Category Archives: travel

Last day in Hong Kong

The old workings

The old workings

As today is our last day in Hong Kong we were going to try and mop up the things that we’ve missed.  It was still cloudy, I’m going to get SAD syndrome if I stay here much longer, but it wasn’t raining so it was the Peak tram first.  Having been there once already we knew the way and walked straight down there. The gates were open – we were in luck.  There a good display in the entrance of the workings. The gravity-defying Peak tram was the first funicular railway in Asia and has trundled up the side of Victoria peak at a steep 27˚ incline for over a century.

The Peak tram

The Peak tram

 

The tram arrived and we jumped on.  There isn’t any where for the tram to turn round so you face forwards going up and the driver walks to the controls at the other end of the tram. We got in behind a tour and they had all the seats on the right hand side but the left looked over the woodland on the way up.   We hadn’t had any breakfast so sat in the Pacific coffee lounge and watched the tram go back down again.

 

The Peak tram

The Peak tram

Amazing view

Amazing view

 

After breakfast we were ready for our walk and started off on the well signposted Peak circuit which is a flat 2 mile circuit giving breathtaking views over Victoria harbour and the city skyscrapers.

 

 

 

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

Building clad in bamboo scaffolding

Building clad in bamboo scaffolding

It was a bit hazy but not bad for the time of year.  Bill was fascinated by this building, not sure if you’ll be able to make it out but it’s entirely clad in bamboo scaffolding.  It has netting around the outside to contain any debris but as these building are 30 or 40 stories high it seemed amazing that they had used bamboo.

 

Waterfall

Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a little waterfall coming out of the peak

 

 

Big spider

Big spider

 

 

and this huge spider had spun his web next to the waterfall.  It was easily the size of my hand, not nice.  The circuit gives views over the islands south of Hong Kong island that we could just see over the trees.

 

Islands to the south

Islands to the south

Sitting among the Hibiscus

Sitting among the Hibiscus

 

 

 

A steep trudge towards the summit leads to Victoria Peak gardens that were once part of the Governor’s lodge.  Sadly the summit is fenced off and has an array of phone masts on top of it. It was very peaceful up there and decidedly cooler than the city with a nice breeze blowing through.

This puss cat was enjoying the sunshine.

 

Sleepy chap

Sleepy chap

 

View from the window

View from the window

As the weather was hazy and we were a bit short of time we decided not to visit the Peak tower which apparently gives good views of the city.  After doing the walk we felt that was the best view.  There was another great view out of the window going down.  You travel backwards going down the hill but we managed to get the front seat and watched the tram descend the hill.  It’s difficult to see how steep it is but you could feel the gradient as we traveled down.

Steep hill

Steep hill

Lucky lion

Lucky lion

Once back down again we looked for some lunch which isn’t always easy in Hong Kong.  Many of the malls along the water front either don’t have any where to eat or they were way over our budget.  Eventually we found somewhere after what felt like ages.

Once back out again I wanted to walk around the banking district because some of them have viewing floors but sadly it was a bank holiday for the 70th anniversary of VJ day and they were closed.  I rubbed the lions paw outside the HSBC building for luck and then we moved on.

Expensive shops

Expensive shops

 

 

The Landmark is a very expensive mall with very expensive shops in it but it was interesting looking in the windows.

 

 

Nice

Nice

Nice car

Nice car

 

 

With some expensive cars outside

 

 

 

83

 

We walked through Statue square and passed the neo-classical Legislative building with the Hong Kong cenotaph in front of it.  It’s difficult to photograph these building close up because they are so tall.

The HSBC building

The HSBC building

 

 

 

 

 

The building to the right is the modernistic but feng shui-friendly girders of the HSBC building.  Designed by Bristish architect Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1985 it was one of the most expensive buildings of the time costing more than HK$5 billion.

Happy smiling face.

Happy smiling face.

 

 

Our time in Hong Kong was coming to a close and tomorrow we fly to Beijing in China.  There is a lot to see in and around the city and I feel we will have to come back.

The last job of the day was pick up our passports from the China Travel company with our Chinese visas in them.  I had been nervous all day in case there was a problem but they were ready and waiting for us. So tomorrow it’s China here we come.

 

 

Happy Anniversary

A grey old day

A grey old day

Wednesday 2nd September was our 37th wedding Anniversary.  I had planned our trip around this date and the plan for the day was to take the Star ferry to Kowloon, walk along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, visit the Hong Kong museum of history, visit the Wong Tai Sin temple, tea at the Peninsular hotel, visit the jade market and the Temple street night market.  Seems like a lot but they were all fairly close together but we woke up to this. Grey skies and pouring with rain. We sat in our hotel room wondering if we should revise our plan but it would be difficult to change things now.  Any way we’re British and a bit of rain hasn’t stopped us in the past and it wasn’t going to start now. Luckily the bus for the ferry stopped right outside our hotel so we jumped on.

Complete with raincoat

Complete with raincoat

The Star ferry was started in 1898 by a gentleman called Mr Dorabjee Nowrojee.  At that time the only people allowed on the first class upper deck were Europeans and a collar and tie was mandatory.  These days any one can enjoy the 10 minute journey and at $2.50 a little over 20p, it must be the cheapest cruise in the world. The present 1960’s fleet are still berthed in the same fashion with a hemp rope being caught by a billhook.  The ferry has two entry points without a public stairway between the two floors.  We inadvertently got on the lower deck and rode as second class passengers.  It was still raining.

Our Star ferry selfie

Our Star ferry selfie

Storm clouds building

Storm clouds building

 

 

The rain had eased briefly and we started walking along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade which gave spectacular views back across Victoria harbour to Hong Kong island but the storm clouds were building.  We managed to get to shelter before this view….

 

White out along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade

White out along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade

 

 

 

……became like this. Could have been Brighton on a bank holiday!!

 

 

Bill being a geek

Bill being a geek

We sheltered for about 15 minutes then decided to abandon the walk and head for the Hong Kong Museum of History.  Fortunately Hong Kong is used to the rain and it’s possible to walk large swathes of the town either underground via the underground train system or over a series of covered walkways and we managed to get to the museum only a little damp.  The museum takes you on a fascinating journey through Hong Kong’s past from prehistoric times to 1997. As luck would have it museums are free on Wednesdays – lucky us. We spent several hours looking at the exhibits, it was very well done  except for this life size model of a junk rig which, as Bill had to point out, didn’t have it’s mainsheet attached properly – what a geek!

Lovely model boat

Lovely model boat

 

 

 

Also he noticed this model boat wasn’t rigged properly!

 

 

A replica of a temporary home provided by the government after typhoon damage.

A replica of a temporary home provided by the government after typhoon damage.

There was a lot of information on typhoons in the area and that many homes were lost and replaced with these temporary homes.  Didn’t look like a lot of room for 8 or so people.

The display dedicated to the British handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997 was very moving with a short film showing old film clips of the day with Chris Pattern making his moving speech and then joining Prince Charles on Britannia with his family and sailing out of the harbour. It looked like a very emotional time for them all.

Anniversary tea

Anniversary tea

 

We came out of the museum to find it STILL raining and decided to abandon the trip to Tai Sin temple and go straight to the Peninsula hotel.  Most of this journey was completed underground and when we emerged next to the hotel it had stopped raining. The Peninsular is very grand and we were worried we wouldn’t get in and had taken some slightly smarter clothes to change into but there were people looking more bedraggled then us so stayed as we were.

What shall we have?

What shall we have?

The quartet in the gallery

The quartet in the gallery

There was a gallery for the musicians to sit in as they played nice ‘soft’ music.  We chose Peninsular afternoon tea with a selection of sandwiches and cakes.  The three tier cake stand arrived with two of everything and four warm and freshly baked scones on the bottom tier with jam and clotted cream.  We took it in turns to decide which ones we ate, some of the cakes were very rich; we didn’t leave any for Mr Manners.  We really enjoyed it and everything was delicious but decided it didn’t beat our tea party in Raffles last year for my birthday.

