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November 1 - Danga Bay, Malaysia

Easy trip up to Danga Bay, although our engine is running hot. Dave thinks it may be as simple as a low coolant level. We arrived at Danga Bay too late to clear in, but no worries, immigration came the next morning. Danga Bay is a new marina, and they have been scrambling the last few weeks to get docks, cleats, power and water in. Shoreside amenities are slim (there's a urinal inside the men's shower for multitasking), but several restaurants, shopping nearby, and the marina is doing backflips to arrange clearance, water fuel, laundry, propane, and all the other yachtie needs. Plus the moorage is free for the rally boats! Pretty nice. It's no One 15 Marina, but everything we need is here. It's fun to catch up with many boats we haven't seen for awhile, and meet new ones. Chris and Lyn on Melika are making a cover for our dinghy.

The rally arranged a terrific multi-course meal last night in the Danga Bay Convention Center, complete with mercifully short speeches and traditional dancing. They also put on a briefing on how to make our way up the tricky Malacca Strait, with coordinates for safe anchorages and advice on staying clear of the heaviest shipping lanes in the world, and unlit fish nets. They also provided a lot of info on food shopping in Malaysia, and on cultural hints to help us not offend the conservative Muslims.

Last night we experienced our 2nd Sumatra, the local bad wind. It comes up late in the day or at night with little warning, and blasts 30-40 knots for an hour or so, with monsoon rain, pretty exciting. We are hoping the new dock cleats hold. The river current picks up during the rainfall whooshing past our hull, and we bounce a bit at the dock.

Halloween comes to Malaysia.

Dave dishes out candy to costumed kids.

The state of Johor hosts an excellent tour.

Newly constructed state capitol.

Drummers welcome us to lunch.

Dave gets a lesson and buys a drum.

We visit the south-eastern tip of continental Asia.

And come home to a rat aboard.

November 2 - Not always paradise

Last night we talked to 2 couples who were part of 7 yachts shaken down by a corrupt official in Northern Indonesia. The man drove up to boats underway, showed a rusty machine gun, and demanded money, oil or booze. Several boats complied, but one handed him her cell phone and told him Indonesia police would like a word with him. He thrust the phone back and screamed away. The same boat got good photos of him and his boat, and reported him to authorities. This is the sole incident of its kind this year, so is not a pattern, but reminds us to stay alert.

Back aboard I opened a locker and found several food packages ripped open by rodent teeth. Ick! We have never had a rat aboard before and will set traps today.

November 7 - Heading north again

Tomorrow we will complete port clearance from Danga Bay, and head north into the dreaded Malacca Strait - famous for its history of piracy. By all accounts it is pretty tame these days, so long as you hug the Malaysia side. We plan to sail overnight to Port Dickson, where we may have a slip arranged at Admiral Marina. They warn construction is ongoing. They may not have room for us, or if they do, there will be no electricity. By now we understand flexibility, so whatever happens will work out.

Meanwhile Ratatouille has chewed his way through 3 food lockers, sampling a few bites from each package before moving on. He has destroyed dozens of packages of dry goods and tetra bricks of juices. Twice he has left evidence in sticky pads, designed to trap rodents. Dave nailed aluminum sheeting over all the openings into the food lockers. This is the first time we've had a rat aboard, perhaps because for a long time we had Opal, our cat, along.

November 12 - Opal

Our much loved calico Opal has passed away. Joel selected her in Florida in 1990. Since then she crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans with us. She was a great boat cat and a great companion to our family. Her last years were spent with Joel and Nina, comfortably retired from the cruising life. We mourn her passing.

November 13 - Melaka

With reports of horrid weather in the straits, Baraka stayed tied in the marina at Danga Bay while we took a bus north 3 hours to Melaka. The bus was great - air con, big comfy seats, and cheap at 19 ringgit - about $6. We stayed 3 nights in an old Peranakan house, now a museum with a tiny guesthouse/cafe in the old servants quarters. The 5th generation owner is the descendent of the original builder, a rubber plantation owner who immigrated from China and married a Malay wife. The opulent mansion contains original furnishings showing stunning wealth. The mixed-race children of such a coupling are called "baba" if male, or "nyonya" if female. Delicious Nyonya cuisine is one happy result, a melding of Chinese and Malay.

