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The Adventure ....

 
  
 
 
 
 
ships log
Tuesday 30th December 2008
Telaga Harbour, Langkawi, Malaysia

Hello everyone

Can't believe that our journey up the west coast of Malaysia is almost over - it went far too quickly and we would've loved to have had more time to explore the Malaysian west coast, which will have to wait for our return journey in 2009. But we did have a wonderful time re-exploring the cities and towns we visited in Malaysia when we backpacked here almost 20 years ago.

After our Singaporean visit, we headed towards Danga Bay, Johor Bahru, Malaysia for the start of the Sail Malaysian rally, with approx. 60 yachts continuing on from the Indonesian rally and it was great to catch up with everyone again. Danga Bay was a good anchorage for shopping, eating, reprovisioning (Singapore, whilst having lots of Western goodies, was far too expensive), topping up with water (lots of rain, so we were able to collect straight into the tanks) and diesel (still lots of motor sailing ahead!).

While at Danga Bay, an invitation was extended to the fleet to attend a Malaysian wedding. Those of us that attended were treated to a delicious meal, great music provided by a local band and fantastic hospitality. Don't know how welcoming Westerners would be if 40 strangers arrived at a wedding! The bride and groom looked amazing and very colourful in light blue outfits. Guests were seated outside under large, fan cooled marquees, while the groom's family home was reserved for the bridal couple and immediate family where their wedding meal was served.


colourful night stall, Danga Bay, Johor Bahru

alternative Malaysian youth
colourful night stall, Danga Bay, Johor Bahru
alternative Malaysian youth (an exceptionally rare sight)

Bride and Groom wedding feast

Abandoned 5-star resort, Besar Island (en-route to Melacca)
Bride and Groom wedding feast
"abandoned" 5-star resort, Besar Island (en-route to Melacca)

Malaysian Bride and Groom

colourful Melaccan trishaw
Malaysian Bride and Groom

colourful Melaccan trishaw

Next was the start of our journey through the Melacca Straits, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world; another claim to fame being pirate attacks on the freighters. To those that predicted "doom and gloom" and "pirate attacks" we can happily say that we didn't encounter anything remotely dangerous - we kept well clear of shipping lanes and mostly hugged the Malaysian coastline, hopping from islands to secluded bays. In fact, the worst thing that happened to us on this leg of the journey was self-inflicted but more about that later (and pardon the pun, which will become apparent when you get to the story).

After the frantic pace of Singapore and Danga Bay, we were longing for some peace and tranquility on a remote island, so our expectations were high on the approach to Besar Island. Think images of snorkelling, relaxing in a hammock under palm trees, etc. - sadly, not so - the water wasn't clear with the usual floating flotsam and whilst the island was pretty, it seemed to be stuck in a time-warp. Some developers must have also had high expectations for Besar Island, as there were a number of "abandoned" resorts (the most lavish pictured above). These resorts were patrolled (we guess an attempt to keep vagrancy at bay) and some gardeners were about, but for the most part the resorts were unoccupied, deserted and falling into disrepair. Obviously the message didn't get out to the tourist trade, or the tourists didn't see what the developers saw.

From Besar Island, Melacca was a short journey away, so we upped anchor and headed towards the Melacca river mouth. The city has had a complete overhaul since we last visited some 20 years ago, and we had a great time wandering around. The old city, centred around the river mouth and stretching a fair distance up river, has beautifully restored buildings reflecting Hindu, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences when they occupied the city at one time or another. Jonker Street in particular was delightful - myriad of period shops selling everything from antiques (they were really little museums!), beaded shoes (one shoe maker's ancestor made tiny 10cm shoes for those poor chinese women who had bound feet), wicker/seashell/coconut/batik/wood handicrafts, chinese snacks - all shops built one on top of another. Coffee shops and temples were also squeezed in. Melaccan food was delicious and a great feast could be had for less than AUD$10.

