Keith Hockton

Author Image for Keith Hockton

Keith worked in the investment banking arena for most of his life and retired in Hong Kong in 1998. He then went on a three-year journey of discovery around Australia, and wrote Atlas of Australian Dive Sites-Travellers Edition, a book about scuba diving your way around Australia. It was published by Harper Collins in 2003 and it’s now in its third printing.

He worked for various think tanks in Australia and the U.K. between 2003 and 2009 concentrating on Asian and European country risk, and finally returned to live in Malaysia in 2009. He had last lived there with his parents in 1970. He started writing for International Living in 2011 and in the same year authored Penang: An Inside Guide to its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks, already in its second printing, and wrote and co-directed a documentary titled: 1941 - The Fall Of Penang, which showcased on the History Channel in August 2012.

Keith is a fellow of the Malaysian Branch of The Royal Asiatic Society and continues to travel and explore Asia at every opportunity. He also mountain bikes (badly) and consequently knows the Malaysian medical system and its hospitals well. Keith is International Living's Asia correspondent.

Keith regularly contributes to International Living's Asia Facebook page.


Restoring a Vintage Boat — Fun Now, Retirement Income Later

Paul Blanford has created a lifestyle income for his retirement. It’s already making money…and occasionally he gets to enjoy it himself. But when he’s ready to retire—which may be sooner rather than later—his new life is ready for him. Paul, a native of New Zealand, works as a pilot in Hong Kong but has always loved boats and sailing. So he decided to buy a junk—a type of traditional Chinese sailboat— and turn it into a business. Second-hand junks are cheap and plentiful in Hong Kong, and Paul had his eye on the tourist charter business along the west coast of peninsular Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca.


The 10 Most Beautiful Natural Attractions in Asia

If you are thinking about taking a trip to Southeast Asia, and if you aren’t you should be, then here are the 10 most beautiful natural attractions that you can add to your Southeast Asian bucket list. The only people that seem to know about this stunningly picturesque island are Malaysians, and they’d like to keep it that way. Unfortunately I’ve been and I think it’s about time that we lifted the veil and told you about it.


How to Make the Most of Southeast Asia’s New Low-Cost Airlines

The last decade has seen the rise of the low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia. Cheap, short-hop flights now criss-cross the region—much of it spread across the ocean in archipelagos like the Philippines and Indonesia. This boom in no-frills flights means cheap travel and it’s one of the reasons that my wife Lisa and I can travel so much. We live in Penang, Malaysia, but whatever Asian destination you chose for your home you’ll find it easy to explore the region.


Why Medical Tourism in Malaysia is Booming

More affordable air travel, mounting health care costs in developed countries, long waiting lists and an ageing world population have all contributed to a global explosion of medical tourism in the past decade—and Malaysia is leagues ahead in terms of its world market share.

Visa and Residence in Malaysia

Malaysia launched its MM2H program (Malaysia My Second Home) in 2006. At the time there was nothing like it in Asia, and there still isn’t. As well as giving you a 10- year renewable multiple entry visa, you can bring your own car with you tax-free, and you can also bring your children with you if they are under the age of 21.

Living Costs of just $1,000 a Month in Penang, Malaysia

Back in Edmonton, Canada, Frank had his own building company and Sharon was a busy physiotherapist. Like most people, their lives revolved around their family and their jobs. But “Edmonton is a bitterly cold place in winter, and the truth is the winters were killing us,”

Low-Cost Island Life in Southeast Asia

Low-Cost Island Life in Southeast Asia

Most evenings Sharon and Frank Moorhead can be found leisurely sipping sundowners and enjoying the sunset from their penthouse balcony. Theirs is one of the most scenic views on the tropical island of Penang.


Opening a Dive Business in Exotic Phuket, Thailand

Nick Fawcus-Robinson wakes most mornings well before the sun rises. Padding around his bungalow in bare feet to make a cup of tea, while the cocks crow outside, I’m sure he ponders his past life now and again. Maybe.
Nick was an officer in the army for many years and a highly paid corporate executive in the tobacco industry after that.