We crawled the Jonkers Walk, Chinatown shops and restaurants, and explored the historic city. Colorful trik-shaws carry tourists around town. The rally hosted a tour and dinner, both unimpressive, but Melaka was great. A highlight was an excellent tour of the Cheng Ho Museum. Jeff, our tour guide, was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Cheng Ho was the eastern Christopher Columbus, who sailed from China in seven voyages around SE Asia, and reaching as far as Somalia. He reached Melaka in 1405, and visited here on 6 of his 7 voyages. The museum is on the site of his warehouse, where supplies were stored for re-provisioning.

Melaka is packed with history. Because of its strategic position on the strait, it was a trade center. In turns the Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, English and Japanese controlled it. Fun visit to a fascinating city.

We stay at charming Cafe 1511 in Melaka.

Our room is above the Nyonya restaurant.

We are right in old Chinatown...

...filled with Buddhist Temples.

Jonker street is lined with shops.

Muslim policewomen and friends pose for us.

Linda poses with a python.

Dave and I pose in a fancy trikshaw.

Jeff, our expert guide at the Cheng Ho Museum.

Jeff was our personal guide through the excellent Cheng Ho Museum. He was most knowledgeable, and his enthusiam for the exhibits made our visit both informative and fun.

Ornate Melaka temples...

...each more highly decorated than the last.

November 16 - Port Klang

A favorable weather window opened. We untied from Danga Bay and headed north. The good conditions lasted until late afternoon, when a horrendous squall hit. In the sheeting rain, I couldn't even see the bow. I had already rolled up the jib, and scandalized the main, as the wind gusted into the low 30s. Lightning flashed and boomed around us.

Our rat appeared! I spotted him clinging to the jibsheet, 5 feet above the deck, trying to jump ship. I flicked the sheet, but an unlucky roll of the boat dropped him back on deck, and he ducked out of sight. Dang!

The conditions improved, and we carried on overnight. We stayed inside the main shipping lanes, in the secondary lanes used by tugs with barges. In the morning we received a text message from Tin Soldier, underway from Port Dickson to a new marina near Port Klang. What new marina??? Dave called them back and got the scoop - an unfinished marina that allows boats to stop, up a river just south of the main Port Klang river. We headed in, grabbed a slip and had a restful night.

This morning we moved the boat to another slip that has a working power outlet. With the engine on, the rat reappeared on deck, trying to jump ship. He clearly was sick, lethargic from the poison he had eaten, so we finished the job. Baraka is rat-free! This has been a particularly stressful episode. Besides destroying a lot of food, he chewed at least one wire, the plastic bucket handle, and high on the Ewww Scale, ate the lips of Dave's dive regulator!

We may stay here several days, taking a train into Kuala Lumpur to see the big city.

November 19 - Kuala Lumpur

Sazli, of Sail Malaysia, kindly arranged a bus to ferry 16 cruisers from the isolated Marina Pulau Indah into the big city of Kuala Lumpur. Cost RT was 50 ringgit per person, about $18. The bus promptly picked us up at 7am. We went directly to the base of the famous Petrosa Twin Towers, hoping to score a ticket to visit the skybridge, but arrived too late. By 8:30 the day's ticket allotment was gone. Marilyn of Tin Soldier was pick-pocketed there the day before, so we carried cash and cards under our clothing.

With Charelle, we headed to the impressive Islamic Arts Museum to gawk at gorgeous tiles, textiles, weapons and jewelry, a fantastic collection beautifully displayed. The gift shop had a small volume on how to be a good Islamic wife. Interesting. To our western eyes, Muslim women appear repressed and unattractive, with a headscarf covering face and neck, and modest dress, and usually in company with either a husband or other women. In KL, we saw more women in full heavy black burkka, including face covering, accompanied by a husband in comfortable western t-shirt and shorts. They may equally pity us, and see us as unhappy and discontent. I'd like very much to get to know a Muslim woman and learn more.