We wanted to stay for a few more days, but the Sail Malaysia rally schedule was calling - the next organised event was at Lumut, which was still a fair distance away and not having much wind made it a very long, hard run. Our week's stay in Lumut however was great, mainly chilling out on the boat at anchor. A day's excursion provided by Parak Tourism allowed us to see the local sights. The "family" (Gillian & Brian (Destiny III), Ralph & Jen (El Misti), Craig & Sara (Crasara Cruzin'), Maree & Neil (Purnama)) had our last dinner together before Purnama flew back to Australia for Christmas, with everyone else continuing onto Thailand - Purnama's due back early 2009 to sail back to Australia - hopefully we'll be able to catch up with them when they're back in South East Asia.


Melaccan waterways and restored shophouses

Malaysian Star Cruises
Melaccan waterways and restored shophouses
Malaysian Star Cruises

"middle of nowhere" fishing resort (enroute to Lumut)

the last "family" gathering, Lumut
"middle of nowhere" fishing resort (enroute to Lumut)
the last "family" gathering, Lumut
(from left to right - Gillian & Brian (Destiny III), Ralph & Jen (El Misti), Craig & Sara (Crasara Cruzin'), Maree & Neil (Purnama)

We then fell in love with delightful Pangkor Island, only a few miles away from Lumut and spent another week here. Our first evening saw us anchoring in the bay of a very exclusive resort at Pangkor Laut and waking up in the morning to the cry of hornbills. Paradise ! At last we feel that we're far away from the maddening crowds. Here we got our first taste of the Malaysian jungle, complete with leeches ! With a group of fellow cruisers, we hired motor bikes and toured around the island visiting temples, watched traditional ship building (later that day we just missed the launch of the blue ship pictured below) and deciding which was the best eating establishment on the island. We were also fortunate to come across a local hotel that fed mango to a flock of hornbills each afternoon - got some good photo's and video footage (see video link at bottom of page).

Unfortunately, the day before we left Pangkor, Brian had a bike accident and badly burnt the inside of his left ankle (hence the pun used earlier). Alls well now, but Brian was out of action for nearly two weeks, and he was lucky to get excellent nursing from Betty of yacht Seventh Heaven - many many thanks.


traditional greeting (check out the hornbill headgear)

jungle walk, Pangkor Island
traditional greeting, Lumut(check out the hornbill headgear)
jungle walk, Pangkor Island

checking for leeches after the jungle walk

traditional ship building, Pangkor Island
checking for leeches after the jungle walk
traditional ship building, Pangkor Island

traditional ship building, Pangkor Island

seafood restaurant
traditional ship building, Pangkor Island

seafood restaurant

So we next arrive at Penang, where we went straight into Tangjong Marina, Georgetown so that Brian didn't have to worry about getting in and out of a dingy and getting his burn wet (especially as the sea water around the marina area was rather polluted). So the typical day for Brian was visiting Betty in the morning to have his burn redressed, then straight back to the boat for the rest of the day to recouperate (no working, no walking, no weight on his foot); Gillian's typical day would start with Betty's prognosis on Brian's recouperation, then heading off to do some sightseeing, back to the boat for lunch with Brian, relaxing during the heat of the afternoon. In the evening, if Brian's ankle was up to it, we'd gently stroll into Little India for a bite to eat.

Georgetown (which has just received World Heritage status with celebrations occuring during our visit) is wonderful for exploring on foot, as every corner provides something to have all your senses delightfully overwhelmed. Little India and Chinatown was almost like being in those countries - myriad of shops selling colourful fabrics, jewellry, incense sticks, fresh flower garlands, bollywood music and movies, temples, museums, trishaws, delapidated houses alongside renovated mansions, coffee and hawker stalls, street markets. Penang has very cheap public transport conveniently placed to the marina, so it was also very easy to hop on a bus and see where it will take you. We loved Penang 20 years ago and it's just as vibrant now as it was then. There's just too much to describe - hopefully the photo's below will do the talking :-)


hornbill feeding time

approaching the Penang bridge
hornbill feeding time
approaching the Penang bridge

not much distance from the ferries, Tangjong Marina, Penang

fresh flower garlands, Little India, Penang
not much distance from the ferries, Tangjong Marina, Penang
fresh flower garlands, Little India, Penang

