Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas in Denmark

Phew, Phil's very first 'cold' Christmas and my first in eight years. It hasn't been too bad, as we mostly have spent time indoor, but it's certainly a whole lot different from NZ summer Christmas! It's all about family time and food. I haven't even had any time to sort photos or blog until now.

Sophia is back in Langkawi in Malaysia in a really nice marina with swimming pool and everything, which makes me almost jealous she 'gets to be there' but without us! It's a really safe place and that's what matters though.

In one week we're back again and then my friend Louise from Denmark comes for a visit, so we're really looking forward to that.
Phil thinks the white spots looks a bit like sheep in NZ. It's swans!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Cool colonial style in Penang

Phew, we have finally arrived at Langkawi today, 11 days after we left Johor Bahru. We have had three rest days, one in Port Dickson and two in Penang, all the other days have pretty much been sailing (mostly motoring!) from dusk till dawn. It has been fairly uneventful and kind of boring sailing (again, motoring) along a mostly flat coast with lots of fishing boats, fish traps and various other obstacles to avoid.  Most of our stops weren't interesting, but merely just rests for the night. I'm sure if you put a bit more effort into it, there would be some more interesting things to do and see.

Georgetown on Penang was a super cool stop. The anchorage is blissfully very central to town and only slightly dodgy. Penang was one of the British Strait settlements along with Melaka (unfortunately it has no anchorage so we didn't stop there) and Singapore. Singapore eventually took over, but that meant Georgetown preserved many of its colonial style buildings. In 2008 it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site for its unique architecture, it is, however, mostly known as THE foodie town in SE Asia. We are a bit boring food wise and usually always end up going for Indian and Georgetown was no exception to that, so we can't really say a lot about that. We did really like the city though and would definitely like to come back and spend more time later on. It definitely rivals Kuching as our favourite Malay city. A bunch of photos below, they are all pretty self explanatory. There are more on facebook.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Cruising expenses for November for Malaysia and Singapore

Our total expenses in November were NZ$ 1378. We spend half the month in Tioman island where we also left Sophia while we travelled to Singapore. Tioman marina is a tiny bit cheaper than Danga Bay to leave our sized boat at, so although travel expenses were higher, it was worth it to us, mostly because of timing.

This time I have kept our Singapore visit in amongst the other expenses and not as a separate sightseeing event. While we were in Singapore Phil flew to Hong Kong for a couple of days, but I have left out that expense, as it was pure business and I think even paid for itself as he carried sails back to Singapore.

All up we spent 22 days in marinas, which without a doubt is a record number. Our only big expense this month (besides transport) was miscellaneous, it's always surprising how all those little things add up, and well, shopping in Singapore is easy and fun (there's a Spotlight!!).

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Across the Strait of Malacca

Well, if you're following us on facebook, you'd know it's old news that we sailed around Singapore (the around will be explained in a photo below). We actually did that over a week ago. Since then we have been in Danga Bay. It's a big marina in Johor Bahru which is in Malaysia, but just across from Singapore. We could literally see Singapore from the marina.

Phil has, again, fixed our engine rattle. The cheap stern tube that we got in Kota Kinabalu was totally worn out, so we're glad we got a new one via Phil's parents' visit to Singapore back in June. The New Zealand version was eight times more expensive (NZ$ 280) but hopefully it also will last at least eight times longer than the cheap one! We had hoped to only spend a few days in Danga bay, but an unexpected holiday and weekend meant we spent over one week in the marina.

While Phil was working on the engine, I popped over to Singapore for at quick visit, as exciting news had happened since we left: Theresa had a baby boy. He was very tiny and very cute and is lucky to have two sisters to adore him.

