Archive for the “George Town” Category
Tanjong City Marina
We left Puteri Harbour Marina on November 28th early in the morning and have traveled every day anchoring each night. Our Kiwi friends Kathy and Peter on Wave Runner have been our traveling mates. They’re also heading to Langkawi for December. We’ve known them for years now since we first met at our last stop in Indonesia in October 2008.
It has been an interesting passage with calm fast days, rolling days, long days, storms, fishing nets, faulty fuel level gages, and off-key karaoke till 2 am. We’ve had to regain our sea legs and relearn all of the things we did so routinely. But it is like riding a bike, you never really forget. Our meals are basic with boiled eggs, tomato, and cucumber for lunch and vegetable soup for dinner. We nibble on plain crackers all during the day. I had made a pot of what was to have been chicken - vegetable soup the day before we set off. But, unfortunately, when I opened the 3 packages of chicken breast I’d bought in JUSCO the day before, they all smelled so strongly of rotten eggs there was no doubt that they were bad. So a can of chopped up turkey spam went into the soup instead. By the end of a cruising day we’re tired rather than hungry so soup is just the thing and easy to re-warm.
On our third day about half way to our anchorage off Port Dixon, something about the way the engine sounded wasn’t right. Then there was no sound at all, which is the worst possible sound there can be while you’re cruising along. Luckily for us we had passed the small fishing boats and their flag markers, we were in deep water, the sea was calm, there was lots of visibility and best of all Wave Runner was coming along about a mile back in case we had a real problem. Randal checked a few things and then decided that our fuel gage was off and we were out of fuel in our cruising tank. He immediately started pumping fuel from a holding tank into the cruising tank and the lovely sound of a working engine was soon reaching my ears up on the fly-bridge where I was keeping watch and staying in contact with Wave Runner who had called when they noticed we’d stopped moving. Our fuel gage had tricked us once before, amazingly then too, on our way to Port Dixon. Randal says it’s totally coincidental, there’s no possible mathematical or mechanical explanation and I’m an idiot for thinking otherwise. And no, we won’t go into the discussion that led to that last statement! Randal denies that he said I was an idiot. He said that no one in the entire universe could possible look at it the way I did = idiot to me. Anyway, the fuel problem was fixed and we anchored pretty peacefully that night.
It poured early the next morning but luckily quit before we had to pull up anchor. However, the seas were rolling making Randal seasick so I drove most of the day. Good practice for me though I do get nervous and eat too many crackers. Randal was better by mid-day and he negotiated the channel up the river at Port Klang to our anchorage. We’d anchored there once before and though storms were around us we’d had a calm, quiet night. Not this time! At 3 am we were moving the boat while 35 mile winds from a Sumatra blew us towards Wave Runner. Our anchor had begun to drag and we didn’t want to chance getting too close so I put on my rain jacked and went out on the bow as Randal pulled up our anchor ( we do it mechanically, not manually.) It was my job to let him know when the anchor was out of the water. Then it was my job to tell him how much chain we had put out when we dropped it again. About 10 minutes after I had come in and changed into dry clothes we realized we were still dragging so we did it all over again. This time it held. Then I dried off and went back to sleep. Randal sleeps in the pilot house when we’re at anchor so he can check on things like our anchor dragging. This is what I wrote in my journal about the following day; “I was really tired all day today and it was a long 70 mile day. But I’d fed Randal some Stugeron (seasick prevention pills) so he didn’t get sick and we made great time arriving at our anchorage at 5:45pm. We’d left Port Klang at daylight at 6:45 am.” As we were cruising along a small flock of what I’m guessing are terns started following closely behind. At first we thought they mistook us for a fishing trawler because with our Paravane arms out we look like one. Since we had no fish dragging behind us I thought they’d take us for really bad fishermen. But what we soon realized was that our propeller was churning up the water and bringing tiny fish close to the surface and the birds were diving for them. They followed us quite a while and then just flew away.
Thankfully our night’s anchorage on Burnham River lived up to the rave reviews we’d given Wave Runner. (Of course we’d raved about the Port Klang anchorage too!) It was calm and quiet and we had Internet access through our DiGi 3G phone.
Pankor Island, our next stop was more rolly and noisy than we had remembered from a previous visit. We’d had a slow, long, and bumpy day against the current which had made a short mileage day long. Then the anchorage was rolling and we had to listen to bad karaoke from the resort on the island. It wasn’t so ear splittingly loud though so I could sleep through most of it. Every now and then someone with a really good voice would sing a ballad in the local language and that was quite lovely to hear. But rare. Most of it was just bad, loud singing. And there was NO INTERNET RECEPTION though the cell tower on the Island gave a strong DiGi signal; it wasn’t the 3G kind. I think Randal hates the absence of the Internet as much as I hate the Red Sox losing.