 

Two of everything

Two of everything

Wandering through the market stalls

Wandering through the market stalls

 

 

By the time we left it was 4pm and the sun was even trying to come out a little bit.  It was too late to go to the temple but Bill said it would be good to have a look around the Jade market and see if there were some ear rings I might like.  I found some really pretty blue mauve ones which he kindly bought me as a memory of our anniversary spent in Hong Kong as well as a nice pink and pearl necklace and a beautiful scarf.  I’m very lucky.

We wandered through the Temple street market as they were setting up for the evening.

 

 

 

The water front of Hong Kong island

The water front of Hong Kong island

Back at the water front the clouds had lifted and it was now possible to see the tops of the sky scrappers and Victoria peak behind them.  It was an amazing sight.  As it got darker each building had a set of LED lights creating it’s own little light show and altogether forming a spectacular display.  The tall building left of centre with the diamond patterns is the Bank of China headquarters, the smaller building to the right with the red lights is the HSBC building and the circle is a big wheel.  We waited until 8pm for the laser show which was also really clever.  Returning on the Star ferry we sat on the upper deck on the way back.

Our selfie

Our selfie

 

 

Once back in the city we made our way back up the escalator system to the Italian restaurant we found in SoHo on the first night, the Sole Mio for an amazing dinner.  What a wonderful day we had.

 

 

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

 

Second day in Hong Kong

Our tram ride

Our tram ride

There was a bit of a shaky start this morning because the original plan had been to take the Peak tram to Victoria peak and walk round the circuit to see the view but when we got there the tram was closed for the day.  We were offered a bus but chose not to go up.  Hopefully we can do the tram on the 3rd.  We stopped for coffee to look through the guide book and decided to take a tram out to the Sheung Wan area to do a walking tour.

The Hong trams have been in operation since 1904 and represent the only all double decker wooden sided tram fleet in the world.  They operate on routes running east – west  along the northern side of Hong Kong island.  They cost HK$2.40 about 20p a journey and are very popular.

Looking back over the tram tracks

Looking back over the tram tracks

 

 

 

 

 

It looks very strange to see these lovely old trams running in between the glass fronted buildings and alongside the modern buses.  As they have their on tracks often they are moving faster than the modern buses although they still have to wait for traffic lights. We sat on the top deck and enjoyed our ride. My Dad would have loved it. I found it difficult not to imagine Dad and his friend Jimmy sitting in front of us.

 

Bill watching the tram coming the other way.

Bill watching the tram coming the other way.

Odd things in jars

Odd things in jars

 

Our walking tour led us through a journey into Hong Kong’s past as we passed dried seafood shops and herbal medicine wholesalers. They had some fairly dodgy looking things in their windows.  Despite what these look like we think these were dried sea cucumbers.

 

 

Man Mo temple

Man Mo temple

We visited several old temples but this is the Man Mo temple, it was the centre of civil life in the 19th century.  It was built between 1847 and 1862 by Chinese merchants and dedicated to the gods of literature ‘man’ and of war ‘mo’.  Back in the early colonial days the government only accepted oaths taken here rather than in a court of law.  Smoke curls from giant spirals of incense hanging from the ceiling that contain paper offerings to the dead. The atmosphere was very thick with incense inside and we couldn’t stay in there long.

 

Prayer papers offered to the dead

Prayer papers offered to the dead

The large spirals hanging from the ceiling

The large spirals hanging from the ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street board games

Street board games

 

The walk took about an hour then we got back on the MTR (underground) and took the train to Wan Chai area and had lunch in an English pub called the Queen Victoria in the red light district although all the girlie bars were closed..  It seems like an odd choice but we both choose PORK sausage with mash. We just don’t get pork sausages in Malaysia.  It was delicious. After lunch we wandered around the street markets which was really interesting. These two men were playing some sort of board game which looks like a cross between chess and draughts. There was a lot of shouting involved.

Bamboo scafolding

Bamboo scafolding

The stalls were selling everything from plastic flowers to underwear. There were the usual tourist tat stalls but all very friendly.  Bill looked up over the top of the stalls and spotted these guys erecting bamboo scaffolding. He counted about 20 floors up and we couldn’t tell if they had harnesses on or not. Even so it looked pretty risky.

 

 

 

Veggies on the left, live fish on the right

Veggies on the left, live fish on the right

We found an indoor market selling the most wonderful looking fruit and vegetables. I wanted to take some home! The stalls on the right had lots of tanks containing live fish. They looked fairly health but I felt a bit sorry for them lying there waiting to be killed.  They were also selling meat in an open stall but it looked a bit more appetising than the Malaysian meat and wasn’t covered in flies. They had red lamps in the lights to make it look good.

 

Fresh meat

Fresh meat

The old Wan Chai post office

The old Wan Chai post office

 

Finally we walked passed this dear little building sitting between all the high rises and next door to a very modern post office but this was the original Wan Chai post office and one of Hong Kong’s oldest. It has now been preserved and isn’t in use any more.

 

 

Views across Repulse bay

Views across Repulse bay

Back to the MRT and onto Exchange square to catch the No6 bus out to the seaside town of Stanley. It was a great journey for just $8.40 each about 70p.  Once we’d left the city the road weaved through much smaller towns with lovely views across Repulse bay.  It was a double decker and we sat upstairs to get a good view. There were quite a few upmarket apartment blocks that would have had wonderful views across the bay.  The journey took about an hour and was a good ride.

Stanley pier

Stanley pier

Little local boats

Little local boats

 

 

Stanley is reminiscent of an English seaside town complete with pier. We walked along the promenade to the market which had some lovely jewelery stalls but I managed to resist, I have so many already.  There were a little group of local boats moored in the bay which we felt drawn to.  Shame the sun wasn’t out but at least it wasn’t raining.

 

Stanley waterfront

Stanley waterfront

 

 

We stopped for some delicious waffles with ice cream before boarding the bus back to the city.  I really didn’t expect to find such diversification in Hong Kong but it was interesting and we enjoyed our afternoon there.

 

A view from the pier

A view from the pier

 

A day of ups and downs.

Flying on over the islands

Flying on over the islands

This morning started with a low when Bill’s alarm went off at 04.45 a quarter of an hour early!  We hadn’t had a very good night because we both kept dreaming we’d overslept and missed our flight but after showering and getting sorted out we realised today we were going to tick off an item on our bucket list.  Today we were flying to Hong Kong on the second flight of our adventure. It was due to leave at 7.10 our time and left right on time.  After a bit of sleep we landed at 11.05 – again on time.  It was a bit cloudy as we landed but nothing was going to spoil our day – or so we thought.

Landing at Hong Kong airport

Landing at Hong Kong airport

 

We are in Hong Kong!

We are in Hong Kong!

Bill had always wanted to come to Hong Kong and here he is there.  Amazing airport, very efficient.  We made our way through to immigration without any problems and as soon as we reached the luggage carousel Bill’s bag was already there but not mine.  I was thinking Oh no I’ll have nothing to wear but then more bags came through and there it was, that was a relief. As we entered the arrival hall there was  my favourite – Starbucks, coffee time!

 

Bill decided to go and raid the ATM for some money.  Oh dear the first two wouldn’t give him any.  Luckily third time lucky.  All on his own without my assistance, was this wise? We’ll see…..

The next job was get from the airport to the city.  That was made very easy by buying an Airport Express travel pass which allowed us unlimited travel for three days plus a return journey from and to the airport.  On the train into the city all was going very well.

