06-21.9N by 99-41.0E – At about 2330 (11:30 pm) last night, the wind picked up to 15 to 20 knots right on the nose. An hour later, our nice, flat seas were replaced with lumpy and uncomfortable head seas. Oh well. All good things must come to an end. Our speed immediately dropped by a full knot. Eric was seasick shortly thereafter. His body does not like head seas at all. Christi took over watch for the rest of the night. The two of us are a mess lately!
By dawn (0730 out here), we had gotten close enough to Langkawi island to be in more protected waters. At about 1000 we approached our destination, Telagga Harbour, on the northwest side of the island. The island is beautiful from the distance — tall mountains with sheer cliffs and thick foliage. The cliffs rise dramatically out of the sea. There is a nice lighthouse at the entranceway into the channel to the marina. Two small islands filled with evergreens create an anchorage area to the left of the channel. As we continued up the channel towards the marina, we noticed the left side is lined with the small traditional fishing boats that we kept seeing out on the water on the passage up here. At the end of the short channel is a small horseshoe shaped area that comprises the marina.
Langkawi is the main island in a chain of 99 islands in the northern portion of Malaysia near the Thai border. The current royal family began ruling Kedah in the 4th century. During the 7th and 8th centuries, the kingdom of Kedah was controlled by the Srivijaya Empire, but then fell under control if the Siamese (Thailand) until the 15th century, when it became part of Melaka. After the Portuguese fell, it became an independent region again. The Sultan of Kedah gave one of the islands in the state, called Penang, to the British to use as a trading port in the 18th century in exchange for military protection from Siam. It didn’t work, and in the early 19th century, Siam conquered Kedah. In the early 20th century, the Siamese gave the province to the British to become part of Malaysia. Kedah was the first part of Malaysia to be invaded by the Japanese in WWII.
It was a little bit of a tight squeeze to get into our assigned spot, but we fit in it just fine. There were two marina staff there to help us pull in and tie up. It turns out one of the guys was the same man who washed our boat in Port Dickson. He asked if we wanted our boat washed again. Eric hesitated, not wanting to pay such outrageous prices when Kosmos wasn’t all that dirty. The guy immediately said he would charge half of last time that he had only charged so much because Kosmos was so filthy from the construction in Singapore. So Kosmos got a bath later in the day.
The water is nice and calm. It looks like we are in a small crescent of flat land, surrounded on all sides by large, heavily forested mountains. It is quite stunning. At the entrance to the dock there is a row of buildings. The one closest to the entrance looks like a town hall or church and houses the harbor master, immigration and customs, and is pictured below. Next to it is a very small mosque with the classic dome roof and a tall, pointy minuet in each corner. The third building is a colonialesque (pernakan?) two story structure that houses a small shopping center with a cafÃ©, a bank, a mini market, gas station and a KFC. The last building is bright blue and looks like a colonial style home. It houses the marina office. All the buildings appear to be pretty new and are very nice inside.
Our first stop was to the marina office to check in. In Malaysia, you have to check in and out of each port, so once we were done at the marina we headed to the government building. Check in took all of 15 minutes 5 minutes per office. Lankawi ranks as the least amount of distance traveled to do our check in paperwork (excluding countries where they come out to the boat). Malaysia wins for fastest and easiest check in procedures, though not least amount of paperwork.
The opposite side of the bay also has some boat slips. There are five or six row houses in front of the slips, with the house on each end looking more like a commercial building than a house. Next to them is a large hotel looking building. Behind the row houses and hotels there is more construction going on. The area in between, on the north side of the bay, is an empty field that looks like it will someday have buildings on it.
We had brunch in the Arabic CafÃ© in the shopping center. Eric got chicken shwarma, which is tender chicken in a sweet sauce. Christi got an American breakfast. The food was pretty good, but Eric has to say that the chicken shwarma at Aladdin’s in San Diego is better.
We went back to the boat and used the internet. They have low cost wifi to the boat, which is awesome. Wifi to the boat is a wonderful thing. In Port Dickson, wifi was free in the marina building, but without power we could never use the computer too long in any one sitting. A couple hours later, we were already hungry again, so we ventured to the other side in search of food. And boy, did we find food! Every store along the water is a restaurant featuring food from a different country, each festively decorated with memorabilia from the country. We chose Spanish, since we are partial to tapas. The food was excellent, though heavy on the garlic.
Back at Kosmos, one of the neighbors came by and introduced himself. Bob and his wife Nancy are Americans on a sailboat Mar Bella. Bob mentioned that he and Nancy were going to the grocery store and invited us along. The grocery store is several miles east from the marina. The first few miles of the drive we wound around the mountain. There is forest on both sides of the road with monkeys running along the curbs. Once we had gone beyond the mountain, it flattens out and buildings consistently line the road the whole way. Some of the buildings are very new and nice. Some are older and kind of run down, but none were shacks or dilapidated looking.
We pulled into a parking lot of a building that looked like a large shed. Hmmm”¦. Looks a wee bit scary from the outside. Inside it was fine, though. It is actually better than most of the markets we saw in Indonesia, including the Carrefour in some ways. We had a really nice time with Bob and Nancy, and after shopping, Bob and Nancy came over and watched a movie.