Our last day to George Town would also be a 70 miler so we left very early. Again we had swells that hit us from the side and made for rolling seas but nothing horrible. At one point we put out the foresail and not only picked up a bit of speed, but it acted as a stabilizer. When the wind stopped and we had to take it down, I pulled the furling line and Randal held the sheet and that seems to work much better than the other way round when I held the sheet. It was our first sailing experience that I actually enjoyed. Usually I don’t like to mess with the sail but it proved to make a difference so I might want to do it again.
After a long day we anchored along the road to George Town. That sounds funny, but that’s where we were and if we could have taken our dinghy to shore we would have been at the Queensbay Mall. We did know not to anchor next to the small homey looking restaurant down the road because karaoke booms from there from 9pm till about 2am. We had learned that the hard way our first trip.
Sunday we pulled up anchor and cruised to George Town. Wave Runner had started out earlier than we so could warn us of the fishing nets blocking the channel you follow to go under the bridge between George Town and Butterworth. But a small fishing boat was there to guide our boats trough the passage not blocked by nets. When we finally arrived at the marina our George Town friends, Jane and Roger from WingsnStrings were there to catch our lines. Then it was time to plug in and relax, at least for a short time. Then it was off to Queensbay mall by bus for a few things and then later out to dinner at our favorite Woodlands Restaurant in Little India with Peter and Kathy. Today it was real chore day. I went to the wet market for veggies and chicken. It’s amazing that chicken bought out on the street from the “chicken man” is more reliable than that bought at the JUSCO supermarket. Or maybe not so amazing. Then I stopped at the wonderful pharmacy here in George Town and stocked up on Stugeron, Amoxicillin. I also bought one of those stretchy knee supports because my sciatic back is hurting and it makes my knee hurt. I wore it home from the pharmacy and wished I’d bought one for the other knee too and for my whole body. Then this afternoon it rained on my almost dry laundry while I was being good and doing a second set of back exercises. Tonight we’re going for dinner with Jane and Roger. Then tomorrow very early we’re going to finish the last leg to Rebak Marina off Langkawi Island where we’ll get DoraMac (and us) shipshape for our passage across the Indian Ocean towards the Middle East.
I’ll finish with a few photos from home. I grew up in New Bedford and it’s always one of our stops when we go to New England. We really go to see our friends Har and Dick and Bruce and Jean and Jean’s sister Eileen and her husband Bill. I’ve known Har and Bruce since I was 3 and this year we’ll all be 60!
New Bedford Public Library
Can’t seem to find the date it was built but it was remodeled in the early 1900s.
A dead whale or a stove boat.
This statue has been there since I was in high school and probably way before that. We have this engraved on our high school rings and you have to read Moby Dick to graduate. At least my class had to read it though I for one never finished it.
This is a new statue of Lewis Temple and who invented the swivel head harpoon and vastly revolutionized whaling. Lewis Temple was African American and his contribution has only now been recognized.
New Bedford fishing piers.
I grew up not learning how to sail and not liking most fish except the non-kosher kind like clams, lobster and shrimp. Now I like all kinds of fish, especially the Spanish mackerel Randal caught in Indonesia.
Historic New Bedford in the Fall
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We are waiting until the current calms down so we can safely cruise away from the marina. That should be in about an hour. Our passage today is only 20 miles so we should be anchoring by lunch time.
Last week we had a potluck dinner and then spent an enjoyably frustrating evening playing Patrick’s board game "Tuvalu! Tuvalu!" which is actually a real place 2,000 miles north of New Zealand. None of the Roanoke Valley homework reports seemed to have covered the island so I had certainly never heard of it. I asked Patrick to write up a description of the game which truly is his creation. And since Patrick is British all of the spelling reflects that.
“I signed up with VSO (a non-government version of the Peace Corps) in 1985 and was posted to a crop development project on Vaitupu Island, Tuvalu, in October. There I met Elizabeth, who was teaching at the national secondary school. My project was badly flawed from the beginning and needed a lot of modifications to get it to work at all. And because most of the supplies had to come from the UK (since it was paid for by UK aid) there was up to an 18 month delay in getting the necessary equipment. In practice the project was about 6 weeks of work spread thinly over 2 years. I got very bored.”
Beth and her son were the game winners. But then she was a test pilot, taught at Annapolis and was a candidate for the astronaut program! Beth, her husband and 3 children live on a boat that is now at the yard at Batu Maung while they stay in an apartment in town. Their land home is in Pennsylvania. The 3 children are “boat schooled.” The two oldest children are in college, one at Annapolis and one at the Air Force Academy.
