In China

Golden Prince Hotel, Jingan China
Room 3330

Hi Everyone,
  Our trip from Singapore was as smooth as could be.  Everything was on time except for a 30 minute traffic jam on the runway at the Budget Terminal at Changi Airport in Singapore.  Budget travel means that you pay for all of your food, but other than that I didn’t see any difference.  We sailed through customs and immigration in Macau and then at the Macau border with China.  It was a bit tricky communicating with the taxi driver in Zhuhai as Randal and I never thought to bring a card for our hotel in Jingan.  This seems so much like home that we didn’t think we needed any "help" to get around.  But our driver was game and only flinched for a second when Randal jumped out at a red light to go to the ATM.  We hadn’t been able to make ourselves understood that we needed a bank.  But since I stayed in the taxi and pointed, he caught on quickly.  Lucky for us.
  We were greeted by new and old friends at the Golden Prince Hotel in Jingan.  Our room is very comfortable with a super flat screen TV, small fridge, electric kettle and lots of room.  It even has a second quilt to either put over us or under us since Chinese beds are very firm.
   We weren’t sure what the weather would feel like to us.   But as I type this in our room on Randal’s computer, I’m sitting by an open window while wearing a sleeveless shirt.  I do have on long jeans and socks and I wore my Red Sox hoodie outside.  If it doesn’t get colder, then in some ways the weather is quite a perfect change from our constant sun and heat.  It’s probably somewhere in the mid-60s but we’re used to mid to high 80s.
  Tonight we’re having dinner with friends Bill and Stella and our young friend Singkey and her parents.  Other evenings will be spent with BoBo and Zoey and families.  It’s a real treat to see our Chinese friends again.  We email, but meeting again here in China creates more wonderful memories. 
  I’ll take lots of photos but will have to wait to I’m at my computer to send them
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness," according to Mark Twain.  But it seems to be a cure-all for whatever had been ailing Randal on Rebak Island.  He’s definitely back to his perky self.

  So that’s it for now.


On our way to China

Hi Everyone,

  Randal and I have eaten our way around Singapore.  Luckily we did lots of walking too.  We have our visas for China and will be on our way tomorrow at 9:35 am.

  Last night we had dinner with friends Lang and Douglas and this afternoon we had lunch and then dessert with our friend Marie Louise.  I am definitely full. 

   The weather in Singapore was just lovely in the low to mid 80s and some breeze.  China will definitely be colder.  Somewhere between 40 and 60 I think.

    We’ll visit our boatyard friends and Jingan friends.  Maybe we can remember a few words in Chinese!

  I’ll take lots of photos but won’t be able to send any in emails until I get back to my own computer.  Sorry.

   Randal is much much better now.  The Singapore cure!  Too much to see and do here to be sick.  Yesterday we went to the Singapore Art Museum and today to the Asian Civilization Museum.  Now we’re tired and will rest up for tomorrow which Will be a long day.  Our flight isn’t so very long: we will arrive in Macau at 1:15 pm.  Then we’ll take a taxi to the border, cross over to China and then catch a taxi to Jingan.  Hopefully we’ll be there by 5 or 6 pm. 

  So that’s it for now from Singapore.


Our Plans

Hi Everyone,

I haven’t been writing because we really haven’t been doing much of anything. Randal got some kind of “bug?” about 10 days ago and he can’t seem to shake it. We did make a trip to the Langkawi Hospital and were directed to the Emergency Department where they take you for all initial problems if you just walk in. And even though Randal’s temp was high that morning on the boat, at the hospital his temperature, blood pressure and blood work read normal. Other than Malaria we’re really not sure what they tested him for. And the doctor kept all of the paperwork and we didn’t even think to get a copy. The doctor prescribed Paracetamol for 2 days and said to come back if the fever persisted. Well, the fever went away but not the fatigue. Randal has taken the emailed advice from medical friends to rest and drink fluids. But whatever it is, it’s taking its own sweet time of leaving. Since I haven’t gotten it and friends who visited on the boat didn’t get it, I’m guessing whatever it is, it’s not contagious.

