Thursday, August 13, 2020

Stranded tourists help maintain Penang homestay

Jun 11. 2020
Titi Teras Village House owner Adrian Chan has allowed stranded tourists to stay at his property and in return, the tourists help him maintain the home. SIN CHEW DAILY
Titi Teras Village House owner Adrian Chan has allowed stranded tourists to stay at his property and in return, the tourists help him maintain the home. SIN CHEW DAILY
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By Sin Chew Daily/ANN

PENANG, June 10 (Sin Chew Daily) -- Four foreign tourists stranded in Malaysia due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb the spread of COVID-19 have helped maintain the homestay they are staying in Balik Pulau, Penang.

They help Adrian Chan, owner of Titi Teras Village House, maintain the place they get to stay with minimal charges.

"If the homestay is unoccupied, it could have been broken into. The foreign tourists help me take care of the place. I let them stay here at very attractive rates," he said, adding that he allowed them to stay on with the perception of shares resources.

Despite running the homestay at a loss, the four foreigners who currently stay there have helped him maintain the house.

During an interview with Sin Chew Daily, Chan said the homestay started out as a joint venture with friends to manage a place for cyclists to picnic and camp.

Now he is left alone to manage the place. As the fees charged are very affordable, he often runs into cash flow problem.

"I am a qualified financial planner. This place is the paradise for me to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I come here to trim the grass and talk to the tourists staying here. I regard the losses incurred as my travel expenses," Chan said.

Two of the tourists are Alim and Irina from Uzbekistan and Ukraine respectively. They are classmates of his niece at a university in China. They have been unable to go back to China because of the lockdown.

Hiili's caravan is parked at Titi Teras Village House. SIN CHEW DAILY
Hiili's caravan is parked at Titi Teras Village House. SIN CHEW DAILY

Alim and Irina have planned to return to China in February. As many cities in China were imposing lockdowns, they ended up staying in Penang for few months.

"We have wanted to go back, but the airfare is so expensive that we give up," they said.

Hiili, 53, from Germany, has been traveling in a caravan for more than a year. She entered Malaysia from Thailand on March 16.

"I did not get to travel since then. After arriving in Penang, I bought some food on March 17. I couldn't go anywhere because of the MCO," she said.

Hiili spent time maintaining the caravan, the garden and exploring nature while the caravan is parked at Titi Teras Village. Hiili sleeps inside her caravan.

"I learn about lizard, snake, various types of fruits and I also harvest the fruits," she said.

"I wish to go home too but what about my caravan? The weather is humid here and it's easy for cars to turn rusty. If possible, I want to continue with my travel," she added.

Left picture: Hilli (R) and Irina; right picture: Paul (L) and Alim. SIN CHEW DAILY
Left picture: Hilli (R) and Irina; right picture: Paul (L) and Alim. SIN CHEW DAILY

Paul, 47, from UK, has been traveling for about five years now. He entered Malaysia on March 17 and stayed with a friend.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted his plans.

Both Paul and Hiili opted to leave Thailand in March as tourists were allowed to stay in Malaysia for 90 days. Now they face the dilemma on how to extend their visas.

"I stayed in an apartment in Ayer Itam for about seven weeks. I moved to Balik Pulau recently.

"This is a nice place and I get to enjoy durians.

"In Ayer Itam, it is very convenient to buy the necessities. But in Balik Pulau I need to walk about 2km to the nearest shops," he said.

Paul, who has previously visited Georgetown before this trip, knew it as a vibrant city.

Few days ago he finally got to visit Georgetown again. It was different for him as the city was much quieter with small number of people and vehicles on the road.

Decorative items at Titi Teras Village House are made by foreign tourists who stayed there (L); Paul loves durians and even takes pictures of the fruit on tree. SIN CHEW DAILY
Decorative items at Titi Teras Village House are made by foreign tourists who stayed there (L); Paul loves durians and even takes pictures of the fruit on tree. SIN CHEW DAILY

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