“The original idea of the game was to explain how frustrating it was to be marooned on an outer island, at the mercy of the (unreliable and unpredictable) ship. I also tried to build in the idea of being reliant on (unreliable and unpredictable) colleagues based elsewhere. My immediate boss, Neil, was based in Vaitupu and was terrific. (We are still firm friends, and Neil and his Tuvaluan wife Nafiata from Nanumaga have stayed with us on the boat several times.) But we had lots of problems with civil service bureaucrats in both Funafuti (the capital island, some 70 miles away) and Fiji.
The TV series "Yes Minister" was (and is) a firm favourite. In the series, civil servants are awarded ‘brownie points’ for meritorious service. (In the UK there are Boy Scouts, but if you join the scouting movement before (say) the age of 11 then you are a Cub. The equivalents for girls are the Girl Guides and the Brownies.) The aim of the game is to amass sufficient Brownie Points (the target usually arbitrarily set at 400) to earn a Ticket Out Of Tuvalu (TOOT). Meanwhile, inevitable illnesses and a creeping sense of futility tends to sap any original enthusiasm, which is measured by the Enthusiasm Quotient. At the start of the game, every player starts with an Enthusiasm Quotient of 200. A player with no enthusiasm and no Brownie Points is known as a zero rater and is doomed.”
Matt was minus hundreds of enthusiasm points and had lots of paperwork that never seemed to go away.
“Players are given aid projects to complete on one or more of the outer islands. To complete the project they must get themselves and their cargo to the island, and then await the return of the ship. Sometimes the ship returns almost instantly, sometimes it doesn’t return at all. The ship’s moves are based on every player’s throw of two dice, but schedules are determined by ’spinners’ on the board that are a bit wonky. (The spinners are made from the lid of a sterile syringe case, plasticine, a small galvanised bolt and a drawing pin. They are not very well balanced.) Cheating is commonplace and part of the game. The ship is also affected by ‘Shipping Reports’, which detail the latest breakdown or unexpected diversion. Sometimes the ship breaks down so thoroughly that is has to go to Fiji for repairs. Sometimes a ship from Kiribati is chartered for a couple of voyages. On one occasion we had no ship call at Vaitupu for three months, so the game doesn’t exaggerate too outrageously.”
Patrick explaining the rules, Elizabeth in the blue shirt and tan trousers, Beth and her son Paying Attention.
Matt and Yai not paying attention.
We had met Matt and Yai in Sebana Cove. It is really nice to get to revisit with friends so good-byes aren’t as hard as they might be.
“Every anecdote referred to in the game was based on fact, although sometimes a bit of hyperbole crept in. I started Tuvalu! Tuvalu! in 1986 and finished it in mid 1987. Since then we’ve played it with friends perhaps once or twice a year. I haven’t changed anything since 1987, although there are lots of things that could be improved. The probabilities were not worked out accurately enough and there are scores of anecdotes that could be added. But enough is probably enough. A friend of a friend in Fiji produced a commercial version of the game called ‘Paradise’ that apparently sold in small numbers, but I’ve never seen a copy.”
“Sometimes, like last week, (when we played here at the marina) the game works quite well, everyone gets the idea and at least seems to be having a good time. Very occasionally we play with someone who doesn’t like to lose and who has a hard team dealing with the idea that if the ship doesn’t co-operate, then they are going to be stuck on some obscure atoll whilst a rival gets the TOOT and triumphs. Another technique is to abandon any hope of winning, and instead to remain on the capital Funafuti amassing powerful cards with which the careers of others can be demolished. Yes, that actually happened too, or at least that’s how it seemed to us.”
Roger had played the game in the past. He decided to hang out at the “hotel” and to cheat too. His way of dealing with the “rules of the game.”
Patrick looking perplexed and Randal looking way beyond perplexed. Luckily we had Beth’s older son on our team. He seemed to pay attention better.
“In 1997 we first went back to Tuvalu with Labarque. To our amazement there was a new concrete ‘fishing harbour’ built on Vaitupu. It was there because the Japanese government had promised to double the size of the school. To help get the necessary heavy machinery and concrete ashore through the reef passage, they’d built a temporary harbour from rocks in baskets. This they unwisely announced was a "Fishing Harbour, a Symbol of Friendship between Japan and Tuvalu". Shortly afterwards it was washed away in a storm. A Japanese TV crew arrived, filmed the wreckage and interviewed the locals. Face had to be saved, so a new "Symbol of Friendship" was built at a cost of AUS$6M, on an island with 1200 permanent residents. Labarque was the first yacht ever to use the harbour, and, three years later, the third. (The second was a Bahai missionary boat. The harbour is not big enough to accommodate the inter-island ship or the national patrol boat.) In 2006 we went back to Tuvalu again, but yachts are now banned from all the Outer Islands. As far as we know the Symbol of Friendship is still going strong.”
