November 2, 2011
We are now at Admiral Marina in Port Dickson – about ¼ of the way up the west side of Malaysia. We left Singapore several days ago – October 27th . Even though we are currently only about a 3 hour drive from Singapore, it took us a few days of sailing to arrive at our destination. We only want to sail during daylight hours here because of the large amount of shipping traffic moving up with us through the Malacca Straits (one of the world’s busiest shipping channels), and there are also lots of smaller boats with long strings of fishing nets strung out behind them, much as we have seen elsewhere on our trip this year. It is a bit too risky to sail at night, so we had to do day sails to arrive at this first marina. We stopped for a night each in two anchorages – Pulau Pisang and Pulau Besar – on the way. Each afternoon at around 3:00 p.m. there are heavy rainshowers and a lot of thunder and lightning so we have tried our best to be at anchor by that time. We arrived in Port Dickson on the 29th and were thrilled to find it an extremely comfortable and rather elegant place. The marina is attached to some very luxurious condominiums and we are enjoying the uniformed Gurkha guards saluting us as we go up the dock to shore each day. There is a beautiful swimming pool, a couple of restaurants and a lovely, colonial style building that houses the complex. Malaysia is a very interesting county – a mix of Malays, Chinese and Indians – with many of the women dressed in very colorful head-scarves and conservative Muslim dress, but many others dressed in short skirts and high heels. It clearly seems to be a thriving economy.
We took a couple of days off the boat and went down to the city of Melaka. It is just about 75 kilometers from here. We took local buses (clean, modern, air-conditioned and very comfortable) down there to meet our friends Karin and Jean-Francois from the boat Intiaq who stopped there with their boat rather than at Port Dickson. The buses were clean and comfortable, but it took about 4 hours to go there as we had to switch buses at a town that was actually out of the way. Melaka used to be one of the greatest trading ports in Asia, but it is now considered a tourist town. The city is clean and attractive and very trendy, with a great Chinatown area, some old forts from previous Portuguese colonizers (they were also colonized by the British and the Dutch, not to mention being occupied by the Japanese during WWII). There are lots of very trendy and fashionable clothing shops and art studios, but most importantly an abundance of delicious and inexpensive restaurants. Once again, as in Singapore, we are finding the highlight of our day to be the food we are eating. It is wonderful and you can’t go a block without finding several wonderful restaurants or food stalls. Melaka is apparently a very popular week-end spot for people from Singapore who also are keen on the food.
We stayed at an adorable hotel in Melaka- the Hotel Puri- – which was right in the middle of Chinatown and had beautiful décor in the lobby (old Chinese cane and inlaid furniture) and cool(ish), quiet, gardens to relax in. The rooms were simple, but air-conditioned and quiet so we were quite happy. They served a wonderful breakfast in one of the inner courtyard gardens – complete with steamed buns, egg custard tarts, curried noodles, fresh fruit, and lots of more European style breakfast foods. Had our first pieces of toast in several months, so even that felt like a treat. We really enjoyed our two days there. We decided to take a taxi back to Port Dickson which turned out to be a great idea – cutting the time involved in half and we had a lovely view of the countryside – stopping on the way back to buy local mangoes and about 10 kilos of other fruit.
We plan to leave here tomorrow and continue heading north – hoping to be at our final destination – Pangkor Marina – in just a few days.