Towards continental Asia
When we threw off from Nongsa Point together with the Canadian yacht Aries Tor, we knew the Singapore Strait would be densely trafficked by big ships. Seeing the ships in the Strait with our own eyes, were mighty. Big and VERY big ships sailed east in two ”lanes”. Sometimes one ship headed out of its lane to ”drive past”... Even westward the ships sailed in two lanes, but these day it was the easterly traffic that dominated. Luckily there was a “refugee island” – an area for anchored ships – where we could have a break after crossing the east going lanes. The eastbound ships sailed as if they were pearls on a necklace. It felt as we were preparing to cross a highway, when we were sailing on the south side of the lanes, waiting for a little bit bigger space between two of the big ships for the crossing.
Safely across the Singapore Strait we sailed west on the south side of the island of (=country) Singapore heading for Jahor Strait, the strait west of Singapore. We had decided not to visit Singapore with Empire. From other sailors we heard that checking in and out of Singapore with a yacht, was expensive and not worth it. Instead we decided Puteri Harbour to be our first port in continental Asia.
Puteri Harbour is situated in Jahor Strait inside Second Link Bridge, one of two bridges connecting Singapore and Malaysia, but on the Malaysian side of the strait. Puteri Harbour is a newly developed marina yet not finally constructed when we visited. Puteri Harbour Village is part of a totally new city under construction between Jahor and the port/city PTP.
Only the administration buildings were built at this stage, together with roads and infrastructure. The complete project is enormus, and is made possible with help of money from enormously rich sheiks from Dubai. It would be nice to see the project when it is finished, but as the manager of the project said - ”When this project is done – if it ever gets done – it will be a long time since I retired…”
With Empire in Puteri Harbour, we took the bus to Singapore – for the nice price of 0,5 US$ (one hour on the bus)(about 1/20 of what the cost would be in Norway). It is not that much to tell from our visit in Singapore, since we mainly travelled there to replace the battery in the EPIRB, that were closing in on the “best before” date. That said we still have to tell about the excellent service we received from Jotron Asia. We were very well received. They served us lunch and took us on a tour around the company, while we were waiting for the battery to be replaced and the EPIRB to be tested. We also met a couple of nice Norwegians. They were visiting to train employees at Jotron Asia for new systems.
When we returned to Malaysia from Singapore the next day we couldn’t get in touch with the marina transport, who were supposed to pick us up at the bus stop in Kelang Patah. One of the bus passengers understood our problem, and offered to drive us to the marina. He did not live too far from the marina, he said. Finally arriving in Puteri Harbour we invited Yong Kim on board – and then it all started.
Later Young Kim invited us to go seightseeing with him and some friends. They took us to local eating places, showed us the biggest mangrove island in Malaysia, the fishing village of Kukup and the southernmost point of continental Asia, Tanjung Piai. Later we invited our new friends for dinner on board – and for a day with sail course on Empire in Jahor Strait. Neither Yong Kim nor his friends had ever put their feet on board a yacht. It was an intererresting and enjoying day at ”sea”.
Big warning signs were posted at the Singapore side of the Jahor Strait, telling in funny ”Spanglish” (=SingaporeEnglish) that if we sailed closer to the shore than 50 meter, we would be shot… The translation to english was probably not the best, but it was obvious that Singapore did not want guests in the back door!
From Puteri Harbour we sailed north along the west coast of Malaysia, via Port Dickson, Port Klang and Penang before Langkawi. When in Port Dickson we drove to the historic city of Melaka by car. The harbor facilities in Melaka is shallow and exposed to waves from ferries and weather…
Parts of Melaka is listed on UNESCO’s “World Heritage Site”. We were tourists all day, and visited many of the areas worth seeing. We missed Zeng He’s museum, maybe because we hadn’t read the book “1421 – The year a Chineese Fleet discovered the world” yet – neither we knew that the museum excisted in Melaka (more about this in a later letter).
Port Klang is the harbor city of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. We were lucky and managed to get all the way to Port Selangor Yacht Club without getting anything stuck in the propeller. It was not even tempting to use the water from the river to rinse the bowl on board…
Our reason to visit Port Klang, was to visit Kuala Lumpur by land – which means with train from Port Klang. During a long day in Kuala Lumpur we managed to do almost all our Christmas present shopping – and Eirik more or less shit his way out of a taxi. Luckily we were able to get in to one of Twin Tower’s customer toilets, where “the issue” could be cleaned.
We managed to sail out of Port Klang without any trouble, without getting anything stuck in the propeller and without clogging the seawater intake for the engine. The river in Port Klang is the worst we have seen during our long voyage. It looked like carloads of garbage had been dumped further up river, which most probably also was the case.
With a bit cleaner water, we sailed – or more correctly motored – towards Penang. We anchored a couple of nights on the south side of the island before we sailed north to Georgetown itself.
Georgetown is situated on the northern end of the island Penang and is listed on UNESCO’s list over cities worth preserving. The place smells of history and is a melting pot of different cultures. Chineese, Indian and Malay is the three most dominant. As in most other cities in Malaysia you can buy all kinds of strange and not so strange things in different shops – at cheap prices. We were surprised by Malaysia as a modern country in most areas – with cheap prices on most things. Carlsberg Beer for NOK 3 (=apx US$ 0,4) is only one example (Norwegian price would be apx US$ 5...). For those sailing along the Malay west coast there is no reason to postpone the shopping until “tax-free” Langkawi. The “tax-free” is long time ago eaten up by the heightened tourist prices…
After a long day’s sail north northwest from Georgetown we anchored in a beautiful bay south in the group of Langkawi islands . Finally we could drop the anchor in clear water – and let ourselves follow without the risk of being poisoned. Monkeys were making noises from trees near the water’s edge and the small islands made many beautiful anchorages. In the bay we ffirst anchored we met Canadian Aries Tor and Danish Chriann again, both yachts we had met earlier.
Langkawi is the last islands of Malaysia when heading north on the west coast. It is possible to see the southernmost Thailand islands from Langkawi. We stayed two weeks in different anchorages among the islands of Langkawi. Near one of the anchorages we found our own climbers island. Together with Kate and Rob from Aries Tor the Captain finally was able to practice his climbing skills. If fingers were not strong enough, you simply fell strait into the sea...
We checked out from Malaysia at Telaga Harbour in Langkawi and headed north toward Phuket – and Christmas celebration in Thailand.