“Hope this helps you with your blog.”
Randal watches as Patrick explains something to Jurney. I’m not really sure how to spell his name but he was a very pleasant teenager.
The rest of Beth’s family. Patrick and Elizabeth had met them in Batu Maung in the boat yard. That was the same boat yard, Pen Marine where we’d spent our first visit to George Town. And also the home of Little Brown Dog.
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After a wonderful stay in George Town, Randal and I are actually pulling in our lines and moving along. We are retracing our way back south towards Sebana Cove. Aside from anything else, our newly overhauled bikes make a return to Sebana Cove something we’re both looking forward to because it was a great place to bike. Cyclon Cycle Ind. Sdn. Bhd (CGI) at 216 Lebuh Carnarvon did a great job fixing all the broken parts and Randal was quite impressed.
Today I made three trips into town and I think that was a record. The middle trip was the most interesting. I really liked a painting in the art museum called 39 Lebuh Kimberley. I went once before to find the actual building and found it but it certainly looked different. No one was around to ask. I returned today and met the owner who wasn’t familiar with the painting but he was very nice and invited me it to what is actually an antique shop. I then visited the Heritage Center and I very kind man pulled out books showing all of the streets and found the address. He seemed to think it was the same building. I write an email about it and you can decide.
Our very kind boat neighbor Shankar wanted to learn about baseball. He know about the Yankees but I’m making him a Sox fan. He is borrowing the dvd collection I have of the 2004 American League play off games until we return in December. I told him the games can go on for hours but he said cricket games, which being from India he plays, can go on for days! Shankar also VERY KINDLY dove into the jelly fish invested water and cleaned our prop. Randal insisted on paying him though Shankar was happy with the oatmeal cookies I had made. But they aren’t that great (yes they are actually) and the prop was quite yucky. I really wish we had gotten to know Shankar sooner because he seems a very charming and kind young man.
Anyway, here is a list of our stops that Randal created so you’ll know where we are going. I will try to send email along the way. I still have some photos from the Cameron Highlands and other stories from here in George Town.
We have planned our passage from Penang to Sebana Cove and will depart Wednesday morning, the 28th, around 9:30. Our stops will be as follows:
Day 1. Rimau Island
2. Pangkor Island
3. Bernum up the river mouth
4. Port Klang
5. Port Dickson Admiral Marina
6. Besar Island
7. Pinang Island
8. Puteri Harbor Marina
9. Sebana Cove
We’ll be making the trip in day hops from the shortest first day of 12 miles to the longest day of 70 miles. All of these are anchorages except Admiral and Puteri Harbor and Sebana Cove of course. We may stay longer than one night at Admiral and Puteri. There is no hurry to reach Sebana Cove.
Since we will be close to shore we can access the internet via our cell phone hook up so we’ll still be in touch.
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I’m having a hard time getting used to the heat again and miss the cool weather of the highlands. I can’t imagine what the people in Tanah Rata thought of my Red Sox "hoodie" but it was cool enough to wear it. Hoodie weather is perfect weather and I wish it would drift down from the mountains to us here at sea level.
We stopped at the Rose Centre, a strawberry farm, and a tea plantation illustrative of the wonderful fertility of the highlands. The wet markets had the most beautiful fruit and vegetables. Randal and I shared a snack of tempura vegetables from a market stall and later strawberries and cream at the strawberry farm. Here are the photos from the Rose Centre.
Cameron Highlands Rose Centre Kea Farms
Our half day tour began about 2 pm and ended about 6:30. We made 6 stop so it was a bit of a rush. I wish we had spent more time at the Rose Centre and less time other stops. There was only time to rush about taking photos and not really enough time to just stand and really look at the flowers. I think it was one of the loveliest botanical gardens I have seen with everything really well cared for and in bloom.
The roses were lovely and actually had fragrance.
Randal loves roses and planted them at all of his collision repair shops. He also planted 16 climbing rose bushes along our fence at Bridle Lane. Lots of work! I sort of prefer wild flowers.
Randal, Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.
There were hundreds of different types of flowers and plants
You felt out in the middle of the country; but we were just up above the town.
Everything goes up and there’s lots of terrace agriculture.
I took lots of photos in a very short time.
Walking back down to the shelter of the Centre before it rained.
More fairytale imagery. The red is a very “frightened” looking dragon.
He is pretty silly and tacky but kind of lovable.
A sign for the Rose Centre.
This completed puzzle was hanging on the wall of the small gift shop.