We wandered to Petaling Street, crammed with Chinese stalls selling everything, including knock-off brand-ware, then found quiet Old China Cafe for a good lunch. In the Central Market, Dave enjoyed a "fish massage". For 5 ringgit, 10 minutes, he stuck his bare feet into a tank swarming with small black fish. They nibbled his feet, presumably eating away all the dead skin. He said it was ticklish rather than painful.

At the Islamic Arts Museum, this lacey stone screen hid the women in a mosque.

Several ornate tile domes crowned the roof.

Beautiful tile mosaic at the museum.

Christmas at the mall in a Muslim country.

Dave enjoys a fish massage.

Or maybe the fish enjoy Dave.

November 23 - Pangkor Marina

Marina Pulau Indah emptied out as the yachties headed north. We stayed another day to fix an outbreak of boat problems. Dave spent a few hours at the workbench fabricating a plug to fit into the weird 50 amp outlets here at the dock, so we could run the A/C at night (bliss!). Our 110 watt inverter, which we use to charge or run our American appliances, has been slowly dying, so Dave swapped it out for a replacement we've been carrying. And the primary GPS had failed, sending garbled sentences. After a day of debugging, Dave wired in a replacement which is working. He enjoys doing a post mortem on the dead parts, finding the fault, often corrosion or overheating.

Day before yesterday we timed the tricky tidal-river current and successfully got away from the dock. We motored up the Port Klang Strait - the busiest shipping port in Malaysia, and anchored just north of Palau Angsa, next to Priscilla, under the lighthouse in flat water. Nothing forecast. After a pleasant cockpit dinner we slept with one eye open. Sure enough, the daily squall hit at 4 am. We tried to stay at anchor until daylight, me standing anchor watch, but the swells built until one wave tossed Dave out of our bunk onto the floor. Time to go! We pulled the anchor and bashed north. In a few hours the winds died. Motoring along, Dave noticed the transmission running warm - 220 degrees on the case. We stopped and bobbed while he drained, then added transmission oil, then carried on, arriving at Pangkor Marina by nightfall. 20 friends caught our lines and welcomed us, nice!

Pangkor has a spanking new marina, this one well run by James Khoo. We were lucky to get in today, the marina had been full with a race boat regatta until this morning. James met and welcomed us, and may be able to find a transmission mechanic to take a look at our problem. We will stay here at least 4 nights. James is offering a discounted rate to the Sail Malaysia yachts, including 3 nights free. The marina is nice - well built and secure. We normally enjoy anchoring, but with the squally NW monsoon season on us, it is very nice to be tied to a dock.

Dave fabricates a power plug to fit the odd 50 amp sockets at Marina Pulau Indah, from some scraps of plexiglass and bolts.

We sail by busy shipping Port Klang...

...To anchor at Angsa Lighthouse.

November 24 - Transmission work

Muthu the mechanic came by and confirmed that our transmission is running hot. Likely culprit is a clogged heat exchanger. Dave is stripping the engine hoses and alternator to gain access to the heat exchanger. The mechanic will return, remove it and take it away to be flushed out.

We had a couple warning signs - a new weird hot oil smell in the bilges (the oil was cooking black), and the transmission stiff to shift when the engine is hot, like when we are docking, yikes. Our friend Jim recently had to rebuild his transmission, so I'm glad we are addressing this now and not waiting for catastrophic failure.

Yesterday we were given a bus tour to a marine shipbuilding school - big fancy facility with excellent equipment and 1000 students. A shipyard foremen told us despite the obvious investment, he still hires Philipinos and Pakistanis as technicians and laborers, as they have the experience and expertise.

We confess that we don't understand Malaysia's economy. The government is pouring massive investment into infrastructure, housing, roads, schools. Construction is everywhere, though there are many nearly-completed empty structures. One government program is building out data com infrastructure to remote areas, to ensure all can ride the information highway.

Labor is heavily imported from other countries, apparently at a cheaper rate than Malays will work for. There is no minimum wage here. People are definitely more affluent than their neighbors in Indonesia, with a large middle class.

Two cafe workers we met were from Myanmar (Burma). They are paid 800 ringgit a month, less than $300, most of which is sent home to family. They work 12 hours a day, with one day off every 2 weeks on a five-year contract. The business owner claimed they were from an extremely poor village and happy to have the job. The two young women just said they were tired, and hoped to break out of their contract next year, and go home.

There is a definite racial divide, with the 70% majority Malays holding political power, and receiving the plum government and military jobs, while Chinese businessmen own much of the commercial power. Malaysia's petroleum giant, Petrosas, is the 3rd largest oil-producer in the world. The government controls the press, interesting in the age of the borderless internet.

Pink vans give the rally a tour of Pangkor Island...

...visiting a Buddhist temple...

...and a fish processing plant...

...where ladies gut and sort fish.

Pangkor is known for its dried and stinky fish...

...and traditional (no nails) boat building.

November 29 - Georgetown, Penang

With the engine still in pieces, we decided to catch a bus north to Penang to attend some of the rally events, leaving the boat tied up at Pangkor Marina. Together with Charelle, Independent Freedom and Priscilla, we arranged taxis to the Lumut bus terminal. 4 hours later we caught the ferry from Butterworth to Georgetown on Penang Island, an easy trip.

We checked into Segara Ninda for 1 night. This is a 100-year-old house was the residence of Ku Din Ku Meh, a governor of a district north of here that is today part of Thailand. The restored home is now a guesthouse, rooms rented out by the original owner's grandson.

We caught up with the rally bunch for tours of a shipyard and the fascinating Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. The latter is a 130 year-old-house belonging to the wealthiest man in Penang, who started out as a water seller on the streets, became banker and merchant, and had 8 wives. He left the home to #7, his favorite, but the fortune dwindled away until she rented out rooms and hallways, and the place was trashed. 20 years ago the old mansion was bought and restored, and today is a guesthouse and museum, receiving Unesco Heritage status. The ornate decorations are all meaningful to the superstitious Chinese - from lucky bats in relief, to coins and other symbols of wealth and security. Numbers are also auspicious. We especially like the friezes, full of figures, people, animals, made from the colorful shards of glazed bowls expressly made for the purpose.

Dave and I checked into another restored mansion, the Yeng Keng, for 3 more nights, giving us more time to explore Georgetown. Today we walked to Fort Cornwallis and the Penang State Museum for a dose of history, then dug into a hawker meal of chicken rice. Georgetown was and is a crossroads of many cultures, and the delicious (and cheap) food is a happy result. It's fun to walk around the congested streets of this crumbling old city, and poke into tiny shops.

In Georgetown we stay at this charming 100-year-old guesthouse...

...then move into the upscale Yeng Keng.

We can't afford the classic Eastern and Oriental.

Banana treats in the market.

We get an excellent tour of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion...

...beautifully restored...

...with broken-pottery friezes.

We visit historic Fort Cornwallis...

...where a trishaw awaits customers.

Dave finds the local trishaw builder...

...a new one is ready.

Every street has an inviting temple.

In Little India the Hindu temples are wildly garish...

...with chubby cartoonish figures...

Chinese temples seem more restrained though equally ornate.

Tanjour City Marina at Georgetown.

Ferries run every 7 minutes to Butterworth on the mainland.

December 4 - Back in Pangkor

Loved our getaway to Georgetown, Penang! Wandering the backstreets Dave found the man who builds trishaws, and I had a delightful hour in a Chinese teashop, enjoying tea served by a personable young woman who told me about tea, Penang Chinese customs, and helped me pick out a beautiful teaset and some tea good for reducing chloresterol.

