Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Hole in the Wall

The emblem of Langkawi

The emblem of Langkawi

After our wonderful Christmas at Rebak Camomile and Norsa left the marina on 27th December and headed to Kuah on the main island. As Langkawi is a duty island we restocked with wine and visited the supermarket before checking out of Malaysia. This huge statue of a sea eagle dominates the harbour and is the emblem of Langkawi. The place to see them is at the ‘Hole in the Wall’ anchorage on the north side of the island so before we headed north to Thailand it was decided that a day or two there would be nice. Langkawi isn’t very big and it only took about 3 hours to motor around.

 

Camomile and Norsa

Camomile and Norsa

 

Camomile was anchored at

06º25.2N

099º52.0E

Norman had been having trouble with his new battery management system that Bill had helped him fit in Pangkor so the next morning Bill and Norman spent several hours sorting that out. Just upstream from us there was a ‘crossroads’ in the river.

Norman and Sara in their dinghy

Norman and Sara in their dinghy

 

I had noticed quite a lot of tourist boats heading round to the left so Sara and I packed up picnics and the 4 of us set off in 2 dinghies to explore.

 

There are 5 sea eagles in this photo

There are 5 sea eagles in this photo

 

Round to the left we found the sea eagles; there were dozens of them. Some were soaring high up in the mountains but some were swooping down on the fish that the tourist boats had attracted by feeding them. I’ve got so many photos with half a wing or a bit of a splash but this one has no less than 5 birds in it although they are difficult to spot.

Just the one in flight

Just the one in flight

Managed to get close to this one

Managed to get close to this one

 

 

We motored back towards the boats but decided to cross over the ‘crossroads’ and see what was the other way.

 

A row of floating restaurants

A row of floating restaurants

 

Just around the corner from where the boats were anchored was a row of fish farms with restaurants attached to them and mooring for boats. We should have ventured further up the river when we arrived. Continuing further up stream from the restaurants we stopped and tied the dinghies and while they slowly drifted we had our picnic.

 

Monkeys among the mangroves

Monkeys among the mangroves

 

Even further upstream it started to shallow off but we spotted some monkeys on the bank. Unfortunately they saw us and started following us. One of the tourist boats warned us about letting them get onboard so we watched from a safe distance.

The hole in the wall?

The hole in the wall?

or maybe this?

or maybe this?

 

We thought we had discovered the ‘Hole in the Wall’ when we came across this gap in the rock but a bit further round and we think this is the hole in the wall.

There were some lovely stalagmites inside.

There were some lovely stalagmites inside.

Later that evening we had planned to have a meal in one of the restaurants but the heavens opened and we had an absolute downpour for about an hour. As we had made it as far as Norsa it was decided to open another bottle of wine and wait for the rain to stop. Once it stopped we ventured out and had a really nice meal.

The next day we left for Thailand.

Advertisements

Christmas at Rebak marina

We’ve got a decent internet access so wanted to post some late Christmas pictures.

Beautiful Christmas tree

Beautiful Christmas tree

We arrived in Rebak marina on an island off of Langkawi in Malaysia on the 9th December at the end of the Sail Malaysia rally. It was also where we had started Sail Malaysia East in April so we had come full circle. After spending a couple of weeks doing boat jobs and relaxing in the wonderful Rebak marina resort, of the Taj group, our Christmas celebrations started with a wonderful dinner on Christmas eve in the resort.   The dining room looked spectacular with a Christmas tree at the entrance and food of every description laid out on one side of the room. The ‘all you can eat’ buffet at the equivalent of £30 a head was remarkable.

The crews of Camomile, Norsa and Sternchen

The crews of Camomile, Norsa and Sternchen

 

We shared a table with Norman and Sara our friends on Norsa and Georg and Mauella from the German yacht Sternchen.

 

 

Very smart

Very smart

 

It was fun to dress up for a change. I wore my new dress that I had had made in Vietnam by a lovely lady called My (pronounced ‘me’ which caused some confusion) and my fabulous intricate silver necklace and earrings that Bill bought me in Yogyakarta.