Indian dancers, Penang

restored temple and clan houses, King Street, Penang
Indian dancers, Penang
restored temple and clan houses, King Street, Penang

market butcher, Campbell Street, Penang

market vendor, Campbell Street, Penang
market butcher, Campbell Street, Penang
market vendor, Campbell Street, Penang

fully loaded motorcycle vendor, Penang

road temples - not very clear because of incense smoke!
fully loaded motorcycle vendor, Penang
road temples - not very clear because of incense smoke!

Hainan Association & Temple (built 1895), Georgetown, Penang

budhist temple, Penang
Hainan Association & Temple (built 1895), Georgetown, Penang
Wat Chaiyamabgjakaran Thai Temple, Penang

had to take this photo, budhist temple, Penang

very busy hawker centre, Gurney Drive, Penang
had to take this photo - the classic "catch 22" - take off your shoes to visit the temples, however they might not be there when you return !
very busy hawker centre, Gurney Drive, Penang

Two museums that Gillian really enjoyed were:-

Pinang Peranakan Mansion (the residence of Chung Keng Kwee (Zheng Jinggui) who held the position of Kapitan China of Perak as well as being a very sucessful Hakka mine-owner) displays private collections of Straits Chinese and Baba Nyonya antiques. The townhouse and ancestral hall depicts how a typical home of rich business man, from a century ago, might have been decorated. www.pinangperanakanmansion.com.my.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (the home of Zhang Bishi, Penang's Qing Dynasty Chinese Consul, a Hakka shipping magnate and industrialist - he arrived in Penang at the age of 16, penniless, from the Guandong province of China). The outer blue wall pigment, whilst making it a very distinctive building, allows the bricks to breathe resulting in no mildew, which grows everywhere in this climate. However, the pigment washes off after rain, so it needs to be constantly re-applied. Another feature of this mansion is the external Chinese cut & paste porcelain work - colourful porcelain bowls are broken into small pieces, then re-assembled to create decorative concave artwork. www.cheongfatttzemansion.com


Baba-Nyonya museum, Peranakan Mansion, Penang

Baba-Nyonya clothing displayed at Peranakan Mansion, Penang
Baba-Nyonya museum, Peranakan Mansion, Penang
Baba-Nyonya clothing displayed at Peranakan Mansion, Penang

beaded shoes displayed at Peranakan Mansion, Penang

beaded shoes displayed at Peranakan Mansion, Penang
beaded shoes displayed at Peranakan Mansion, Penang

chinese temple guard doors, Peranakan Mansion, Penang

specialised tilework, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang
chinese temple guard doors, Peranakan Mansion, Penang
specialised tilework, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang

When we left Penang for Langkawi where the final Sail Malaysia gala dinner was being held. From Penang to Langkawi we had the best sailing yet - lots of wind from the right direction and not many fishing trap hazards. And the reward at the end of a fantastic sailing - beautiful anchorages at Dayang Bunting island, only 10nm away from Langkawi. It was so good to chill out for a few days with no civilisation nearby.

Langkawi is quite a large island, with approximately a third of the island preserved as "geoparks". Which means that there isn't too much high-rise developments along the beach fronts, making a nice change. But strangely, even though Langkawi is a mega tourist destination and touted as a "tax free" island (but only on alcohol, cigarettes and, weirdly, chocolate), there are no detailed maps (just "tourist" maps which only give general positions of sightseeing venues), no services directories, and no public transport. Best option is to hire a car, which you need to do for provisioning anyway. Thank goodness for previous years' yachties who'd sourced and compiled lists of services and hand-drawn maps, kindly maintained by Rebak Marina - it would have been a nightmare without them and a godsend when trying to reprovision and get repairs done.