We caught the bus back to Lumut, then a taxi to Pangkor Marina. Muthu reported the wrong parts were shipped, so he is coming this morning with the right ones, and will reinstall our heat exchanger. Dave has some more work, reinstalling the engine parts he had to remove for access. We hope to be on our way north tomorrow if all goes well.

Baraka and Charelle in the nearly empty Pangkor Marina.

December 6 - Dead in the Water at Penang

Dave reinstalled all the engine bits, and everything checked out. We untied from Pangkor Marina this morning and had a long day's motor sail in easy conditions to Jerejak, an inlet on the SE side on Penang Island. Coming in, Dave took the engine out of gear to glide by fishnets, and found he could not put it back in forward! We ghosted in to the anchorage on a breathe of wind, and anchored under sail, using a 1 1/2 knot current to lay out the chain. Dave could put the engine into reverse to set the hook, so we are snugged in well in a protected anchorage. We don't know what the problem is, or what it will take to fix it.

We are in a lucky spot. Pen Marine, a capable yard, is just a few miles away. We will know more tomorrow...

Stuff happens, even when, or especially when, cruising! We were just one day from completing this year's long cruising season, when we would have arrived tomorrow at Langkawi. Now we have no idea when we will get there!

December 9 - Transmission woes

2 mechanics from Pen Marine arrived by launch yesterday. By then Dave had determined the transmission failure is due to a catastrophic leak on the seal connecting to the engine. When he refills the transmission fluid, it floods out, and we only have gears working very momentarily. Solution is to have the boat towed to the travelift, haul the boat, disconnect the shaft, disconnect the engine from the bed, pull the engine forward and remove the transmission. We likely will be in the yard a full week, assuming the parts are readily available. This failure is probably related to our overheating problem with the clogged heat exchanger, but did not manifest for another day.

Pen Marine's travelift is a mere 2 miles away. We have to be hauled out at high tide, around 3 pm today. Discouraging setback.

December 10 - Hard in the Yard

The yard couldn't tow us, no suitable boat available and the minimum tug fee would have been $800 for the two miles! So Dave and I waited for slack water. We drove the dinghy down to the yard with a handheld GPS and depth sounder, and determined we had enough water under our keel to move the boat. Back at Baraka, we laced the dunghy to the big boat, off the starboard stern quarter. When the current, which runs like a river, slowed down, we upped anchor, put the dinghy outboard in gear, and used it to push Baraka to the yard. Once we had way, we could use the big boat's runner for steerage. With no wind or current running, the dinghy could push us at 3 knots. We anchored in 10 feet at the yard, just 200 feet from the travelift dock. Jim on Cardea and Bob on Sisutl we on hand to pull a line from our bow. The yard workboat hindered a bit, ramming us once, but we managed to pull ourselves in at high tide. Yard workers held big foam sheets in place to keep us off the rough cement. Once positioned, the travelift picked us up without incident, and we are now braced up in the yard.

It's a dirty yard, with a resident pack of unhealthy-looking dogs that like to lick our salty legs, ick. But we are safely here. Nerve-wracking day, moving our boat here. Now the hard work can start.

We lace the dinghy to Baraka to push up to the yard...

..where we are lifted for repairs.

December 12 - Yard work

We are steadily making progress, though it feels like we are going backwards. Since we are awaiting parts (transmission seals from Australia, should arrive by Thursday), and we have already paid for the expensive haulout, we are taking advantage of the time to do additional maintenance.

The yard men got the transmission out, 145 pounds of trouble. They had to pretzel themselves into our bilge to reach all the bolts and hoses. I think they had former careers as circus contortionists. We used the main halyard to winch it down to the ground. The foreman pointed to a seal, bulged out of place, that was our leakage culprit.

We are dropping the anchor and chain onto a pallet today, to have them re-galvanized. We rented a section of scaffolding, and I am scaping the finish off the teak cap rail, then will sand and paint the hull stripe and polish the hull. Dave is cleaning the now-exposed bilges, and replacing a couple sticking thru-hull valves.

