Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Danga Bay Marina - Johor Bahru

Danga Bay Marina had been our home for the past 4 weeks and that time was fast coming to an end. The marina itself, whilst lacking in amenities was very centrally located for restaurants, shopping, etc. and the time spent there went relatively quickly being broken with small trips away both to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The first few days in the marina were spent just unwinding as we felt we had been on the go for so long. Then there was the cleaning of everything inside and out and taking inventory of what we had used and what we needed. Buses departed from right out front and a 50 cent fare would get you most places. There were good choices of supermarkets - Giant, Cold Storage and the Kip markets. We found great eateries within walking distance of the marina and it was cheaper to eat out than cook on board. We caught up with our friends from Gemini who had already been here for a couple of weeks, though Robyn had headed home to Oz for a spell. The days soon started to fly bye, one week rolling into the next. The Sail Malaysia rally had organised a day tour of the local area taking in Puteri Marina and development and some very opulent government buildings which looked more like 5 star hotels. We then visited the southern most tip of Malaysia (also of mainland Asia) and it's a long way from Sydney - 6232 kms. The tour was all in the comfort of an nice new air conditioned coach - thank goodness. The heat seems to intensify each day and the build up to the afternoon thunderstorms is palatable. We have finally set up our water catchment from the boat covers so now can funnel the rain water direct into our tanks.

                                                  Opulent government buildings hardly occupied


                                              To think we sailed all this distance  ......... :-)

7th November was yet another birthday for Pete, and not wanting to spend it sitting in the marina, we decided to head to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days. Along with Robyn and Craig (Gemini) and Jacqui and Kevin (Tintin), we boarded the train from Johor Bahru early one morning for a 6 hour trip north. First class tickets cost us AUS $20 one way and is wasn't a bad trip. Comfy large seats with heaps of leg room, complimentary water and banana bread, good company and lots of laughs - the trip went quickly. Not a lot to see, just palm oil plantation after plantation and the odd station stop along the way. Soon enough we were arriving in KL and had booked rooms at the Pacific Regency Apartments located just across the road from the KL Tower. All upgraded to suites on arrival and the rooms were great, king size beds and marble bathrooms (with bath), pool on the top floor. That evening after drinks poolside for happy hour, it was off to find the hawker stalls. We found a curry house full of locals - always a good sign and the best tasting curries you could imagine. Each morning we started with breakfast at Starbucks, then the days spent exploring.


                             Poolside for 'Happy Hour' at the Pacific Regency Apartments - KL.
                                               Jacqui, Pete, Self, Craig, Robyn and Kevin

                   KL Tower at night                                  The base of the 275 stairs to the Batu Caves

The Batu Caves were very impressive, with a humongous gold statue at the entrance. 275 steep stairs to the top and horrid little monkeys along the way throwing coconut husks at people as they passed. You had to watch they didn't make a grab for your handbag, hat or sunglasses. Inside the caves there were blessing ceremonies going on, chanting and lots of incense burning. We had arrived at the caves relatively early morning, just as well. By the time we were leaving, the bus loads of tourists were starting to arrive - it was mobbed. Back to the apartments for a lazy afternoon with local shopping in the myriads of stalls surrounding the hotel. On dusk we headed down to see the Petronas Towers and what impressive architecture they are. With the sun setting quickly, the appearance changed by the minute as their magnificent lighting became apparent. From there it was a walk to Alor Street, famous for its hawker stalls and every type of cuisine you could think of. A 10 mins stroll back to the apartments in the balmy evening and a good nights sleep had by all. The next day we had an afternoon departure back to JB getting back to the boat around 9.00pm. A birthday for Pete to remember.

                                          The fountains at the base of the Petronas Towers


Happy Birthday drinks for Pete in KL

Alor Street - famous for its Hawker stalls
A few days later it was off to Singapore which as the crow flies is only 2ks from JB, but requires crossings the causeway, exiting Malaysia and entering Singapore with border stops at both ends, passports, customs and immigration so does take an hour. Lunch at Fatty's with my girlfriend Mojca (ex Sailors Bay Dentistry in Sydney) and lots of catching up done. Shopping in the afternoon and staying the night in a small, very basic hotel in Little India. Clean enough but no room to swing that cat !! Up early next morning and off towards Orchard Road to check in at the Royal Plaza on Scott's for a night of luxury. On arrival we could see mum and dad at reception checking in themselves, having just arrived from the overnight flight from Paris. Just so good to see family again. This time the room was lovely, and plenty of room for 10 cats !! The time in Singapore was spent ambling down Orchard Road window shopping - Tiffany's, Cartier, Gucci, Rolex - hence window shopping only. Lots of chatting and catching up and swapping travelling stories. That evening we went for dinner with mum and dad to where Pete and I had eaten 25+ years earlier - a traditional banana leaf curry. Back then, it was a eatery run by the civil service. These days it is known as Sammy's and famous for it's cuisine. The Xmas decorations and lights were all in place along Orchard and Scott's Roads, however they do not turn them on until 1st December so we missed seeing their spectacular colours at night.

Mum and I having our banana leaf curry at Sammy's

Pete and self in the foyer of the Royal Plaza on Scott's - Singapore
Again it was time to say goodbye but not so sad knowing I will be home in a couple of months. It was the trek back to JB exiting Singapore and re entering Malaysia - the passport could fill very quickly this way. We were setting sail the following day with the Sail Malaysia Rally so there were last minute things to be done on board. A final gala dinner that evening starting with drinks overlooking the marina, then a fantastic meal in the Convention Centre next door.

             Karen (Tropicali), Janice (Zoa) and self at the pre dinner drinks at Danga Bay Marina.

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