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We’re back from a really enjoyable visit to the Cameron Highlands. I already miss the 70 degree weather even with its rain.
Here’s the story, part 1.
Tanah Rata and The Cameron Highlands April 19th – April 21, 2010 Our mostly good time!
The Rose Center where we raced up to the highest garden for photos and then raced down before it stormed!
A favorite photo from the Rose Center.
The Boh Tea Plantation
It really was this beautiful .
Our cruising friends Claude and Danielle went off to the Cameron Highlands and came back with reports of cool weather and beautiful scenery. They recommended a local George Town tour company that offered transport to the highlands and a half-day tour, and a popular guest house in Tanah Rata where they had stayed. Well, we certainly agree that the weather was wonderfully cool and the scenery beautiful; but we opted for the regular bus to come home and switched accommodations for our second night.
The George Town tour company told us we’d be picked up at 6 am, the trip up to Tanah Rata would be about 4 and a half hours, and we would make a stop mid way for coffee. In reality, the van was 20 minutes late and already full so Randal had to sit in the far back seat and hold his backpack. I sat mid-van with my pack stuffed at my feet. We held our packs because the cargo area was already full with luggage belonging to the eight other passengers. About 30 minutes we stopped for gas and a pit stop for the driver. That was our only stop. The trip took 2 hours and 55 minutes because the driver drove like a maniac. He drove too fast, too close, and passed traffic going around curves with double solid white lines. No one complained; we just held on. Twenty minutes before we arrived at our guest house I thought I would be sick. Randal had felt sick much of the way and was still sick when we stopped. Apparently this insane driving is fairly common and our friends Patrick and Elizabeth theorize that the van drivers normally drive motorcycles. Motorcycles have no rules and most of them speed. Actually women do drive motorcycles sensibly so they should be hired as the van drivers!
I though the Fathers Guest House was sort of charming, but Randal was instantly put off by the fact that you have to take off your shoes to enter the office or small lounge. Removing shoes isn’t uncommon in many places, but here it was a bit unexpected. I guess too many hikers with muddy shoes had made too many messes in the past. He asked to see the room. I thought it very basic, but good enough. We would have our own bathroom and shower. We were shown the “demo” room on the front of the building, but were told we’d be in back. It passed the, “no second choice test” so I took off my shoes and went in to register for one night. We planned to stay in Tanah Rata for two nights but Randal had hopes of finding someplace else. Along with needing to see our passports, she asked for our ages and email. When I asked why our ages were needed, the staff person told me the government asked for it. Seemed to me a reasonable statistic needed for tourism. Our email was needed in case we left something behind. When I signed the register I did notice that we were 20 to 30 years older than most of the other guests. It was that kind of place where young Europeans or Aussies stayed while they traveled around SE Asia on tight budgets. It was $30 US which sounds like very little but usually gets you more. In Ubud on Bali we’d paid the same amount for a truly wonderful guest compound. Since our room wasn’t ready, we left our packs and headed to town for brunch. Breakfast had been at 5 am back on the boat. We found a “German – Swiss” restaurant with pictures of Geneva on the wall and a menu that included schnitzel and cheese so we ate lots of cheese, chunks or ham, and salad. I asked for some bread and we were given warm strawberry bread and butter. The man who lead us up to the second floor restaurant , unlocked the door, and did the cooking seemed very far removed from anything even remotely European. But he was very accommodating and it was all good. During our tour of the small town center of Tanah Rata we found two other possible places to stay.
We returned to the guest house and found that we had to stay in the demo room because other guests decided to stay longer so rooms in the back area weren’t available. The “demo room” had a few issues such as a pane of clear glass in the bathroom window facing the walkway and no curtain and a fitted sheet that fit a smaller bed. I finally took the “I Love NB” pin from my hat and pinned my corner of the sheet to the mattress. By morning, the rest had come undone and most of it was in the center of the bed. But the room was cool and quiet and we both slept well under two wool blankets. The guesthouse café served wonderful western eggs and toast with bacon and beans or fruit and yogurt all for a very reasonable price.
The large guest building. Ours is the middle door just behind Randal.
It was a lovely setting on the hill behind the town.
Our room was the 3rd set of doors and though the walls were thin, we heard no noise at all during the night. The couple next to us had a small boy and another couple had two children, but most guests were young backpackers in flip flops.
The back path down the hill to town. It was just a 10 minute walk
http://fathers.cameronhighlands.com/ is the website. I sort of liked it. If we had stayed a second night I would have asked them for better sheets and something to block the missing privacy pane on the bathroom window. It was clean and all of the other young guests were very pleasant and friendly. Dare I say we’re too used to our space and comfort to live like backpackers? When we travel, we don’t stay in fancy places by any means. We just don’t like to have to put our stuff on the floor because there’s no place to set anything down. And I guess we need to feel that there’s more between us and the world than glass French doors. But to be fair, it was clean, quiet and you felt your belongings were safe while you were away from the room. If I were 20 something, I’d want to stay there and meet the other travelers.
