Sunday, 13 July 2014

Our plan to stay in Langkawi

So, the blog has been pretty quiet the last several months and we haven't done any cruising. We have been brewing plans. I actually totally missed our two year cruising anniversary. It was end of May 2012 that we left Christchurch, and three weeks later we left New Zealand. We have LOVED the cruising life, and we have visited many beautiful tropical islands and met a ton of interesting people, both locals and other cruisers. We pretty much followed our route that we decided on back in the Pacific, but we never knew what was going to happen after Thailand.

Even though cruising life is pretty cheap (much cheaper than most people's lives back home, see my monthly costs here), we are going to run out of funds. We could go back to New Zealand or maybe even Denmark to work. But we could also stay! So that's what we're going to try.

Phil is already selling sails to other cruisers (plus of course old customers back in NZ) that we meet, so that's what we're going to expand. He designs and engineers sails on the computer, and they get made at a big whole sale loft/factory exactly to his specifications, just like he would make them at home. This seems to be the direction sail making is taking.

Langkawi is cruiser central. Hundreds of boats pass though every year and there are three marinas, plus lots of boats on anchor (us included). It's taxfree and it's more of less halfway between New Zealand and Denmark. We don't know how long we'll stay, we'll just wing it, like we do most things.

I'm off to Denmark tomorrow for a month. Phil is going to Phuket Race Week next week also, but then he'll be back on Sophia in Langkawi. I'm going to stop posting our monthly budgets, because we won't be cruising as such for a while anyway, so it's not that relevant. I can also guarantee that I won't be blogging much, but I'll still try and chronicle our life, the blog is mostly for our own sake to have as a keepsake.
Langkawi's icon, the sea eagle. Sophia is achored out there in the background
Yikes! What happened to our anchor after it had been down for a long while!
I bought myself a bike! It's was so cheap, just under NZ$ 100, but of course pretty basic and with no gears
dinghy dock by night
Traditional Malay house on Langkawi, although most people have converted to more modern concrete houses
Erja and Phil on black sand beach (!) during a hash run. Erja is a lovely Finish lady who is also a sailmaker, but just retired
Langkawi has many hornbills, this is just up the hill behind Kuah, the main town. Check out an amazing photo of a Great Hornbill I posted on facebook that Pablo (visitor) took back while he was visiting us
our anchorage
halfway up the mast on a traditional Malay junk rig
And of course another beautiful sunset, we can never get enough of those

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Rainforest World Music Festival on Borneo

I'm very lucky. Just like that, I flew to Kuching for the Rainforest World Music Festival. Cheap direct flights with AirAsia and accomodation on Nalukai (the Aussie family on a catamaran) very close to the festival site. We missed the festival last year because we did the Borneo International Yachting Challenge, the race from Miri to KK via Labuan. It then happened that Nalukai was planning to go, and I saw the chance to see them again AND to go to the festival at the same time, total bonus!

The festival was taking place at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong, which in itself is a really cool location and beautiful rainforesty background to the stages. There were bands from all over the world, as well as of course Malaysia. Most of the music wasn't mainstream, but more alternative, so it was really interesting. Phoebe, Hatty and Willow did really great as it wasn't oriented towards kids at all, but of course we didn't stay till midnight, so some music we missed. My favourite bands were Kalakan from Basque (Spain), DakhaBrakha from Ukraine and Gema Seribu from Malaysia. When I get somewhere with good internet I'll definitely be spending a bit of time finding videos of these bands and also some of the ones I missed.

In the meantime Phil flew to Singapore to do the Besar Regatta from Changi (Singapore) on a Young 88 which he also supplied new sails for. Of course they won, both on line and handicap, well done. See photos (also of Phil) and race report right here.

After five days on Borneo I flew directly to Singapore to stay with Theresa again, repeating the success of my visit three weeks earlier. I'll post a few photos to facebook from that visit. Also thanks to Iona for about half of the photos below.
Ohh how I had misse these three lovely girls after all the time we spent together in Thailand and Langkawi
beautiful sunset over the festival, this is looking towards the audience, the two stages are on the left
one of the traditional Malay houses in the Santubong village
every day there was a community drum circle for everyone who were keen, the girls loved it and it really was good fun
finger painting at one of the craft stalls. Guess who braided their hair :-)
Malay band Gema Seribu was energetic, colorful and fun and had dancing
my favourite photo from the festival despite being a bit blurry, happy Nalukai girls
check out the ears!
beautiful girls who attract a lot of attention everywhere they go, here there are about five other people also taking their photo, in hinsight, that would probably have been a more fun photo...
Willow by one of the traditional long houses (communal living, now not many left)
two stages meant there were no breaks between bands
after the festival we visited this private museum in Kuching witch has an amazing collection of beads and other old traditional artifacts. The scabbard in the bottom right photo has human hair on it!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A week in Singapore tagging along expat life

My dear friend Theresa unfortunatley is moving to London in July, so this was (we though) our last chance for another visit. Ir was my fourth visit over the last year, but this time I left Phil and Sophia in Langkawi.