To go to the doctor you have to take the Rebak Ferry and then hire a taxi. That’s not a real problem except if you’re feeling bad, a ferry ride isn’t so fun. It certainly is an incentive for staying as healthy as you can when you travel. It isn’t always possible to hop in the car and go to the doctor’s office or a nearby clinic. The Langkawi Doctor did seem interested and caring and with no real symptoms, what could he do to treat a total stranger? He told us to come back if the fever persisted and we could have gone back any time. Randal just got up every morning expecting to feel his old self. Hopefully a change of scene will help.

We will be changing our scenery starting Sunday. The boat will remain in Rebak. Randal and I are flying to Singapore on the 24th, then to Macau on the 28th. China is our real destination. We’re going to visit boat yard friends and Jingan friends. Travel to China requires a visa and we hope to get one in Singapore. If necessary we can get a visa when we get to Macau. From Macau we can go through customs and then actually just walk across to Gongbei China and catch a taxi or bus to Jingan. Our return flight from Macau back to Singapore is February 8th and from Singapore to Langkawi February 10th. Weather in Macau and Zhuhai should be between 40 and 60 degrees. That will probably seem freezing to us so we’re bringing wool sweaters and hats and lots of layers. I’m hoping it will actually feel like a nice break from the heat.

I’m not taking my computer so won’t be able to send photos until we return to the boat.

Hope all is well with all of you.



Dinghy Ride to Dinner

Hi Everyone,

  We seem to have been going non-stop since we returned from George Town (where we also went non-stop.)  We did our Matsirat walk and we’ve been to Kuah Town, cooked dinner for friends a few times….just not any sit around and really relax time.  Today we are because Randal woke during the night with a fever and early this morning it registered about 101.4.  It is down since then but we are taking today off and reading and watching TV and that’s about it.  I did do a laundry, but that’s no big deal. 

  We have booked our tickets for our January trip to China.  We leave Rebak on the 24th when our Malaysia visa expires and fly to Singapore.  On the 28th we’ll fly from Singapore to Macau.  In Macau we’ll get a visa for China.  We’ll spend about a week and then come back to Rebak.  We’ll visit our boat yard friends and hopefully BoBo and Zoey and Singkey, three lovely young ladies who are now in university but will be back home for Chinese New Year.  I will have to find our "cold weather" clothes because China will be lots colder than Malaysia and damp if I remember correctly. 

  We have had a few little adventures with our dinghy.  Here are those stories and also a bit about the boat of our friend Alan Martienssen whom we met in Santubong on P and E’s boat for dinner.  Alan splits his time between cruising and his veterinary practice back in England.  If Randal had been really sick I would have called Alan because an animal doctor is still a doctor!  in a way, Alan and his boat Zebedee are responsible for our dinghy adventures.

Dinghy Ride to Dinner

Our new friends Alan and Pauline on Zebedee were coming into Rebak Marina Sunday and needed a bit of help. Zebedee is a true sailing ship for she has no engines of any kind to power her or the dinghy. Normally that seems to work for Alan. But getting into the marina and into position at the travel lift to be pulled from the water proposed a bit of a challenge. We put our dinghy into the water and motored out to tow them in. However, because the water was calm and the wind nonexistent, Alan and Pauline actually only needed our help as lookout while Alan, standing near the stern of the boat, used a giant rowing oar called a yuloh* to human power Zebedee along. Only at the very end did he need our help to take his bow line close enough to the travel lift docking area for the workers to pull the boat into place. It was all so calm and simple compared to the process that we went through back at Batu Maung. Of course there we were dealing with wind, tide and current and here the area is much protected and the winds were almost dead calm.

*The Chinese yuloh is a blade-heavy oar, often made of two or three straight pieces set at an angle so the blade curves down into the water.

I told Alan it reminded me of cartoon pictures of a clam leg….


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Boat Name: ZEBEDEE
Type/Rig/Power: Sailing Dory
LOA: 34 ft. 0 in.
Beam: 11 ft. 0 in.
Home Port: Sailing from BC to England via Panama (This didn’t happen because you need an engine to go through on your own power or an expensive tow. Alan traveled around South American instead. At least, I think that’s what he told us at dinner last night.)
Designer Name: Jay Benford
Builder Name: Hugh Campbell
Launching Date: 2000-07-26
Jay Benford designed this 34’x11’ sailing dory. Hugh Campbell of Winard Wood Ltd, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada built it for Alan Martienssen of Newark, England. Launched in July 2000, it was named ZEBEDEE after a British Cartoon character. Canal

And, because we had put our dinghy into the water to help Zebedee, we could say yes when later in the day Julia asked us if we wanted to dinghy over to the main island for dinner that night. We’d leave at 4:30 for an early dinner which would allow us to return to Rebak before dark.