We are now on our way north, hopefully to as far as Langkawi. I'm flying home to Denmark for Christmas on the 12th December and Phil follows me a week later. It will be my first Xmas in Denmark in eight years, I have totally gotten used to warm Christmases with pool time and strawberries (NZ), but I'm really looking forward to the real deal (cold!!!) and to show Phil all our traditions, but mostly to seeing my nephews and niece.
This picture explains the sailing aorund Singapore. We started at the beginning of the red line in Malaysia at the last possible anchorage and sailed almost right around Singapore. Unfornatley because of the bridge, you can't sail the shorter way. It's approximatley 50 miles, so a fairly long day, although it is possible to anchor earlier.
Down town Johor Bahru (JB), has both an india and china town, all very central and close
Danga Bay marina has a lot of lights. It's a popular place for locals to visit and also pose for photos witht yachts in the background
Singapore in the sun rise.  JB has big ambitions and there's a lot of land reclamation going on

Monday, 18 November 2013

Snorkeling as a happiness drug

Both Phil and I LOVE snorkeling. The feeling of slipping into that blue water where a whole new underwater world opens up, it's just amazing. I really think it could work as a happiness medicine, it sure works for me every time. And we have truly missed it all along Borneo's coast, the last good snorkeling we had was in Philippines, way too long ago.

Getting to Tioman was therefore something we were really looking forward to. And it was so worth it, because the snorkeling was really good. OK, it wasn't Palau-good, but there were turtles and sharks and the water was pretty OK clear. The only downside to Tioman was that all four different anchorages we stayed at, were rolly. Not gunwale to gunwale rolly, but still pretty annoying rolly which means poor sleep. There is a little marina where of course it's perfectly still, but it has no breeze, so it's hot. We only stayed there when we left Sophia to go to Singapore.

We have now day-hopped our way down towards Singapore and are now only one or two days away from crossing over to the west coast of Malaysia, just one crazy hub of busy harbour has to be nagivated safely through first.

My all time favourites: clown fish. They are just co cute and courageous the way they swim out to defend their home
Two Star Puffer fish. Their size is hard to judge in this photo, but they are both well over 50 cm long
Spot the cuddle fish, master of disguise! Right in the middle, this guy is also pretty big, maybe 60 cm long
pretty coral, these look like roses
I can't stop taking photos of them, but they always move, so are hard to get in focus
another puffer fish hiding under a coral
happiness drug
lots of turtles at Tioman, yay
and black tip reef shark, a sign of a healthy reef (Tioman is a marine sanctuary)
a mooray eel weawing across the botom to another hiding hole

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Home sweet home

We're now back on Sophia after having spent the last 10 days in Singapore with the same friend as last time. It really is such a luxury to stay in a real house (and furthermore a really nice one), in a bed that never moves, with toilets where you just push a buttom and showers full of endless water. There are also power plugs and you don't have to worry about draining the battery and internet in Singapore is fast! One of the biggest reliefs was the aircon. I kind of have a love hate relationship to those. It really is super nice to be able to cool down when it's 30-35 degrees outside (too hot) but at the same time I easily get super cold in A/C and need to dress really warm. All in all, living in a house (in the 1st world) really is a luxury, and it's nice to be reminded of that once in a while, just like it's nice to get off the boat once in a while.

I got lots of girly time with my friend and her two little girls (see photo proof below) and Phil got some computer time :-) He also went to Hong Kong to pick up some sails and did some racing at Changi with the new sails when he was back. We're now going to spend a few more days here at Tioman doing as much snorkeling as possible and then we are going to sail through the Malacca strait past Singapore to west coast Malaysia.
We visited the Singapore Art Museum and there was this, uhmm, funky, exhibition about a level on your head.
Little India
One food thing Phil and I agree on is Indian food :-)
Yay, Christmas decorations, haha
Singapore is full of trees, it's really nice. This is right on Orchard Road!
At Botanical Gardens feeding the ducks - turned more into feeding the turtles, they were plentiful and mean!
Riding the cable car to Sentosa Island (just fot the ride which the girls love)
so. many. cranes!!!!
rain gutters are serious business in Singapore and Theresa said this even sometimes overflows!
I got to take the girls to their swimming lessons, much to both their and my delight
I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday while in Singapore
girly time, one thing I don't get to do with my four nephews (my only niece is only 4 months old)
Theresa, Saba and Lea with braids :-)