The best sightseeing venue we've been to so far was the cable car trip to the top of Gunung Machincang, on the west coast of Langkawi. We really enjoyed this and the views of the Andaman Sea and Langkawi island groups were spectatular. It's a great engineering feat - the cable car span is 919.5m long, has one of steepest gradients in the world at 42 degrees, and has an amazing 125m suspension bridge spanning two mountain peaks. Well worth it!

Another highlight was the final Sail Malaysia gala dinner held at the beautiful Mutiara Burau Bay Resort, who put on a great dinner - succulent spit-roast, fresh seafood, variety of salads and vegetables, far too many tempting desserts, fantastic band - a brilliant evening. It was also great to catch up with and say farewell to the rally organisers and participants before everyone heads off in different directions (some are heading off to the Red Sea; some leaving their boats in Langkawi and flying home for Christmas, returning in the New Year; some (like us) heading off to Thailand.

Christmas Day lunch at Telaga Harbour was another special occasion. Six boats (Darrel and Lorretta of CanKata, Craig and Sara of Crasara Cruzin', Brian and Gillian of Destiny 3, Ralph and Jen of El Misti, Percy and Carol of Lorissa, Tim and Barb of Rubicon Star) got together and set up camp on a lovely stretch of beach at our anchorage. We had an overcast day, which made it very pleasant for spending the day at the beach. Each boat brought a variety of dishes and yes, we had way too much food :-) Each person brought a "present" (any item not needed on the boat) which was placed under the Christmas tree. Everyone received a number and in numerical sequence, selected a "present" or could choose to take a previously opened "present", meaning that the person who had the "taken present" could choose again from under the Christmas tree or take someone ele's previously opened "present" - the proviso being that a "present" could only move to one person per round. We had great fun and presents swopped hands many times. Christmas wishes and love to all our family and friends - your company was missed but you were never far from our minds.


Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Georgetown, Penang

Langkawi in sight & approaching Bunting Island
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Georgetown, Penang
Langkawi in sight & approaching Dayang Bunting Island

fantastic anchorage, Bunting Island

Langkawi welcome ceremony
fantastic anchorage, Dayang Bunting Island
Langkawi welcome ceremony

a great evening, Sail Malaysia farewell dinner, Langkawi

provisioning - getting ready for sailing to Thailand
a great evening - Sail Malaysia farewell dinner, Langkawi
provisioning - getting ready for sailing to Thailand

suspension bridge, Langkawi cable car (taken from the top viewing platform)

Telega Harbour in the foreground, where Destiny was at anchor; Rebak and Dayang Bunting Islands in the distance
suspension bridge, Langkawi cable car
taken from the top viewing platform
Telega Harbour in the foreground, where Destiny was at anchor
Rebak and Dayang Bunting Islands in the distance

close up view of suspension bridge, Langkawi cable car

Brian & Gillian, taken at the top viewing platform, Langkawi Cable Car
close up view of suspension bridge, Langkawi cable car
Andaman Sea Islands and Thailand in the distance
Brian & Gillian, taken at the top viewing platform, Langkawi Cable Car

setting up for Christmas Day lunch, Telaga Harbour, Langkawi (CanKata, Crasara Cruzin', Destiny 3, El Misti, Lorissa, Rubicon Star)
setting up for Christmas Day lunch, Telaga Harbour, Langkawi (CanKata, Crasara Cruzin', Destiny 3, El Misti, Lorissa, Rubicon Star)

And now we're just about to start our next adventure sailing up the west coast of Thailand, aiming to be arriving in Phuket around 9th January 2009 and cruising in this area for the next three months, arriving back in Langkawi Malaysia around April 2009. Stay tuned for the next instalment :-)

Here's this month's video_clip_link and if you want to, you can drop us a line.

Happy New Year from Destiny III and as we're getting ready for Thailand - "laa káwn" till next time
B & G