Our dinghy parked behind Dora Mac.

We can carry 4 adults fairly comfortably for short distances or 2 adults and 2 bicycles which we did while at Redang Island.

Six of us went off for dinner: Julia and Jim from Papillon, Gloria and Willie from Linger Longer, and Randal and me; each couple with our own dinghy. Julia had called ahead to make sure the restaurant would be open since Sundays can be iffy about openings. She was assured that they would be open and ready to serve when we arrived.

The water was calm and the trip actually quite nice. Randal said it took about 5 minutes and was about a mile from the marina. I think it took longer than that and felt farther, but probably not.


Dinghy parking.

The gate from the dock was locked so we all had to climb over.

The restaurant looked closed: there were no cars and no people to be seen. However, when we actually walked inside the small complex there was staff to take our orders and bring the food. Maybe we were just way, way too early compared to when locals eat. In late December, Julia and Jim had been to a special buffet with arranged ferry service included and said the food and wine were quite good and it was she who had called ahead and organized our trip. Early Sunday night we had the place to ourselves.


It is an informal rustic looking place like you’d see on Cape Cod or other tourist places along the shore.


We arrived about 4:45pm and left about 6: 30pm and no one else came during that entire time.


We all started with something called money bags, little fried packets of chopped pork and other things. Quite good.


They are called money bags because they’re shaped like a tiny money bag. You select your own wine as the menu suggests so Julia went off to the wine room to get a bottle. She knows a bit about wine and says they have a good selection at a reasonable price. Randal had beer but I stuck to water only not wanting to mix alcohol with a dinghy ride home. I had a slightly fritzy stomach…left over from too much salad for lunch. Too bad, because the menu had lots of tempting choices.

The ladies all ordered grilled Barramundi, a mild white estuary fish tasting not so different from flounder to me. It came with a spicy Thai dipping sauce and white rice. Willie had a green curry version. Randal had spaghetti with shrimp and Jim had a couple of meat dishes, the hotter the better for him though one bite of something made him cough and changed the sound of his voice for a minute or two. Dishes came when they came so Randal was finished with his and Jim half way finished when our fish arrived. But there was plenty of fish so Randal helped me eat mine. If we go again I’ll try something more adventuresome. The adventure, company and setting get an A. The food/price for it get a B- but other choices I think would be tempting. I’d go again.


Time to leave.

You can see that it’s still pretty light out. It actually stays light till about 7:30 but we wanted to be on the safe side with the speeding fishing boats and even the Rebak ferry possibly crossing our paths. Unlike our big boat, the dinghy’s only light comes from a hand held flashlight.


Shooting into the sun.

The marina is around the point of the island on the right. We would go between it and the tiny island in the center of the photo. The trip back seemed to take no time.

Monday, we actually had to go all the way to the Port Langkasua ferry terminal to tow a stranded dinghy back to Rebak. It’s a long story, but the short version is this. Jen and Pete whom we know just a bit had bought a new dinghy and a new motor. The new motor was on their boat in Rebak but it had never been test driven. Their new dinghy was on the mainland now ready to be driven back to Rebak. To be on the safe side, Pete and Jen had borrowed Kathy and Peter’s well used dinghy motor to drive the new dinghy back to Rebak. Unfortunately, dinghy motors being temperamental, Peter and Kathy’s motor wouldn’t start for Pet and Jen. Since Kathy and Peter were busy on the main island doing chores, Randal volunteered us to tow the new dinghy back to Rebak. It takes the high speed Rebak ferry about 10 to 15 minutes. Amazingly it didn’t take our small dinghy so much longer with the mild wind and current pushing us along. Randal and Pete towed the new dinghy back and Jen and I took the big Rebak ferry. A happy ending. So from not using our dinghy for a very long time, we seem to be using it quite a bit lately. Randal gave me my first dinghy driving lesson in the marina. He is reluctant to teach me, but I really think I need to learn though it’s harder than it looks. For me it will take a bit of getting used to. We’ll see how that all goes.

Walk to Matsirat

Hi Everyone,

  Randal and I spent 3 days in George Town visiting friends and seeing the sights.  Our original reason for going was to get a 2 month visa for Thailand.  But as plans do, ours changed and we will probably skip Thailand for now and instead make a trip to China to see friends. Thailand will wait for another time.  No matter where, we do have to go somewhere before the end of the month because our Malaysia visa will expire.  We’ll keep you posted. 

  Today Randal and I joined our friends Peter and Kathy of Wave Runner and Julia from Papillon for a walk into Matsirat the first small town on the mainland.  Matsirat has many small shops, a wet market, a fairly large grocery store and the petrol station where everyone fills up their rental cars with 10 ringgits of gas.    We know the main driving route to Matsirat but not the back way and I wanted to learn that route.  Peter and Kathy know the way so they kindly agreed to go show us.  Here’s the story.  It does point out that much of what we do isn’t glamorous sight seeing but just day to day needs that become an adventure.

Walk to Matsirat

“Padang Matsirat is a quiet location off the Langkawi International Airport. The beach here is very peaceful and the waters are usually calm and inviting. The airport is the only point of major activity in this area, but if you want more excitement, Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah are located close-by.

Historically, Padang Matsirat was once a wide range of paddy fields that were set on fire by villagers during the Siamese invasion in 1821. They torched the fields to prevent the Siamese army from getting their hands on them. If you’re really observant, you might still find a piece of burnt grain on the ground today, almost two centuries later.

So that’s pretty much it about Matsirat. But we didn’t go there this morning for the history. We walked there for the exercise and to go to the local vegetable market. Kathy and Peter from Wave Runner knew the way through the fields and back roads. I had wanted to learn the way and Julia, my morning walking partner, said she would use it for her morning exercise. Randal came too. We caught the 8:45 am ferry from Rebak because it was still early enough to avoid real heat and not so early that Peter wouldn’t want to go.

After getting off the ferry Kathy had to feed the ferry terminal cats.

clip_image001The cats are very friendly, fairly healthy looking and always want attention while we wait for the ferry back to Rebak.


Peter and Julia start off down the road.


Then you follow the small dirt path through the field or paddock as the Aussies and Brits call it. Kathy has her red “sunbrella.”

clip_image004Then down another road. It’s actually a lovely walk that took us about 30 minutes or so.


Main Street Matsirat is lined with small shops and restaurants.

In town we went our separate ways; Kathy and Peter to the big grocery store PL Soon Huat and Julia, Randal and I to the small local wet market for veggies.


Main Street Mosque

We had walked by enough roti stands to make us hungry so stopped here for our mid-morning snack


Restoran Nazir Idris was opened in 1946 by the current owner’s grandfather.


Matsirat Roti Man.

I had a plain roti, Randal had an egg roti, but daring Julia had an egg, onion, and chicken roti known as a Murtabak here in Malaysia. It was so huge that Randal and I “had” to help Julia eat it.  It was really flavorful!


Apparently this is the place to eat if you want to hob knob with the highest government officials and have your photo on the restaurant walls. Reminds me of the old “Green Diner” in New Bedford and “The Roanoker” in Roanoke.


Maybe if we get this photo framed it will go onto the wall too.

While we were at the restaurant we met a lovely retired gentleman who lived with his family in Johor. We sat and talked with him for a while but I managed not to get a photo. He also was traveling with his wife and children and his sister and told me that he wanted to give them an opportunity to travel that he had not had as a child. We talked about how that’s the universal role of a parent. (He was in the restaurant by himself at that point so we didn’t meet his family.)

Our next stop was the wet market and I bought tomatoes, limes and onions.


Going home from the wet market.

Julia stayed in town and was joined by her husband Jim. A boat part was needed so he had to come to town and rent a car for a trip into Kuah Town. They went on their way and Randal and I walked back to the ferry.


A good deal of the land seems to be devoted to water buffalo and other bovines.


Sometimes the cows stay in their pastures and sometimes they stroll along the road to the ferry. I took this photo a week ago but during our walk today some cows were just exiting their pasture and getting ready to go for a stroll.

Randal and I missed the 11:15 ferry so sat at the small ferry terminal bar and had iced drinks while we waited for the 12:30 ferry. The terminal consists of some really comfortable shaded seating near the ferry landing and a small bar across the way with more outdoor seating. It’s really just a stop for people coming and going from Rebak. And so ended our walk to Matsirat.