condos

Her post was really helpful by actually recommending specific condos to look at by neighborhood, which we did. We took a taxi to all four from Park Royal and back for a total of 120RK. It’s normally 40RK each way from Park Royal to Georgetown, which was our final destination, so he added a 50% premium for stopping along the way. He got a good deal. Next time, we would make sure the concierge would ask and confirm the cost.

The places we checked out:

  • Marina Green in Batu Ferringhi
  • Alila in Tanjung Bungah
  • The Brezza in Tanjon Tokong
  • Time Square in Georgetown

Alila has the most lush, mountainous feel in the exterior. I was really tempted because part of my being in Penang was to experience something different from San Francisco, and the exterior surroundings is one factor. As is to be expected, being further from the city has both the pluses and minuses. But it’s been high on my list.

The Brezza is one we are investigating in more detail today with about four different viewings. From what I’ve gathered from some of these articles is that the views are most panoramic. My thinking is that in the days when it is hottest, we may want to just hang out at home and enjoy the view, then when the heat has subsided, go back out and enjoy the city delights. However, it is not right in Georgetown, just outside of Gurney Plaza.

Time Square is right in Georgeotown and seems to have a pretty nice pool area. There are probably many more other options there, as well, but we’re going off of the article and been focusing on Time Square for now. The question is whether we are able to just walk out to where we want to go, of if we have to take a cab, could we just do the same but from the Brezza?

I should have more details later as I think through where we want to live. The next task is to map out the areas we want to go. Hopefully I’ll be able to put that in the next post.

Evaluating CRM Systems for Start-up - Part 2

My primary use cases

In my earlier post I started to clarify my objectives and the related features. Deal tracking and reporting is much less important at this stage since it’s about pipeline. But it is about getting very granular around reporting activities, prospecting information and so forth.


One approach that I’ve used in the past albeit with some challenges (to the point I built my own system to allow this) was tagging. The reason this is important is because there are attributes for accounts and prospects that I want to be able to capture – both ad-hoc and predetermined.

What do I mean by that?

As I build out a territory, I start to identify characteristics such as known installs (they are a BMC shop), external indicators (missed earnings, listed on Inc. 500), and other interesting factors that could turn into the “secret sauce.”

In the past, these indicators would need to be hard-coded into a drop-down. Tags allows me to free-form add them if something comes up while also showing the existing categories through auto-fill.

It also allows multiple attributes, a :many_to relationship so to speak, versus a :has_one relationship. This can also be super-important, both from just a pure efficiency perspective for the prospector (me for now, but someone else in the future), as well as for segmentation purposes.


So far, it seems like the best contender is BaseCRM – I’ve been using their tagging feature pretty much since I started and I like how easy it is to input for both accounts and contacts, and then do a search/list with a single click.

I haven’t been able to see a similar feature in Close.IO, and vaguely recollect using it in CapsuleCRM (but since they were bumped down I would need to go back and revisit – nooooo!)

ToutApp sort of has this with the notion of Groups, which would be fine, as well, although it does appear those groups need to be a priori.

So far….

BaseCRM seems to have this, however, it’s lack of integrations discussed above and seemingly limited reporting is stalling me from going all in.