Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sail Malaysia Passage to Langkawi 2014

Sail Malaysia 2014 Passage to Langkawi kickoff party in Puteri Harbour, Malaysia Nov. 11, 2014
We joined the Sail Malaysia Passage to Langkawi rally again for 2014.  Sazli, the organizer, had said we could join for free since we pulled out of the rally going to Borneo, and he talked Jason into giving the technical briefing to the new rally participants.  Jason gave them info on the anchorages and what to look for, expect, or avoid along the way and we provided input on the marinas and tours as well.  I held a 'round table' after he finished and provided info regarding communications, provisioning, banking, GoogleEarth shots and such.  Folks here think we are fonts of information now; we are really just sharing our opinions and experiences from doing this one time before.

The previous person who'd done these wasn't available this year, so Sazli was grateful to have a sailor address fellow yachties.  Jason is a good speaker and the audience listened to him for two hours.  It got dark and we had to move into a conference room inside to finish listening to the information.  The marina had tried to go cheap and not rent a conference room, but the rain and dusk finally forced them to provide a room with a projector for us to use.
Chesapeake's crew, Cindy, with Karen at the welcome dinner at Puteri (pronounced Pooh-tree) Harbour Marina.  The photo at the top is one of the several traditional dance/singing groups that entertained us while we feasted on buffets of lamb, shrimp, chicken, beef, fish, rice, salads, fruits, and drinks.  It was quite a dinner and show.
Chesapeake Jim and Cindy yack with Jason as we enjoy a fruit drink before dinner.
Puteri Harbour Marina was full, so we anchored in the open space just beyond the boats.  You can see YOLO in the center of the shot.
A tour of Johor Bahru was the first event here and they took us back into the city where we'd just spent 6 weeks at anchor.  This old building is from the 1600's and we'd seen the tower as we walked or bussed around but had never come here.  The security guard on his motorcycle showed up and told the guide we weren't allowed to be up near the door.  This was for photo viewing only; we couldn't go inside.
The Sultan's private army practicing in front of the building in a recessed parade ground.  The Johor Sultan is the only one of the nine Sultans in Malaysia allowed to have his own private army.  He is the richest and one of the most powerful Sultans today.
The tour bus took us to a new museum that houses info, pictures and artifacts that have been given to the Sultan.  His mother was European, but his father was Malaysian, so he looks pretty European in the photos we saw.  Not a single photo of his mother is in the museum.  He loves his motorcycles! This was one of his tiger-painted bicycles on display in the museum.
The state mosque is on a hill overlooking the Johor Strait towards Singapore.  Another building we'd seen from afar but had never been to.  We weren't allowed inside this one either, but Jason came away with a book on the prophet Muhammed and the history of Islam given to him by a lady at a brochure table in the shade of part of the mosque. Other vendors were selling paintings, rugs, hats and such outside the mosque.
We had a long drive out to the homestay location for lunch and we stopped at a town famous for its ceramics, Air Hitam (means Black Water).  Nobody was terribly interested in the ceramics (too heavy for a boat), but we all got into the fruit and snack stalls like this one!  Lots of tasting (they'd just open the bag of snacks and you picked some out with your hand). They'd cut open the fruit for tasting and I ended up with green bananas, mangoes, mandarins and some banana chip snacks, saving me a trip to the store or market.  With these last additions to our provisions, I was ready to head north.  This smiling Muslim lady spoke great English and the yachties tended to buy from those with whom they could converse.
The street of vendor stalls at Air Hitam.
The homestay location welcomed us with dancers in this tiger head and peacock feather costume.
These young girls are performing a traditional dance with cardboard? horses as part of their costumes.
Karen on a bad hair day? That's me in one of the smaller masks.
 The mask was heavy and stinky.  There is a wooden stick across the mask that you hold in your teeth like a bit to keep the mask in place, with some elastic straps that fit over the head.
Our lunch awaits us.  Coconut milk still in the coconut, chicken curry, some tofu with spicy dipping sauces, pineapple chunks and fried fish with rice for all.  The flies on and around the food here were horrendous.  If you could blow this photo up, you'd see dozens of them on all the food dishes.  Glad they were covered until we started, but the flies persisted all during the meal, forcing us to recover the food and drinks.
