Monday, March 15, 2010

The next land trip

This morning the marina van dropped us at the unmanned Kota Iskandar bus terminal, where we waited for bus IM07 to take us to the bus terminal in the village of Gelang Patah....which is where the CW3 bus connects for transit to Singapore. Reese and Linda, two Australians on S/V Windy Spirit, joined us. This is their first bus trip to Singapore. Since we have done this trip so many times they figured going with us would be the easiest way for them to learn how it works.

By the way, we learned recently the meaning of the names of a few places in Malaysia. Patah means broken. Gelang means bangle for your arm, like a bracelet. So, Gelang Patah translates to broken bracelet. The new city being built is called Nusajaya. Jaya means place or place of something. Nusa means big tree or big trees. Nusajaya means the place of big trees. Don't know where these big trees are or were located because all we have seen is jungle and remnants of old palm plantations.

Last week a Belgian couple on an Amel Sharki arrived in the marina. We have wanted to see a Sharki for years. The Sharki was a 40-ft ketch that Amel built quite a few years ago. Before we bought our Super Maramu 2000 model of Amel, we had looked at a 20-year-old Mango model Amel (52-ft precursor to the Super Maramu model we have) and had wanted to fly to the Chesappeake Bay to look at a very old Sharki that was available. That particular Sharki had been rolled and dismasted by a rogue wave between Aruba and Panama, and had been re-fit to Amel quality standards. This re-fit included all new wiring and all new electronics and new interior cushions and upholstery, only about 1 years old. So that Sharki probably would have been a good buy. But we quickly decided to buy the newer SM2 and never made the trip to see the Sharki. Obviously, buying the older smaller boat would have been a LOT less expensive and would have allowed us to cruise about 8-10 years longer on the same budget. But we opted for more comfort with the newer and larger boat and haven't regretted that decision. All that said, this 26-year-old Sharki owned by the Belgian couple, Guy and Chris, is a very nice boat. The interior still looks new. The gel coat is still glossy. Their boat really only accomodates 2 people comfortably, whereas our boat can comfortably accommodate 7 people. When guests come to visit, they put them into a hotel near whichever marina they are docked in. I would rather have our guests on the boat with us.

Guy and Chris came over for wine and pizza snacks on Saturday evening. The four of us enjoyed talking so much that the cocktail hour turned into 6 hours and an impromptu dinner. Sometimes you just hit it off perfectly with another couple, and this was one of those times. They regaled us with tales of their cruising for the past 15 years, most recently in Hong Kong, Japan and the Phillippine Islands. This made Bill want to head that direction instead of going to the Med, but we will see how he feels about that one day when he hasn't just drunk too much wine and is more clear-headed. I'm open to whichever direction Bill wants to go because both areas would be nice to visit.

On Friday night the manager of the marina said he was bored so he invited all the yachties to accompany the marina staff to a fish place for the evening. The staff piled into the marina boats and hauled pans of food to the fish place and then returned for us yachties. It was a very fast ride down the strait (which is like a wide river between Malaysia and Singapore, only salt water). This fish place has stakes all around it like spokes on a wagon wheel. Between the stakes (2-stories tall!) there are nets that collect fish. In some areas the fish are trapped within large nets andkept alive until someone wants to purchase them. In other places on the main level one can use a fishing pole to catch your own. This fish place is right in the middle of the strait about half-mile south of the Tuas Bridge, a/k/a the Second Link bridge. It stunk to high heaven beneath this fish place because it was low tide and that exposed parts of the fish nets and poles that are normally submerged in higher tides. When we arrived in the boats we had to climb ladders up to the main level of the building. Once on the main level of the building there was no odor at all. It was a fun evening with good food and most of the marina staff and their families had a ball singing kareoke. Kareoke is very popular in most of SE Asia and is a good way for them to have clean fun. Bars with alcohol and dancing are frowned upon in this predominantly Muslim country. Winds were blowing nicely and it was a lovely cool evening. Lots of fun. We like it when the marina manager gets bored.

Now we are off to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Before S/V Strummer left the marina last week we bought all their leftover Vietnamese currency. Allison and Nigel were visiting Vietnam while we were visiting Cambodia. They had only 630,000 Dong (about $33 USD) but that should be enough to pay for a taxi from the airport to our hotel. Surely there will be an ATM either in the airport or somewhere near the hotel. We did not plan to lug around a laptop on this trip, but the iTouch that our son Aaron gave us for Christmas didn't come with a charger and our old iPod charger won't work with the iTouch. We never thought about it because on the boat the iTouch is left plugged into the radio all the time. We did not discover that we had no charger until we started packing yesterday and it was too late to go shopping. Darn! Would have been so much nicer to carry only one tiny device instead of the heavier and bulkier laptop and charger.

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