Backwards and forwards
There are two rallies to consider. One starts in Northern Sumatera and cruises down the west coast, around Sumatera and north to the Anabas Islands. Meeting up with another rally which starts in Langkawi, down the Malacca Straits, past Singapore and east to Anabas. I decide that time is too tight for the Sumatera rally, the other starting three weeks later. And boy, was that a good decision! More later.
I look at my visa, only 30 days and it cannot be extended. What if Malaysia closes down? I make an instant decision to hurry back because I get 90 days on arrival in Malaysia and that will give me some breathing space. And boy, was that a good decision! More later.
I push on harder than I normally would wanting to arrive at lunchtime so I can check in the same day. Normally I don’t bother. The Malaysians don’t mind you checking in next day. And boy was that a good decision! More later.
I arrive and bring a clearance agent with me just to smooth things along. She knows everybody in all three departments – immigration, port control and customs.
My berth is beside a boat which has a highly undesirable person on board. I point this out to the marina staff and they allocate me a new berth. Because I was moving I decide to take the opportunity to top up my fuel. I did not need to but boy was that a good decision.
And now here are the good decisions, all accidental. I can take no credit.
1. When I cleared into Malaysia I had two hours and five minutes to spare before the border closed. Leaving Phuket early and pushing on to arrive at lunchtime and checking in the same day saved the day. Otherwise it was back to Phuket with an uncertain welcome and no guarantee of being allowed in.
2. The West Sumatera rally has turned into a disaster. The locals think that the foreigners are bringing Covid 19. They are being made unwelcome and not allowed ashore in most places. Provisioning, refueling and getting water is proving difficult.
3. Moving berths and getting diesel – leaving the fuel dock and starting my engine for the second time that day produced a short circuit which set my starter motor on fire. Had I joined the Sumatera rally this fire would have happened in Indonesia where there would have been very limited access to help and parts. Likewise if I had gone down the Malacca straits.
So, we are not allowed to move our boats for a minimum of two weeks. We all expect this to be extended. All movement is restricted. Police road blocks ask you where you are going. The supermarket for food is acceptable. All bars and restaurants are closed. All public places like parks are closed.
Some wag here has opened a virtual pub. It is called The Nobody Inn. And they meet on a video ap each night at 1900.
What fun. And where and when will it end?