Langkawi, Malaysia

Wed 23 Jan 2013 07:32

06:17.6N 99:41.8E

After speaking to the marina manager the night before we left Port Dickson, we decided we would stop overnight at Pangkor Laut on the way to Langkawi (300 miles). We left at daylight on Saturday morning (12 Jan) and at high tide in order for us to make a safe exit from the marina. There was no wind during the trip but the tide was on our side and we motored at an average of 7 knots and arrived close to Pangkor Laut at about 3am.  We agreed not to stop and to continue to Langkawi – the trip had been very pleasant with very few fishing nets and even a few dolphins. We had three showers of rain (but no lightning or thunder) and continued to motor at 7 knots – we were hoping to get some wind so that we would make it to Langkawi to anchor before dark.  Thankfully we arrived on Sunday at 8pm (just on dark) and were able to anchor safely off Pulau Singa Besar. Our experience of the Malacca Straits was very pleasant and we avoided the dreaded fishing nets by staying close to the shipping lane and we even managed to see our first shark since leaving Australia! Unfortunately we did not catch any fish, but were successful in catching two plastic bags.

30km off the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia, the Langkawi group is an archipelago of 99 islands. The main island is Pulau Langkawi and it is a mountainous, palm fringed isle with paddy fields, fishing villages and white sand beaches. Its name is believed to have originated from the abundance of eagles on the island.

On Monday we awoke in beautiful Langkawi and decided to go for a swim, however the current was that strong that I could only swim 5 metres along the side of the boat! We enjoyed watching a local fisherman put his massive net in the water and then haul up his catch of very small fish – it was amazing to watch – there were about 23 men on board and they all had their jobs to do – even the young boys. They had big pots at the stern where they would boil and salt the fish and then dry them on the roof.  We set off for a neighbouring island – Pulau Dayang Bunting a massive 4 miles away! This was the start of our relaxed cruising mode where you only sail or motor a few miles to another anchorage. I have now blocked out the memories of our 1000 mile passages! We took the dinghy to the nearby Lake of the Pregnant Maiden (Langkawi’s largest fresh water lake) and had our first encounter with the local monkeys – they are very small and not very inquisitive. We also settled in every evening for “sundowners” on deck (accompanied by our Malaysian flag and pink pirate flag flying in the light breeze) – the weather was beautiful and we were fascinated by the seemingly endless lights of fishing and squids boats.

We motored to the main town of Kuah on Tuesday to check in with the harbour master and customs and to get some more supplies. We were delighted to find that Langkawi is a duty free island, so alcohol and chocolate are very cheap.

We moved onto an anchorage just outside the entrance to Telaga Harbour and enjoyed another peaceful night until Greg and I heard a large bang outside our cabin at 6am (still pitch black as the sun doesn’t rise until 7.30am) We rushed up on deck to see two boats on either side of our bow with several men in uniform on each boat, we quickly grabbed the fenders to try to stop each boat from scratching the hull. The police boat (on the starboard side) had tried to say that we had drifted from our anchor and Greg clearly said that we hadn’t. We worked out that the police boat had been towing the other boat which had broken down and they had run into us –but before reaching us they had dropped their anchor to try to stop the collision.  You would have thought that they would have yelled out to us in advance, but no everyone was strangely silent.  Dadang and Spanner soon joined us on deck and we managed to free the boats. We were very lucky and only had two minor scatches – yet again a crazy experience that you wouldn’t think was possible in a large bay.

After our unexpected morning wake up call we took the dinghy to Telaga Harbour for a walk and to find some breakfast and we stumbled across the stunning five star Danna Hotel. We had a superb buffet breakfast complete with champagne for about $30 – the hotel architecture was beautiful and catered mainly to guests from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. We read that Malaysia was just voted the number 1 destination in the world for Muslim Tourism with safety, a mosque available in almost every town and the availability of halal food giving them the high ranking. By 2020 Muslim tourism is going to be worth US$192 billion per year.  Greg said he was going to get his website for the Powerhouse changed to say MUSLIM FRIENDLY!!!! We enquired about a room for the night and were told that it was $700 a night – so back to the boat for us! We then fuelled up at Telaga Harbour and Greg and I returned for high tea in the afternoon – I had been hoping to try high tea at Raffles in Singapore and the Metropole in Hanoi but had missed out so I was very happy with the food and the budget price.

On Friday we reached the north western tip of the island and sheltered from the wind in the beautiful Datai Bay, directly opposite the five star Andaman Resort and The Datai. We were very close to the shore and were able to dinghy to the shore for walks along the beach between the two resorts and for swimming. We treated ourselves to dinner at the Andaman restaurant that had a sand floor– perfect for us because we didn’t need to take our shoes ashore! Sadly the meal and service was disappointing – maybe because they had a wedding on at the same time (and because it wasn’t a buffet!). There was also another beach wedding at the Datai (at the other end of the beach) with a DJ that played until 3am! The next morning Helen and I walked along the beach and found several monkeys playing in the sand – very special.

On Saturday we motored 12 miles south to Rebak Marina Resort. Named after the Rebak tree, Pulau Rebak Island measures around 390 acres and commands a magnificent view of the Straits of Malacca bordering the Andaman Sea. Rebak is a privately owned island on the southwest of Langkawi and is a 15 minute boat ride away from Langkawi.