We are calling around trying to locate a stock of bottom paint. One source in Langkawi has the best price so far - still over $300/gallon and we have to rent a car to fetch it. I can’t imagine drinking a wine that expensive, but we will slop 3-4 gallons of vintage Micron Extra onto our bottomside.

We had considered moving off the boat while it is torn apart, but are spending so much money that we will endure staying aboard.

December 19 - Christmas week in the yard

Every day we make progress, but have no launch date. We are awaiting small parts for the transmission, which then needs to be rebuilt and reinstalled. Dave then has several days of work to put the engine back together, as parts had to be removed to get the transmission out. My hull projects are looking good - hullstripe, bootstripe, teak stripping, cleaning and waxing. Time to start on the bottomside. We will need a 2 meter tide to launch, another consideration.

Things could be worse. Jim on Cardea has a rat aboard that is daily getting bolder, munching on the kitchen counter while he sits just a few feet away. Dave raises the drawbridge at night, pulling our ladder up. Hopefully we won’t get another rat, though several other boats in the yard have had them. We are still finding damage from our rat, gone now, but his legacy includes chewed paintbrushes and holes in my latex gloves.

December 21 - Progress!

The final transmission parts arrived yesterday, and the mechanics reassembled and tested it. Today they brought it by forklift, and Dave winched the 145-pound monster aboard. A crew of three spent the day reinstalling it while Dave and I painted 2 coats of bottom paint on the hull and ourselves. At over $300 a gallon, every drip that falls to the ground is painful. The re-galvanized anchor chain showed up, and I remembered how to do the chain-to-rode spice Uncle Carson taught me. Dave still has a lot of re-assembly to do around the engine, including rescue of the primary bilge pump that got pulled underneath out of reach. Tomorrow I will paint one more coat on the bottomside, then paint the 5 fathom marks on the anchor chain and winch it aboard. We have our fingers crossed for a Thursday launch - on the afternoon 2 meter tide. The yard is closed over Christmas so we are playing Beat the Clock. Dave bashed his head, big oozy goose egg lump on his forehead, then caught a bug that had him shivering with fever overnight, but is much recovered today. Things are definitely coming together. It will be pure heaven to escape from the yard by Christmas, and it’s looking good.

December 23 - Escape from the yard

Yippee! Today we made it through the launch checklist of 20 tasks (Dave is the Master Listmaker), paid the yard bill, got picked up in the travelift sling for final painting under the supports, and splashed! The mechanic came aboard and worked with Dave to check out the transmission. Everything looked good, so we backed out of the slipway and did donuts for awhile to check out the gears, and check for leaks. All good.

We motored 2 miles north to the Jerejak anchorage, where we set the hook and began stowing away all the tools, waxes, paints, thinners, etc. we’d been using. The boat topsides is crusty with yard dirt, but it feels terrific to be afloat again after 2 weeks. In retrospect, our yard experience was positive - excellent mechanics and reasonable prices. I used the time to paint boot stripe and side stripe, redo the boat name lettering, and wax the hull, and Dave took the opportunity to service some sticking thru-hulls, as well as paint the bilges and re-plumb the watermaker. We are exhausted, feeling our age a bit after working nonstop for 2 weeks. Baraka is whole again, a very good feeling. Tomorrow we sail north 70 miles to Langkawi, planning to anchor in the fjord, then Christmas day arrive at Rebak.

December 25 - Rebak Marina - Langkawi

Merry Christmas! This is a special one for us - bittersweet because we are so far away from our loved ones. Yesterday we sailed north from Jerejak anchorage at Penang, the rebuilt transmission humming a happy tune. We had a great sail, arriving at the gorgeous fjord anchorage late afternoon. We enjoyed a fine cockpit dinner and a quiet night. This morning Dave and I surprised each other with a few small gifts. Santa had a little trouble making it this far.