Delicious

Delicious

 

 

They had traditional Christmas cuisine as well as Malaysian curries

 

 

Yummmmmm

Yummmmmm

I couldn't resist

I couldn’t resist

And the desert table …… I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! And this was just one of them, there was a second table full of goodies as well as a chiller cabinet with mouth-watering Tiramisu, among others.

This was my choice – diet can start after Christmas.

It felt so strange dressed in a sundress for Christmas and eating next to the beautiful pool, which looked brilliant in the evening light.

 

Floodlit pool

Floodlit pool

 

Sara and I couldn't resist dancing to the YMCA

Sara and I couldn’t resist dancing to the YMCA

 

 

The dancing got under way and Sara and I soon joined in dancing to the song YMCA along with the arm movements.

 

Santa Claus on the beach

Santa Claus on the beach

 

The next morning Bill and I opened our presents to each other. I had bought him some new binoculars because ours have suffered from being dropped several times and he had bought me a new bag that I wanted and some Body shop bits (yes Body Shop is in Malaysia). He had also found some dark chocolate Belgian seashells – yummmm. We had bucks fizz with Norman and Sara before walking down to the beach to watch Santa Claus arrive on a jet ski! After he’d handed out presents to all the children staying in the resort he came up to the restaurant to wish all the adults “A very Merry Christmas.” This seemed a bit bizarre because the Malaysians don’t celebrate Christmas but I’m sure he was entering into the spirit.

Roast turkey

Roast turkey

 

Again the food was wonderful. This turkey had been roasted in an oven but the staff had set up BBQ’s for the chefs to cook a sumptuous feast on.

 

Hats and bubbles

Hats and bubbles

 

The Christmas lunch, at the equivalent of £20 a head, included unlimited sparkling wine, is this a good thing you may well ask?   Bill and I sporting our Christmas hats brought from the UK with our first glass of bubbles.  Norman and Sara joined us again. (My new bag is in the foreground).

Friends together

Friends together

Christmas dinner combination in the tropics

Christmas dinner combination in the tropics

The meal started with a delicious pumpkin soup followed by an amazing array of starters and salads; again as part of an all you can eat buffet. (Should have joined us James) My Christmas dinner was roast turkey, a little sausage thing, a barbecued chicken leg, a really tasty piece of barbecued lamb and a Brussel sprout but NO roast potatoes! Can’t please some people can you? It was all beautifully cooked and tasted all the better for not having cooked it myself.

Christmas dessert but no Christmas pudding

Christmas dessert but no Christmas pudding

The desserts were even nicer than the night before, if that was possible. It was so difficult to choose so I had a bit of everything.

 

 

 

Shhhh

Shhhh

 

 

After lunch some people had a snooze!

It was a fabulous setting with lots of our yachtie friends enjoying life together at a very different Christmas.

Lunch and snoozes were followed by a dip in the pool.

DSCF5743 (Small)

Happy Christmas everyone

Christmas Newsletter 2014

I tried to send this potted version of our year out on email but some of them failed so I’ve published here with a few more photos on it.

James's 30th birthday

James’s 30th birthday

 

Firstly apologies that I didn’t do a newsletter last year. We had made our way up the Eastern Australian coast and reached Darwin by July. While there, as many of you know, I flew back to the UK because Mum was taken very ill. Even though she seemed to be recovering, allowing me to return to Australia, she died in August. Unfortunately as we had just entered Indonesia on single entry visas, it would have been very difficult to leave the country so Bill and I had our own little service on a beautiful island at the same time as the funeral in the UK; one of the downsides of cruising. After continuing up through Indonesia and into Malaysia, where we put Camomile up on the hard for 3 months, we returned to the UK for the internment of Mum’s ashes and to sort out her bungalow with my sisters. We had a nice time back in the UK. We also celebrated James’s 30th birthday (can’t believe my oldest baby is 30!) and spent Christmas with James in Scotland with Thomas and Sonal joining us there. The boys cooked a delicious Christmas lunch between them.

