Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Langkawi and beyond

After returning to Langkawi from Penang, we had booked into Rebak Marina for a week, located on Rebak island just off the mainland and next to a resort. The marina itself had been described as ‘muggy and buggy’, however we didn’t find it too bad. Being attached to the resort, we had full use of the resort amenities, the main one we used being the pool. Around 4.00pm each afternoon, most rally participants would congregate at the pool, some staying on for happy hour, others just to cool off from the heat. We met up with Sandip, the GM of the resort as we had been informed that he had spent some years on Nauru and was keen to speak with me. We were his guests one evening at the lighting of the Xmas tree, carol singing by his staff (Malaysian style), mulled wine and finger food – it was a great night. He also invited us to breakfast the following morning with his wife and as well as discussing my childhood memories, spent a lot of time talking with Pete about the ins and outs of hotel management.

Enjoying a drink at sunset before our final gala dinner - Langkawi
We had a day tour arranged with the rally to Langkawi island were we took in a fish processing factory where they sit on the floor and all processing is done by hand, oh the smell !! Then it was  on to a couple of cultural museums, and late afternoon after an hour of free time where a group of us enjoyed a drink on the beach before sunset, our final gala dinner. It marked the end of Sail Malaysia and rallies for us for a while. We had all come together for the day from different marinas and anchorages around Langkawi, so now it was time to say goodbye to many we knew we would not see again. However, quite a few boats plan to stay in and around these waters for the season before making their way to South Africa, then U.K and U.S.A or even eventually back to Oz, so we will cross paths for a while yet. Another day we hired a cafe and headed up to the Langkawi Cable Car. It is apparently the steepest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere and I was ever so glad to get my feet back on terra firma at the end of the circuit. The view was amazing even though it was a hazy day. 
Pete at the Cable Car ride - looking relaxed

Great view from the top - if you like heights !!

Langkawi Skywalk - unfortunately closed for maintenance

Steepest cable car in the southern hemisphere

Leaving Rebak marina, we headed for Kuah harbour – Kuah being our place for clearing out of Malaysia. We anchored in the harbour for a couple of days to provision and fuel before starting the departure process. Kuah harbour is a large busy bay with a big ferry terminal servicing the mainland as well as other nearby islands. There were many yachts and boats anchored there, a hive of activity day and night. Kuah was a good size town with hardware stores, supermarkets and many duty free shops - Langkawi being a duty free island. Slabs of Carlsberg beer were equivalent to AUS$10 as were bottles of Jim Beam bourbon or Bombay Saphire Gin. Where we tied up the tender to go ashore, we found a small stall that made Roti bread with egg - served with chilli sauce. Who would have thought it would make such a good breakfast but it served us each morning while we were there. 

Heading away from Kuah harbour, we meandered up the east side of Langkawi to our first nights anchorage at the 'Hole in the wall'. Once through the entrance of sheer cliff faces on either side, it opened into a larger lagoon flanked with mangroves.There was a fish farm with restaurants attached offering moorings, but we opted to drop our own anchor. It was a lovely peaceful spot for the night. That was our last night in Malaysia - tomorrow we would be in Thailand waters. 

Coming through the entrance at the 'Hole in the Wall' anchorage

One of our next stops was the small island of Ko Muk and will go down as one of the best ever. A lovely little sheltered bay, white sandy beach and a small restaurant built at one end up on the rocks. We went ashore there to watch the sunset over a Singha beer, then had our first Thai meal. Wow - it was amazing and we had been hanging out for Green Chicken Curry and Pad Thai. Ko Muk is also known for its Emerald Caves. You can take a kayak in or swim through the entrance of the cave which we did. At first the darkness was so intense you can not see in front of your face. The guide books all said to take a torch - we forgot.  Thankfully it was only a mere 40 meters and it opens into a sandy beach and amphitheatre surrounded with vegetation. Quite spectacular.

Me sitting on the beach inside the Emerald Cave - Ko Muk

A rather narrow entrance to the cave
Our first Thai meal from the rock top at Ko Muk

The anchorage at Ko Muk - Kittani in the distance

Sunset from the restaurant

Patterns in the sand made by the tiniest of crabs

Next day saw us arrive at Ko Phi Phi. We had been there before years ago with the kids so opted to go around to the quieter side of the island. We had also heard via email that other boats had been robbed whilst ashore in the main bay. Taken were computer, iPads, iPod and phones. Leaves a sour taste in your mouth and makes you all the more security conscious. Next day it was a short hop across to Ao Chalong Bay in Phuket - our place for clearing in to Thailand,  

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