Thank you for taking your time to read what we have to say. We are a simple, open minded but we are certainly not an ordinary family. We have been hosting travelers in our home for a few years (on other hospitality sites) and we would like to continue doing that - cultural and help exchange - here on WorkAway. We are currently running our own training and consultancy business specializing in food safety and quality management, and we are also in the process of simplifying the way we live - consuming less, living a more self-sustainable life, leaving less impact to the environment, and removing material, emotional and spiritual attachments from our lives. Our current mission: (1) going back to the basics; (2) devoting our energy to only things and events that really matters in live.
Please try to put in your request as early as you can. This is not CouchSurfing or GlobalFreeLoaders where you can look for a place to crash a night or 2 if things didn't go according to your plan but a HELP EXCHANGE website. We are honoured and humbled to be chosen by you out of so many experiences you can choose here and we would like to give you and ourselves, an opportunity to get know each other a bit first before we decide whether we want to host you or for you to decide if you really want to stay with us. A good lead time would be to send in your request at least 2-3 weeks prior to your arrival so that we can have a bit of time to correspond and for you / us to make decisions. We need time to inform the younger family members about your request as they are also part of the decision making process. The review process would take longer (sometimes up to several days) if the adult family member(s) are at work elsewhere as all family members have to go through every request and say YES in order for your request to be approved.
More about us:
~ Container gardening and urban permaculture
We are learning to grow our own food on our own and we have a small container garden in our front yard plus 2 compost bins at home. We are also working with our neighbour to plant vegetables and fruit trees on a piece of neglected / unattended land close to our home. We started this project in Feb 2017 and our ultimate goal is to have a sustainable urban permaculture garden on that piece of land. We do not have any formal training on permaculture and what we have are mostly self-learnt / taught with input from people around us and our helpers of course! So we welcome guest with experience in urban permaculture to help or share knowledge with us.
~ Eating and staying healthy
We try our best to maintain an active lifestyle and living a balanced live between work, family and personal space. Nowadays getting active means taking a brisk walk around the neighbourhood, walking to the market and bank, tending the garden and doing house chores. We try not to buy processed food and try to keep those minimum around the house and we do our best to eat as natural as we can. Kenny & Jean do not eat animal meat, flesh and blood (anything with a heart) but wouldn’t mind if you do. Nonetheless meat is a prominent part of younger family members' diet at the moment.
~ Travelling and bringing the already shrinking world even closer
Travelling opens up a whole new horizon. It is certainly better to get to know places and people personally and experience the life and culture of the locals first hand. We used to take short holidays several times a year in the past but we have decided to take a moratorium on travelling at this moment. When we do travel again, we would like to take it really really slow and immerse ourselves into the culture of the place we travel to.
~ What else?
We have plenty of board and table games at home such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess, UNO, Cashflow 101 & 202, Mahjong set and several different types of playing cards. Game is a reflection of life and life itself IS a game, so to us playing game is a way to discover more about ourselves and reflect on what is going on in our lives.
Hilfe mit Computer / Internet
We can offer travel advice, local knowledge, conversation, travel stories, lots of books, free wifi, old movies on CDs and HDD, occasional short road trip with the kids and our BFF, outdoor activities such as cycling (we have a push bike at home), walks, runs or badminton.... and much more!
And not forget, language practice - we think the kids would benefit from the interaction with other English speakers and we are definitely keen to teach you Malay / Mandarin / Hokkien / Cantonese if you are interested. If you REALLY want to learn to read, write and speak basic Malay OR Chinese, it is possible to do so if you plan to stay with us for at least 2 weeks (we have guest who managed to do so!) We will give you structured daily lesson at home at night if you are REALLY interested and willing to commit to do the homework that is required in order to pick up the lesson. Currently we are taking Thai language lesson so if you speak Thai it would be great for us to practice with you. If you speak Burmese or Nepali, that would be even greater as we want to learn from you - but what are the odds!
Besides that, you will also get to experience our way of life which includes drinking a lot of herbal tea, using Chinese traditional remedies, cooking and eating local ingredients, and eating local food in our favourite places.
You can also take your time off to explore nearby places or travel to Langkawi island on weekends. If you love nature, there are several places for you to explore nearby Alor Setar such as Gunung Jerai, Gunung Keriang (within 15 to 50km from our home). We can drop you off if we happen to pass by those places for work, or you could hitch hike there.
Do include the phrase "Heloo Alor Setar" in the subject line to indicate that you read this far and you care. Not many people put care in what they do these days.
Thank you and we look forward to hear from you!
We are looking for independent, self-starter type, fast-learning, dependable, responsible, friendly and non-smoking young or mature lady, female-female or female-male pair (no single male / male-male pairs for now, sorry!) who speaks reasonable English to stay with us for at least a week - probably longer if we are a good fit/match - and to assist us with house duties / gardening / business related work.
House chores include, but not limited to, cleaning (e.g. sweeping / dusting / mopping floor etc), food prep in the kitchen, cooking, watering yard plants and spending some time interacting with the younger family members while we are out for work. When we are at work (if we have work), younger family members normally spend time at their grandparents’ home after school. But sometimes Kenny’s parents may be away and when they do, we are going to need extra help with food preparation, house chores and accompanying the younger family members at home after school.
