Monday, February 16, 2015

Pangkor Nov 2014

The Pangkor Marina stop is a rally favorite.  James Khoo runs a great operation and he always seems genuinely glad to see us.  He is now an official rally sponsor so we like to give him business.  He has a great haulout yard right next tothe marina and lots of yachts take advantage and come early or stay late to get hauled out for work. 

The couple below with Jason are Helane and Peter from Velella and we always have fun with them.

On the island tour this year, we had lunch on the beach.  But we had some free time before it was ready and we found the hammocks strung in the almond trees over the soft white sand.  They were so high off the ground that we couldn't get into some of them.
At the lunch on the beach.  It was a fancy eight-course meal and was wonderful!  That's James standing on the left in the blue shirt. You can spot Jason in his bright yellow shirt and I'm next to him.
He really didn't drink all these himself, even though the beer was free with lunch.  Folks just tossed them at his head as he snoozed in the sand.
James receiving the first copy of the Cruising Guide to Malaysia from Patrick off Labarque. Patrick and Elizabeth put together most of the info and we added to it during the last year.  It was a guide written for cruisers, by cruisers, but had some content altered or eliminated for political or publishing reasons.  An online version, available on the Sail Malaysia website, has more details in text, but not the nice photos or chartlets that the book has.  There really wasn't a cruising guide to help yachties until now, so this is a great addition.
The buffet line at Pangkor.  The salad went fast as we hadn't been able to find lettuce in a long time!
A stir fry noodle stand was also available to add to the choices.  Nobody left hungry.
Karen and Jason at the farewell dinner from Port Dickson, just before we left to come to Pangkor.  Another fine meal.  Thank goodness for the government sponsors coming to this one as they spent heaps to satisfy our (and their) hunger.
Near Port Klang, we anchored in the river delta near these fish farms.  They are floating timber/stick structures with big blue plastic barrels for floatation.
Jason enjoying the sunset near Pt. Klang as he sits on the rumble seat.
Another rally catamaran anchored near us in the river delta at Port Klang.  We saw river dolphins here, the Irawaddy fresh water kind that we don't see in the open oceans.
The fish farms have lots of dogs on them to act as alarms in case anyone would come to steal the fish.
Not exactly the best-built of structures, but this one is quite formidable compared to some of the others we'd seen in Malaysia.
The guy in the striped shirt is sitting on the handle of a big net to provide leverage to scoop it up, probably full of fish.  They don't like the sun getting on their skin as they want to be lighter complected than they are, so they keep covered up.
The bamboo and timber structures are tethered in place by these many heavy lines that are all anchored to the riverbed.  They have to resist the strong currents that flow out to the ocean.  They make for an underwater hazard for us yachts as they may extend quite a ways from the structure in what may be limited navigational areas.
Jason at the fort on Pangkor Island.  It's a cute brick fort with little round windows, but it held prisoners under the floors in the wars.
We'd been to the fort before, so Elizabeth and I snuck across the road to the shop where they were making fresh roti canai and we had breakfast while the others wandered the fort.
At the nearby Buddhist temple, I climbed up for a great panoramic view across the strait to the mainland.
The temple grouinds boast of their mini Great China Wall.  It's a large property with all kinds of interesting things on it.
These are some huge seven-foot fish from the Amazon.  They are fresh water fish and they keep them in a pond that isn't nearly large enough for their comfort.  Their scales are rimmed in bright red and when they turn to swim away in the sunlight, they look like they are lit up in red.  Quite pretty.
James bought everyone an ice cream cone at the temple.  Ice cream is a yachtie favorite and I had two!
Surrounding the parking lot are little booths that sell souvenirs.  These colorful keychains seem to be a popular offering.  Who needs seven keychains, though?  You could get 7 for 10 ringgits if you wanted this kitschy stuff.
We stopped at the satay fish factory again.  Here a guy is dunking frozen fillets into the water to that them for processing into all sorts of snacks.
These guys are dunking slabs of fish in that dirty water to soften them up.  They were previously frozen or salted.
The fishing boats can come right into the dock at the factory and offload their catches.
The traditional wooden boat builder is another favorite stop for the rally. There are only a few men who now know how to build these boats.  They don't use blueprints and they don't have fancy tools.  There are no metal nails in the entire boat.  All the work is done by hand and the lines are maintained by sight, not tools.  This is a 75' typical fishing boat and would cost about $350,000 to have built.  It takes a few months to build it, but it's right on the water so launching is easy.
This guy was plopping a dollop of this and a scoop of that goop into a coconut shell half to mix with a handful of sawdust to create a caulk that he filled into the cracks and on top of the wooden nail holes.  We take great pains to measure the epoxy and hardener when we use it but these guys do it so often its like a good baker who doesn't have to measure to get great results.
This man was hammering pieces of string into the gaps between the planks.  It's some special Japanese fishing line that they unwind and use the individual strands for this purpose.  A chisel tucks the string into the crack and when it gets wet and swells, it prevents leaks.
You can see the boat taking shape.  Its a wood they get from Indonesia and Malaysia.  It needs to be in the salt water to prevent drying out and cracking, so it's perfect for boats.  The massive timbers that make up the keel are incredible.
An existing fishing boat nearby with its net stored on a drum at the back.  These are the boats we have to avoid when we are sailing.
Karen in a hammock on the beach before our lunch.
Figures in a small shrine near the lunch location.
Jason and Karen at our lunch table.  
Back at the marina, we winced when we saw the bow of this boat that had been hit by a fishing boat while at anchor in the night.  The bow was smashed in and the metal twisted around the anchor roller.  The fishing boat didn't stop, we were told.
This boat was lucky his whole rigging didn't come down when the bow was smashed in.  His forestay somehow survived and held the mast up.
A closeup of some of the damage at the bow.  Local fishing boats don't always keep a lookout for anchor lights and most yachts buy flashing colored lights and hang them around the boat so the fishermen see them.  Fishing boats rarely look for the anchor light at the top of the mast as is required by international law so boats try to put more lights down low.
Jason and Helane at the Pangkor dinner.
This year, the rally included a trip to Ipoh.  Ipoh is a kind of tree whose sap was used to put on the tips of darts for hunting small animals.  It would paralyze the animal so the hunter could capture and/or kill it.  There are very few ipoh trees anymore in Ipoh.  Ipoh is not on the shore, but is about 30 miles inland.  It is known for its limestone formations and caves.  And they have great old architecture here from the British and Dutch eras.
This is part of a set of carved murals outside the Ipoh Train Station.
The entrance to the Old Ipoh Train Station.  It was designed by a famous architect.  The entire tour was several hours behind schedule by now and we were all very hungry.  This lady who sold snacks from her little cart made out like a bandit this day as people were buying food.  The tour guide was frantically trying to gather us to get his spiel and tour going but hunger won out and folks waited in line to buy something to nibble on.
Another Colonial building with the architecture that brings folks to this area.
The clock tower at the Birch Memorial.  You can see it's almost 3 pm and we still hadn't had lunch.
A close-up of one of the sides of the Birch Memorial.  The four sides of the tower had figures painted on them depicting the 44 most influencial/important people in history to date.  You can see the whited out figure second from the left.  That was the last prophet of Mohammed.  The local Muslims don't agree that the "last prophet" has been identified yet and claimed that his likeness could not be known.  They didn't want him pictured, so they had him 'washed out' of the mural.

