Monday, 12 March 2012

Melaka Straits to Langkawi December 2011 - January 2012

Melaka, an historical town we visited a 2 1/2 hr bus ride from Johor Bahru (southern Malaysia)  has interesting Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese history.
Melaka was one of the busiest ports in the world but has long since silted up, so we can no longer get keel boats up the river.

Entrance to Melaka River
Dudley in an old Dutch Church

The Dutch introduced these bricks (made of well burned clay) during their reign in Melaka. The Dutch era was from 1641 until the early British era in 1800 .Just walking around the place there are remanants of the past with bricks from the Spanish era, Portuguese era and so on. We also walked past an archaeological site which is only now being uncovered.

Lady selling her 'art' in the street

traditional old boat we had a look on

Typical malay long house

After 3 weeks in Johor Bahru it came time to move on. We stopped every day going through the melaka straits. It took us 16 days to get to Langkawi, the duty free island in north Malaysia ( the islands of Thailand are a mere four miles away!).
On the way to Langkawi we stopped at a few offshore islands including Pangkor.
What heaven it was to come here and be greeted by the most beautiful virgin rainforest we'd seen in a long time. The bird sounds were heavenly compared with incessant Muslim whining over the loud speakers in the villages, if you linger for long enough in the water the most amazing sight will behold you.. oh look at the monkeys crashing through the jungle, hear them calling each other as they reach from branch to branch! Up high the hornbills ans beautiful eagles soar above the rainforest as a plane passes by, probably on its way to Thailand.

The beautiful birds are all flying around and then just as the sun sets, they settle down for the night and you feel yourself getting goosebumps as you've been sitting in the water for it must be an hour just watching...
At night we went ashore to a resort where you can see the hornbills up close.for is left for them,they are cool colourful birds. We also explored inside the forest. There were concrete bungalows long forgotten, whichvthe forest reclaimed. Trees were growingvup through the floors, vines had found their way through the walls and big trees had also come crashing down on them.the bungalows we noticed the boxing around the concrete had never been removed which shows just how long they knew it was going to last.. and the steel reinforcing was far to close to the exterior concrete piles thus they were all rusting and concrete was crumbling l, this is common with all buildings we have seen so far on Malaysia.
on our way up the melaka straits we anchored just off melaka and bought a new dinghy (we traded our old one for a speargun) which has higher freeboard and is more stable than our old one. We kayaked the mile into shore and an hour later kayaked back out excitedly trailing our new dinghy behind. Although we hardly had to kayak, the current we fierce so we just ensured we were hearing in the right direction with our rudders.
Penang was another island off the coast off Malaysia,  connected by a 13 km long bridge, there appears to always be a traffic jam on it, there are also car ferries that come and go all day and finish about 10pm. We anchored off Georgetown in the ' junk anchorage ' where the Malay fishing/ cargo boats anchor. The currents were strong through there but we were well stuck in the mud. When we pulled the anchor up five days later there were used nappies, t-shirts and sacks that all had to be removed from the anchor!! Georgetown was founded 200 years ago and the city has some impressive collection of historic buildings representing penang's various ethnicities: Chinese,  Indian,  Arabs, Malays,  Achelnese, Siamese,  Burmese and Europeans. We went on a few rainforest walks. One was to a monkey beach where they were tablesucking tiger beer!!
walking around the sights of Penang

Alcoholic monkey doing the table suck after he spilt beer

Is there any beer left??

And we just generally walked around soaking up the atmosphere ( there were many preparations underway for chinese new year, decorations going up everywhere..)the bustling city.  I nearly got run over!
So far we have been in Langkawi 10 days, there are many islands to explore. We went to " lake of the pregnant maiden " legend tells childless maidens that venture into the lake will conceive thereafter, all due to some elf lady who married an earthly prince, gave birth to a baby who died 9 days later, the baby got buried on the lake then the elf blessed the waters. Depending on which tourist brochure you read...luckily I came out unscathed!

Lake of the pregnant maiden

There has also been many caves and waterfalls to explore as well as the stunning view from a skycar up a gondola of telaga harbour where Baikal was anchored.

On the Skywalk up the gondola

Steep drop off makes for a fun ride!!

Looking down from the skycab on the beautiful forest

Baikal anchored at Telaga Harbour, Langkawi

We had a wonderful day with debbie and Greg who came out sailing with us, we explored a cave with crept crawlies in it, managed to sail, I think they brought the wind with them, coz we haven't sailed much round these parts. Was intersting to note people who went in the cave after us had wetsuits, lifejackets and slk had torches whereas Debbie was barefoot and 6 months pregnant with no torch! Good on ya!

We ended the great day with cocktails and a scrumptious dinner on the beach watching the sun go down.

 went for a steep walk in the jungle to a great view and met some Chinese people who were walking and drinking beer on the way up! they offered us one at the top which was nice of them

steep climb to the top

Next stop THAILAND!!!

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