The International Steam Pages


A Little Bit of Platelaying, 2010

For convenience I have now grouped lifestyle illustrated features by topic:


This page is just one of several describing aspects of our '2010 new life', for earlier and later pages use the Penang link above, but see also from this period:


In August 2010, I described our Seaview Garden flat in Penang, Malaysia as "work in progress" and showed things as they stood just after our Java tour. As of November 2010, we've been back to finish things off and relax before embarking on yet another four week Burma marathon which will be reported on these pages in due course. No one would ever describe this flat as "cosy" it's deliberately finished in a plain 'cool' style to suit a tropical base which will be used but occasionally. Nevertheless, it's still a very personal statement...

Faced with a mind boggling array of possible rattan (cane) designs for our bedroom we took the easy way out and opted for a shameless near copy of one of our favourite places in Java - room 301 at the Kencana Hotel in Bandungan. Mr. Wong of Unicane Furniture in Jalan Trengannu, Penang - http://www.unicanefurniture.com - did an excellent job but it might have been more than a bit cheaper to import from Java instead...

This is the original although we opted for a thicker mattress. Outside in Bandungan there is also a mountain view (of Gunung Merbabu). Like Seaview Garden, it's a cool retreat from the heat of the city and you have to walk down the steep hill for your dinner, but that is pushing the analogy a little too far.

The dining table set had been a leaving present for Yuehong, the original top was resin covered marble but that perished in the move courtesy of our shippers who failed to pack it properly as promised. I have to say that the polished granite replacement is a big improvement - I am quite happy to add a plug here for Far East Marble and Tiling in Jalan Jelutong, Penang who provided it. And since we paid for only a small percentage, we're very happy. Behind is our newly polished entry hall with a small part of the plate collection above. The distinctive triangles are three different variants from Ducroo and Brauns in Netherlands, saved from the melting pots of Java and Sumatra. The horseshoe is off a Stork (sugar) milling engine in Java, similarly rescued when a mill was being stripped after closure..

The coffee table was another present, the cane seats are from also from Unicane Furniture. The 'Penang' plates came from KTM's Sentul Works in 1974, they are well travelled having spent time in Kenya, the UK and China! The D52089 Krupp trio came from Madiun in Java and the rest were salvaged from various Javan sugar mills over the last 25 years or so, mainly by cultivating multiple local contacts and being in the right place at the right time on a near annual basis. It's a very tangible and personal collection having seen almost every one of these locomotives at work.

563.09 was scrapped just before I got to Malaysia, this is the only picture I have ever seen of it. It was taken by the late, great Basil Roberts at Tapah Road in January 1972. As you can see, the Jawi plate is mounted the right way on the wall, it reads from right to left 'Pulau Pinang', many years ago I was able to check this because it also used to appear on Penang's stamps.

The east wall is home to some Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) figures from near Madiun in East Java. Of course, the Malaysians make their own versions too.

You're never very far from rain in Penang, but right now it's a bit sunnier than during our last few visits. The wildlife greatly appreciates this, the Red Backed Sea Eagles (Brahminy Kites) have been showing off by soaring on the thermals outside our flat, my 'toy' digital camera cannot begin to do justice to these graceful creatures, we can see up to three at any time, a couple and what is presumably one of their offspring on the way to independence. We also occasionally see the even larger White Bellied Sea Eagles which live higher up the hill and honk loudly like geese as they fly over. 

Even the black giant squirrels have been less camera shy:

We have touched up the odd areas on the wall that escaped our decorator and the last brass door knobs will be polished before we go to Burma. The flat will then be ready to host the occasional visitor assuming that we can avoid incidents like the one that saw TNB (the local electricity company) disconnect us at 18.00 one evening. Their incompetent staff pulled the plug on the wrong flat and the management system here was not up to preventing them from making the mistake. Fortunately, when this is the view from your balcony, it's a little easier not to lose your temper with idiots.


Rob and Yuehong Dickinson

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