Thu 28 Oct 2010 14:51
Wednesday, 27th October
Location: The Royal Langkawi Yact Club.
I got here from Peneng several days ago, after a 2am start to get the tides, and to be sure of arriving in daylight. A thunderstorm at midnight kept me awake, but it cleared just as the alarm went off, and so that should have been that for the night. But no, another storm at 04.00. Fortunately strong winds from astern didn't upset us much, and not too much lightning to worry us either. Dawn revealed a series of fish traps in surprisingly deep water; threading through them, I wondered if there had been any near misses during the night. In any event a speedy last coastal hop to Langkawi, right off the border between Malaysia and Thailand.
Seems like I got out of Indonesia just in time: Tsunamis and earthquakes and all. But these have been on the other side of Sumarta: facing the Indian Ocean. We are protected here, although there may have been some disturbance further north.
Malasia is a Monarchy, the King being selected from hereditary 'Sultans'. So lots of the YCs are 'Royal' and many were built with Government Grants to promote 'Yachting' as an industry. The Club in Port Klang, The Royal Selangor YC, was particularly friendly, and full of local Malaysians. Here in Langkawi however the dominant species are American/Australian/Kiwi 'liveaboards'. Here for the low cost of living, I suspect, in this duty free Island. Liveaboards are easily spotted. Their boats sprout weeds and barnacles at the waterline, and their decks are festooned with patio equipement: chairs, tables, awnings, BBQs, a number even have potted herb gardens. The finger pontoons become a hazard, as when the boats are full excess junk is stored 'ashore': My neighbour has a sort of shed with woodworking equipment; occupying the whole of the walkway! so far I have managed to scrape around this, without falling in! It is quite easy to settle into a very lazy way of life, as during the heat of the day it is really difficult to do anything productive at all, and by 17.00 hrs dehydration has set in, and a cold beer at the bar becomes a very attractive option. Of course I am made of sterner stuff, and can easily hold out until 17.30. Plus there is an excellent swimming pool, too hot by day, but popular in the early evening. I have done a fair number of packing up /cleaning jobs, and have ruined my fingers today splicing a 16mm halyard: every time I do a splice I get blisters, and every time I vow to take more care next time. I guess that I'm just too old to learn.
I have been exploring the island from the perspective of provisioning for next year's sailing. No Tescos unfortunately, but several supermarkets have most of what I need, between them, and there is an excellent 'wet' market: fresh meat and fish, which also has an excellent fruit and veg section. The fruit and veg in the supermarkets are very sorry things, rotting, and covered in flies. I hardly eat meat these days, but fish when I can get it is good. On board we can store prepacked cheese (imported and expensive) and eggs for some time, plus some veggies like cabbage and sweet potatoes. Plus lots of tins: another tuna mayonaise sandwich, anyone?
The Island seems to be given over entirely to tourism. Most holiday makers are of course Malaysian, although I kind of expected the usual European mix. There is a big airport, which I shall be seeing more of soon, but most poeple arrive by high speed ferry from the mainland. The modern terminal building is full of retail outlets, including Baskin Robbins (succumbed once, and only one scoop) and Starbucks (everyday: it's the free internet of course). It lies in the shadow of an enormous concrete 'eagle' (a Brahminy kite), an eyesore that is in complete harmony with its surroundings. The YC and the ferry jetty are both on the edge of Town, Kuah, an awful concrete place, that seems to have enjoyed (?) its heyday maybe 10 years ago, Everything is now a bit shabby and there is not much sign of new investment: perhaps Malaysians too, are tired of the beach holiday formula.
Tomorrow I am off to Rebak: a little island off the West Coast where Fleck is to be laid up for Xmas. As I enjoyed my last pool dip this evening, a pair of real brahminy kites circled overhead: magic.