Next email our half-day tour of the Rose Center, Tea Plantation, Strawberry Farm and a few other stops too.
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Tomorrow Randal and I are going off for 3 or 4 nights to the Cameron Highlands where it will be a cool 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit.) Normal daytime temperature in George Town is between 88 and 91. Too hot! The Cameron Highlands are a 4 hour van drive south east of George Town in the very north west corner of Pahang province. We signed up with a local tour company for transport to the highlands and then a half-day tour of the area. We’ll meet our van at 6 am at the marina entrance so will arrive about 10:30 am. Our tour will be the same afternoon we arrive. We’re planning to stay at Fathers Guest House which we were told housed religious "fathers" at one time. Not really sure if that’s true. We’re not booking ahead, but this is slow season so hopefully it will all work out.
"The Highlands were named after William Cameron, a British colonial government surveyor who discovered the plateau during a mapping expedition in 1885. The fame of Cameron Highlands then grew during the colonial era when British planters realized the potential of its fertile mountain slopes for growing tea, then a prized commodity. Cameron Highlands is still home to many tea plantations, being Malaysia’s largest tea-producing region. With its many farms the area is also known as a major supplier of legumes and vegetables to both Malaysia and Singapore, and is one of Malaysia’s prime tourist destinations.
Apart from the cool weather, key attractions in Cameron Highlands include a butterfly farm, strawberry farms, rose gardens and vegetable gardens. There are also the Brinchang Hindu Temples and the Sam Poh Chinese Mahayana Buddhist Temple. Other features include Cactus Point, Cactus Valley and the BOH Tea Plantation."
Our half-day tour takes us to just about all of those places.
We’re not taking our computer and not sure what email services we’ll find there. (It will definitely be good to get away from the agony of following the Red Sox. The season is still very young.) But I’m sure I’ll have lots of photos to share when we get back.
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April 15th, Tax day
We signed, scanned, and returned our tax forms yesterday. Thank goodness for electronic filing. Hopefully some of our tax money will go to the Roanoke County Public Library and libraries in general.
On the 13th Elizabeth and I went off to the "Water Festival" and got wet. That was fun. Yesterday E came with me to get my hair cut which needs an email of its own (so you can imagine) and then we took the rickety old 203 bus to Tesco. We finished shopping at 4 pm and waited until 4:40 for the bus. It came but its brakes weren’t working. At our own risk we could ride it back to the bus terminal next to the marina. We said yes. But the driver didn’t want to drive a bus with bad brakes so waited for the other 203 bus to come, maybe to switch drivers….it was a bit hard to follow. We had a kind young architecture student as an intermediary but even he didn’t really know what was what. The next bus came, the original old rickety one we’d taken to get to Tesco, and we got into that one for the hour or so ride home. (The Tesco route only has old rickety buses and it has a hill on the route. On our trip home, the driver needed 3 tries to make it to the top.) Luckily it wasn’t crowded so we could have a seat for our bags and one for ourselves. Sometimes we do a huge shopping and take a taxi. But this was a two bag only shopping trip so we were determined to take the bus and leave the taxi with its too high rate sitting empty. Next time I’ll bring a snack. I was hungry, hot, and tired (and cranky) by the time the kind bus driver dropped us off in front of the marina rather than a half block away at the bus terminal. Elizabeth good kindly put up with my bit of whining. That "British stiff upper lip" line is true. They don’t whine! Cold, cold and wet, tired, and hungry all make me whine. Luckily it doesn’t happen often. Luckily all of the other bus routes have quite new, comfortable buses with brakes!
Songkran: Thai New Year Water Festival
“Songkran is the Thai word for change, and on this day the position of the sun in the Zodiac will be changed. The New Year is celebrated in style using bucket loads of water. The Thai community believes that water when mixed with fragrant herbs can be used to wash bad luck away. Those who are attending the event should be prepared to get drenched as this is the day whit it is perfectly acceptable for anybody to pour a pail of ice cold water over another person! You have been warned.” iN PENANG
A water splashing festival was exactly what it was.
Elizabeth talked me into going off to the “water splashing festival” with the happy thought that in the afternoon heat getting soaked might be rather nice. She didn’t have to twist my arm so very hard and we certainly had a good time. It was interesting thinking what clothes to wear that wouldn’t look so odd going home on the bus afterwards wearing wet clothing. At the same time, I had the ridiculous idea that the locals wouldn’t really soak two western “little old ladies.” Hah! You were there, you got wet!