Keith Hockton thinks he is the luckiest guy in the world living in Malaysia and working as a travel writer.

Travel Wherever You Want, Whenever You Want

I happen to think that I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world. Not only do I live in Malaysia, a beautiful country on so many levels, but also I love what I do. I travel at will, pretty much at the drop of a hat. I’ve enjoyed complimentary meals and hotel upgrades along the way.


I Thank My Lucky Stars That I Moved to Penang, Malaysia

I’m a very lucky guy to be doing what I’m doing, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t remind myself of that. Sometimes I say it to my wife, too, but she already knows how lucky we are. My wife and I moved to the island of Penang in early 2010. A small island—15 miles long and 12 miles wide—on the west coast of Malaysia, Penang, which is connected to the mainland by a six-lane bridge, is just two hours’ drive south of Thailand.


Escape to a Tropical Island (and Live on $1,500 a Month)

Thomas O’Neal had never been to Malaysia. In fact he hadn’t been anywhere in Asia, which made his sudden decision to move to the tropical island of Penang a brave one. “I figured that I’d take a chance and move lock, stock, and barrel. I could have just visited but where is the fun in that? After just a few months here I love it. It’s home for me now. New York has changed over the years and although I’ll always be a New Yorker I needed to travel.”


How to Beat the Banks’ F/X Rate

Foreign-currency exchange is something we all do at one stage or another. And we probably do it more often than we think. When was your last foreign vacation or business trip? These are probably the main reasons most of us exchange currencies, and they usually involve relatively small amounts over a short period of time.

The 5 Best Neighborhoods For Living In Penang, Malaysia

The 5 Best Neighborhoods for Living in Penang, Malaysia

Sitting off the tip of mainland Malaysia, Penang Island is a special place to live, steeped in history and home to historic mansions and shophouses. Just 114-miles square with a population of 600,000 people, the island is also the unofficial “food capital” of Malaysia and a medical center of excellence. For just $11 you can see an English-speaking specialist here who trained in the U.S.—and you don’t even need an appointment.


The Allure and Profit of Café Culture in Penang’s Historic Mile

Tanya Mimbres loves food. It’s one of her top interests when she travels. A native of New Mexico, she has lived in Paris and Barcelona. But when she moved to Malaysia five years ago she felt right at home. “Lots of my friends were traveling in Asia and were a bit shocked that I hadn’t been there,” she recalls.


Creating an Income Before You Make the Move

We’ve all gone on vacation and fallen in love with a place. You promise that you will visit again…but really you wish that you never had to go home at all. But of course you do have to go home, even if it’s just to quit your job or close up your house. And while these thoughts are going…


Four Days on the Eastern and Oriental Express, Out of Bangkok

If your idea of a dream vacation is traveling by train in absolute luxury, through some of the most romantic, historic and visually exciting cities in Asia, sampling the best local food along the way, then the Eastern & Oriental Express may be just the ticket.


Time to Enjoy Life in the Jewel of Malaysia

A few years ago, I was what most people would consider successful. I was working as a consultant and making a good living. But I was restless and unhappy… Deep down I knew there was more to life than just money.

Movie-Star Chic For Pennies On The Dollar In Penang, Malaysia

Movie-Star Chic for Pennies on the Dollar in Penang, Malaysia

Imagine unlimited sea views from your 6,000-square-foot home. You have five bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms, a library with a wet bar and a kegerator for draft beer. Your entertainment room has a drop-down projector, there are granite counters in the kitchen and your master bathroom is all Carrara marble.


Betty, 91 – Teaches English in Asia

Few countries in the world can compete with Malaysia for natural beauty, the warmth of its people and diversity of cultures…not to mention the amazingly low cost of living (my live-in maid costs $400 a month). I feel blessed and wish that I had moved here years ago. Betty Cotton loves telling her friends about Malaysia, too—especially Penang.