DSC_0111 (Small)

 

 

Returning back to Camomile on 2nd January Bill spent a week doing the usual out of the water jobs before having her re-launched on 7th January just in time for James to arrive. Having left the RAF at the end of 2013 James took a year off to go travelling starting with visiting us while he got over his jetlag and deciding where he wanted to go.

 

 

Elephant ride

Elephant ride

We all left Camomile on 19th January, James went to Vietnam, Bill and I to Laos and Cambodia. We had a fantastic time visiting Vientiane, capital of Laos, then onto Vang Viang and the old capital of Louang Phabang where we enjoyed visiting the beautiful temples. While there we took part in a long arduous trek to an elephant camp where I was richly rewarded with a ride on an elephant, something I’ve always wanted to do.

Superb Angkor Wat

Superb Angkor Wat

 

Phnom Penh in Cambodia didn’t quite reach our expectations but our final destination was the Cambodian ancient temples of Angkor with Angkor Wat, where we met up with James again, turning out to be the highlight of our trip.

 

Zoe and Bill

Zoe and Bill

After returning to the boat 9th February to complete a few more boat jobs we set sail a week later and headed north. Most of March was spent in Thailand where we had 2 visitors. Firstly James arrived again for 3 weeks. The first 2 weeks spent on the western coast of Phuket and out to the Similian and Surin islands which were wonderful. That was followed by a week visiting the ‘hongs’, hollowed out rocks in Phang Nga bay, where Bill’s stepsister Zoë also joined us for 4 days as part of her 6 week stay in Thailand. It was great getting to know her.

Susan and Angela

Susan and Angela

April was spent cruising south back down the western coast of Malaysia on the Sail Malaysia East rally to Johor Bahru in time for my sister Angela to arrive on 27th April for a 2 week holiday. Unfortunately shortly before she arrived we were struck by lightening. Luckily it wasn’t a direct hit but it was close enough to take out most of the navigation equipment, both VHF and SSB radios, battery management system, the fridge, the alternator, TV, music radio, the list kept building over the first few days. My poor sister arrived to a very sick boat but hopefully she still had a nice time. We all went to Singapore for a few days to celebrate my birthday as well as limping out to see a couple of islands to give her a taste of the cruising life. Once she had gone Bill set about restoring Camomile with the help of a Singapore supplier and our insurance company, miraculously we were up and running in 7 weeks and finally able to leave JB on 16th June to catch up with the rally and continue on our travels. Top Sail on behalf of RSA settled our claim in full.

Pulau Gaya

Pulau Gaya

July and August were spent on the Sabah coastline of Malaysian Borneo.   Our week in the most excellent Kinabatangan River being the highlight. We saw lots of Proboscis monkeys, macaque monkeys and dozens of varieties of birds but our sighting of a Pygmy elephant on his own and later a small herd was the pinnacle of the trip. Pygmy elephants are only about 4 inches shorter than normal elephants but with the removal of a lot of their natural rainforest habitat, sightings of them have become rare so we considered ourselves fortunate.

Fantastic Borobodur

Fantastic Borobodur

At the end of August we headed south into Indonesia crossing the equator back into the southern hemisphere again. It took us 5 days to sail to Lombok arriving in time for our 36th wedding anniversary on 2nd September. While Camomile was safely tucked up in Medana bay marina we took the opportunity to fly to Yogyakarta for a 4 day to visit Prambanana, the biggest Hindu temple in Indonesia, and Borobudur, the biggest Buddhist stupa in the world, along with a selection of other sights. It was all pretty spectacular.

Thomas and Sonal with Sue and Bill in Gili Air

Thomas and Sonal with Sue and Bill in Gili Air

We returned to Camomile to welcome our youngest son Thomas and lovely girlfriend Sonal onto Camomile, their first visit since we left the UK.   We had a wonderful time with them visiting the waterfalls of the Rinjani volcano and the Gili islands among other things. They were with us for 8 wonderful days before heading to Bali and onto Singapore before flying home. It was the highlight of the year for us.

