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Expat Interview: Ronni Pinsler

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Name: Ronni Pinsler
Home Country:Singapore
Other countries you have lived in: United Kingdom, Cambodia, Australia
Industry/Job: Retired

What brought you to Malaysia?
I actually feel more local than expat. My family actually lived and spent time in Penang pre WWII, so I have photos of myself as a baby on Penang Hill, at the beach and at other sports. I was a Malaysian by citizenship from 1963-65 and became Singaporean after the separation of the two states post-Merdeka. I came to represent my family firm in 1972, marketing diamonds to the growing jewellery industry, and have had a home in Penang since then.

What do you like and dislike about living here?
I love the people and the food, as well as the multi-ethnic diversity and community spirit that still exists to this day. I hate the traffic jams, in particular the selfish nature of a group of drivers who think nothing about creating more chaos by double and triple parking outside schools and busy thoroughfares. Perhaps Malaysia can follow Singapore’s example, with regard to dealing with traffic offenders.

Name three typical weekend activities that you enjoy.
As a researcher of local folk lore and religion, I love to travel to rural areas to locate villages and temples I have not been to before. I love driving around Penang Island. Right now I’m photographing kampung areas in Balik Pulau, Large kampung tracts are already being dismantled for urban renewal. I try my best to record these places before they disappear forever. Ayer Itam is another place I like to visit – the early morning market and breakfast by the stream at the kopitiam (coffee shop) are highlights.

What is your favourite holiday destination in Malaysia or in the region? Why?
There are so many holiday destinations, hard to choose a particular one. As a scuba diver, I love Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Tenggol and Langkawi for underwater adventuring. The Cameron Highlands are beautiful but are getting too congested. Visiting Taman Negara is something I really enjoyed too. Describe a memorial eating experience you have had here. I have had some great seafood experiences at Batu Maung or Tambun, and amazing mamak mee in Bangkok Lane. For food, Malaysia and Penang in particular, have got to be high up on the list of choices.

What do you miss most about your home country?
To be honest, not much. I do miss old friends and feel some nostalgia for southern England in the summer time. I spent more of my life here than there. Penang is a sort of version of Singapore from pre-1980s. It is because I miss that, that I choose to live here.

What advice do you have for newlyarrived expats?
I would say to learn the language. The YMCA has classes in Hokkien and Mandarin, as well as Malay for beginners. Interact with local folk and take every opportunity to be involved in local activities – the more traditional the better.

Is Malaysia a good place in which to work and do business? Why?
Im presently retired so can’t say much about the present economic climate. But friends in business have told me they are generally content and have no intentions to move elsewhere. The fact that the English language is widely spoken has to be a great advantage. Prior to retiring in 2005, I had 35 years’ experience of working in Malaysia. Not only has this been a most enjoyable experience but also profitable.

How long do you plan to stay in Malaysia? Where would you like to go next, and why?
I have no plans at present for any removal. If the traffic gets any worse, or urban renewal becomes too active, I may have to move to Kelantan or somewhere similar.

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