Chores, Errands and The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park

Yesterday was chore and errand day. The first task of the day was to get fuel. We pulled out of the slip and moved the very short distance to the fuel dock. Eric had asked them twice if they had enough fuel, 3,400 liters, and both times they reassured us they did. They didn’t. As we were getting close to the 3,000 mark, the fuel pump ran dry. Eric asked if they had any more. “No more”. Eric asked when they were getting more. “Don’t know”. Allrighty then. We were disappointed to find out that fuel here is duty free if you buy it at the car station, not at the boat station. We had been looking forward to duty free fuel. We paid 80 cents per liter.

We pulled Kosmos back into our slip and continued on the “to do” list. Eric changed the Racor filters in the transfer filter, the aft main engine and the generator. He also changed the primary fuel filter on the main engine. Christi did a food inventory to figure out how much food we would need to buy/prepare for our next few passages. She also made some food that she put in small Tupperware containers and froze so we have some heat and serve food for our next passage. We hired someone to clean the bottom since Christi wasn’t feeling up to it and it really needed to be done.

For lunch we over to the other side of the marina for lunch. The restaurant we went to is called the “Latin Bar”. The memorabilia decorating the walls was 100% Cuban pictures of Che Gueverra and Fidel Castro, the Cuban flag, etc. The menu is mostly American dishes with a few Brazilian Barbequed meat choices. The food was really good, but the service was painfully slow. Normally, we are OK with slow service, but today we were in a hurry. We had errands to run and more chores to do.

Once we were done with lunch, we picked up Karen and Jeff on Fafner and the four of us drove over to Kuah. As we were leaving the marina, we noticed a big fuel truck was filling up the tank at the fuel dock. Stop one was the boat store, where we stocked up on a few supplies. The next stop was the grocery store. This grocery store is much nicer than the one we had gone to near the marina. It looks like a regular grocery store at home, but it still lacked in the choices of heat and serve foods. We loaded up on beer and for the first time in either of our lives, bought cigarettes. We have been told over and over that officials in the Middle East demand cigarettes and booze before allowing you to check in. We stocked up here because it is duty free. We all loaded up on groceries and quickly returned back to the marina.

That night we went out to eat with the crew of Mar Bella and Fafner at the French bakery. We had such a nice time with them all.

Lonely Planet didn’t mention it, but on our tourist map it said there were eagle feedings, which we thought sounded interesting. This morning we followed the map and arrived at the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park. It turns out the park is a network of small rivers within a mangrove swamp. It looks like they are in the process of building walkways so you can walk around to the various sights, but for the time being you absolutely have to take a boat to see the sights. The cost was USD$70 per boat, and each boat could probably hold 10 people. No one else was around to share the cost with, so we bit the bullet and paid the money and got a boat for the two of us.

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The first stop was around the corner from where you board, called the “bat cave”. The main cave is more like a tunnel, with an opening at each end. It is only dark in one small spot, but in the ceiling of the dark area are hundreds of bats hanging upside down from the ceiling. The full grown bats are about the size of a mouse, and there were more babies than full size ones. The babies were really cute. There is a second cave right next door that is similar to the first in that it is more of a tunnel, except the ceilings are lower. In the second tunnel is a ladder so you can go up and explore a small nook higher up. The bottom couple steps of the ladder are missing, so it is one heck of a first step onto the ladder and one heck of a last step off the ladder.

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Our boat driver took us up the river towards the ocean for a few minutes before we arrived at what initially looked like a shanty town. This section of river was lined with quite a few shacks built on pontoons that at first we thought the locals lived on like houseboats. On the other side of the river is a line of sailboats on moorings. Wow, if we had more time we could have brought Kosmos here and cruised around on our own dinghy

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It turns out the shacks are actually fish farms. Our driver dropped us off at one, where we were given a tour. Our tour guide looked to be about 14. The “farm” are nets that go deep in the water. Tiny fish, like anchovies, can swim in and out, but the bigger fish are stuck inside the nets. There are rows and rows of these nets, with a narrow walkway between them so they can all be easily accessed. The first net we stopped at had sting rays in it. They let Christi pet it and feed it. The dark upper side is nubby, the white belly a soft fur. They have no teeth, so they suck food in their mouth like a vacuum. It was neat to hold the piece of fish out and have it vacuumed out of her hand. The next few nets contained trevelli, batfish, barracuda, and three foot tail. Our guide fed them all. We stopped at a net where our guide put some food on the wooden walkway and said that the fish inside would jump up and grab it off the dock. We waited a few minutes, but the fish never performed. The last net had an assortment of sea life, including eel, horseshoe crab, oyster, and tiger snails. The oyster looked just like rocks, and it made us wonder how many times we have passed them by when we went diving, just thinking they were plain old rocks. This is a picture of the tiger snail Cool, huh?

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When the fish farm tour was over, our boat driver rode us around the network of rivers for a while. It is pretty here, with jungle on both sides of the water, and dramatic, jagged mountains in the background behind the jungle. We saw some monkeys, lizards and snakes. We made a circle, passing back by the fish farms. He took us out to the ocean, where we could see some of the small islands that surround Langkowi. We could also see a few more river mouths.

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We took a different river way back, and maybe a half kilometer in, the guide threw a bunch of small fish off the back of the boat and quickly put the boat in reverse. About a dozen eagles began circling overhead, some white and some brown. The brown eagles are actually Langkowi’s symbol. One by one they swooped down and picked up a fish with their talons. The bigger eagles made a whoosing noise as they descended, which was really cool to hear. A couple of the eagles ate the food in mid-air, then swooped down again for more, but most flew to near by trees, ate their catch in the tree, and then went out for more food. Eagles are so graceful and beautiful.

Just as they had finished up the last of the food our driver had thrown out, another boat pulled up and threw food in the exact same spot. Our driver didn’t seem to be in a hurry, and let us watch the second performance of the eagle feeding, which was just as enthralling as the first. When all the fish was gone, we headed back to the park entrance where we had boarded the boat. Near the dock, the driver pulled up along the shore to show us the mud-skippers and crabs that live along the shore. Mudskippers are amphibians, and they have a tail and no legs. They have two little fins on the sides of their body that they run on through the mud. They can also jump really darn far for such a little thing. They bury themselves in the mud, sitting quietly with only their little eyes sticking out, then suddenly jump out of their spot and run off. We watched the mud skippers for a while, which are pretty entertaining.

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Had we brought Kosmos to the moorings and done this trip in our own boat we would have thought it was the coolest thing ever. And maybe if we had shared the boat with some others to reduce the cost it would have been more worth it. But by Malaysian standards, $70 was an awful lot for what we really saw and did.

Back at Kosmos, Christi went back to cooking food for our next passage. Eric returned the car, checked out of the marina, and checked out of the country. We had initially planned to stay another couple days in Langkawi to go SCUBA diving in the marine park on the south side of the island. However, while Christi was feeling better, she still wasn’t over her cold and Eric still had a little residual congestion and a little bit of a cough. So, sadly, diving wasn’t an option for us. We decided our time would be better served sightseeing in Thailand.

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