No Regrets Moving to Malaysia

As I meet more and more people who are interested in moving here, I think back to the day in 2008 when I made the decision to move to Malaysia. It wasn’t that I was unhappy—in fact, far from it. I just made a conscious change in the way I saw things, the way I thought about my life.

Secret Beaches in Indonesia

Secret Beaches in Indonesia

Surfers and divers have been coming to the Island of Sumbawa, Indonesia since the 1960s; it’s a mecca for both sports. They stay for months, returning lean, tan, and relaxed. When their friends back home ask where they’ve been, they often lie and say Bali. But this island’s days as a secret paradise are coming to an end.


Malaysia’s Most Romantic Hill Station

At the height of the British Empire, the colonials in Malaysia used to visit hill stations to escape the lowlands heat. In this lush highlands the men ambled about in tweeds, canes in hand, carrying shotguns in case of a tiger attack. Women wore long skirts and carried parasols to hide from the sun.


Travel Where Surfers Arrive by the VW-Beetle Load

In the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands, in the Flores Sea, lies the island of Sumbawa. It’s a magical island, beautiful, traditional, and one of Indonesia’s best preserved. And the warm, turquoise waters surrounding it are a relaxing 90 F.


Rent in Thailand from $400 a Month

Thailand is one of Asia’s most popular countries for expats. It’s safe, women can travel alone without problems, the cost of living is low, and getting a retirement visa is simple. But buying property is tricky. Which is why so many expats in Asia rent instead of buy. Renting is easy, affordable, and sometimes the only way to live in a country. Plus, if you want to move on and try out a new place, you just pack up and hit the road.


How to Try Out Life in Asia—Three Havens Where Renting is Easy

Buying property anywhere as a foreigner always means jumping through a few hoops. But in Asia, there’s an added complication: Legal restrictions on how (and if) foreigners can buy property are common. It’s a big reason why so many expats in Asia rent instead of buy.


Three Favorite Malaysian Dive Getaways

Malaysia is a melting pot of colorful Indian, Chinese, Malay, and Euro-Asian contradictions, making it one of the most fascinating countries in the region. It’s also a great base if you enjoy scuba diving…for surrounding Malaysia are some of the most beautiful, dive-worthy islands in the world. When you need to just get away from it all, they offer a welcome retreat.


Chiang Mai: Thailand’s Haven in the Hills

Thailand is a steamy and tropical place, so when you arrive in the northern city of Chiang Mai, the cool and pleasant climate can come as a surprise. Nestling among the highest mountains in the country, Chiang Mai enjoys blissfully cool months from October straight through to January…the perfect time to visit.


Exploring Bangkok

I never tire of Bangkok. I’ve been coming here for years and although the city itself has changed, a new building here, a shopping center there, the essential feel of the place hasn’t changed at all…and that’s what I love about it. There’s something in the air in Thailand’s capital. It’s a city for city lovers…partygoers…travelers and adventure-seekers. It’s crammed with exotic, bustling markets…17th-century temples…art-deco hotels and has fast-food stalls on every corner. For 24 hours of the day, people are living and making a living all around you.


South East Asia: Tropical Beaches, Exotic Cites, and Low Costs

Penang and Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. Colorful, vibrant, amazing Asia at its best. This presentation shows you three of Asia’s finest and gives you the inside track on how to live on the beach with budgets as low as $525 a month.


South East Asia: Tropical Beaches, Exotic Cites, and Low Costs

Penang and Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. Colorful, vibrant, amazing Asia at its best. This presentation shows you three of Asia’s finest and gives you the inside track on how to live on the beach with budgets as low as $525 a month.


South East Asia: Tropical Beaches, Exotic Cites, and Low Costs

Penang and Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. Colorful, vibrant, amazing Asia at its best. This presentation shows you three of Asia’s finest and gives you the inside track on how to live on the beach with budgets as low as $525 a month.

