Malaysis and Thailand 2010/2011
Ko Muk, Thailand
Langkawi island became our home base for much of the past year. It provided many of the things we like about a place - lush jungle, full of monkeys and lizards, an all weather anchorage, a small town with friendly locals, hardware stores and even a small chandlery; and it was a meeting point for boats who were just about to cross the Indian Ocean to Africa or those who had just crossed it coming from the Red Sea. There were plenty of boat children for the boys to play with and a swimming pool at the yacht club which became a social hangout for sailing families every evening. Some cruisers like Langkawi so much they have moved onto land, and others we met had been there on their boats for 10 years or more!
Dylan and Jayden in the waterfall, Langkawi
For an island with a small population there is an abundance of places to eat out - Chinese, Malay, Indian, Thai, and the kids favourite - even a Pizza place! Eating out at local joints or the street markets was a daily occupation, and good reason to get together with friends and try a new delicacy. I became so addicted to the spicy Thai Papaya Salad that I bought a special papaya grater to make it on the boat every day!
Nice, and not so nice.... banana leaf meal at our favourite Indian eating house in Langkawi, and fried insects in Hatyai, Thailand
In Langkawi we were happy to catch up with many old friends we hadn't seen since the Pacific, some who we hadn't seen for 5 years or more, and every month it seemed another boat or 2 would sail in and surprise us with friends on. It's quite bizarre really - you can be anchored in a completely new country that you have never been to before, and spend the time catching up with old friends in their own homes! And it is one of my favourite things about the cruising lifestyle that you never know when you will meet someone again; only that some day, some where, you probably will.
My Dad and his wife Margaret came out for a visit and we explored the nearby islands and beaches. So far they have visited us in Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia and now Malaysia, so we'll have to find another exotic destination for their next trip. Maybe the Philippines?!
Dad and Margaret came to visit
We also had a visit from an old crew member and friend, Danielle, and her brother Francis, who came with a whole bunch of cameras to film life on board the boat for a week. Danielle is hoping to make a documentary about sailing families and the cruising life. They even took Dylan up in a helicopter to film Moet sailing - that was such a special day for Dylan!
In November we were joined by Jan, Ariane and Alex and began the sail north towards Thailand's Similan and Surin islands, day hopping our way up, stopping at all the little islands along the way. We also picked up Alejandro on the way too! Thailand's islands are studded with caves - one of our favourites we had to swim about 60m under a rocky tunnel to reach! It then opened out to a circular space in the island, open to the sky, complete with its own beach, bay and trees, with sheer cliffs us on all sides. The only way out or in was through the hidden tunnel, swimming back 60m through the dark and back to the sea and our waiting dinghy. A magical experience! It makes you wonder how many other secret coves like this could exist - possibly in the numerous islands of the Myanmar archipelago? Unfortunately for cruisers, those islands are almost off limits to yachts - the costs and restrictions are prohibitive for most people. I hope that it will serve to allow the islands and their wildlife to be left in their natural state.
Malaysia to Thailand crew 2010 - Jan, Dylan, Alex, Ariane, Jayden, Alej, Frans and Sylvia
Sailing past another gorgeous island
Inside an enormous cave, Thailand
Having a son who is fascinated with dinosaurs led us to leave the boat for a week and take a couple of sleeper trains into the eastern part of Thailand - looking for the museums and archeological sites where several dinosaur skeletons have been discovered! It was a fun holiday for the boys; trains, dinosaur bones, dino themed playgrounds and even some camping!
PhuWiang park, on the way to the dinsoaur sites
Camping in Thailand, and still room for Dad on the bike!
In January we had 3 new crew join us, Gerred, Simon and Hamish. Hamish joined with the sole intention of learning as much as he could about sailing in a month, in order to buy his own boat when he got back to New Zealand - and which he did within weeks of getting there! Good on you Hamish! When we visited NZ at the end of 2011 all 4 of us got to be crew on Hamish's new boat with him as skipper. It was a great trip, and we ate lots of yummy kiwi mussels! Thanks Hamish!
Hamish and his mate on his new boat in New Zealand
We sailed to the Surin and Similan islands at night, dodging the numerous fishing boats trawling the Andaman Sea coastline - not all of which were lit! The Similan islands are stunning with gorgeous rocky boulders, dazzling white sand and remarkably clear water - even more remarkable in that most places along this coastline are muddy with almost no visibility at all, yet here you can see as clearly as some of the Pacific anchorages. It was great fun throwing out our food scraps and diving in with a snorkel to watch the frenzy! Although the boys got a little worried their tiny fingers and toes might get mistaken for food!
Moet anchored in the Similans
Local Thai Longtail boats
We took the dinghy exploring up a river one day and turning off down a side stream or two discovered a small bridge of rickety wooden steps. We tied up the dinghy and followed the path to an enormous cave with a natural amphitheatre cut into the rock. Many bats lived inside the cave and there were numerous levels to clamber down into, or up on. We were worried we may not have enough fuel to take us back to the boat after such a long trip but we made it back before dark. Another great day!
So many islands to visit and bays to explore and in a few weeks we were back in Langkawi again, catching up with friends around a beach fire and playing guitar. Next stop - Sumatra, Indonesia!
Christmas Lanterns, Thailand