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ships log

Thursday 27th May 2010
Tioman Island, East coast of West Malaysia

this update - Surin and Similian Islands, Thailand


Hello all

Many of you have been wondering where we've got to, since our last web update was a good while ago. So thanks for the gentle reminders, and apologies if you've missed our ramblings !

Where have we been ? Good question ! We've covered a lot of miles, although much of it was over familiar territiory (now have 4 transits of the Melaka Straits in the log), so there wasn't a lot of new stuff to give you, and this is probably the reason for our tardiness.

Anyhow, when last we reported, we were somewhere just North of Phuket, on the West coast of Thailand. So for the record....

We continued sailing north, with slightly better breeze as we got into higher latitudes - still light and variable, but enough to sail with, which was a pleasant change to the calms of the equator. We went as far as the border with Myanmar (previously Burma), being careful not to stray over the dotted line (the Burmese military seem a bit paranoid about illegals and tend to put you in chokey, then loose the key).

This area is dotted with fantastically beautiful islands, great sailing, great anchorages, and would be a brilliant sailing destination if ever Myanmar opens its doors to tourism. Hopefully they will one day - the country could certainly use the cash injection and employment opportunities that result.

We met quite a lot of Burmese people on the Thai side of the border, and found them very pleasant, hardworking and appreciative of any job they can get. Typically, they would be working in the resorts and restaurants and were always cheerful, friendly and well mannered. Interestingly the Burmese language is apparently quite different to Thai, and strangely a smattering of Malaysian words (the Burmese also use Pulau for Island, and we heard satu, dua, tingi - one, two, three over the VHF radio). It was interesting to see that the Burmese waiters had as much difficulty with Thai menus as we did!

Overall, the Thai islands in the border area were delightful - quiet and unspoilt, I guess much like most of Thailand was 20 or 30 years ago. Perhaps we had become jaded by the hustle and bustle of Phuket, so it was good to get away from Starbucks/McDonalds/night clubs/traffic/touts - an unspoilt island with no cars or electricity was a lovely change. Many bacpacker type resorts though, with simple thatched roof type restaurants on the beach - delightful!

a tiny rocky outcrop in the middle of nowhere
proof we did some sailing !
Myanmar in the distance
shopping in Ranong, Thai border town before Myanmar
grocery shopping, island style - delivered by ferry

unloading the groceries, island style - everyone pitches in to help

a new longtail engine for a local fisherman was also on the shopping list - all the men lend a hand to get it off the ferry


Next leg was to head a little southwest out into the Indian ocean to the Surin and Similan Islands groups. These are Thai National parks, reputed to be one of the must-see dive sites in the world, and yes, the water is crystal clear, with great corals and fish life. Plus the Parks have installed a number of moorings, so it was easy to just pick one up for the night time stop. We had a lovely couple of weeks here - enjoying the scenic islands and wonderful snorkelling.

our first taste of the Surins -
a large pile of rocks in the middle of nowhere
Surin Marine Park HQ and camping grounds, right on the beach!
Basic restaurant, Surin National Marine Park
Muk-Muk! traded 6 beers for fresh squid from the local fisherman
Desi (from Skylark II) snorkelling - boats anchored in background
This sunset requires a rum and coke in hand to truly appreciate.
Surin National Marine Park
Shoals of fish hang around the boat - the way this shoal moves reminds us of magnetised metal filings - fascinating to watch !
our first evening at the Similian Islands was brilliant
Pinnacle Rock view (used in all the advertising) from our mooring
Anchorage at the imaginatively named island #8, Similan National Marine Park - Destiny is 2nd from right, in the centre are our good friends
Skylark II (NZ/Swedish couple). Other boats are mainland day trippers or diveboats, who leave the bay before dark.
Photo taken from Pinnacle Rock after an energetic trek.
Koh Miang, aka Island #4, Similan National Marine Park
Destiny on mooring 2nd from right
Great bush walks resulted in crews from "Destiny" and "Skylark" becoming very thirsty!
Is this the prettiest beach we've seen ???
.... or maybe this one ???


But, in the big scheme of things, our plan to visit east coast Malaysia and Borneo for 2010 meant we had to turn south again and head down to Singapore. So, in no great hurry, we called in at Phuket for re-provisioning and checking out, then enjoyed a week or so moving down through Thailand, back into Malaysia and our old haunts of Langkawi (re-stock with duty free grog) and Penang (re stock with fantastic food!).

Crystal clear water at Racha Island - Destiny is anchored in 7 metres, and no need to put on snorkel and flippers,
just look over the side to see marine life, including a lost (?) scuba diver !
Racha Island, just south of Phuket, Thailand
- complete with restaurants on the beach
dive boat at Ha (Five) Islands - day anchorage only
Ko Kraden, Thailand - chalets right on the beach
why would you be anywhere else ???
Farah, Gill, Solehim, Nurul, Brian and Faiz. Langkawi cable car

While in Langkawi, we decided to do another trip up the spectacular cable car. You may recall we've reported on it before, and it was so good, we thought it worth another ride - not to mention that it's delightfully cool on the top! Strolling across the amazing curved suspension bridge, we met a bunch of Malaysian students, and were impressed at their outgoing and friendly natures, very chatty whilst still being respectful and polite - a few years ago, young Malaysians tended to be generally very shy and uncommunicative. These guys and girls from MARA University of Technology, Perlis requested a 'team' photo and are a great credit to their country.

Then an uneventful trip down the Melaka Strait to Singapore (again!!) and into another old favourite - Danga Bay in Johor Bahru.

Danga bay was a good opportunity to catch up with many of the yachtie gang, but also do some good work on the boat - in a period of 6 weeks, we replaced the headlining in the sleeping cabin, rebuilt the engine exhaust system with a new waterlock, built a new bimini top over the cockpit in acrylic sheet, repaired and rewired our HF radio, rewired bilge pump, not to mention general varnish work and umpteen routine maintenance chores - proving the saying that "cruising is really just yacht maintenance in exotic locations" !!

I felt like we needed a holiday after that, so we said goodbye to Danga Bay and headed up around into the South China sea and are now exploring the islands around the east coast of Peninsular Malysia.

That pretty much brings us up to date, and I have to say that, although we're still enjoying ourselves, the past 4 months have been a bit "same same", hence difficult to write about, so this update is just a short one to catch up. But, the good news is that we are now in new, unexplored territory (at least for us!) so the 'WOW' factor is back and next update should be more interesting, new pics, etc.

For a change, instead of our usual sunset photo's, we're leaving you with a "quirky" image of a toilet theme restaurant in Penang. Yes, you read right - a toilet restaurant !!! The seats are all toilet pedestals, tables are bathtubs or handbasins with a clear perspex top, and food is served in bowls that are miniature loo's . A little too bizarre for us - best guess is that this idea is from Japan, where many weird concepts seem to originate! hummmm ........... :-)


Don't forget you can send us an email and until the next update, our best regards to all - stay well, stay happy -

B & G.