Sri Lanka—Jewel of the Indian Ocean

Sri Lanka—Jewel of the Indian Ocean

Picture a tear drop, emerald green and surrounded by myriad blues. That’s what the exotic island of Sri Lanka looks like on a map. Up close it’s even more beautiful, fringed with golden sand beaches, home to lush tropical forests, tea plantations, and mist-enchanted hill country. This is the place to see elephants and leopards in the wild, stand in the shade of the world’s oldest living trees at the old royal capital, surf, dive, fish, and explore thousand-year-old temples and magnificent colonial cities. And it’s undiscovered.

An Insider’s Guide to Buying Property in Malaysia

An Insider’s Guide to Buying Property in Malaysia

As I laze beside the infinity pool of my apartment, sipping a cool drink, it’s hard to imagine why I didn’t make the move to Malaysia, and the island of Penang, sooner. Property, health care, and the cost of living are generally a quarter of what you would pay in the U.S. The weather is great, the beaches are perfect, and there’s a lot to do. I’m not surprised an increasing number of expats are buying property here.

Cambodia: French Colonial Splendor Meets the Exotic East

Cambodia: French Colonial Splendor Meets the Exotic East

It’s six o’clock in the morning and I am standing at the water’s edge, a pilgrim at the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat. Like millions of others who have ventured to this same spot in the 900 years it has been a worthy destination—I’m waiting for the sun to rise. I’m waiting in the quiet of the dawn for that moment when the outline of the five stony-gray towers comes into focus and the ancient temple begins to glow.

Visit Vientiane: Laos’ Unhurried Capital

Visit Vientiane: Laos’ Unhurried Capital

Since opening to tourists in the early 1990s, Laos has become a magnet for travelers looking for unspoiled Southeast Asia. Two million people visit each year, drawn by world-class hiking, cycling, kayaking, and more in a pristine natural setting unblemished by development. Traditional village life is the norm. The countryside is dotted with Buddhist temples and ancient shrines.

48 Hours in Mumbai: Step-by-Step in India’s Oceanside Melting Pot

48 Hours in Mumbai: Step-by-Step in India’s Oceanside Melting Pot

One of the world’s great port cities, Mumbai is highly charged and energetic, bursting with stock-market money, a glamorous international art scene, and high-end bars where the beautiful people stay until the wee hours drinking champagne. Away from the bustling boulevards you’ll find nameless alleys where coconuts sell for 30 cents, haircuts are a buck, and the city’s frenetic traffic…

Insider’s Guide to the “Real” Bangkok

Insider’s Guide to the “Real” Bangkok

I ’ve always been attracted to the madness and energy of Bangkok. There’s something in the air in Thailand’s capital. Crammed with exotic sights, bustling markets, old temples, art-deco hotels and fast-food stalls on every corner, its rivers packed with boat traffic, and people everywhere… If you love cities, you’ll love Bangkok.

Starting a Business in Cambodia

Starting a Business in Cambodia

Jennifer and Elisa were living in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. Both were aspiring entrepreneurs, and both were on the look-out for a business idea. Elisa had lived in China before moving to Cambodia in 2006 with her family. Jennifer, meanwhile, moved to the Southeast Asian country in 2001 with her partner and two children. Jennifer had worked in the tourism industry for years.


House Swapping: Stay for Free Anywhere in the World

A few years ago our friends spent a month in Tahiti, one of French Polynesia’s paradise islands. When they showed us photos of the house they stayed in, my wife and I were speechless. They live in Ingleside Heights in San Francisco in a lovely three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. The house in Tahiti was 2,800 square feet of beachfront opulence. It came with two maids, a cook, and a gardener.

Malaysia’s Secret Island Of Komodo Dragons And Deserted Beaches

Malaysia’s Secret Island of Komodo Dragons and Deserted Beaches

In the musical South Pacific, the island of Bali Ha’i is an exotic paradise off limits to all except the officers. But in reality, the tropical island of Tioman—where the 1958 blockbuster was filmed—is a destination open to any traveler.

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