Taking photos was a bit difficult because I didn’t want to get my camera all wet. We tried to sneak by these guys with the hose, but no luck.
They went easy on us and it was more of a “wetting” than a thorough soaking.
Then we had to get past the guys with the water bottles and the blue buckets.
Those big bottles of water being sold weren’t for drinking. They were for pouring down the back of our necks and that’s exactly what happened. The first “pourer” asked permission, but after that Elizabeth and I were fair game like everyone else. A few were “Ice cold!” That is the Wat Chalyamangkla Buddhist Temple behind the men.
The photo is fuzzy but you can see Elizabeth having water poured down her neck. That was the original way it was done, gently, as a New Year cleansing. Now it’s hoses and buckets and giant water guns. We both had backpacks so it was a bit of a challenge to pour it down our necks. And it was always done from the back.
Elizabeth and I visited the Temple to see the Reclining Buddha and also to hide out away from the water throwers.
Wat Chaiyamangkalaram, also written Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram, is the largest Thai Buddhist temple in Penang. It is often called the Temple of the Reclining Buddha of Penang, on account of the magnificent reclining Buddha image house in the vihara. The image of Phra Chaiya Mongkol measures 33 meters (108 ft) from end to end. However, the statue was only built in 1958, in conjunction with the 2500th anniversary of the birth of Buddha, at a cost of M$100,000.
Elizabeth is standing near the head.
She was smart enough to have a rain cover for her backpack. I had all of my things in plastic bags. The temple was quite a fantastic place.
Thai, English and Chinese.
I was noticing the other day how expensive it is to make signs here because you need to say the same thing in so many languages. We’re lucky George Town, like Singapore was formerly a British colony so English is the western language chosen. I guess the French and German tourists just have to tough it out.
Elizabeth was knowledgeable enough to find the list of donors quite interesting. I’m not sure if the
$ indicates US dollars or ringgits. Usually the Ringgit is RM$ or M$.
I was born in the year of the Tiger, 1950.
Behind the Buddha statues you can see squares. Each square holds an urn and the photo of the person is taped there too.
Randal was born in the year of the rat though here they call it a mouse, 1948.
We went back outside where this fellow was using a blue bucket to ladle water from a tank and tossing it at everyone. The man on the far left with dark hair is about to get a bucketful on his head.
These kids got us too.
I put my camera into a plastic bag, but that just made it harder to take photos so I gave up.
There was a second temple across the street but the rock music and the threat of thrown beer convinced us that we’d seen enough. We walked back to the bus stop and joined the crowd waiting for the 101 bus. It came but was already too full so we walked further back the way we’d come until we finally found a bus stop with just a few people waiting. This walking along did a fairly good job drying our clothes. Finally two 101 buses came along and we took the one less crowded and even managed to get seat half way along.
All in all it was quite fun. The local folks were kind enough to include us and we didn’t disappoint ourselves by not going and missing the experience. Adventures are more fun with a friend! Thanks for wanting to go Elizabeth.
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We walked down to the end of the town for the community festival. It was mostly exhibits to teach about the local wildlife and how to take care of the environment for the future. The event was located at the Taman Negara National Park HQ. We visited the small museum and talked about maybe coming back to do some of the hikes.
The small fair was more an ecology lesson disguised as a fair. But that’s good because the kids seemed to enjoy it.
Jane and Elizabeth look at one of the displays.
A mural of “old George Town.” The boats in the painting have been replaced by the Tanjong City Marina and the water buffalo by too much traffic and way too many motorcycles.
“This island was named after the local pinang trees or the Betel Nut, which was once believed to be easily seen along the coastlines.” The leaves and parts of the nuts were turned into a concoction the local men and women chewed and still chew. (We were offered some at the Long House in Kumai though we politely declined.)
The caption on this photo reads, “a popular recreation site for local people.”
We all agreed that this fellow looked about as local as the three of us. He looks more like everyone we all knew back in the states in the 70s. And his shoes would be flip flops if he were truly local.
Sponge Bob Square Pants!
Outside the park building there were vendors and nature exhibits.
Mickey Mouse and Spiderman have made it around the world too. I really like the soap bubble gun.
Exhibits showed native animals and sea creatures. That wrapped up thing is snake skin. A very huge snake’s skin!
Jane dressed for the sun.
Long sleeves, sunglasses and an umbrella for shade. This is how you dress to deal with the heat and sun. I still can’t do it. I can’t stand anything with sleeves though I do wear shorts to my knees or longer as dictated by local sensibilities. But sleeves, even loose ones just make me too hot. Both Randal and I have started to slather our arms as well as faces with suntan lotion. Randal visited the dermatologist all of the Aussie cruisers see and he was examined from head to toe and all places in between. His arms had to be attended to though nothing that needed a follow up. So now Randal uses suntan lotion and the arm coverings worn by the Muslim ladies wear with their short sleeved blouses when he works outside on the boat.