A local starting to carve a new watermelon.  He's already done the one in a floral blossom design.
These airy sweet rolled wafers were some of my favorites.  They make them in a round mold and then fold them into quarters or roll them like these in the jars.  Food coloring gives them such a festive look!  I ate many of these and someone chased me down with a bunch of them in a plastic bag to take with me.  Later, when I came back for another taste, they insisted I take a whole bag full away with me.  I didn't argue; they appreciated that someone showed such a fondness for their handiwork.
Another treat they were showcasing.  They showed us how they make this 'net bread'  or roti.  They scoop it off the hot grill and fold and roll it like a burrito, then serve it with a mild curry sauce for breakfast--delightful!  These ladies packaged some into plastic bags for me to take away, too.
Part of the table where the food demos were held.  Everyone in this village has a job to do for this homestay event.  This homestay is a champion for cultural events.  The people either sang, danced, cooked, carved, served, played games, or cleaned up.  If they didn't speak English, they were behind the tables, but there were plenty who spoke enough English that they could teach us dances and explain what was going on.
The watermelon carver part way through his second watermelon.  He used a tiny folding knife to do this art.
These ladies were showing us how they make baskets and art from rolled newspapers.  They tightly roll a page of newspaper around a thin metal dowel and then extract the dowel.  They weave the skinny rolls into baskets just like they were reeds or leaves used in traditional weaving.  They paint or lacquer them so they stay stiff and hard.  Very creative.
This toothless old guy prepares to hurl his top at another spinning top, hoping to drive it away and become the target top.  They hurl these tops with a great amount of effort speed behind them and the tops will spin in the sand for minutes at a time.
Here the top thrower is showing Jason (in his blue Disneyland plastic poncho with Woody Woodpecker on it) and Jim how to wind the twine tightly around one end of the top before throwing it with great force at another spinning top on the ground.  They wear wrist and forearm guards for this; this is serious for these men.
The children play this game (it goes by many names, e.g. GO or chong ka) with any takers or amongst themselves if no yachties were willing.  We've played the game with marbles at the marina games event; here some boards were also filled with coffee beans, stones, or shells.  As long as you can get 7 of anything into the holes, it will work.
I tried my hand at cooking another one of the snacks they were demonstrating.  Little round wafers with peanuts sprinkled on top.  Deep fried, of course, as most things are here in Malaysia.  I got a thumbs up for my fast pouring technique of the batter.  The mold is heated in boiling oil so they wanted to get the batter onto the eight tiny round places before it cooled too much.
Gotta sprinkle 3-4 peanuts onto each tiny circle before putting it back into the hot oil.  I think I dropped a few into the batter bowl, but who cares?
Gently place the metal rack back into the oil without slopping the batter around.  Once back into the hot oil, the snacks begin to bubble and cook.  As they cook, just a light swish of the mold and they all float loose.
This lady thought I did a superb job at making these peanut snacks.  She tended them and scooped them out of the oil into baskets of them waiting to be tasted.  Of course, I got a bag of them to take with me, too.  I left this place loaded with goodies.  They gave each yachtie a goodie bag full of more treats and a little pin, too.
Malaysians love to dance and they talk us cruisers into joining them every chance they get.  They literally dragged me onto the dance floor to try to keep up with these children doing a simple traditional dance.  I think we entertain them as much as they entertain us.
A lovely sunset in the Johor Strati before we started the journey north.
The first night after rounding the southern tip of Malaysia was spent at Pulau Pisang.  As several yachts sat anchored for the night, we watched this storm cell create a water spout across the water. Thankfully, it was a couple of miles away and didn't head in our direction.  We got plenty of rain out of this one and the water spout was quite interesting to watch as it grew and stuck around for about 10-15 minutes before it withdrew and disappeared.

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