First and foremost we hope you all had WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS with family and friends, and A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR for 2010. Thank you all who sent us Greetings or those lovely cards and news of what you have been up to. We were out and about exploring new bays and Islands for both Christmas and New Year.
Now that you have received and read all your Christmas Mail and all that news which comes in for near and far, it’s back to those rather long and boring SHAMAL’S news letter which arrive in your inbox from time to time. I can hear you saying – oh it’s them again.
As I write this we are sitting on a mooring buoy in Chalong Bay - Phuket, having arrived here on Monday 4th January. So as you can see we have covered quite a bit of ground since our last post.
December 30th saw us moving on again. We had checked out of Malaysia and were now entering Thailand’s waters, and our first stop was at one of the prettiest little Islands I have ever seen. It was called Ko Koi Noi. This tiny Island had a small knob of vegetation with high trees growing on it. There was a long sand spit with one palm tree. The sands were pure white and the sea was that lovely turquoise colour. As we had our drinks that evening in the most perfect of temperatures as the sun was sinking, we watched two sea eagles going to and fro from their nests in the high trees. We were amazed at the size of their nests. They were huge. The eagles seemed to disappear into them. We also watched a couple of dugongs swimming by.
We said goodbye to Ken and Bridget on the morning of the 6th January. They left with an extra suitcase with all the goodies they purchased along the way. I hope they enjoyed the experience of visiting new places and trying different foods as much as we did. The fresh fruit and veges here have been wonderful, and Alec kept us supplied with a beautiful fresh fruit salad for breakfast every morning. He even brought an electric food processor and we are now into mango and paw paw smoothies every day.
Well I will sign out for this letter. Take care and as I said at the beginning, we wish you all the very best for 2010.
Lots of love from
Observations : From Alec
Singapore: Yachts cannot anchor anywhere around Singapore and one must go in to a Marina or pick up a mooring buoy at one of the sailing clubs. All boats are required to have a AIS ( Automatic Identification System ) transponder. We were told even the local yachts who race or sail to another Marina or club need a transponder. When we departed the Changi Sailing Club for Sabanna Cove in Malaysia I decided first to have a little sightseeing trip up towards the causeway ( the one the Japs came across in 1942 on their bicycles ) The Police/Coastguard patrol boats motored slowly pass us on several occasions, took a good look and then sped off. In Singapore waters we received several messages on our Chart Plotter regarding the AIS. We only have a AIS receiver which allows us to receive data about other vessels but not allow other vessels to “see” you. In Singapore waters we received all kind of messages on our chart plotter regarding the AIS. Examples AIS SRM Alarm, test calls, you have entered so and so zone eg. A40 and even had a message which said “why have you” The best message said “ well done” Maybe we sailed in a no go zone. At one stage there were 320 ships ( targets ) on our AIS list within 24 miles of Shamal. How is that for traffic.
Had a bit of a problem obtaining diesel in Panang. The local Shell Service station by the Marina would not sell me any diesel without a letter from some Govt. Department. The Marina Boatmaster had a scam going at RH 3.0 per litre. Met an English lady who employed a Indian guy as her Skipper/Deckhand. Got talking to him and found out he use to work in Abu Dhabi etc etc. So off in the tender to the fuel barge to visit his mate. 120 litres later at RH 1.9. I love beating these scams if I can.
Malaysia up to now had been scam free.
Interesting fact about Penang . Penang was a U-Boat base for the German Navy in World 11.
Langkawi: All crew members said was the best place up from Singapore. Before we left for Thailand we stocked up on beer at NZ 65 cents a can. A bottle of Gordon’s Gin NZ $ 16. Took on more diesel but not Duty Free anymore but at NZ 80 cents a litre one cannot complain. Islam appears to be very low key. Young couples out after dark holding hands. Oh my God. Definitely forbidden in the Arabian Gulf where we use to live. Cab drivers have no meters but did not rip you off. We all agreed that Langkawi would be a great place to retire in. A lot quieter than Phuket. In actual fact yachties sail often between the two. Visa runs and order their spare parts in Langkawi being duty free and get their boat maintenance done in Phuket with its better facilities. Met one Canadian cruising couple who arrived in this area in 2001 on their world trip but have not left. This is now their retirement base.
The ultimate end of all forms of Buddhism is to reach “nibbana ” blowing out or extinction of all desire and thus all suffering. Having achieved nibbana , an individual is freed from the
cycle of rebirths and enters the spiritual plane. In reality, most Thai Buddhists aim for rebirth in a “ better “ existence in the next life. To reach this goal carry out meritorious actions such
as feeding the monks, giving donations to temples and performing regular worship. We rode our motorbike up the hill behind Chalong Bay to visit Big Buddha ( a very large statue ) and noticed many
Europeans were being bless by the monks.
Crime: Crime against visitors is generally low although actual murder and violent assault figures for the Thais are high. Thailand has a homicide rate of 9.7/10,000 compared to
8.6/10,000 for the USA, usually considered one of the highest. However, Thais kill each other and rarely kill visitors.
The above information sourced from the Lonely Planet and cruising guides.
It was sad that Ken and Bridget only could spend one and a half days in Phuket as they already extended their tickets once back to N.Z. Ann and I are now enjoying Phuket after our first impressions of this place being so overcrowded. We were told Phuket has 4 million tourist per year on a island the same size as Lake Taupo.