We were bussed to the Banjaran Resort Hotel to see the caves there.  This is the most expensive place to stay in Malaysia!  The place is nestled in the geothermal caves near Ipoh.  This pool is just inside the front door of one of their villas that we were allowed to see.  The water is heated by the underground geothermal waters that flow through the property.
In the bathroom, you have another geothermal pool/tub for two.  It's open to the air above.  What luxury.  The inside rooms were lined with tiny Bose cube speakers and the electronic entertainment was all controlled by remotes so you could enjoy them from anywhere in the villa.  The single bedroom villa went for about $1500/night
Along the geothermal lake (which you aren't allowed to go in) are these "dipping pots", small Jacuzzi sized pools that you could sit in or around to enjoy the hot springs water.  Each pool was a different temperature, with the temp posted near its edge.  So like Goldilocks, you could find one too hot, too cool or just right for you,
There were waterfalls from the rocky outcrops and a smooth-pebble-lined walkway underwater for a foot massage while you walked.
The stalagmites and stalactites were pretty impressive here.  Some had been taken out of the caves and posted as decoration along the lobby and reception areas but many of them were left in their natural settings in the numerous caves on the property and were lit to show their features in the dark caves.
This curtain flow took eons to create.  You could get right up close but please don't touch.
A phallic stalagmite in a steamy cave.  We were warned not to use cameras here unless they were waterproof.  The steam was so pervasive that people who wear glasses were blinded by the fogging of their lenses.  I had to lead one lady out of the cave as she couldn't find the door without her glasses.
The caves were on several levels and this wooden stairway led up to a huge rock feature with Chinese caligraphy on it.
Karen sitting near a stalagmite in the walkway to one of the caves.
They keep one of the bigger caves as a wine cellar and this was set up for a wedding reception later in the day.  What a cool place to hold a reception!  The opulence and grandeur of Mother Nature surrounded us and really wowed us.  This was a really special place.
They handed us a flute of cold pineapple juice as we entered and around each corner the view just kept getting better and better.  We finally stopped to rest in a small area with tables and chairs.  I left Jason here yakking with other cruisers and went to explore even more.
A bad picture of a flowstone formation, but you can still see the grandeur of the formation inside one of the cave rooms.
I guess you need tosee the caves in person to really appreciate the views.  I was surprised they let us all come through the place just to gawk at the caves, but they did get some cruisers interested in coming back to stay, despite the high prices.
Quite the property!  We were glad to have gotten to see it and Ipoh.

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