The beautiful beach at Tanjung Kelayang

The beautiful beach at Tanjung Kelayang

1st October we arrived at the Karimanjava islands which are north of the island of Java in Indonesia, while there we found some of the best snorkelling of our trip, almost as good as Fiji. Continuing to the island of Belitung to the beaches of Tanjung Kelayang, which we both decided was the best beach of the year. It was also the last beach for this year because on 13th October we checked out of Indonesia and headed back across the equator again and onto Johor Bahru at the bottom of the Malaysia peninsular arriving back at Puteri marina on 17th October to check back into Malaysia for the rest of the year.   We were sad to leave Indonesia having spent 2 summers there and discovered such nice friendly people.

Buying goods in the Bac Ha market near Sapa

Buying goods in the Bac Ha market near Sapa

After spending a couple of weeks doing boat jobs (the list never seems to go down, as fast as jobs come off one end, more jobs get added on the other end!) we headed on ‘holiday’ to Vietnam for a couple of weeks. Vietnam was wonderful and worth the trip. We visited the capital of Hanoi, madness, took the train to Lao Cai to visit the hill tribes of the Hamong people and do some trekking, back to Hanoi on the train.

The waterfront at Hoi An

The waterfront at Hoi An

Flew to Nadang to visit beautiful Hoi An, which was our favourite, and the enigmatic Cham ruins of My Son, practically destroyed by the American airforce during the war. Then finally flew to Hoi Chin Minh city even madder but with a certain amount of charm where, among other things, we visited the evocative and haunting War Remnants museum.   It was very sobering and told a totally different side of the war story. Although some of it was propaganda the photos were not fakes and left us emotionally drained for the rest of the day. We finished our tour with a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels, which was also very thought provoking. We loved Vietnam and the Vietnamese people; they are spirited survivors.

Norman, Sara, Sue and Bill at pre Christmas cocktail party at Rebak marina

Norman, Sara, Sue and Bill at pre Christmas cocktail party at Rebak marina

On the 12th November we returned to Camomile to start our journey up the west Malaysian coast. At Pangkor marina, where we had left them last year, our good sailing friends Norman and Sara were waiting for us on Norsa to sail north with us for the next 3 or 4 months. We are all spending Christmas together at Rebak marina off the island of Langkawi, which is on the Malaysian/Thailand border. A real yachtie paradise because we can use the 5 star resort facilities, including their beautiful pool.

The plan next year is to spend January in Thailand before heading back to Rebak beginning of February for a month up on the hard where Camomile is going to have a new prop shaft, rudder bearings and cutlass bearing and the GRP on her hull is going to be thoroughly cut back and polished and new cove and boot line and the transom painted. The old treadmaster deck is going to be removed (a lot of it has disappeared already) and the coach roof will also be cut and polished. We will then go back in the water and move down to Pangkor where Joe is going to paint the decks with 2 pack paint and Bill will replace all the woodwork. We’ve also got a new Mainsail and sail bag on order so she will look thoroughly beautiful after all that.

Meanwhile I’m going back to the UK for 3 or 4 weeks in March to visit my niece’s new baby due in February and for my sister’s wedding.

Hopefully Camomile will be out of cosmetic surgery by end of April in time for us to cruise the Sarawak and Sabah coast of Malaysian Borneo again as we missed a lot of it last year. The Philippines is planned for June before heading back down to Sabah. Depending on the weather we would like to get over to the eastern Thailand coast in August and our ‘holiday’ next year is hopefully going to be Hong Kong and China for the first 2 weeks in September. We’ll probably eventually end up back in Western Thailand at the end of the year ready to head across the Indian Ocean in 2016 but plans on a yacht are always set in jelly so any of this could change.

I started this newsletter on a sad note so I want to end it on a happy one and wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a wonderful and healthy New Year wherever you may be.

 

Lots of love from Bill and Sue xx

 

Happy Christmas from Malaysia

Happy Christmas from Malaysia

%d bloggers like this: