Leaving Malaysia

Well, it’s November 27th , the day after Mark’s 63rd birthday, and we are planning to leave Malaysia tomorrow.  We have been in the same marina since October 25th.   (Rebak Marina on  tiny Rebak Island near the larger island of Langkawi on the west side of Malaysia)    It was unusual for us to spend so much time in one place.   There are lots of other sailors here and we had a nice little community of friends, old and new. We are neighbors with two Australian boats who are very friendly…. Soul and Investigator II, and we also have good friends down the dock on the boat Revelation.   Intiaq was here for a while, as was Freeform and Dedalus.  Lots of other friends are here, all waiting to head up to Thailand.


I was doing yoga and pilates in the mornings with a group of other cruisers until I threw my back out one morning. Since then, I have just stuck to swimming in the resort pool which is lovely, especially in the late afternoon.  Our marina, as we may have mentioned before, is kind of a showpiece for a 5 star resort which seems to be a popular honeymoon spot for Saudi’s, Indians, as well as many westerners. It’s a great mix of women in burkhas and women in bikinis.


We get decent internet here so we have been able to catch up on the news everyday and have been able to talk to the kids and my mom on a regular basis through either Skype or Google voice.  Cell phone service is cheap, but the reception here is kind of spotty and we find we do much better with the computer options.


Since we are on a small island which is a few miles away from the main island of Langkawi, we have to take a ferry to get to town.  We have gone in about once a week to get groceries.   It is relatively easy, but still a major undertaking. The day before we go to town we have to contact a Mr. Din by phone to request a car. He is a Malaysian guy who rents out very crappy cars for about 50 ringgats ($15) a day to cruisers.   We hop on the ferry that is run by the resort (several crossings every day) and take the 15 minute ride over to Langkawi.  Mr. Din is always there with a lineup of dented, much abused, but still running cars.  You just pay him the 50 ringgats and he hands over the keys.  No paperwork- no insurance. The only rule is that you have to leave two bars of fuel in the car (hence the nickname 2 bar Din)   Once in the car it is about 10 miles into town, but along the way there are lots of different places to stop and shop for whatever you want.  It is not a very attractive place, but is well stocked since it is a duty free island.  The sailors love it because you can get booze very cheaply, along with whatever else you need.   We are not exactly big drinkers, so we didn’t benefit so much from the cheap booze, but did find some delicious duty free chocolate which we will have no problem eating over the next few months.   The only hard part of the excursion is that once you have collected all your groceries and cans and bottles and returned the car to the dock you have to load everything onto the ferry boat, and then when you get back to the marina you have to unload it and carry it up one dock and down another and then onto the boat, and then down the companionway stairs.   It is always so hot by that time of day that we are absolutely pouring sweat and once we get home and get everything put away we have to collapse for a while.   Makes life interesting and makes you appreciate whatever food you have on board.


There is a restaurant here for the cruisers called the Hard Dock Café and we meet there pretty regularly with friends.   Service is incredibly slow, but the food is good.  There is also a lovely place to have breakfast at the main resort – a delicious breakfast buffet that we have tried to take advantage of at least once a week.


Our trip to Cambodia ( November 6th – 14th)  which was by airplane, not by boat, was an interesting excursion, but since we have already posted pictures of that trip on the blog, I won’t talk about it here.


It is only 24 miles to the Koh Lipe, our first Thai island.  Just a few hours by sail.



Photos from Cambodia: Part 2

Laura at roadpost in Battambang
Seafood in market: Phnom Penh
Waiting for the bus in Battambang
Outside of temple: Battambang
Check out the patch on the blouse (Battambang). It says “Back to Back World War Champs.”
Inside temple: Battambang
Odd brain structure at the “You Can School” in Battambang
Japanese designed anti-war monument (Battambang) made of old guns.
Utility lines in Battambang
Fried beetles for sale at the bus rest stop on the route from Siem Reap to Battambang
Fried locusts for sale at the bus rest stop on the route from Siem Reap to Battambang
Fried eels for sale at the bus rest stop on the route from Siem Reap to Battambang
Friendly hotel staff in Siem Reap
Translation of the rules at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (formerly the S21 torture center)


Photos from Cambodia: Part 1

Monk looks out from one of the towers at Angkor Wat



Angkor Wat




Sunset over the moat at Angkor Wat
Monks come to tour Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Do not touch anti-personnel mines (War Museum, Siem Reap)
Old US ordnance welcomes you to the War Museum: Siem Reap
Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap
Carved face looks through tree at Ta Prohm (“Tomb Raider”) temple that had been overrun by jungle, Siem Reap
Tuk-tuk and driver: the standard form of transportation for visitors
Little girl hangs on to her mother, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat



We have spent our time at the Rebak Marina working on the boat and spending time with friends who are here working on their boats.  Most everyone is also waiting for the unsettled weather to end and for the northeast monsoon (the dry season) to settle in before moving north to Thailand.  We have had late afternoon and evening squalls almost every day, typically with plenty of lightening and strong wind gusts.  The forecast is more of the same as the southwest (rainy) monsoon lingers.


The big issue on Sabbatical III is the water maker, which is still inoperative.  I have been communicating with a technician in Spain and have made some progress.  We have ruled out the water maker pumps as a source of the problem and are now focusing on the logic board that regulates the process and monitors water pressure and the like.  I may need some parts sent to me from Europe to get the water maker working again.  Langkawi is a good place for that as it is a duty-free island with an international airport.  I have already received a box of parts from the US (for an unrelated issue) that arrived quickly and without trouble.   Maintaining and fixing one’s boat is really a big part of cruising and my repair skills are not nearly as good as many other sailors.

Later today we are flying to KL (Kuala Lumpur) in order to catch an early morning flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  We found a great deal on Air Asia, which flies out of Langkawi.  We will spend 3 or 4 days in the Siem Reap area (where Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are located) and then take a boat down river  to Phnom Penh, spend a few days there, and then return.  All of our friends who spent the wet monsoon season in Malaysia have done similar “land” trips up to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar while waiting for the sailing season to begin, and they all speak glowingly of their experiences.

This is a photo taken at the Halloween party.  Laura and I came as “Floridians” with big glasses.  Drew from “Revelation” is Lance Armstrong (note the syringes in his arm), and his wife Lili came as the “galley winch” (that’s a winch handle on her head).  It was a great party.  It was held in the open pavilion adjacent to the marina and organized by Rebak resort.  All the waiters and cooks were dressed as ghouls and the like, the desserts were served out of caskets, and the table clothes and decorations were all appropriately themed.  The food was great and there was live music and dancing.  We ate char kway teow, our favorite noodle dish from Penang, skewered prawns, barbecued lamb, and ABC (mixed fruit ice).  We also won the prize for best dancing couple which entitled us to a free meal at the resort restaurant.

We will try to send reports from Cambodia.