Michael Hughes and Ger White
Thu 5 Jan 2012 10:45
We only spent one night at Pulau Payar. Whilst the mooring was good and safe, the wind got up in the evening and overnight resulting in a choppy sea and an uncomfortable and somewhat sleepless night.
It was still blowing like stink in the morning, so we decided to head for a more sheltered anchorage over on Langkawi. So a very fast and enjoyable 20 mile sail to Langkawi, and anchored in the narrow passage between Pulau Gabang Darat and Langkawi island--dropped the hook well before lunch. Lovely calm anchorage, surrounded by high wooded limestone cliffs--lots of eagles soaring above us--warm water to swim in--we have it almost to ourselves, one other boat in the anchorage. Very peaceful.
Only downside is that either our satphone has gone on the blink, or more likely the limestone cliffs at close quarters all round mean it can't pick up enough satellites---so I can't send this message until we move on!! And it's so nice here I'm not sure when that might be!!
Perhaps a little reprise on Penang is in order, given we stayed there for about 2 weeks. We'll also be going back there to have the boat hauled out before heading to South Africa for Andrew's wedding.
We like Penang--a great mixture from smart hotels and shopping malls where almost everything is available--albeit a lot cheaper than Europe---to Little India, full of stalls selling tasty food at ridiculously low prices, crowded with people eating at tables set up on the streets--no cars. In Georgetown there are some wonderful old buildings, some turned into museums giving a fascinating insight into the lives of the--mainly Chinese--community here over a century ago. And of course the large impressive and well restored buildings built by the British who occupied Penang from the late 18th century---it was the first British colony on the Malay peninsula, strategically situated on the trade routes from the east--though eventually overtaken by the success of Singapore, which became the main British trading city in the region. In many ways, losing out to Singapore was the making of Penang as it is today--the historical buildings remain, rather than having been swept away by the success of commerce.
The ethnic mix in Penang also differs from the rest of Malaysia--it is predominantly Chinese with a good leavening of south Indians---more Tao-ist and Hindu temples, fewer mosques--giving it a very different feel. The Chinese and Indians came to Penang after the British establishment, to work and to trade--and stayed on.
India may have been the jewel in the crown, but Penang was the pearl of the orient.