October 31, 2005
Langkawi Marina , Malaysia
Life in Langkawi
By Lois Joy
I was surprised to see that the month of October has just flown by, and we are almost into November, the month we fly back to the states and end our Voyage Five, leaving Pacific Bliss all by herself here in the Langkawi Marina in Malaysia .
. It is nice for a change, not to be moving along all the time, being alone on board, just being slobs when we feel like it. Our life here has fallen into an easy routine:
1. We brew and sip our coffee, still comfy in PJs or long tank tops. I update my journal. Gunter checks his email and surfs the WI-FI (wireless internet on board) for the day's news.
2. At 0800, we tune into the Komodo Net on the SSB, to catch up on the news and gossip among the other Rally Yachts while making breakfast. The bulk of them are slowly making their way to Langkawi for SailAsia Rally Week Nov 10 th -16 th . there will be 59 of them arriving here.
3. We sit down to a simple breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt, or cereal and yogurt, except for Sunday mornings, when we go all out with pancakes or bacon & eggs. We talk about our plans for the day and update our lists.
4. We tackle the first chore on our list. Usually, the first ones are "boat chores." (As you know by now, Gunter's mistress, Pacific Bliss always comes first.) Examples of "chores:" this last week: one day I emptied out all the galley cupboards, sprayed them with Ajax anti-mold (strong stuff!) wiped them all down, put the stuff back, ready for storage; Gunter cleaned the stove. During sunny periods, we do outside boat chores (it rains at least part of every day). So far, we have hoisted the main, dried it, flaked it nicely into the lazy jack, then covered it with tarp for storage. (Another sunny day, we will take off the jib, fold, and store in the sail locker.) We emptied out all the sail locker stuff, e.g. all the snorkel gear, sprayed the mold off, washed, dried, and put back again. We've cleaned all the filters and pickled the water maker.
5. By mid-morning, we're thinking about food. If it is Friday, we walk across the bay to the marina (we're on the megayacht dock, tied up along the restaurant quay). At 10:00AM or thereabouts, the "fresh food" van pulls up. The driver sets out boxes of fruit, veggies, frozen meats, and eggs. Don't know where he gets it, but it is excellent and cheap. We purchased the smoked duck twice; making "warm duck mixed salad" for a special lunch. Otherwise, we stop at the convenience store for bottled water and any short-term things we need. Mostly, we are intent on using up the stores we already have on board, planning our meals around what's left in the freezer and fridge.
6. Lunch is usually our big meal of the day. Now that we have air conditioning, we can cook on board without turning the entire salon into a steam bath!
7. After lunch, we are ready for our "pensioner's nap" a habit we picked up in OZ, but haven't been able to perfect on Voyage 5, what with the pressure of always moving on...these naps here are fabulous—we are reaching perfection now.
8. We sleep so deeply that we need coffee to wake up again. So in the afternoon, we indulge in (canned) iced coffee, accompanied by an Arnott's Tim Tam —our favorite cookie—ever since we first "discovered" it in Tonga as a substitute for chocolate. (We found later that they are made in Australia , now we need to use up our supply we took on there — that's our excuse.)
9. Then, fueled with caffeine, we work on Creative—organizing our photos into slide shows, writing web stories, storing music into the iPOD (Gunter's birthday present: so far 1600 songs on it), etc.
10. About 6 PM or so, when the outside air cools, we come out of hibernation for our walk-like "Rebak Rabbits" In the local vernacular, this behavior reflects the habits of yachties in the nearby Rebak Marina whose yachts appear to be deserted, until the owners mysteriously appear again at night sticking their heads out. They have air-con . We walk along past the tsunami-stricken area to the entrance to the bay, guarded by a cute lighthouse. Or we walk along the near-by beach. Some days, we walk over to the marina to check out the evening news on CNN. If the world is in too bad of a shape, we simply leave. We know that we will be bombarded with news when we return home.
11. If we have cooked a big lunch on board, our evening meal consists of a brotzeit -a plate of cheese and salami, crackers or pumpernickel, along with a few thinly sliced tomatoes and red onions, listening to our newly-downloaded iPOD music. And wine, of course. (We must use up our Australian supply so that we can take advantage of the duty free wine and liquor here when we return.) When the mood strikes us, we frequent one of the restaurants on the quay; we have our pick of Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Brazilian, Italian, and Spanish. Like I say, life is nice and easy here!
On Sundays, we vary our routine: Special Sunday morning brekkie. Sunday morning Christian CDs on the stereo. We rent the marina car (approx. 13 US $ a day) and go for an island tour. The first one was to the Oriental Village and the cable car. (See Day of Bliss in Langkawi .) Look for at the photos—one shows a nice mountain view of Telaga Harbour -our marina.
The second Sunday, we toured the western and northern sides of the island in the rain. We stopped at deserted public parks overlooking the islands of Andaman Sea . Then we roamed through all five buildings of the huge Culture & Craft Center, one of the few visitors. We purchased some beautiful silk batiks, banner-style, directly from the artist. We had lunch at the impressive Four Seasons Resort in a wonderful setting, again overlooking the Andaman Sea . Most of the local lunch stops along the way were closed during the day for Ramadan.
Yesterday, our third Sunday here, we toured the Galeria Perdana at Kilim, Langkawi, about 11 km from Kuah Town . It displays some 2,500 items of state gifts and awards presented to the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The gifts are housed in three different rotunda-style buildings, and consist of rooms full of crystal, pewter, silver, ceramics, porcelain and metals. Also included are huge paintings and works by Malaysian artists. There are cars, and chariots, and weaponry, and small-scale models—you name it—given to the PM. This island of Langkawi is his home and he has bestowed it with special privileges, such as its duty-free status, to make it appeal to tourists. We stopped and walked around a few fishing inlets and launch areas for mangrove cruises (been there; done that). From shore, we could see the monkeys coming, waiting for hand-outs by the tourists. We also saw lots of monkeys alongside jungle roads, and in open areas saw cows alongside the roads, but the water buffalo were all tied up, despite the signs alerting drivers of their crossings.
Yes, life is good here. Surprisingly, even cruisers don't often stop to smell the roses! And somehow, the scent seems sweeter, knowing that it is short-lived. Next week, we fly to Penang to check out what it's like to live like the old-time Straits Chinese in The Blue Mansion for a few days. After that, we'll hire a car to take us to northern Malaysia , where we'll hike in the cool of the Cameron Highlands and sip tea at the plantations. We'll return to the final week of festivities for the Sail Asia Rally . And the week after that, we'll endure 26 hours of traveling back to the U.S.A, plenty of time to cherish the memories of the 2005 cruising season and to look forward to the next.