Basically I just tagged alone with Theresas's expat easy life. As easy as anything with three little kids can be. Baby Martin was now half a year and the girls has improved their swimming immensely. They are little mermaids in the water, 3 and 4 years old and already great swimmers. I came along to the dentist, gym classes, kids party, Danish girls nights out and so on.

The reason I say easy life is because almost all expats (and many Singaporeans) have helpers, usually from Philippines. It's a massive help to have somebody cleaning, cooking and helping with the kids, six full days a week, but it's also interesting how much impact they have on their employers, or so it appears to me. Helpers are the topic of many expat conversations and it must be only natural as she is right there the whole time. I do wonder if Singaporeans who have had helpers their whole life pay less attention to them.

We're going to continue the success next week after I have been to Kuching for the rainforest world music festival. Yay, already looking forward.
I love how green Singapore is

Monday, 2 June 2014

May's cruising expenses for Thailand and Malaysia

May was our most expensive month EVER at NZ$ 4573. This was no surprise as a lot of expensive things happened this month. Travelling and shopping is expensive. We spent ten days away from Sophia in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur. The main purpose was to do the TOG regatta and we then spent two days in KL on our way back. The tickets were a bit last minute, so not the cheapest. We spent about NZ$1768 on flights, accommodation, race fees and food in Thailand and KL.

Shopping is another big item! My old second hand computer that I had in NZ before we left finally gave up the game. $600. We also splurged on a new phone for me, my first phone in two years and my first new phone in about seven years. $355. H&M clothes shopping was another splurge, cruising is (also) hard on clothes and we both needed new stuff. $227. I (heart) H&M.

Finally Sophia also needed new stuff, new batteries this time! $859. One of the very first things we did up in Auckland right after we had purchased her 3 1/2 years ago, was to get two 6V Trojans. They have served us well, but have taken a beating (I think initially we only looked at battery capacity % and not voltage!). A few months ago in Thailand we came back to Soph after having been away a few hours and the bilge pump was going, and it had really drained the battery. After that it has been a very fast steady decline, some mornings towards the end the fridge was off because the voltage was low 10s!. Phil build our battery box to fit four, which we now finally have, and it's great. On the wish list is more solar!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Top of the Gulf regatta and Kuala Lumpur visit

A few days after our visitors Cassie and Pablo left, we flew to Thailand. More specifcally to Jomtien Beach, just south of Pattaya in the Gulf of Thailand. Each year Ocean Marina hosts a big regatta called Top of the Gulf, this year was the 10th anniversary. Phil has been there twice, 8 and 5 years ago and has supplied sail for a few boats. One of them is the beautiful Souay (also means beautiful in Thai), a J41 owned by French-Canadian Jean. He had kindly invited us to come racing with him. Or more likely, he was keen for Phil to come, and I came along as part of the package.

The race consisted of one practice race day, and four days with several races each. The weather gave us some interesting conditions as the sea breeze fights the squalls that were building up over land. Sometimes the squalls simply killed our wind and dumped rain on land, but other times they gave us wind and rain. It did provide for lots of beautiful could photo opportunities.
The racing was pretty close and we did OK and on the final day we did really well, and we actually won our class, the IRC class 3, very cool. Each night there were drinks and sometimes food too, or else we'd go out for dinner with the rest of the crew, so we had some pretty long and very social days, good fun. After the race we stayed a couple of days and did a few touristy things with Jean. One funny thing was that Jean normally takes his visitors out sailing. Phil and I politely declined this offer, as we had just raced on his boat for five days, and because that we live on a boat and visit lots of beautiful islands, we didn't really feel the need for that. Instead we rather wanted to explore inland.
On our way back to Langkawi we had two days in Kuala Lumpur. It's our first visit to the city, but hopefully not the last. It's a cool city, relative compact and easy to get around, lots of contrasts (old and new), and some good shopping. Our hostel was right across from a huge H&M, how lucky was that! And we were also in walking distance from the computer and mobile phone mall, from where we spent lots of $$$ (yes, May is going to be very expensive). Pablo and Cassie happend to be in KL exaclty the same two days as us and stayed in a hotel just down the road from us, so of course we hung out some more with them, total bonus.