So that was today….
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Next we visited the library, which we hadn’t planned; but then we hadn’t planned for the batik factory to have burned down either.
We went to the library which was quite small and devoted mostly to children. Elizabeth is visible standing by the shelves checking out the English collection of classics. Elizabeth taught English in Malaysia for many years.
All of the children had something to read even while they watched the TV in the front of the room.
They really had great places for kids to sit with a book.
The Children’s Librarian.
She and I talked for a bit and I gave her a card with our email. I hope she does write to me. It was a very cheerful place and the collection had titles in English as well as Bahasa.
Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury 1834-1913
I particularly noticed this poster on the library wall because I have a paperweight given to me by my friend Joesephine which says, “A room without a book is like a body without a soul.” Cicero.
Cicero died in 43 B.C. Maybe Lubbock hadn’t read Cicero and couldn’t look it up on the Internet to find out. Though if he were so well read, he would have read Cicero. I thought it was interesting. Maybe the real point is that it was true thousands of years ago and it will be true thousands of years from now. National Library Week begins April 11th. Go thank your librarian!
Shoes are removed before you enter the library.
have one more email. We walked to the end of the town where they were having a community festival. It was being at the headquarters of the Taman Negara National Park.
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I haven’t been writing much but I have been off exploring. Sometimes I just don’t know how to narrow down all of my photos to pick ones to send. So I get stuck. I’ve also been reading and painting and there’s only so much time in a day when you have to walk to the wet market for vegetables and chicken or off with Randal to collect the small fan motor for our dehumidifier. All that walking in the heat makes me need a nap! But Elizabeth and Jane and I have done some exploring while Jane’s school is on vacation. And though we always enjoy our time together, sometimes the adventure doesn’t quite go as expected. Like who knew the batik factory had burned down? It was still on the map. But it was a fun day and here’s the story.
Elizabeth, Jane and I Have and Adventure
First things this morning Randal and I met Elizabeth and Patrick and we walked yet a new way through George Town to meet Jane and Roger for chicken rice. It’s Saturday morning so it’s chicken rice. That’s the Saturday morning ritual. Brian and Terry from SV Cherokee joined us this morning too. Brian and Terry were some of the very first cruisers we met in 2008 on the Indonesia Rally and we toured Rinca Island, home of the komodo dragons with them. We have not seen them since the rally ended. After breakfast Jane, E and I caught the 101 bus to Teluk Bahang on the northern part of the island to visit some batik facilities. The road went along the coast and the traffic was light so it was quite nice. Randal and I had thought to possibly bike this road but when two buses met on a curve on this single lane curvy road, ours always slowed down because the road is quite narrow with no shoulder. We did see bikers riding the opposite direction which was the downhill direction but it doesn’t look appealing to me. Our bikes are at a local shop being over hauled so we will ride some, but mostly around town. The bus ride took about 35 minutes and cost 3.40 ringgits, about $1 U.S. A taxi probably would have cost at least $20.
We planned to visit the batik showroom and then walk just a bit down the road to the batik factory shown on the map. Photos were allowed in the demonstration area but not in the showrooms.
I rarely see women dressed in these heavy black robes with the small slits for their eyes so I do find them fascinating.
A hotel had ordered these pieces which were to be made into uniforms. The image is hand drawn and then outlined with wax which keeps the paint dye where it belongs on the fabric.
His mom is the batik worker and he wanted his photo taken too.
The different stages of the process: Elizabeth takes a photo and Jane looks on.
Even the dark background is painted mostly with a large brush but a smaller one is used for the close work.
We left what called itself the Craft Complex and headed over to the Batik Factory.
A huge sculpture of pitcher plants filled this rotary.
We saw lots of these plants in Sebana Cove. They would trap insects in the water and then eat them. At least I think that’s the story. In the distance you can see the mountain of the national park.
This funny guy was across from the rotary.
You can see the sign for the Penang Batik Factory. The pink building across the road is the library which we did visit. We visited a library in George Town on Thursday. It was pink also.
A marching drum band.
We had asked for directions to the Batik Factory from women selling cold drinks near the rotary. They told us it was 5 meters down the road. We walked way further than that so asked directions from the teacher. She sent us back the way we came. When we got back to the library (I can now recognize the Bahasa word for library) we asked directions again. Finally someone knew the answer. It had burned down so most of the work had moved into the craft complex we had already visited. So we went to the library instead and that will be the next email.
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