The first stop in the city was the China Travel service where we intended to apply for our Chinese visas.  I have spent the last few months pawing through my Lonely planet China and had memorised  a lot of stuff one of which was the route to the CTS office and we found it first go.  I had everything ready, a form for each of us downloaded and filled in, a passport photo for each of us, a typed out itinerary and finally had printed all the hotel bookings, train tickets, flight tickets etc and had it all sitting in a wallet ready. I handed it all over with our passports which she started to shake.  ‘Where is his entry visa?’ she was shaking Bill’s passport.  She shook mine and out fell a piece of paper but where was Bill’s.  We went through the bag, his pockets, every where, NOTHING. Then she said she couldn’t process our application without it. DISASTER. His passport had been in his pocket with his wallet and we realised that while getting cross with the ATM machines it must have dropped out.  The lady said our option was to go to immigration downtown to try to get another one or take a daytrip to Macau and get one on our way back, which would be too late for our visa for China!!!

We both hit a real low.  At this point we still had all our bags with us so we continued on to our hotel to check in.  It turned out the hotel had a free shuttle bus that could drop us right next to the Immigration tower, someone was watching over us after all.  We dropped our bags in our room and jumped in the bus. I had the bit between my teeth at this point. I hadn’t come this far to fall at the first hurdle.  I marched into the building and, after explaining what had happened and eventually being pointed in the right direction, we found a friendly immigration officer with a pre-printed form (this had obviously happened before) who issued Bill with a reprinted entry visa.  RELIEF. I was so relieved I burst into tears, I could see all my plans floating away.

The start of the escalator system

The start of the escalator system

 

We made our way back to the CTS who processed our visa application.  What a day. That’s why Bill isn’t allowed to wander off on his own!!! By this time it was 5pm and it was too late to do the tour I had planned. So we amused ourselves with travelling on The Escalator.  This is the longest covered outdoor escalator system in the world and is the best way to travel between the central area, up through the mid levels and SoHo. It took two and a half years to build at a cost of HK$205 million roughly about £20 million.

 

 

20

 

All smiles now

All smiles now

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was even an M&S there complete with Percy Pigs!!

There was even an M&S there complete with Percy Pigs!!

A view of a street market

A view of a street market

 

 

This street market had lots of beautiful fruit for sale.  I liked the building next to it.  Can you guess why?

 

A view looking down

A view looking down

 

 

 

 

 

The view looking down from the top was really good.

So our first day in Hong Kong went from wonderful to awful to wonderful again and Bill took me for a delicious Italian meal to make up for all the stress of the day.  Bless him he’d been so upset that he’d spoilt everything but it all worked out in the end.  Tomorrow we can start enjoying Hong Kong.

Cheers

Cheers

 

A Day in Kuala Lumpur

We arrived back in Terengganu 25th August and spent the next 4 days cleaning Camomile inside and out.  I made 3 trips to the laundry with big bags of washing not having done any for the last month, lucky we mostly live in swimmers.  I wanted to leave everything clean and tidy as we were leaving Camomile for 3 weeks for an adventure to Hong Kong and China.

Bill boarding our bright yellow plane

Bill boarding our bright yellow plane

 

It all started with a taxi at 6.30 on Sunday 30th August to take us to the airport to catch the 8.20 to Kuala Lumpur. Our plane wasn’t the usual Air Asia red but a brightly painted yellow.  The flight left right on time.  Our flight to Hong Kong wasn’t until the next morning but very early so I had booked a night in the Tune hotel at the KLIA2 terminal giving us a day in Kuala Lumpur.

 

Bill and I in Chinatown

Bill and I in Chinatown

We were too early to check in but left our bags in their left luggage room and jumped on the KLIA express train for the half hour ride to KL Sentral then took the underground to Pasar Seni and walked to Chinatown.  The main street is Jalan Petaling and was full of bustling stall selling all sorts of chinese goods.  A bought my self a nice new purse because mine has recently broken.  We also visited the Guan Yin temple which was a bit like one of the clan houses in Penang but not as nice.  Our impressions of Chinatown was that it was very colourful and noisy and not as nice as the Chinatown in Singapore but it was interesting to look around. After lunch in a local food court we headed back to the underground and made our way to KLCC with the magnificent Petronas twin towers as its center piece.

The Petronas twin towers

The Petronas twin towers

 

 

 

We forgot to take a picture of the outside but this a picture we took last year when the sky was much bluer, it was quite hazy today.

 

One of the Petronas racing cars

One of the Petronas racing cars

 

 

 

 

 

In the entrance they have 2 formula 1 racing cars sponsored by Petronas that have been used.  Bill was interested to see the body structure which his company used to make patterns for on similar vehicles. You could see the under body protection plate that had scratches on it from where the body had grounded out.

 

 

Interesting shop

Interesting shop

 

I had booked tickets to visit the viewing towers at 4pm so we had several hours to wander around the huge shopping mail that was contained in 4 floors at the base of the towers.  There are many designer shops including many shoe shops but I resisted.  This shop caught Bills eye and we had to have a look around but guess what …… no hardware or boat shops. Yippee!!!

 

Bill standing by the expansion gap.

Bill standing by the expansion gap.

 

At our allotted time we joined the tour. The Petronas Twin towers were once the tallest building in the world at a height of 452 metres.  It’s largely constructed of reinforced concrete with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic architecture.  The Skybridge is at the 41st and 42nd levels and that’s where we started our tour. The bridge is the highest 2 storey bridge in the world and is attached to the towers with a sliding system that allows the towers and the bridge to move independently up to about 10 inches each side.   It’s built to with stand winds of 180kph, fortunately the strongest they’ve ever had was 80 kph but the expansion gap had moved by 4 inches during the last Japanese earthquake.

 

 

Bill on the skybridge

Bill on the skybridge

The huge supports

The huge supports

 

 

 

 

 

My panoramic view of the two towers

My panoramic view of the two towers

Our selfie

Our selfie

 

 

We continued to the observation deck on level 86.  This was our selfie.

 

 

Looking down on the other tower

Looking down on the other tower

14

 

 

Sadly it was hazy today so the view wasn’t quite as good as we had hoped but it was still amazing to be so high up.  I didn’t like looking over the edge.  It was interesting to see the other tower next door.

 

15

 

 

After our tour we made our way back to KL Sentral and took our train back to the airport and the Tune hotel.  Tomorrow we fly to Hong Kong. Weeeeeee!!

 

We made it to Terengganu.

Starbucks in the Puteri mall with the water sculpture in front of it

Starbucks in the Puteri mall with the water sculpture in front of it

We stayed in Puteri Harbour marina for 2 weeks.  Bill and I went to the dentist. We both had xrays. I had a 2 fillings, one big one small, and Bill had a much bigger job culminating in a crown being fitted after 10 days.  All for the princely sum of MYR1190 (£205), bargain.  The torn sail was taken off, measured, photographed and folded up, while the spare one was hoisted.  It’s not as good quality but will do for the next few months while we get a new one ordered.  Shopping was brought in, markets explored, jobs completed from the jobs list (it never seems to go down), washing of us, the boat and clothes.  Most days being fueled by my favourite cappuccinos from Starbucks and the odd meal at one of the many restaurants at Puteri.

 

 

Exploring Singapore

Exploring Singapore

 

Monday 29th June we took the bus over the 2nd link bridge to Singapore for a few days; a mini break. We had lunch at raffles marina while checking out their Chandler store in the afternoon.  Had a wonderful walk around the old colonial area although it’s been dwarfed by the huge skyscrapers everywhere.

 

 

Panoramic view of Singapore

Panoramic view of Singapore

 

A nice meal down by the harbour

A nice meal down by the harbour

 

 

 

Enjoyed a delicious meal down by the old boat quay with a view of the amazing Marina Bay Sands hotel before heading off on the MRT to the night zoo.  Good evening but not sure it’s as good as it’s rated.

 

A new gadget

A new gadget

 

The next morning after coffee in Chinatown it was back to Bugis and Simlin tower, Bill’s favourite place, to buy a new gadget for the boat.  It’s a media player and new hard drive so we can play all the films and TV series people have given us on various formats stored on different computers, hard drives and old fashioned DVDs. Now they can all be kept in one place and played on our new TV.

 

 

Cargo ship carrying turbine blades

Cargo ship carrying turbine blades

 

We went back to the boat for another round of shopping, sewing and preparing for our summer on the East coast of Malaysia before finally leaving at 06.30 on 5th July with Inspiration Lady following. First we had to sail or motor around Singapore on the edge of one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.  There were many cargo ships carrying containers but this one was loaded with blades for wind turbines.  From the writing on the bow we assumed it had come from China but no idea where it was heading.

 

An enormous oil drilling platform

An enormous oil drilling platform

Having left Puteri 2 hours BEFORE low water and taking the last of the ebb down the Johor Straits, the tide turned in our favour at the entrance and was with us all the way around Singapore as we headed east back into Malaysian waters on the other side of Singapore. The sails were out, the engine was off and the tide was still with us so we were reluctant to stop and carried on passed this huge drilling platform onto to the far eastern corner of Malaysia.  As we started heading up the east coast the wind turned into an easterly bringing with it a nasty swell.  As it was getting dark both yachts stopped in the first bay but it was obvious we wouldn’t be able to stay.  Poor Camomile and Inspiration Lady were pitching and rolling badly.  The plan was to stop and try and rest for a few hours before continuing otherwise we would arrive at the first island in the dark.  This meant poor Bill was doing a night sail for his birthday but he said he didn’t mind. Having left at midnight the anchor went down on the northern coast of Pulau Sibu at 10.00.

Caroline, Bill, Bill, Jackie and Gary

Caroline, Bill, Bill, Jackie and Gary

Anchored at

02˚14.0N

104˚03.5 E

Bill’s birthday celebrations could begin.  The first thing I did was jump in the water, my first swim in the sea this summer.  Hard to believe I know but the west coast is quite murky and I don’t swim unless I can see the bottom.  Later Gary and Jackie of Inspiration Lady and Bill and Caroline of Juffa joined us in the evening for a pot luck supper and a game of cards. A great evening was enjoyed by all.

 

Camomile at anchor

Camomile at anchor

Wednesday 8th July we continued north past the point we had reached last year with my sister Angela on board and onto the north coast of Pulau Sri Buat anchoring at

02˚41.86N

103˚53.89E

An absolutely idyllic spot.  We jumped in the dinghy and headed to the beach but I couldn’t resist photographing a beautiful shiny Camomile on the way.

 

An uninhabited beach

An uninhabited beach

 

 

The island was uninhabited so we had this wonderful beach to ourselves. It was great to relax in the warm waters after all the hard work that’s been necessary to get Camomile looking as beautiful as she does during the first half of the year. It felt like summer had started.

 

 

Storm clouds approaching

Storm clouds approaching

The beach before the rain

The beach before the rain

 

 

 

But in true British summer fashion we suddenly noticed storm clouds approaching and just got back to the boat before the rain started and this stunning view ….

 

 

The rain lashed down

The rain lashed down

 

 

….. turned into this as the rain lashed down.  That was the end of summer for the day.

 

 

 

Snorkeling in the beautiful water

Snorkeling in the beautiful water

 

The following day the sun was out and we explored the bay in the dinghy. There was another lovely beach behind the big rock and I enjoyed an interesting snorkel there.  You can just see Camomile peaking around the edge of the rock on the left of the picture.  There was some lovely coral further out.

 

 

Me, Jackie, Janice, Mick, Bill and Gary

Me, Jackie, Janice, Mick, Bill and Gary

Left the beautiful anchorage on Friday 10th to motor the 15 miles to Tioman island.  Fortunately there were 2 spaces in the marina so Camomile and Inspiration Lady went in.  Juffa was already there.  Jackie and I hit ‘the shops’ in the afternoon while Bill tried to organise some power so we could have the air conditioning on for a few days.  Tioman is a quaint island and like stepping back in time but Jackie and I managed to find a few supplies to booster our larder.  It’s also duty free which meant cheap wine – yessss.  Mick and Janice anchored Zoa off one evening and we joined them and Inspiration Lady for a meal ashore.

Another evening we joined Bill and Caroline on Juffa for drinks and during our conversation discovered they were both teachers from Durrington High school, had 2 boys the same age as ours and lived in the next village to us in Angmering while we were there.  What a small world we live in!

The chartplotter looked like space invaders

The chartplotter looked like space invaders

Tuesday 14th Camomile and Juffa left Inspiration Lady in Tioman marina. Juffa headed south as they had to go back to Johor but we continued north on our own.  Our plan for the summer was head north quickly and then come back slowly. Finally we had good winds and sailed all the way to Pekan passing these anchored boats on our way, and anchored just after 6pm behind the breakwater at

03˚32.1N

103˚28.1E

It was ok for overnight but quite rolly.  The next day we left at 8am, the sails were out straight away and we sailed all the way to the Chukai river.

Inside the Cukai river

Inside the Cukai river

The wind had gone round to the south east which was great for sailing but not for entering the river.  By the time we reached the bar at the entrance there was a dangerous swell of a metre running.  Bill skilfully helmed Camomile through the entrance with 1.5metres under our keel for a minute or two.  I sat very quietly watching – doesn’t happen very often – with my heart in my mouth but once inside the swell dropped and the depth gauge increased.  Reminded us of the bars across the Australian harbour entrances.  Once inside we continued up the river for about a mile and anchored opposite the town.

The next day was the last day of Ramadan and the following day was Hari Raya, a major Muslim holiday.  It felt like Christmas eve in the town and the market was very busy with people stocking up for the festivities.  As we walked around I saw some live chickens having their throats cut and handed to eager buyers, and a dead cow being unloaded from the back of a truck complete with blood, guts and all – we didn’t stay long and I don’t have any photos of it.  Fortunately we managed to find a regular supermarket further in the town.  In the evening there were lots of people celebrating with fireworks going off most of the night.

Motoring back out of the river

Motoring back out of the river

The next morning Friday 17th all was quiet as we chugged back down the river through a much calmer entrance.  There was no wind so we motored all the way to Tenggol.  What was really strange was there wasn’t one single fishing boat out, we have never seen that before.

Pulau Tenggol was another 40 miles further north with a deep anchorage of 30 metres! Far too deep for us plus the sea bed was reported to be broken coral and wrecks, deadly for an anchor. Fortunately the local dive shop has tied three buoys to some purposely sunken wrecks quite close to the beach but not too close to the reef.  So we picked one up at

04˚48.44N (getting further north)

103˚40.57E

There was another British boat there called Sa Vahn with Fiona and Clare on board with their own dive kit who had dived on the wrecks to check out the lines and all seemed good. The beach looked very inviting so we swam in for a walk.  Unknown to us was the fact that the beach is full of sand flies and I came back with my legs covered in bites, they were as bad as the ones we got on South Island in NZ.

Wonderful white sand

Wonderful white sand

 

 

Sunday 19th left Tenggol at 9am and sailed all the way to Pulau Kappas dropping the anchor at 4pm at

05˚13.5N

103˚15.6E in 6 metre on sand.

For all you guys following us Kappas is beautiful; a true paradise island. Teal blue sea, verdant green backdrop, white sand and wonderful coral.

There are a series of beaches on the west side linked by stairways so you can walk between them (either my camera or computer ate the photos I took!) Great for lunch trips with a bit of exercise on the way back to walk off chocolate monkey pancakes which are pancakes with caramelised bananas covered in chocolate sauce – nommm nommm!

Amazing rock formations

Amazing rock formations

Approaching the cave

Approaching the cave

 

 

 

 

The island is quite small so we were able to take the dinghy around it. The rock formations are magnificent.

100s of bats on the ceiling

100s of bats on the ceiling

 

 

 

 

On the east side I spotted a cave and on closer examination from the entrance discovered it was full of bats. Not sure if you can see from this photo but the top of the cave was covered in them; very noisy and very smelly.

Amazing coral

Amazing coral

 

We stayed there until Friday 24th July relaxing, reading, a little writing and snorkelling every day.  Such a delightful anchorage. It would have been nice to stay longer but we needed to get to Terengganu to check out the marina to make sure it’s suitable to leave Camomile there later in the summer. So I’ll just post some of the many snorkeling photos I took at Kapas for you to enjoy.

 

 

Stunning green coral

Stunning green coral

 

Many colourful clams

Many colourful clams

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the shapes in this hard coral

I love the shapes in this hard coral

 

and many fish

and many fish

 

Week 13 – back in the water.

Finishing off the last of the varnishing

Finishing off the last of the varnishing

Saturday 25th April arrived and we weren’t ready to go back in the water; still a few more jobs to finish off so we postponed our splash until Monday, definitely Monday. I left Bill to finish off a bit of varnishing and took the ferry across to Langkawi to do a bit of shopping in the local shops; sometimes it’s nice to get off the boat for a while.   When I got back Bill wanted to run the engine to check everything was ok. Difficult because the engine needs water to stop it from overheating. I had to be in the cockpit to start and stop the engine while Bill held a hosepipe in the engine intake. Camomile did not sound happy and when Bill wanted me to put the engine in gear to check the prop was turning she made a horrible noise but apparently all was ok.

Bill relaxing

Bill relaxing

Sunday 26th we could relax a bit so we treated ourselves to breakfast in the resort. While Bill put a final antifoul coat on the keel I spent a frustrating day trying to download photos of my sisters wedding. The internet here is incredibly slow; it’s the only real downside of this place, oh and the mossies of course. We spent our final afternoon in our ‘garden’ and went to the pool for a nice cooling swim.

Ready for the off

Ready for the off

Monday 27th I took my bike on the early ferry to go and get some cash to pay our debts. On the way back my bike broke. Several of the spokes snapped on the front wheel and the sides of the tyre were also perished, they wobbled from side to side as the wheel went round and it was rubbing on the brake pads. I had to walk it back. NO comments on the weight it was carrying!!   When I got back Bill had packed all his tools away and we stacked the rest of the woodwork up on deck, I gave our chairs to another cruiser and we were all ready for the off.

 

Up she goes again

Up she goes again

 

We were third on the list and they came for us just after 11am; Camomile was dying to get her keel toes back in the water.

 

Camomile couldn't wait to get in the water

Camomile couldn’t wait to get in the water

Slowly lowered in

Slowly lowered in

Bill watched cautiously as they drove Camomile around the yard toward the splash point. They put a ladder up so we could get on and we were slowly lowered into the water.  Quite nerve wracking – would the engine start? Would the prop shaft or rudder bearings leak?  Everything went smoothly until a last minute gust of wind blew us dangerously near to the wall. We are so nervous of scratching the new paintwork. Bill had a quick check round – no leaks!

What do you think?

What do you think?

We arrived at our berth and tied up bow in, we had wanted to go in backwards but Bill didn’t want to risk it with the gusts we were getting; we’ll turn her round in the morning when it’s calm.

Plug the power in

Plug the power in

 

 

First things first get the power back on for the air con; it’s better back in the water but still hot.

 

 

We left it tidy

We left it tidy

I walked back up to the hard to fetch our bikes.   You would never know we had been there for 12 weeks.

It was great to be in the water. I had so many jobs I wanted to do. The first one was empty the fridge, clean it out and switch it back on. Its water-cooled and had protested at not having water to cool it (even though the water is warm) and had to be turned off on the hard. I reloaded it with the beer first in the bottom then some nice salad on the top. I emptied the freezer too and defrosted it so it could be turned up and be a freezer again. Both the heads (bathrooms) were given a good clean down with nice fresh water; felt good to have everything clean and working again.

Bill removed the compass

Bill removed the compass

Tuesday 28th I finally managed to post my blog then continued to clean the boat although it will probably get dusty again when Bill starts rubbing the cockpit down. Bill spent the day stripping the cockpit. The compass came off, wheel off, binnacle stripped down, cockpit locker lid off, rev counter out, so we couldn’t go any where if we wanted to now. Bill filled any redundant holes with epoxy resin. I wonder what the mystery objects are doing there?

Spot the mystery objects

Spot the mystery objects

Setting up the grab handles

Setting up the grab handles

Wednesday 29th Bill started fitting the grab handles. I asked him if he could do them next because every time I went out on deck I either stubbed my toe on the spikes or trod on them. He worked for a couple of hours then we caught the ferry and took one of Mr Din’s cars into town to get some resin, do some shopping for the freezer, get my bike mended and have a Starbucks of course.

The bike work shop

The bike work shop

 

This is the little workshop we took my bike to. Two new wheels, two new tyres with inner tubes, fitted and the gears fixed cost RM180 (about £30) pretty good value.  How he finds anything I don’t know but it was ready for us to pick up on our way back.

Fitting the grab handles

Fitting the grab handles

 

 

We got back at 3.30 and Bill continued with the grab handles, he likes working that time of day because the heat of the day has passed.

 

Grab handles finished

Grab handles finished

Plugging the holes

Plugging the holes

Thursday 30th After fitting them the holes were plugged with the wooden bungs and resin. This is the problem with working out on deck, he’s in the sun, his back is twisted and we still don’t have stanchions and guardrails on yet. Later rain was forecast and he wanted to finish before it started to rain. Water in the holes would be a bad thing and take a long time to dry.   I held an umbrella over him for the last few but he managed to finish before the heavens opened.

Bon Voyage Keith and Christine

Bon Voyage Keith and Christine

Later in the afternoon Keith and Christine came to say goodbye to their boat Poco Andante and hand over the keys to the new owners having managed to sell her. They have a wonderful adventure planned to get back to the UK by train through China, Mongolia and Russia. They joined us for a glass of bubbles to welcome Camomile back in the water and wish them good luck on their travels. Stay safe guys. x

Parcel from UK

Parcel from UK

Just as they were leaving there was great excitement because we were informed the box my sister Amanda had sent only 6 days ago had arrived so I went to collect it from security.

 

The contents of the box

The contents of the box

 

 

She had sent out a couple of bits I had left behind because I couldn’t fit any thing else in my bags like the new kitchen tap, a spare steering flange and a pressure relief value for the immersion heater!!!!! Also the guard rails were in there and the new control switches for the anchor windlass and a winter jacket I’d left behind which I might need when we go to China later in the year.

 

 

Rubbing down the cockpit

Rubbing down the cockpit

Fri 1st May While I did my usual Friday run to see the ‘Chinese man with the van’ Bill started sanding down the cockpit so he could get on with painting it, he’s now gone from black feet in the boat yard to white ones. Everything was covered in a layer of dust. I stayed down below to work on our China trip. Bill asked me to start making a list of outstanding jobs – it covered an A4 page and a half!

Mystery object in situ

Mystery object in situ

 

 

So these are the mystery objects, glued and filled, in their place.

Camomile’s 30th Birthday refit – week 6 Serious Sanding

After dropping me off at the airport Bill went into town to do some shopping (and probably had a McDonalds) then went back to Camomile to continue clearing the decks of the awful Treadmaster that he and Norman had started the previous week. He did 4 hours of stripping before sunset.

The sanding starts

The sanding starts

Friday 6th March 11 hours of stripping followed by dinner with our friends Rex and Susie on Ariel. I think whisky was involved!

Saturday 7th March he ran short of abrasives so he worked to 11.00 borrowed one of Mr Din’s cars and came back to do some more sanding. 8 hours of stripping today.

The decks becoming whiter

The decks becoming whiter

 

 

Sunday 8th March Camomile was starting to look very white as Bill continued to clear the deck of Treadmaster backing. He stopped for lunch at HDC while the sun was at it’s hottest then carried on. 11 hours worked again.

Monday 9th March The bow, the coach roof and a little of the cockpit still to do. 11 hours worked again, he’s now ground off all but a small patch under the air conditioning unit.

The removal of the treadmaster has taken 48 hours of Bill’s labour with the addition of 25 hours donated by Norman of Norsa; a total of 73 hours, phew!

A bad case of the measles

A bad case of the measles

 

Tuesday 10th March Bill moved the air-conditioning unit to the cockpit so that it pumps through the entry hatch, he didn’t want to not have it on, it cools the inside of the boat to make it bearable to live here. After removing the last of the treadmaster from where the air con unit had been, he then removed all the deckfitting that were going to be in the way and did the first fill of the major dings and redundant holes.

The next 2 days he spent fairing and filling plus he returned to the bonding of the starboard rubbing strake.

Sally with her lovely horse Maud

Sally with her lovely horse Maud

Meanwhile I landed safely in England after 3 flights and 27 hours fortunately the last flight to Gatwick was half empty and with no one sitting next to me I was able to lie down and get some sleep. I spent the Friday quietly because I didn’t want my sister to know I had arrived as I was planning to surprise her for her birthday. Cousin Sally picked me up and we had a lovely day visiting her horse Maud and driving around the beautiful, but still wintery, English countryside.

Coffee in the sun

Coffee in the sun

Saturday morning I jumped on a train to meet Thomas and Sonal in London, not having seen them for 6 months it was great to catch up. The first job was post Bill’s passport before coffee in the sunshine and then a visit to the Tower of London.

Thomas and Sonal outside the Tower of London

Thomas and Sonal outside the Tower of London

Sonal and I with our Beefeater

Sonal and I with our Beefeater

 

 

It was a cold but sunny day and we had great fun wandering around the tower listening to the Beefeater’s stories, which I swear get taller every time I hear them!

 

An amazing sculpture

An amazing sculpture

 

 

 

This amazing sculpture is made from weapons and armour, very clever.

 

Selfie by the Thames

Selfie by the Thames

 

 

As it was such a nice day we continued walking across Tower bridge and on towards the Oxo tower where we had arranged with my brother-in-law Alan to meet to spring the surprise on Amanda.

Me and my little sis

Me and my little sis

 

 

 

 

Her face was a picture when she walked in and saw us. It was a good start to my ‘holiday’.

Dinner at the OXO tower with a stunning view of the London skyline in the evening - best table in the house!

Dinner at the OXO tower with a stunning view of the London skyline in the evening – best table in the house!

The duty free island of Labuan

Driftwood on the beach

Driftwood on the beach

Labuan is only 20 miles from BSB in Brunei and, as it was a Sunday and we wouldn’t be able to check in until the next day, we decided to have a lunch stop at Keraman island. It’s a small island just south of the main island and had an interesting sand spit protruding out into the sea that gave us a nice protected anchorage. The tide was out exposing the beach along the sand spit so we jumped into the dinghy and headed over to it. It had a steep incline to the beach landing and it was easier to jump in the water and wade in, luckily we had gone in swimming costumes. The beach was littered with the most amazing driftwood that had been washed up on the high tide.

Bill brought the dinghy up the beach while Camomile watched

Bill brought the dinghy up the beach while Camomile watched

 

 

 

The dinghy was misbehaving so Bill managed to drag it on to the beach so we could walk the length of the sand spit.

 

 

 

There was surf on both sides of the sand spit

There was surf on both sides of the sand spit

Bill and I on the beach

Bill and I on the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storm clouds building

Storm clouds building

 

 

At the far end where the two sides of the beach met the sea the waves were crashing into each other and sending up great walls of spray but look behind the waves and note the black clouds forming in the background. We managed to launch the dinghy and headed back to Camomile and lift the anchor quickly. We motored as fast as we could but the squall caught us and we were lashed by the driving rain followed by 40kt gusts of wind as the storm picked Camomile up and propelled her through the choppy sea towards Victoria harbour on Labuan. The visibility was down to a mile or two but with the radar on we carefully inched our way to the marina in the north of the bay.

Lots of contacts on the chartplotter

Lots of contacts on the chartplotter

 

 

The AIS contacts on the chartplotter showed many ships anchored in front of us but we couldn’t see them.

 

 

 

 

There were many ships anchored in the harbour.

There were many ships anchored in the harbour.

 

 

 

Gradually as the storm cleared the ships started appearing out of the gloom. It appeared they were all support vessels of different kinds for the many oil rigs in the area

 

 

Victoria harbour marina

Victoria harbour marina

 

 

By the time we got to the marina the blue skies were back and you wouldn’t believe we’d had a storm.

The next day we had to go through the usual hoops to check in, it took 2 b*****y hours because we had the wrong stamps in our passports. Long story, won’t bore you with it but eventually they cleared us so we could go shopping.

Mission accomplished

Mission accomplished

 

 

As I’ve said before Labuan is an island; it’s a duty free island, what does that mean ….. cheap booze! Particularly if you go to the Chinese shops because unlike the Malaysians they love to barter. By the end of the day we had been back to the boat twice with 14 litres of spirits and 66 litres of wine. This is my supply of white wine for the next 5 months, the red trolley bag is full of red wine in boxes, they didn’t have a very big supply but managed to find some Banrock Station Shiraz and some French Merlot, we bought all they had. We spent the rest of the day finding places to put it all including lifting the floorboards, Camomile will have to have her waterline lifted again!

Sailing north leaving the ships behind us

Sailing north leaving the ships behind us

The next day, with mission accomplished, we left the marina for an overnight trip around the tip of Borneo to Kudat. The rally were there so we would finally catch up.

Angela’s Holiday and Sue’s Birthday

Ice cream sundaes, yum yum.

Ice cream sundaes, yum yum.

As I sit here writing this blog my sister Angela is winging her way back to the UK. By the time I’ve posted the blog I’m sure she will have forgotten her holiday but we did have a great time. Angela arrived Sunday 27th April – 3 days after the lightening strike. Bill had spent hours trying to get enough of the boat systems working so we would be able to limp out of the marina to see a bit of the area. We spent the first couple of days in Danga bay marina in Malaysia. Although it’s easy for us to pop back and forwards to Singapore, (but you get a total of 4 stamps in your passport each time!) it’s difficult and costly to get the boat in and out so the boat remained in Malaysia. On Monday Angela and I hit the malls and she was soon leading me astray.

Walking around the fruit farm

Walking around the fruit farm

The rally had organised a tour of the Johor area on Tuesday so we decided to join it.  The coach left at 7am and took a nice drive through the countryside to a tropical fruit farm where they showed us many different varieties of fruit, some of which I hadn’t even heard of.

 

 

The fruit was wrapped in pink plastic bags for protection

The fruit was wrapped in pink plastic bags for protection

After a short presentation on how their honey is produced in a very welcome cool air-conditioned room we were shown to the restaurant where the staff had prepared a smorgasbord of fruit platters for us to try. Our favourite was dragon fruit, which I’d often seen in the supermarket, now I’ll be more willing to buy some. We also tried deep fried breadfruit, which looked like parsnips but tasted like chips before moving onto a local village for lunch. On arrival the villagers provided us with a display of martial arts accompanied by some loud banging of drums. The ladies had prepared some beautiful food so, after visiting the handicraft stalls we got back in the coach with very full stomachs! With palm trees stretching as far as one could see our next stop was a visit to a factory where huge bundles of palm nuts are turned into oil. As we got out of the coach the smell was awful, Angela and I had a quick look at what they were doing then retreated to the coach. We continued on to the ruins of a 16th century fort and though little remained, there was a nice museum and amazing views of Singapore from the raised area the fort was built on.

Crocodile farm

Crocodile farm

Our last stop was a crocodile farm where we watched the owner call and feed dozens of crocs. Ang and I thought there were too many to each pen climbing over each other to get to the smelly chicken that was being thrown their way. A walkway had been constructed over the pens so you could look down on the reptiles though we lost count of how many there were however 500 wouldn’t have been an over estimate… they really didn’t have very much room. All in all it was a long day but a good first outing. I would have liked to show more photos but my new camera has eaten them and won’t give them back, the outing photos are from Jacqui on Jackster.

