December 2015 - Malaysia to Thailand

1 December 2015   Telaga Harbour, Langkawi
We picked up the scooters as soon as the marina office opened and our first stop was at the petrol station where we only put one litre of petrol in each bike, but the tanks were half full.

It was Craig’s first time riding a motor scooter, so he was a little cautious at first, but soon got the hang of it and was grinning like a Cheshire Cat all day.

We wandered our way across the island and up the 12 kilometre long road, which climbs to the top of Mount Raya - the highest peak on Langkawi.  There’s a viewing tower at the top which charges a nominal fee and has a nice view of the island.

The road is very steep in places, so we were at full throttle all the way up, which used up most of our petrol.  Petrol is only £0.30 per litre, so God knows why we didn't just fill up.  Anyway, rather than risk running out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, we free-wheeled down, which was fun.

View down to Telaga Anchorage

After filling up with petrol, we stopped off at a small Warung and had lunch for £0.80 each.  We then visited the Langkawi Craft Complex, which was surprisingly good.  It was air-conditioned and had lots of shops selling crafts including carvings, clothes and Batik paintings.  We were so impressed by one artist that we bought a small painting of Clownfish, which looks beautiful when it’s back-lit.  In addition to all the stalls, there were a couple of exhibitions and a museum on Malaysian weddings, which was interesting.

In the evening, we went to a restaurant in the marina, which was over-priced and not very good.

2 December 2015   Telaga Harbour  to Rebak Marina, Langkawi
After breakfast, we landed the dinghy on the beach and walked to the Langkawi cable car.  This is one of the major attractions on the island goes up to the second highest peak on the island.  We’d heard that there are long queues to get tickets and then to get onto the cable car, so we were there before nine o’clock and managed to avoid any queuing at all.  They let us through before the official start time of 09:30 and we went up with the workers.

There’s a good view at the top and an impressive “Sky Bridge”, which is a marvel of engineering, being a curved bridge, suspended on a single vertical beam.  Back at sea level, we wandered around the “Oriental Village” watching tourists and eating a few snacks, but soon got bored of that. 

Craig and Kristen go back to the UK tomorrow, so after lunch on Alba, we motored over to Rebak Marina and chilled out by the pool for the rest of the afternoon.

3 December 2015   Rebak Marina, Langkawi
Craig and Kristen went to pool, then we had an early lunch and put them on the 12:45 ferry.  It's been great to have them aboard, but the stay was far too short and the boat seems empty without them.

In the afternoon, we caught up on a few jobs.  I transferred the deposit for our Myanmar holiday out to the tour agent.  I had to transfer the money to a Thailand bank because the USA and Europe still have economic sanctions on Myanmar.  We are travelling back to the UK in May, mostly to attend our son Brett’s wedding, so I booked the flights from Kuala Lumpur to UK.  

In the evening, we went to the bar for dinner again - my waist line is noticeably expanding with all these burgers and pizzas.

4 December 2015   Rebak Marina to Telaga Harbour, Langkawi
Goran and Pia from “Catrine” came around for a short visit.  We last saw them in Cuba in 2012. Goran is carpenter and works for a company that lays teak decks in Finland, so he came to have a look at our deck.

Catching the Rebak Ferry to the Airport

He thinks that it’s not too bad at the moment, but it’s getting thin and if I try to sand it to get it looking good, then the caulking will start to come loose and I’ll expose more screws.  He says that there are some planks that will need replacing and thinks that a small area of the teak deck has become unstuck on the starboard side near the gas locker.  After some discussion, the consensus was that I would be better off replacing the teak on the main deck and the coach-roof, but the cockpit and aft coach-roof are in good condition. 

Later in the morning, we checked out of the marina and motored back to Telaga.  Paul and Susie from “Firefly” anchored close to us and came over for a chat. They’ve been on the Sail Malaysia Rally and the fleet is now arriving in Langkawi, so we’ll see more friends over the next few days, which is probably not good news for my liver.

5 December 2015   Telaga Harbour, Langkawi
We had fairly lazy day and pottered about.   Glenys did odd domestic jobs on her sewing machine and I did some more forward planning to work out what we will do for the next year.  

I chatted to Phil on “Southern Wing” and they had a good time in Sumatra last spring, so we’re thinking of doing the same.  It’s only 250 miles away and the islands on the west coast are supposed to be good with clear water for diving and snorkelling.

