Friday, June 10, 2016

Personal Finance Lessons from eating KL Murtabak

I have just ended my second trip to Malaysia and will embark on my third trip tonight.

Just wanted to share a really delicious picture of KL Lamb Murtabak with all of you readers to remind you that 1 SGD is almost 3 MYR as we speak and going into Malaysia to enjoy some fruits of currency arbitrage might not be a bad idea at this time of the year.

( Just do it with more sensitivity as Malaysians do consider most Singaporeans arrogant and proud.  )

But more importantly, if you ever visit Malaysia over the holidays you need to reflect upon the life that you have chosen in Singapore.

Mutton Murtabak in Singapore costs around 7 SGD. It is relatively large compared to the one in Malaysia and is accompanied by cucumber dipped in tomato ketchup. The above murtabak is hardly considered cheap for the locals, it costs about 9 MYR or 3 SGD but the picture speaks for itself. ( My rule of thumb is that Malaysians generally earn the same wages as Singaporeans but denominated in their own currencies. )

With labor and rental costs a fraction of that in Singapore, the Indian Muslim cook in KL can put in a lot of personal love and care into the making of mutton murtabak, You can have a very thin crust that is packed to the brim with mutton and egg ingredients. It's circular shape is also unique and more troublesome to make than the ones you find in Singapore. To me, the most special treat would be the pickled onions, which adds a tangy twist to this traditional Indian meal.

Some of my relatives working in Singapore see our country like a high-pressured sweat shop. They like earning Singapore salaries but see our country as boring and sterile. The moment they earn enough money, they will be heading home. Singapore is a place which lacks emotions and sentimentality ( Unless you are talking about anger which we have in spades. ).

There are now 5,000 Singaporean families who have chosen to live in Johor instead of in Singapore. To me, Malaysia is not an easy place to live in because of security concerns. When I was in KL, I was almost hurt by a yellow zebra crossing because we are cluelessly stupid Singaporeans and have no idea that zebra crossing mean nothing in KL. Funny thing is that no one will get killed because traffic is so slow there. I also personally witnessed a decent hotel at Jalan Ampang with no inclined ramp, and saw a middle-aged man push some goods on a trolley down a flight of stairs. You can only appreciate the care taken by your authorities at home only after you witnessed the system in other parts of the world.

But all-in-all, Malaysia is a relaxing place at the current exchange rate, you can let your hair down, make a few tactical mistakes buying stuff and no one will fault you for it. Someone sold me a decent laptop haversack for $95 MYR and I was too tired of bargaining after a long day of travel. My travel buddy got something with a better design for half my price at this outlet called Yubiso ( Which is an amazing outlet, purportedly Japanese, which seems to me a copy of a copy of an idea which can be found in SG and HK ).

In summary, we can all choose to be global citizens, work and spend at different countries, but we have to be aware of the trade-offs.

Some places are cold, unemotional but the infrastructure works and you can accumulate private property quickly. Other places may be more chaotic and insecure, but some people will prefer its occasional glimpses of humanity in their people.

Take your pick.

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