Wednesday we stayed on the boat so Angela could start her sun bathing and all packed our bags ready for Singapore. Thursday 1st May saw us starting our journey from Johor Bahru (JB) to cross the border to Singapore. As I said the boat was in Malaysia and since Singapore gained its independence in 1965 it’s now a separate country with borders and bureaucracy to cross. The trip started with a bus from the marina to JB Sentral where you walk through C.I.Q. to the Malaysian border control, much like airport departure gates. As we were walking through the elevated glass sided halls the taxis were visible as they queued underneath us to get through passport control. We’ve done the journey in a taxi and a bus and I think the bus is quicker, even though there’s a lot of walking. After we had been stamped out of Malaysia we went down the escalator into no mans land and the buses. For the princely sum of MYR1.30 (about 25p) you get on a bus and cross the causeway bridge. The buses are always packed to the gunnels and the last one in is given a push so the driver can shut the door. Fortunately although there’s a 50kph speed limit you’re lucky if the traffic moves at 10kph so it’s quite safe. On the Singapore side you have to go up the escalator, over the top of the taxis again, have your passport stamped and down the escalator on the other side into Singapore and back onto the bus, although not necessarily the same one, and your MYR1.30 carries you to the first Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station where you can get to most parts of Singapore on this over/underground metro system. The whole process can take several hours. We took the MRT to Lavender and walked to our hotel.

The beautiful buildings of Little India

The beautiful buildings of Little India

The Arton was clean and modern but the rooms were tiny, they had everything you needed though and the beds were comfy. The hotel was on the edge of Little India so having dropped our bags we took a little walk. I thought for once we weren’t going to do any thing to do with boats – WRONG.

 

Bill window shopping

Bill window shopping

 

 

 

Little India is also next to Sim Lim towers where they have lots of electronic shops but as it was the 1st May bank holiday in Singapore most of the shops were closed. Bill just had to make do with a bit of window-shopping. The deal was for every 5 minutes in Sim Lim towers Ang and I could have half an hour in the proper shops so 30 minutes of wandering gave us 3 hours in Orchard road.

The famous Orchard Road

The famous Orchard Road

 

 

 

The whole road consists of mall after mall. We found a good one and started shopping; shoes were bought!

 

 

 

We went shopping

We went shopping

The top floor was a huge food court so we had dinner there before heading back to the hotel.

Chocolate waffles for breakfast

Chocolate waffles for breakfast

 

The next morning was my birthday and we started it off wantonly with chocolate waffles in a local food market. As time was limited we had decided the best way to see the city was a morning coach tour. The guide was very informative giving us lots of interesting explanations as we were driving along.

 

First stop Merlion Park

First stop Merlion Park

The first stop was the famous Merlion park where the symbol of Singapore stood. The statue has the head of a lion, a fish like body, stands 8.6 metres high, weighs in at 70 tonnes and is one of Singapore’s most well known icons. The Merlion is representative of Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village.

The impressive Merlion statue

The impressive Merlion statue

 

 

It’s set against the backdrop of sky scrappers in Singapore’s CBD.

 

 

 

 

We were dwarfed by the statue

We were dwarfed by the statue

10

 

Overlooking the park were the triple towers of the Marina Bay Sands hotel where room prices start at S$340 (£170) a night and that doesn’t include breakfast.

 

 

The Thian Hock Keng temple

The Thian Hock Keng temple

 

 

We got back in the coach and continued on our drive through China town to the Thian Hock Keng temple. Singapore’s oldest and most important Hokkien temple was a haven of tranquillity. Built between 1839 and 1842 it was once the favourite landing point of Chinese sailors before reclamation pushed the sea almost a kilometre down the road. Upon completion of the temple southbound immigrants who had just landed or northbound immigrants heading back to China would always stop by the temple facing the waterfront to pray for calm waves and a safe journey; It stuck a chord some how.

The beautiful carved ceiling

The beautiful carved ceiling

 

 

The carvings in the ceiling were amazing. Angela and I were given some josh sticks to say a prayer with and light, which we did for Mum.

 

 

 

Thian Hock Keng temple

Thian Hock Keng temple

 

The chocolate shop

The chocolate shop

 

 

Our next stop was a chocolate shop (who picked this tour?) where the assistants were waiting to hand out samples to encourage us to buy their wares; we didn’t disappoint them. Pride of place in the window was a chocolate lion; lucky he didn’t lose that paw.

 

Chocolate lion - shall I kiss your paw?

Chocolate lion – shall I kiss your paw?

 

View across the city

View across the city

We drove around more of the city before heading up to the viewpoint on Mount Faber. Although it’s only 105 metres high it’s one of the highest points in Singapore giving a fabulous 360º panoramic view. In 1857 it was decided to build a fort for fear of revolt among the local Indian sepoys. Defence work was carried out and granite gun emplacements were completed halfway up the hill but Mount Faber never became a fort and instead an observatory was built there in 1905.

Another Merlion

Another Merlion

 

 

 

To the south the famous Sentosa island could be seen with it’s designer apartments but to the north was just mile after mile of the high risers of inner city living all under the watchful gaze of another Merlion statue.

 

 

 

 

Raffles hotel

Raffles hotel

Table next to the harp

Table next to the harp

We were taken back to our hotel in time to change and get back on the MRT in time for tea at the Tiffin tearooms in the famous Raffles Hotel, for my birthday treat. As it was my birthday they gave us a very nice table right next to the harp.

 

 

 

Just for starters

Just for starters

 

 

There was a 3 tiered cake tray already on the table with 3 of each sandwich on the bottom tier and 3 of each cake on the top two tiers. The waiter directed us to a buffet table, which had some hot items, as well as more cakes, and a table with a selection of fruit. After finishing the first lot of sandwiches they brought more. As we hadn’t eaten lunch we made a big dent in their buffet.

The hot buffet

The hot buffet

The fruit platters

The fruit platters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday lunch

Birthday lunch

Followed by Birthday cake

Followed by Birthday cake

 

All the time the harpist was playing beautiful music before striking up with Happy Birthday when the staff brought out a surprise cake with a candle and Happy Birthday Sue on it. I was over whelmed and speechless (not a natural condition for me(Bill added that bit)) but I soon recovered and blew my candle out.

Beautiful cake

Beautiful cake

Yummy

Yummy

 

It was a delicious chocolate cake although we couldn’t work out what the filling was but it tasted divine.  I was going to save the chocolate name for the boys who both love white chocolate but I appear to have mislaid it – sorry boys!

I even had my 4 cards to open at the table (courtesy of Ang who had brought them with her).

 

 

My birthday cards

My birthday cards

A very grand hallway

A very grand hallway

 

 

Angela and I decided to explore the hotel a bit although a lot of areas are for residents only. This was the amazing hallway. Then we found the bathroom and took a selfie through the mirror, it was beautifully decorated.

 

Our selfie in the bathroom

Our selfie in the bathroom

Singapore slings

Singapore slings

 

After we had eaten all the sandwiches, pastries, fruit and cakes we could manage and drank numerous cups of tea we rounded off the afternoon by adjourning to the iconic Long Bar for – What else? A genuine Singapore sling (although Angela and I choose a tropical cocktail version because they sounded nicer).

Suntec city with the fountain of wealth

Suntec city with the fountain of wealth

One of the places we had driven past in the morning was Suntec City where it’s said ‘you can buy everything under the sun’. As it was just around the corner we made our way there. It consists of 5 buildings the proportion of 4 fingers against ‘the thumb’ which was behind me. In the centre of this open “palm” lies the Fountain of Wealth which has featured in the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s largest fountain. It is said if you walk around the fountain 3 times you will come into money so of course we just had to do that.

Buildings 1, 2, 3 and 4

Buildings 1, 2, 3 and 4

The fountain of wealth

The fountain of wealth

The fountain was quite beautiful; the water jets were rotating in an interesting and continually varying pattern as we walked around them.