We definitely want you if you have knowledge in in-home vegetable gardening or urban permaculture. Garden duties include but not limited to watering the plants, controlling overgrowth, germinating new seeds and maintaining the vermi-compost – so yes, you need to be comfortable with getting your hands dirty and working / coming into contact with the creepy crawlies that comes with the compost. Currently we have coconut, banana, mango, mulberry, sugar apple, dragonfruit in the garden and recently we just had new cempedak and lemon tree planted. We did have some pumpkin and chili planted earlier but they were washed away by rain and we also discovered that the garden's ground is uneven and this lead to water accumulation in the low lying area after heavy rain. So the current on-going work is to fill and level off the uneven garden ground, and to redo the fencing around the garden with materials salvaged from the neighbourhood. We have several resident dogs that belongs to our neighbour in the garden so you need to be comfortable working with canine presence.
We would also appreciate any help that you are willing to lend (your hand, time and effort) to support our local, independently run micro enterprise. Routine duties include marking of test papers and data entry work. If you have experience in training or adult education, which would be a bonus – you could help us with some of our projects. We need help with developing training aids for our food safety training modules. If you have experience in Customer Service Management we also need your help to develop our CSM system for our training biz.
We also expect you to spend time with us besides helping around as the main point of this whole exchange is ultimately, cultural exchange. You can do your stuff (keep in touch with family members, make plans for your next destination, watch YOUTUBE, do your own work, etc…) in your free time. Nonetheless we really want to get to know you and your home country or the city that you are currently living in so do plan to spend time sharing with us, over meal or in the evening in the living area, about the life, culture and reality of things back home. We certainly welcome good discussions, conversations and ideas/experience/information sharing on any subject subjects matter to expand both our and your horizon. You will definitely benefit the most during your stay with us if you are the type that can open up yourself and try new flavour / taste / experience during your stay. If you want to cook something from your home for us try, that would be great as well but it is non-obligatory.
In exchange for 3 to 4 hours help per day, we offer peaceful, private accommodation with shared facilities and shared meals. We are happy to welcome creative people who can bring new and refreshing ideas for our place!
English, Mandarin, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese
Our home is located at the edge of Alor Setar city, it's a single storey terrace (row houses) in a housing area, with a Malay kampung housing right in front of our home. Alor Setar is not exactly a place that one would visit for trips or holidays, but it makes a nice stop over for those coming in from / going to Thailand (Hatyai via train or Dannok via road) and/or Langkawi.
We have a spare room that we use for storage and to accommodate guest. The room has ceiling fan, a double-decker bed and 2 office desks that you can use. Floor space is available with soft bedding matting if the bed / mattress are too short / small (standard Asian size of 3' x 6'). There are some hooks for you to hang your stuff. We have wifi.
We do provide meals for our helpers who contribute at least 3 hours per day. Do tell us about your meal requirements. Kenny & Jean would normally eat outside as it is more economical and convenient and both do not eat animal meat, flesh and blood (anything with a heart) but wouldn’t mind if you do. Sometimes Jean would cook at home if she is free / not working. The younger family members usually eat with Kenny's parents who live next door on school days and ALL OF THEM ARE NOT vegetarian or vegan. If you have special diet requirement and want to prepare your own meal, you can use our kitchen, and please restore everything back into its original condition. Fresh food supplies are aplenty, with wet market and wholesale market 10-15 minutes’ walk away. There are also Malay and Chinese food stalls / coffee shops / cafes and also vegan / vegetarian shops within walking distance if you like to explore on your own.
Public bus is available from Shahab Perdana Bus Terminal and Kuala Kedah Jetty to our home but the schedule is unreliable. However, this won't be an issue if you are not in a rush. We can pick you up too within the city, just let us know when and how you are coming. We will let you know where your driver can drop you off if you decided to Uber / Grab or hitchhike.
We do our best to go to bed as early as we can on weekdays (sometimes as early as 7.30pm, usually around 10pm) in weekdays as the younger family members are still schooling. We are more flexible during weekends and holidays. As for us the adult family members, we can stay up sipping tea and conversing all night with the right companion :) All we ask is for you to keep the volume down when the younger family members are sleeping on school night. And by the way the weekend in Kedah is FRIDAY and SATURDAY, not Saturday and Sunday like most other places.
We thank you for reading this far. Please ask if there is anything you don’t understand. Do tell us a little bit more about yourself too if it is not stated in your profile: What is your travel style (shoestring all the way / budget with occasional splurge / go with the flow... etc)? What have you been doing since leaving school / your last job? Where are you heading? Any skills? Education? Interest?
What we offer might not be spectacular and we realize there are more exciting and adventurous experiences on offer on this website. Nonetheless, if you like to enjoy a slower-paced life and have more time to yourself (to finish writing that book, to figure out what to do next, etc...), then you will be in the right place.
If you decided that you want to spend your time with a simple, open-minded Asian family, do drop us a line. Do include:
1) Your tentative date of arrival and tentative date of departure,
2) Your meal requirements (vegan / vegetarian ..etc)
3) The city from where you are coming from and how you plan to come
4) Any medical conditions that we need to know.
5) Introduction to your partner or other family members travelling with you if you are using an individual profile and they are not introduced in your profile.
6) Links to your and your partner's website / Facebook / CouchSurfing / BeWelcome profile so that we can get to know you better. You can look us up too in Couchsurfing for our references and we will swap our FB link with you as well if you want it.
If you can and want to Skype (that is not mandatory) that would be great - it gives you and us an opportunity to get to know each other, to cover all the necessary details and to ensure both parties are entirely happy with what we are receiving. We may also ask for your CV / references .
Do leave a reference with an honest reflection of your experience with us - good or bad or ugly - after your stay. We believe this would be useful to others in the community.
Thank you and we hope to hear from you soon!
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Maximum 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week