JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sun 9 Oct 2011 02:54

We flew to Penang for a long weekend.


Penang is a big city and the old colonial part, George Town, is very attractive. We stayed at a modest hotel but breakfasted in style one morning at the Eastern and Oriental, the E & O, the next stop on the Grand Tour after Raffles in Singapore. The hotel is housed in a magnificent pile on the waterfront. They do a very good breakfast there. We went to church in the recently refurbished Anglican building set in spacious grounds. The preacher was from Korea, at one time the CEO of what is now the largest steel company in the world. I was keen to know how an indisputably top man of commerce would adapt to different surroundings.  Disappointingly. He was quite good for 20 minutes but then he said it all again, and a third time briefly with greater emphasis.  Still, a beautiful building and an interesting experience.  Also interesting was the great Buddhist temple of Kek Lok Si – a 30m bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the last Buddha’s mother, and the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas.  The proportion of the whole complex given over to religious knick-knack shops is too high.  We took the funicular railway (founded 1921) up Penang hill where we drank afternoon tea and viewed the city laid out below us.  The climb was steep but the modern Swiss rolling stock is reassuringly well engineered.  The botanical gardens were laid out in the late nineteenth century to provide specimens for Kew.  An attractive setting but, rather like Turkey, Malaysia is a rapidly developing country that has insufficient funds as yet to display its treasures to advantage.  The War Museum is housed in a British fort of the 1930s that by an accident of history remained undisturbed for several decades.  It is in much the same state as when the Japanese left in 1945. There were few artefacts remaining but the military engineers demonstrated much ingenuity in using all the natural features of the hill.  Of course the guns faced out over the Malacca strait and the Japanese soon overran the fort from round the back.  And then we enjoyed the cuisine.  On the last night we went to Chin’s, on the end of the pier alongside the decaying marina.  The decor was original and the Chinese food quite the best we have ever tasted. At the end of the meal Sam Chin came over to ask whether everything had been alright (as they do, these days; oh, as they do!) and recognizing British accents stayed for half an hour discussing the riots in London, the state of the country generally and the challenges of setting up a new restaurant.  Young Mr Chin was born and brought up in London where his father Dave ran a highly regarded restaurant. After obtaining a degree in architecture he learned the family trade in well known British companies before responding to the call to establish a new restaurant in Penang.  He and his father selected two chefs from the leading school of cooking in China and dishes from several provinces. These were areas where the climate is frequently cold and wet and the locals appreciate plenty of salt and fat – anathema to the taste buds of tropically based Malaysians.  The chefs spent three months amending and refining the dishes until they were entirely to the satisfaction of the boss.  All before the restaurant opened.  The Chin family business is serious about food.


There were four of us on the trip; an excellent weekend.


St George's Anglican ChurchMonkey in cannon ball treeKuan Yin, the last Buddha’s mother
St George's Anglican Church; At the botanical gardens - a monkey on a cannon ball in a cannon ball tree; The last Buddha’s mother
Cruising is not all beer and skittles.  After Baccus left thisw marina in February to join the Vasco de Gama rally from Cochin to Turkey she was lost SE of Sri Lanka.  Providentially the crew of three were saved.  Malcolm Robertson was not so lucky when he was attacked by poor fishermen from Myanmar looking to steal his outboard motor.  He tried to defend his wife and property but he was killed and his body thrown overboard.  The perpetrators were soon caught and are now in prison.  This is a memorial tree planted at the end of our pontoon.
Memorial treePaque
The trimaran below was called Colt Cars in 1983 when Rob James, Dame Naomi James’s husband, fell overboard on Salcombe bar and was drowned.  Rob was 36 and had already achieved much in sailing.  Had he lived he would probably now be as famous as Sir Chay Blyth and Sir Robin Knox Johnson.
ex Colt Cars
JJ Moon on the left; ex Colt Cars on the far right 
Young monitor lizard
Baby monitor lizard (approx 1½ metres long)
This baby monitor lizard lives nearby.  He is not yet old enough to have developed any fear of yachties, even paparazzi with invasive cameras.  Another lizard, perhaps his mother because she was pregnant, caused quite a stir recently when she got stuck trying to get out of a vertical drainpipe.  An anxious crowd soon gathered round her offering practical help involving brooms,  pressure hoses and other devices useful to humans, all to no avail.  After some hours the rescue had to be called off at the onset of another terrific squall.  The tale has a happy ending: down came the rain and washed that lizard out!