We upped anchor and motored through pretty steep-to islets. Coming around the corner we found cruise ships and jet skis! Civilization. A short dogleg, and we were in Rebak Marina, tied to a quiet dock, finally at rest after a long journey, up and around Australia, across the length of Indonesia, to Singapore and up the length of Malaysia. Except for our transmission woes, it has been a good year. We started the year hiking on the south island of New Zealand, enjoyed the company of Nate from Darwin to Bali, participated in 2 cruising rallies, visited orangutans in the wild, and got to experience a number of new cultures.

Now we will park the boat, and maybe do some land travel adventures. My website updates will trickle off a bit unless there is something to report.

New Years 2011 at Rebak

Life at Rebak is good. We are getting the boat back to normal after our sojourn in the yard. Rebak Marina is on a small island just off Langkawi in NW Malaysia. There is a resort here with a pool that is chilled rather than heated in this climate. There is a yachtie bar with good food and cheap drinks, showers and laundry, and a small fitness room. Definitely not 4-star, but quite nice by Malay standards, and the yacht basin is very well protected. Ashore is a nice walking trail that runs by the old resort ruins, structures wiped out by the Boxing Day Tsunami. There are macaque monkeys here, fantastic hornbills, and monitor lizards. We stick to the paths to avoid the pythons and spitting cobras in the jungle.

There’s a free foot-passenger (no cars on Rebak) ferry to Langkawi, where Mr. Din will rent you a car for 40 ringgit ($13), no license, insurance or paperwork. On Friday mornings the “veggie man” meets the 8:45 ferry and offers fresh fruits and veg, meats and dairy.

Dave and I are slowly working down the long list of boat projects. It is very nice to be parked for awhile.

January 8 - Cousin Chris

Today we met Mr. Din at the Rebak ferry, splurging on a 50 ringgit car with A/C. We drove into Kuah on a scavanger hunt, finding treasures at a dozen tiny shops, engine oil, paint supplies, a hard-to-find woodruff key, blue cheese, coffee beans, sesame seeds. We located bacon and cheddar cheese, dried apples and apricots, and enjoyed lunch at a German cafe. Heady with success, we headed to the airport in time to meet Cousin Chris, who flew in from Seattle with a huge bag of goodies for us. Chris will be with us a week, hopefully time enough to give her a sampling of the cruising life and of Malaysia.

Chris arrives in Malaysia...

..and quickly adjusts.

Life is good...

..and getting better at the Rebak pool bar.

January 16 - Telaga Harbor

Fun week with Cousin Chris!

We love having visitors, especially family. After a couple days hanging out at the pool bar at Rebak, Chris and I decided to fly to Penang for a night at the Yeng Keng. We caught the morning ferry, then the flight, and were in Georgetown by 11 am. Lunch at the Eastern and Orient, Sarkies Bar, a tour of the Blue Mansion, a foot massage given by blind people, a banana leaf dinner in Little India, we managed to fill our day. The next morning we shopped a bit, then hopped the plane back to Langkawi, ferried to Rebak, then drove the boat over to Telaga Harbor so we could spend Chris’s last days there. We got a Mr. Din car delivered to Telaga, then took a cable car to the highest point on Langkawi for spectacular views. Dave reassured me the cable cars and elevated walk were built by German engineers, but the ride was breath-taking in more than one way.

Yesterday we did a flurry of provisioning, buying coffee, cheeses, wine, beer and other goodies that we hear are cheaper here than in Thailand. Last night we took Chris to the airport for her long flights home. We’ll miss her - my family are my best friends!

Today we will head back to Rebak for one more week, then clear out of Malaysia for Thailand before our visas expire January 26.

We visit Georgetown, Penang...

... and explore a Chinese temple.

Dinner at a Little India banana leaf restaurant.

After 25 ringgit foot massages by the blind.

Chris treats us to a cable car ride high above Langkawi.

The skybridge hangs over steep canyons.

Far below Telaga Marina is protected by manmade "eyebrow" islets.

Delicious lunch at the Padi restaurant.

Water buffalo are still used.

Provisioning at the Warehouse.

Dave dresses for Chinese New Years.

Click here for our earlier Singapore journal.

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