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Langkawi part 1

This quarterly update will not stand out for the amount of miles traveled, even less sailed. Neither for newly discovered places. In fact it wasn't till we left Ao Chalong for Nai Harn (Phuket) the day before Christmas Eve that we saw some new shorelines and ALISHANs anchor was lowered in an unknown sandy bottom. The story will tell more on how we spent our days in Langkawi, our favorite place in Malaysia.

 

                    

 

Hole in the Wall and Kuah.

 

The 3rd quarter ended in Hole in the Wall, a very special place in the NE of Langkawi, where the Kilim River runs through a mangrove forest encircled by high limestone cliffs, making it a splendid shelter for birds, reptiles, otters, monkeys… and locked-up yachts.

A perfect place to leave the boat behind for some land travel or to fly back home. We wrote about our early morning dinghy trips, exploring the numerous canals, watching pink dolphins cruising up and down the river, long-tailed macaques balancing on the one telephone wire leading to a fish farm /eatery and big birds of prey feeding on whatever floats their way, mostly bits of chicken supplied by tourist guides. There is a lot of noisy traffic coming and going during the day, eco-tourism is the thing at present. But after 4:00 pm the tourists all return to their hotels for pre dinner drinks and we yachties had the place to ourselves. Except for a few late kayakers every now and then.

 

         

    An Olive-backed Sunbird and one of the many butterflies whose names I still don’t know.

 

OK, this is old news, but I loved that place and hope to spend some more time their on our way south. After a short week we sailed on to Kuah, the main town of Langkawi, where we met fellow cruisers Kari and Auslag on sy Lady Ann again and ran into old acquaintances of way, way back. We joined the weekly Sunday potluck and caught up with all the local news.

 

                             

                                 Jaap in his favorite store in Kuah.

 

The park in Kuah was closed for renovation. No problem, the birds and flowers were at their best before the workers arrived – and kicked me (Marijke) out.

 

           

        A Black-naped Oriole and a pair of Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters 

 

Langkawi, Rebak again

Rebak

 

2 Days of socializing was enough, we continued to Rebak. Not that we really had to hurry, but we’d promised to look after Ouma-s cat Moustache, which was actually cancelled at the last moment. And we had repairs to do: our broken lifeline needed to be replaced (see Q3) and ordering through Noel, who runs the  marine shop in Rebak Marina seemed a good idea. Specially when the wrong material was delivered and we could let him take care of that. This took more than a few days of course, so our planned one week became nearly one month. And thus we rolled back in our old routine, this time with Jaap fully capable (see photo).

 

                        

                                  Catnapping. 

 

We started the days early to take Nori and Wakame out and to watch the wildlife. There was always some kind of excitement. For Marijke when the Asian Paradise Flycatchers arrived, for the cats when a group of otters entered the yacht basin and for Jaap when his “patient” Mark came out on the jetty for a walk. Jaap was supporting this man after he’d had a double knee replacement, urging him to get out of the wheelchair and walk in the resort’s swimming pool.

We made new friends and met old friends and again people from way, way back. We got together for a half hour of Pilates exercises and some gossip in the mornings. Worked on the never ending list of things to do after that and socialized a bit more in the evenings. Or walked around the island.

 

                                                                

      Japanese yacht Eternity in Rebak with something in the prop: Jaap had to be there.

 

The sewing machine got dragged out and a new dinghy cover was made. The interior also saw some changes, with batik sarongs draped on the settees. (Easy to wash after sweaty encounters). We used our time well and of course it flew by. Suddenly Noel showed up with the right lifeline stuff. It took just one day to fix it and we were done. Now we were eager to move on, there were some hot items on the calendar: a trip to Penang for hospital appointments, visa applications and visitors from overseas. Plus, Rebak Island’s enclosed yacht basin was so hot and humid. We craved some fresh air.

 

Scenes at Rebak

 

  

 

                    

                   Now, who was stalking who?

 

  

A family of hairy-nosed otters, ever so entertaining, lived on the island and sometimes came into the yacht basin to the delight of people as well as Nori and Wakame.

 

                      

       The long-tailed Macaques, however a nuisance, have their nice sides too.

 

Langkawi, Telaga

Telaga

 

On October 20th we bade Rebak farewell. Moved 5 miles NW and dropped the hook at Telaga Bay. The SW monsoon started making place for the NE version and the weather became unstable. Rain and thunder storms one day, hot and sunny the next. It was terribly roly those first days on anchor, but we were so happy to be out in the open, we happily endured it.

Telaga is located right under a range of mountains and teems with wildlife. We had met Mandy, a nature guide at Rebaks resort, who introduced us to her boss, a lady from Holland, who in turn invited us on a night safari and one thing led to the next. We met Dev of Dev’s Adventures (see http://www.langkawi-nature.com) and Marijke was properly introduced to birding. She got really into it, a good alternative for the shell craze. (See section Marijke-s birds) However, compared to true birders she is but a partial twitcher. The camera always comes first and lemurs, langurs and lizards get as much attention.

 

                

                                                      A Butterfly Lizard and a Tree Lizard.

 

         

                                        A Water Monitor in a tree...!?

 

           

   Residents of the 7 wells at Telaga: Lanternflies and lots of spiders.

 

      

       This harmless Bronzeback was sitting in front of the Sheraton Beach Resort, scaring guests.

 

               

Langkawi has 2 native monkeys: the Dusky Leaf Monkey or Spectacled Langur and the ever present Long-tailed Macaque.

 

Telaga is a wonderful place. Safe anchorage, pretty scenery, lots of wildlife and a good bakery. We had been here before our trip to Thailand. Walked, hiked and cycled around, but never made it to the cable car that leads to the top of Gunung Mat Chinchang, with 800m the highest mountain in the range. A plan was made. Most days started cloudy in the morning, but the sky usually cleared up after noon and at 4:00 pm the visibility was generally good. So we chose that time to go.

 

             

            A moth on a fan palm with windows in it’s wings! And some flowers we saw on the way.

 

Yasuo, the Japanese single handler we’d met in Rebak came along too, so we could practice our dwindling Japanese a bit and divert attention from the depths under the swinging gondola of this Malaysian rig. Later we heard that we needn’t have worried so much. An Austrian built it and it does get maintained, unlike the steep cable train to Penang Hill, that was closed immediately upon inspection a few weeks after our ascent. The three of us walked to the station at the Oriental Village and held our breath, but when we got to the top and let it out with big sighs a bank of clouds came rolling in and hung there until dark…

 

          

          View from the top of Gunung Mat Chinchang. Somewhere there is ALISHAN.

 

                 

     Flying Lemurs are nocturnal and we first saw them during our evening walk with Dev of Dev’s Adventures. (see the baby?) 

 

      

                              Some of the many fungi in the rainforest.

 

                                                                    

    This was a real steep path. Not negotiable without ropes. And without leeches.

 

 

 

                  

The Pit Viper is very poisonous, but not aggressive. He stayed with us while we had lunch on the mountain during one of our hikes. The Tokee gecko lives in the Berjaya Resort and is just noisy.

 

The time had come to sail south to the island Penang; only an overnighter. We left the evening of the 4th of November, a kind of special, unforgettable day. It was the day of the presidential elections of the USA. Results started coming in around noon and it didn’t take long before the parties started to celebrate Obama’s victory. Not only on American yachts, all nationalities participated, everybody equally excited. We weren’t able to take off until way after dark.

 

What should have been a busy night of tense watches, dodging fish traps and fishing boats that were extremely difficult to spot and identify by their navigation lights (if they had any) turned out a complete piece of cake with no obstacles and no shipping between an hour after departure and an hour before arrival. It would even have been a very pleasant sail, had there been any wind and had Marijke been less hungry. 10 Minutes out she took an enormous bite of a cheese and avocado sandwich and dislocated her jaw. She had to go through the night with painfully cramped muscles and could not close her mouth for several hours.

 

                    

                               You want to hear a secret?

 

Penang Again

Penang

 

In Penang we went straight to the harbor with the most convenient location: Tanjong City Marina. We’d spend a month there around Chinese New Year (see Q1) and the friendly staff still remembered us. They allowed us to stay until the 17th, where after a big rally was expected in. That was fine with us. Our chores would have been finished and our visitors would have left by then. We hurried to apply for visa to Thailand and India and to the Lam Wah Ee Hospital for our appointments with dermatologist, gynecologist and urologist. We were ready for a party when they announced us healthy. Even Dr Khoo, who had to remove numerous little suspicious spots off Marijkes skin, couldn’t find more than a viral wart to treat. All those times when it was so sweating hot, she grid her teeth and put on her long sleeves. All that paid off. Covering up definitely helps!

 

                    

                All crew sy Jan Haring ( Auckland-Fukuoka Yachtrace 1989)

 

On the 12th we borrowed a car and drove to the airport to collect Jaaps eldest sister Marleen from New Zealand. It was less than a year since we’d seen her, but we had lots to talk about. The next day we picked up our 2nd guest Nettie, Jaaps high school friend from Vanuatu, currently underway from Holland to Australia via Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Marleen would join her for that Asian part of the trip. Now the two of them came to stay on ALISHAN for a few days, as they did for 3 months on Jan Haring, during the Auckland - Fukuoka yacht race 19 years before.

 

 

            

We did the sights of Georgetown, which had become a UNESCO world heritage site only 4 month before. Some buildings were still under reconstruction, but generally the place looked good. The marina is located near the Indian part of town and wherever we went, we walked through its narrow streets that were still decorated for Deepavali, an Indian festival, lined with shops selling colorful saris, “golden” accessories and baskets full of spices. Then came the Chinese part that housed a lot of the traditional shops like the basket weaver, beaded shoe maker and the Salute coffee factory. In between we found I don’t know how many temples, clan houses and mosques.

     

                          The Buddha at the Dharmikarama Burmese temple.

 

           

                         The one across the street, called the Sleeping Buddha.

 

         

            And some more scenes at various temples.

 

            

 

One night, wanting something different, we went to a fish spa. Here we sat with our feet in tanks, filled with schools of darkish colored fish that nibbled on our heels and soles, working their way up our ankles and between our toes. It was tickly in a pleasant kind of way and when our time was up our feet felt clean, the skin soft and the nerve-ends tickly for hours!

 

       

We spent a lot of time eating, consuming all sorts of Asian exotic dishes, roti, noodles, steamboat and Marijkes favorite: soft shell crabs. We feasted on mango and papaya every morning and slept soundly, thanks to the air co, bought 9 months before in this town.

 

     

                                         Always something to watch amongst the junks.

 

When the girls left we packed up and anchored half a mile south between the junks in 6m of mud, with a strong current and little wind. There we had to deal with other yachts that got kicked out of the marina and big floats from Indonesia and Thailand, all wanting room to anchor. It was kind of tense and we didn’t feel like leaving the boat for too long. Yachts participating in the rally had taken our places in the marina, but as soon as they moved on, we moved back in.

 

                                                     

   ALISHAN in Tanjong City Marina as seen from the ferry to Butterworth.

 

The application of a visa for the Andaman Islands of India takes 10 working days. That’s not counting the weekends and the public holidays of Malaysia as well as India. It amounted to 18 waiting days for us. We filled the days with exploring and socializing. And eating of course. We had one more night of soft-shell crabs, this time with Ellen and Jits of sy Silent Wish. On the 24th we picked up the visa and the next day we left Penang.

 

                 

Jaap with one of the creatures in the category unbelievable head dresses at Penang Bird Park. Which is actually not in Penang, but in Butterworth.

 

Moving North

Back to Langkawi.

 

Why we didn’t go on south? See Melaka, Port Dixon etc? Our time in Malaysia was running out again, so we had move north, where we could take refuge to Thailand.

 

This time we (motor)sailed during the day and stayed a couple of days in some anchorages in the south of the Langkawi group. From there we went to Kuah, where grocery shopping is easy on the bicycle (easier than Penang). We wanted to get rid of a few items, like the small 2hp outboard engine and Jaap was hoping to leave it with the man at the 2nd hand shop after a mechanic had serviced it. The air co was also made redundant (No more yacht harbors: too hot and too expensive) and would go to Noel in Rebak. It’s still in good condition and he can rent it out to other yachts. So after a couple of days in Kuah we went to Rebak once more, for what is hopefully the last time in a long while, mainly to - you won’t believe it! – give the cats some exercise!

 

            

 

Our faithful boat sitters, always snug in their favorite posies: the tray on the saloon table and the top of the pantry - ex bar, always asleep, but ready to greet us on deck when we return home. Always happy with a cuddle and some biscuits, they were showing the signs of the end of a very hot season. They became active!

Well, in Rebak they ran up and down the pontoon, under the boardwalk, in the trees, back to the pontoon, over, unknown decks and kept on making the same mistake: Alishan was on the same dock, but not in the same berth as before. I’m glad the yacht Scotia didn’t mind.

  

   

And so we parted with our dear portable AC and Marijkes bicycle. We won’t need them in Thailand and the Andaman Islands. The 3 months the Malay emigration officer had given us had come to an end. The last 3 days we anchored in Telaga, said farewell to the lemurs and langurs and cleared out.

 

                            

                                What do you think of this monster? Scary?

 

 

Thailand - again

 

On December 17 Alishan headed for Phuket for the 2nd time, but this time in the NE Monsoon. That meant stopovers at the same islands, but different anchorages and new places to discover. At Tarutao we now stopped on the west coast, in front of a long white beach with no people. We set course to Ko Phetra, a place I once saw on TV and always had wanted to visit. This is only possible on calm days and this time we were lucky! Our friends on Ouma III, who had entered Malaysia on the same day as us in September, were right behind us and they showed us a lovely place on the island Ko Muk, where the holding was good, the hills lush and green and where the curry was excellent! We will remember.

 

 

               

 

                     

 

The islands had several small latex “home”factories. A walk around was like an instant demonstration on how rubber was tapped from the tree, processed and made into sheets, that were hung to dry.

 

We stayed here one day and were rewarded with strong winds on the next leg. We passed Ko Lanta with 40 knots on the beam and raced to Phi Phi. With Christmas on our heels we made haste and cleared in at Ao Chalong on the 22nd of Dec.

 

                                        

                                            Elephant temple at Phrom Thep, the south cape of Phuket.

 

Here we also felt like coming home in a way. Not that we like the place so much, but we have been there twice and know our way around. Quickly we stocked up with fruit and veges, downloaded our mail and left for our X-mas hang-out: Nai Harn.

Our opinion about Phuket is changing a little. Before I (Marijke) thought it was one of the worst cruising locations, but the NE monsoon opened up some nice bays, beaches and swimmable water. We had to share it with close to 100 other yachts on Christmas day.

One of the surprises we had here was running into a boat called Blue Fin with Lucas with his wife Mary Ellen, an acquaintance from Hong Kong, first met in 1991!

 

                       

                        Yachts on anchor in at Nai Harn.

 

On the 30th we moved 3 bays to the north, to Patong Bay where all the action is at New Year’s Eve. There were already many yachts anchored in front of the town and they were rolling and rolling! The NNE wind wasn’t a problem; a strong swell came right around the corner, making the southern part of the bay quite uncomfortable. We headed straight for the other side, in front of the Novotel resort, where we had all the room to ourselves. But it didn’t take long for others to do the same.

 

        SOUND OF MUSIC near Patong

 

Sy SOUND OF MUSIC with Michael and Em joined us and made us eat lentils at midnight, a tradition amongst rich people in north Italy. They reckoned there might be something in it….  Maybe a Happy New Year!

 

                                 

 

 

Marijke-s Birds

   Wild birds

 

         

     A Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and its baby.

 

                 

                  An Orange bellied Flowerpecker living nearby.

 

       

       A Striped throated Bulbul and its White-vented relative singing their heart out.

 

       

       Olive-backed Sunbirds, always around the flowers of Rebak

 

        

     More Olive-backed Sunbirds and (the first one) a Crimson Sunbird.

 

      

     A Black-naped Oriole left and a Black-crowned Night Heron right.

      

 

   

   A Purple Swamphen amongst pink water lilies and water pink hyacinth. Talking about colors!

 

         

   Asian Fairy Bluebird left and Scaly-breasted Munia right.

 

 

           

 

                               

2 Oriental Pied Hornbills in Rebak and a family of Greater Hornbills (they are about twice as big!) at Gunung Raya, Langkawi.

 

       

        Kingfishers: The White-throated and the Brown-winged.

 

         

       

           Asian Paradise-Flycatchers, the one on the right honouring its name.

 

                   

                                  Another Olive-backed Sunbird. Yes, I like them.

 

       

        Common Flameback right and a pair of Thick-billed Green pigeons left.

 

 

         

        The beauty and the ugly: A Blue-tailed Bee-eater and a young Myna.

 

 

       

This last one shouldn’t be here. It’s a painted stork and it’s not wild. These birds have become nearly extinct in Malaysia and this one is living in Penang Bird Park.

Floats

                   Penang is a great spot to see some "overseas" wooden workfloats.

       

                                          

       

                                

       

 

                                       

                                                    The reborn CARIAD in Telaga Harbor

People

            Marleen and Nettie at the fish spa at Gurney Plaza in Penang.

          What's so "funny"??

 

                      

 

Just before Nettie and Marleen we had another surprising and pleasant visit.

Ben and Carola, with their 2 children who had once showed interest in our previous yacht JAN HARING in 2004, sailed into the Marina on their boat LASSE.

 

                  

They left Germany in 2005 and were now on their way back, completing their circum navigation. It was great to meet them in Penang. We wish them calm seas and fair winds and all the best of luck.

 

 

       

      Yasuo Kodama, single handler from Japan on his yacht ETERNITY.

 

 

                                                                      

     JJF Tony, also from Japan and long time resident of Phuket came to Telaga for a visa-run.

 

 

    

You guys wanted to be on our homepage again? With this pose you qualify for a second chance. See here SOUND OF MUSIC with Michael and Em, ex Yachthaven badminton team and wakeboard coach.

 

 

Funny

 

                    

                   Wakame still gets seasick every now and then.

 

 

       

                             Sign in the Botanical Garden of Penang.

 

 

         

                              On the road in Penang.

 

 

                    

                  Marijke went to a hairdresser of nearly the same name.

 

 

         Not a whole load of.........    

                            

 

                                                                                      

           At 7 wells, Langkawi: A not so funny reminder of where we come from.