So the plan is as follows:

Jan-Feb Thailand with land trip to Myanmar
Mar-Apr West coast of Sumatra (Indonesia)
May-Jun South-west Malaysia with 4 week trip to UK
Jul-Sep East Malaysia Peninsula
Oct-Nov Thailand - Haul out and deck replacement
Dec Thailand/Langkawi
2017 Sri Lanka to South Africa

This all seems to fit in with the seasons here.  We’ll be in Sumatra during the North-east monsoon, then down to south Malaysia during the transition period and on the east coast of Malaysia for the south-west monsoon. 

Red Herring arrived in the late afternoon, so Graham, Karen and their daughter Joanna came over for a few beers.  It was good to catch up on the last three months.

6 December 2015   Telaga Harbour, Langkawi
It was another hot day.  Glenys repaired the awning and I looked at the engine.  After 30 minutes of investigation, I can’t see where the leak is coming from, but I think that the heat exchanger pressure cap is faulty and is dumping water into the engine bilge.  I’m not completely sure because a few days ago, there was coolant dripping off the oil filter and that’s a long way from the pressure cap outlet pipe.  Anyway, I’ve cleaned up the pressure cap seal and the lip on the heat exchanger, so we’ll see what happens.

David and Katrina on "Laragh" arrived, so we went over in the evening along with “Red Herring”.  We had a mega music session, playing until nearly midnight.  I suspect that their neighbours weren’t well pleased because we got very rowdy and loud.

7 December 2015   Telaga Harbour, Langkawi
We hired a car for the day and went shopping.  We drove into Kuah first and I tried to find a new pressure cap for the engine, but no joy.  However, we did manage to find some courtesy flags; top up our 3G data and get some Thai money.   We stopped off at the Langkawi Parade shopping mall, which is okay, if a bit old fashioned.  There’s a small food court where we had a pleasant, substantial Malaysian meal for just over £1 for the two of us.

We called in at the Song Haut supermarkets and loaded up three trolleys with food, soft drinks and duty free booze.  It’s quite ridiculous how cheap liquor is.  They sell a 3 litre box of gin for just under £6 - just like a wine box with a tap.  We’d didn't buy one because having gin “on tap” can’t be good for one’s liver.  On the way back, we called in at Sailors’ again and the nice lady gave us two freshly baked mince pies.

Catching Coolant

It took Glenys a couple of hours to stow everything away, but we've now got enough food to last a month and enough liquor to last a year!  We’re planning to leave for Thailand at the weekend - we don’t want to get there too early because we only get a 30 day visa and we’re not flying to Myanmar until the 11th January.

“Southern Wing” came over for few beers - they are heading off to Thailand in a couple of days’ time, but we’ll probably catch up with them soon and we’re probably going to be in the same anchorage as them for Christmas.

After dinner, we had our mince pies and listened to Christmas carols - it’s time to get in the Christmas mood.   We’re planning to spend Christmas Day with “Laragh”, so I need to do some preparation and be ready to play a few Christmas songs.  

8 December 2015   Telaga Harbour, Langkawi
It was a miserable rainy day, so I attempted to upgrade Glenys’ laptop from Windows 8.1 (which I hate) to Windows 10.  The upgrade relies on being on-line with the ability to download update files bigger than 3GB from the internet.  That’s all well and good if you have an unlimited, fibre-optic, broadband connection, but if you are operating on a 3G mobile connection it just doesn't work.  I tried various ways of doing it off-line, but to cut a long story short, it looks like I’ll have to do it when I next get a good internet connection.  I wish I hadn't bothered - I wasted 5 hours of my life.

Feeling depressed, I had another look at the engine.  I attached a temporary pipe to the pressure cap outlet and fed it into a plastic bottle, then ran the engine for ½ hour.  This was resoundingly successful because there was no water in the engine bilge and about 50ml of coolant in the bottle proving that the radiator cap is at fault.  We’re not losing a lot of coolant, so we’ll be all right getting up to Thailand, which is only 120 miles away and I’ll get a proper Volvo pressure cap there.

We had a quiet night in.  I spent most of the evening, downloading the lyrics and chords for various Christmas songs & carols and putting them into a word document.  One of the problems with finding guitar music on the internet that much of it is someone’s interpretation of the song and they’re not always correct, so I try to make sure that they’re correct by listening to the actual recording.  I've downloaded chords and lyrics for 48 songs, so I’ll be busy until Christmas.