I wrote the following letter about a week ago when we first arrived in Langkawi but haven’t been to an Internet café until now. Langkawi hasn’t changed much since we were last here but we have noticed that lots of shops have closed down. Business is not that good here for some reason. One high rise shopping centre in particular has only about one percent occupancy. The rest is empty. It’s like a ghost town. However, there are still some new buildings going up. Not sure if they are shops or apartments. Typical Malaysia. They’re not into maintenance but they are full on into new development. Very strange. Anyway, we are enjoying our stay here and will write more about Langkawi next time. Have met lots of other yachties, walked our legs off and done plenty of swimming. The storms (as mentioned below) are not as frequent any more, so the season is beginning to change. Until next time, take care. J&T
Langkawi (N 06deg 18.88 : E 99deg 50.77), 6/11/2006
We arrived in Langkawi on 4/11 at 1700hrs in the middle of a tropical storm with all the trimmings (ie lots of thunder and lightening, and torrential rain). We’re anchored next to some old friends, Humphrey and Clare on Brumby, and have had drinks and tea with them the last couple of nights. They are heading of to Chagos in December for six months (Chagos is a group of uninhabited islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean). We’ve also caught up with other friends of ours, Lloyd and Lynelle off Chappie, who came up here with us 4 years ago and have been up this way ever since. Chappie is off to Africa next year. Ah, the life of the idol rich, lol. We went ashore yesterday and did the compulsory buying of beer. Terry has been without since Port Dickson, so he’s been going into heavy withdrawals, lol. Langkawi is still the cheapest place for beer, spirits and diesel. It is a duty free island.
We left Singapore on 20/10 and did two overnight stops at a couple of little islands along the way to Port Dickson, Malaysia, arriving at Admiral Marina (N 02deg 28.59 : E 101 deg 50.72) on 22/10. The smoke haze was still with us unfortunately, making everything look like a black and white photograph (see photo of Pisang Island), but it wasn’t quite so bad once we reached the marina. We didn’t do any exploring at Port Dickson because of the smoke haze and Hari Raya celebrations. Hari Raya celebrates the end of Ramadan (a Muslim tradition of a month of daytime fasting), and runs for a whole week. Asia experiences its highest number of road deaths at that time of year. The marina shared their celebrations with us by preparing some traditional Muslim food and putting on a free, all you can eat banquet for everyone. We felt very privileged to be included at that special time, and being good yachties we weren’t about to knock back a free meal, lol.
We left Port Dickson on 26/10, leaving Kim and Jill there who went off to do some land travel to Kuala Lumpa. We decided to leave that for some other time when, hopefully, the weather will be clearer. Colour started to come back into our world around Ketam (N 03deg 01.75 : E 101deg 16.48). We had blue sky, fluffy white clouds and SUNSHINE. Yes, we could actually see the sun for the first time in about 6 weeks! It was wonderful, and visibility was back to about 200 miles instead of 200 metres! Actually, the weather started to change quite a bit once we left Singapore. We’ve been getting regular storms at night with torrential rain, and lots of lightening but no wind. If you can work out how we can send some of this rain to Oz, let us know! During the day it’s been fine and sunny, with either northerlies (on the nose), or no wind at all, so we haven’t had much of a chance to use our new screecher.
We arrived at Penang on 31/10, and were pleased to discover a new marina right next to the ferry terminal in the centre of town called Tanjong City Marina (N 05deg 24.86 : E 100deg 20.67). Unfortunately they do not have a pool or gym, but I guess you can’t have everything, lol. At least we could leave the boat with confidence when we went exploring, which is wonderful because anchoring at Penang is the pits.
Penang has undergone several major changes since we were last there. There is even a huge Tesco supermarket now (only 2 years old). We were surprised at the variety of food stuffs now available. No need to stock up on tomato paste or olives etc before leaving Darwin or Singapore anymore. They even have tasty cheese! Unbelievable!
Penang is full of hidden treasures, with several layers buried beneath the surface (a bit like an onion). You need to peel the first layer back in order to find the next one, so unless you start peeling you may not find anything at all! People who just see the surface of Penang usually come away disappointed. It’s a place you can spend a lot of time at and still not see everything, and it is totally different at night, especially during heavy rain. We got caught out a couple of times at night in a downpour but it was wonderful. The flashing neon lights threw an artists palette of colour all over the footpaths. It was magnificent. Terry gave up his macho image one night and bought himself a cheap, folding umbrella. After going a few metres he discovered why it was cheap. It dripped on his head. It wasn’t waterproof! We’ve since sprayed it with some expensive waterproofing agent, so now it’s ok, lol.
We did a bit of sightseeing at Penang this time, and even had a ride on a rickshaw. We squeezed into this tiny carriage at the front of the pushbike, with Terry assuming a reclined position so that we could both fit, lol. We felt quite vulnerable with no protection around us, especially when the driver decided to save himself about 20 minutes of pedaling by turning right at a left-hand-turn only T intersection and cutting across several lanes of oncoming traffic, and then doing an illegal U turn at a set of lights to face us onto oncoming traffic again! There was lots of blasting of horns, several wide eyes and a lot of blasphemes said by both Terry and me! In the end I just shut my eyes and prayed, which must have worked because we are still here!
We caught up with several other yachties at Penang, including Kim and Jill who arrived a couple of nights before we left (we caught their lines for them in the middle of a spectacular tropical storm – what are friends for, lol), and shared a table with them at a few different eating places. Food is delicious, plentiful and cheap at Penang. Kim and Jill had plenty of good things to say about Kuala Lumpur, so we look forward to the time when we will go there.
Anyway, now that we are in Langkawi we feel like we’ve arrived. It’s time to slow down and smell the roses (so to speak). We will explore this island as well as some of the outer lying ones before moving on to Phuket in early December. So, that’s about it from us for now. Hope all is well with you and that you are making the most of life. Until next time, take care and stay happy, love Jan and Terry