 

Restored shop houses of Chinatown

Restored shop houses of Chinatown

 

We continued to the night market in Chinatown where stepping out of the MRT we immediately entered an area that was more about the vibe than the shops. Restored shophouses looked down on a mixture of retro stalls selling mostly cheap tat.

 

Bill with Captain Haddock

Bill with Captain Haddock

One shop that caught Bill’s eye was the TinTin shop so, having been a fan as a young boy, he wanted his photo taken with Captain Haddock before admiring the stacks of TinTin memorabilia. Along a bit there were lots of delicious looking street food stalls but sadly, still stuffed from our tea, we didn’t get to try anything.

Waving cats

Waving cats

It was an easy several hours spent looking around and enjoying the atmosphere before it was time to be making our way back to MRT station but, on our way back I spotted these. If you’ve ever wondered where to buy those awful cat ornaments with the waving arms, well here they are. S$10 is about £5. If I’d paid £5 for 3 I think I’d have been robbed! The next morning I allowed Bill the time to go back to look at Sim Lim towers while Angela and I went back to Orchard road for more shopping. More shoes were bought but not by me this time then that afternoon we headed back to the causeway bridge to repeat the customs journey back into Malaysia.

Sun setting over the shipping

Sun setting over the shipping

Sunday 4th May we started Camomile’s engine and slowly motored down the Johor straits to the sea. Bill anchored the boat at the entrance ready for our early morning start the next day motoring around the south of Singapore island. Angela coped well with her first night at anchor and also without the air-conditioning unit, which can only run when we have power in a marina. We had sundowners watching the many ships passing through the Singapore straits against the sun set.

Lots of big cargo vessels

Lots of big cargo vessels

 

The sun was just coming up when we weighed anchor the next morning giving us a beautiful sunrise to watch. There were many ships of all sizes anchored and this local fishing boat was busy taking photos of us taking photos of them.

 

 

Local fishing boat

Local fishing boat

Tug and tow

Tug and tow

Tug and tows are the bane of our lives in these waters,they don’t have AIS and they rarely display the correct lights at night. It can be quite unnerving coming across one in the dark as they chug along with barges the size of a small island following.

 

 

Singapore from the sea

Singapore from the sea

 

 

It was interesting to see the CBD from the deck of the boat although we couldn’t get very close and Singapore is patrolled by many small police boats which are constantly watching for any one entering Singapore waters illegally. They are quite obsessive about it.

 

 

 

 

Marina Bay Sands hotel from the sea

Marina Bay Sands hotel from the sea

It took all day to motor the length of the island before clearing Singapore waters and anchoring off the Malaysian peninsular on the eastern side. Tuesday 6th was another early start because we had to motor all the way to the first island to make sure we had a calm anchorage. Since Mum died last year Angela has had a difficult time and I’ve been nagging her to come and stay with us so I could show her some deserted islands and catch a glimpse of the life we lead. After the lightening strike I didn’t think we were going to get there but we had made it. Fortunately the one instrument left partially working was the depth gauge, without it we wouldn’t have been able to leave the marina so someone up there was helping us. The sails came out for some of the journey and we had a good tide most of the day but the engine stayed on. Bill had rigged up the emergency tiller pilot to the Hydrovane so he didn’t have to hand steer all the way as the autopilot was another victim of the lightning. We used my new Samsung tab for Navigation, not ideal but better than nothing. So we limped along to Pulau Sibu, our first deserted island, although it had a village on it and a big resort around the corner. The next morning we went ashore and had a drink in a little café looking over the beach before walking through the village. There were palm trees everywhere and cows roaming freely. The little houses looked very well kept but the heat of the sun was very strong. The three of us walked back along the beach but it was really hot so we retreated back to the boat. (Sorry no pictures we left our camera behind!) In the afternoon Bill moved the boat to the next island and anchored on the south side of the island. It was such a good decision because that night a storm blew up. Although the wind instruments weren’t working Bill felt we had 50kts winds blowing over us and put more and more anchor chain out, hoping the anchor would hold. Luckily Angela didn’t seem worried about it and was busy watching the lightening. With winds coming from the north we were well protected. The storm lasted for several hours before the winds subsided and the sea returned to normal. By the morning everything had returned to normal. We learnt a few days later that it had caused quite a bit of damage and was only the 5th bad storm they had had like that in the last eight years, lucky us!

A proper deserted island

A proper deserted island

 

Thursday 8th May we finally found a little deserted island. With the dinghy loaded with deckchairs, etc we took the dinghy over to it and were the first footsteps in the sand.

 

 

 

Our little dinghy took us to the island

Our little dinghy took us to the island

Angela on a shell hunt

Angela on a shell hunt

 

Angela started a shell hunt of which we found several nice ones. It was lovely and peaceful. As we were walking along the beach a beautiful butterfly fluttered past; was Mum watching us playing?

I put my snorkel and fins on to discover a wonderful world just a short distance off the beach. Not so many fish but lots of coral, Angela decided she didn’t want to have a go, chicken!

Angela and I laying in the warm water

Angela and I laying in the warm water

 

 

The water was beautifully warm and we just laid in it with the waves lapping over us. Paradise.  In the distance we could see One Tree island, that is it’s name on the chart and sure enough it had one tree on it.

 

One tree island in the distance

One tree island in the distance

Another beautiful beach

Another beautiful beach

 

As the tide was out we clambered over the rocks at the end of the beach to find another beautiful beach round the corner, again, deserted. I love the silence of these places, just the birds calling and the lapping of the waves, stunning. On our way back to the boat Bill motored very slowly over the coral so Ang could look down onto it from the safety of the dinghy. Continuing on later that day to Pulau Besar which had a really nice yachtie friendly resort. The restaurant was available to non-residents so we ate out that evening. The owner had just bought a catamaran and wanting to make a good impression on the yatching fraternity offered us a drink on the house. That’s the way to do it! Free is cruiser price.

Angela and I went to the loo later in the evening, I wouldn’t normally mention this but the bathrooms were the most ornate I had ever seen. All marble with gold patterns, simply amazing.

The view from the restaurant was superb looking out across the boats. Two other rally boats turned up the next day. Ang decided she wanted to spend the afternoon sunbathing on the beach. As I was battling with a nasty cold I decided not to join her. When she returned she realised why we don’t sit on the beaches here because she was covered in sand fly bites all up the backs of her legs, hundreds of them.

That evening when we went ashore for dinner again and made sure we were sprayed for mossies too. As we were at the bar with the other four that evening we all got another round of drinks on the house. This is why we get ‘stuck’ in places like this. Photos courtsey of Janice on Zoa

The original plan for Angela’s holiday was to spend a week in the islands and then put her on a bus back to Singapore on Tuesday 13th but with the boat in the state it was we needed to get back to the JB area to get it sorted. So Saturday 10th we motored over to Mersing on the main land to pick up some supplies before motoring back to Pulau Sibu, the first island for an overnight stop before a very early start the next day for the 2 day motor back to Puteri harbour.

Another beautiful sunset

Another beautiful sunset

Sunday 11th was Angela’s last night at anchor and we all watched a beautiful sunset. On the Monday we arrived back at Puteri harbour and put the air conditioning back on. Angela had one more day so we spent it shopping, of course.

 

 

The fish stall in the night market - what cigarette?

The fish stall in the night market – what cigarette?

Angela doesn't look very impressed

Angela doesn’t look very impressed

In the evening we joined a group of people from the marina and went to the night market in the next village. I like shopping in these markets but I think Angela was horrifed, she’s used the pristine shelves of the English supermarkets.

 

 

 

4am Wednesday 14th May saw us all getting into a taxi for the trip back across the causeway, to Singapore airport, to home for Angela. Tears were shed but I think she had a nice time and nice rest. Byebye Ang see you soon. x

Byebye Angela

Byebye Angela

%d bloggers like this: