After lunch we walked the streets of the Chinese quarter which was
full of beautiful houses such as the one below...
From Admiral Marina we
sailed up to Port Kelang where we moored in the estuary after running the
gauntlet of the endless huge container and oil ships that dock along its
banks. We spent the night there and left thankfully the next morning for
the island of Pankor, where we hired a car and driver for a day
to visit the island. The beach shops in Malaysia are a little different to
those found in a typical English seaside town...
My sister, Jeanie, loves
dragons, and so I tend to notice them on her behalf. One day I will make
her a collage of all the dragons we have collected in our travels. I
thought this was a particularly splendid one.
All the countries we
visited in the Far East love small dried fish and the quantities we saw
drying out in the sun and in the shops for sale was truly astonishing. We
found it hard to believe that such numbers could be fished every day
without totally depleting the stocks in the near future.
...and Chris pretending to
be one of the kitchen staff returning from the market gardens outside the
city with the day's supplies of fresh vegetables and fruits.
This sleeping Buddha, who
was inside the temple above, was too long for me to completely fit him
into the picture.
After Penang we set sail for the island of Langkawi where we intended
to leave Carelbi while we returned to Europe for the summer break. It has
to be said that for the whole trip up the Malaysian coast we did not
really sail. There was very little wind, we were lucky if we were able to
actually sail for an hour a day, and most of our progress was made by
motor, which added to the temperatures in the thirties and humidity of
90% plus which we experienced every day. Malaysia is a beautiful
country but has an impossible climate for Europeans.
The approach to Langkawi takes one past the many little
islands clustered around it. It was quite a rainy time, which turned the
colours soft and misty.
While we stayed at Rebak we
were able to hire hotel staff cars for about £8 a day; they all functioned
well enough but looked fairly beaten up.While out one day,
looking for somewhere to lunch, Chris and I were seduced by a rather nice
looking hotel, and having driven in and had our old jalopy valet parked,
it was a bit hard to escape. Architecturally it was a stunning hotel, and
beautifully decorated, but we felt that the £60 we paid for lunch had been
very foolish when a delicious meal for two would typically cost around a
While we were there we took
the dinghy up an estuary to look at the mangroves and try and find the sea
eagles, unsuccessfully, unfortunately.
After our cruise around
Langkawi we took a ferry over to the mainland to Alor Star, hired a car
and visited the Sultanate of Kedah. Our first trip was up to a Thai border
market where there was an incredible profusion of goodies to buy. I
was fascinated by the snack items, which you can see on the right, Far
Easterners seem to 'snack' a lot of the time!
Hung Tatt has a wonderful
friend in Alor Star called Wai Sin who totally took us under her wing and
made sure that we ate at all the right places every evening. She was
invaluable because these were real Chinese restaurants, not tourist
places, and we had no idea what we were eating until her chosen men
arrived in front of us! From left to right you can see Pauline, Hung Tatt,
Wai Sin standing, Fiona and Chris, with plates full of tasty food in front
When we returned to
Langkawi in November 2008, both Chris and I were decidedly overweight.
Because of the operation on my knee we had done very little walking while
in France, and had been superbly wined and dined when we went to visit
friends and family in Denmark before leaving Europe. We put our tummies
onto a strict shrink diet... small portions, the only way to do it... and
joined the yachties' Pilates class run by a great American woman called
Gaylor. This is actually a small class, we normally overflowed the sides
of the covered floor. I was able to carry on most of the exercises in
Carelbi's cockpit when we left for Thailand, although only when we
were anchored in a nice flat bay, not to be tried on passage, and I
thoroughly recommend the workouts to any yachties who want to try and keep
fit when afloat.
Our first port of call in
Malaysia was Admiral Marina, in Port Dixon, a delightful little place just
up the coast from Singapore, where we checked into the country without
hassle. The weather was still hot and humid and the swimming
pool was a definite blessing.
We hired a car and visited
Malacca, which is a fascinating port, full of history, old Chinese and
colonial quarters and good restaurants. We could have taken a decorated
rickshaw, as below, but we chose, masochistically to walk!
The Maritime Museum was housed in a scaled-down replica of a
Portuguese trading ship, and, at the History Museum we bumped into Cheng
Ho, the famous Chinese Admiral who led his fleets around the world in
the 15th century, reaching destinations as far apart as Greenland and
The Chinese have a very strong sense of extended family and
members of the same generation are given the same middle
name so that they can recognise where they fit into their clan. Clan
Houses were built wherever they arrived on foreign shores so that the
family could welcome new members, help them settle into the new country
and find jobs. On the left you can see one of those clan
On the way we stopped off for a cup of mid-morning coffee and met
this extraordinary hornbill scavenging among the remains of tourists'
Hung Tatt, who travelled all the way with us up the west Malaysian
coast, spent many happy childhood holidays with his grandmother who lived
just outside this fishing village on the east coast of the island.
Penang was our next port of call, and what a vibrant bustling city it
is, crammed with restaurants and shops; a place, we were told, where
eating goes on twenty-four hours a day! It was true; at all hours of the
day we saw Penangers eating huge bowls of all sorts of delicious foods in
the cafes, or stopping to buy a hand-held munchie from a street stall.
While we were there we hired a driver called Kenny to take us
around and show us the main sights of the city. One of the most
interesting was the Perenaken House, a typical Chinese Malay trader's
house in the late 19th century. You can see the spacious entrance hall on
There are a lot of Buddhists in Malaysia, although the predominant
religion is Moslem and the temples are always sumptuously decorated,
almost bewilderingly so for Western tastes.
I could not resist this small dog, supposedly guarding the temple
entrance; I cannot imagine anyone being afraid of that engaging grin! We
had a wonderful time in Penang, met some good friends of Hung Tatt's who
answered all our questions about the politics and culture of Malaysia with
great patience and who took us to some excellent Chinese restaurants,
gourmet feasts which we will never forget.
While we had Carelbi hauled out for a hull clean and anti-foul we
stayed at the Rebak Hotel Resort. It was much to hot to try and live on
the boat while out of the water. This hotel offers a special deal to
yachties and was really very luxurious, but what we appreciated most
was the cool sleep at night with the air conditioning on full
blast!. This was the view from our balcony.
After our lunch we walked in the hotel's lovely gardens and lost
ourselves in the maze of the courtyards and other nooks created for
Hung Tatt had returned to Singapore for a few days while Carelbi was
hauled out of the water, and returned with his wife, Pauline (in the
picture below) to spend a short holiday cruising around Langkawi with
us. There is a well-known anchorage called The Hole in the Wall (left) ,
with a good floating fish restaurant, not to be missed.
It was time for my birthday and Hung Tatt volunteered to
cook dinner for me. It was delicious. I learnt quite a lot about the
art of stir fry cooking from him; in particular that, if there is not
enough sauce, water should be added, not more huge dollops of soy or
oyster sauce which gives too much of an overbearing taste to the food and
masks the flavours of the individual ingredients.
I mentioned 'durians' in the Singapore blog, their Theatre and
concert complex looks like one and is affectionately know as the 'Durian'.
Here are some real ones...
While travelling around
Kedah we came across this beautiful mosque (Below) and the summer
palace of the Sultans of Kedah (left)...
After our holiday on the Malaysian mainland we went back to Langkawi
to spend a couple of weeks preparing Carelbi for leaving her until
the end of the year when we would return to complete our circumnavigation
and take her back to the Mediterranean. We then headed back to Alor Star
where I had a successful operation mending a torn meniscus. I had to spend
a week in a nearby hotel recuperating after the op while waiting
permission from my surgeon to go home. Wai Sin is commiserating with me
here, just before heading off to a golfing session. Great outfit!