The voyage South

this is the reward at the end of the long trip to Indonesia.

Malacca Straights is a long boring 400 mile path from Thailand to Indonesia, the scenery is dull, the water brown, the weather dull. This is something you just get through to get from one extraordinary place to another, much like a rainbow the reward is at the end. What makes this leg tolerable, even fun are the incredible marinas along the way. Here we have found facilities and staff that surpass all others.

The first stop in Malaysia is Lankawi where we stay at Rebock Marina and Resort. This oasis is located on a small island adjacent to Lankawi. The Marina is new and well-kept and much protected. A narrow entrance can be negotiated at all but the lowest tides. The marina is separated from the resort by a section of jungle and connected by a wide paved path. The marina has its own restaurant with “local” prices, about half that of the resort. I was able to set up and play music in the restaurant, great fun. .

The gem of Rebock is the swimming pool. A large rounded pool bordered by white sandy beaches and the bay. The pool has a swim up bar! Pod like lounge chairs make for great sunbathing or hiding under their “convertible” tops. This was where you could find us most afternoons. This marina is a haven for cruisers and some make long stays, a hard place to leave.

Next down the straights we stopped at the historic city of Penang and stayed at the Straights Quay Marina. This is a small modern marina on the north end of the island. It replaces the run down albeit handy city marina we used to stay at. Again we met excellent staff that were helpful in all ways. The marina is surrounded by a very modern shopping mall, even a Starbucks. The pool is perched on the top floor of a condo complex and sports an incredible view. The only down side was the ongoing construction noise but not a bother. We stayed a few days here enjoying the local cuisine and of course the pool. A large shopping opportunity was a walk away a Tescoe, our favorite chain so just before we left two brim full shopping carts arrived a Furthur.

Our next stop was at a place that could have been great but is not, Pankor. We stopped here on our first trip up with the Sail Malaysia Rally. It is a great marina and a massive development covering the manmade island, it looked like it had a great future. Two years later no new tenants occupied the empty buildings, the staff was reduces albeit very helpful. Two restaurants and a night club had closed leaving one dubious place to eat. The place had that abandoned dream look, this is a prime example of the over development in Malaysia.

My favorite place came next, Admiralty Marina, at Port Dickson. It is always a great place to return to. The classic architecture gives the place a Mediterranean look. Again we find an exquisite swimming pool. You may wonder why the pools are so important, by now we are less than 200 miles from the equator, hot and humid. We revisited one of my cherished haunts, the Temple Chinese Restaurant, piles of scrumptious Chinese food served family style, crowned by a whole steamed fish. I had the unfortunate opportunity to find out just how great the staff was when my back went out. They took exceptional care of me, over above the call of duty.

The last stop in Malaysia is a hidden jewel, Puteri Marina. There are three options in northern Singapore; Raffles, on the Singapore side is an eloquent facility with great amenities and a price tag to match. Danga Bay, a rundown dock and amazingly rude harbor master (we did hear he had been fired) and Puteri Marina, a new marina in yet another over developed complex. Sadly no pool but the docks are great and the staff is dazzling. The marina manager, Perdana, was so helpful last year and again at this stop. They shuttled us to immigrations and all the shopping we needed. He even found some parts for me and delivered them. Like all the other Malaysian marinas all of this is had for very cheap prices, the nightly rate for Furthur in Malay runs between $15 to $20 and the power and water is inexpensive as well. I have paid four times that in other countries for much less.

Thinking we had left civilization we entered Indonesia and stopped at Batam Island at the Nongsa Point Marina, a place we could check in to Indonesia. We are pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful facility and yes a massive swimming pool. The staff did our check in and it was a snap, much easier than I had done before. Now in Indonesia we need new sim cards for phones and internet and a few supplies but mostly pool time.

Here we picked up the new crew member, Laura, who hails from the land of Popes and great food, Italy. We are all looking forward to some great Italian food!

We leave this luxury knowing it is the last we will see for many months. There are virtually no marinas in Indonesia, so we will be “on the hook” from here. We have prepared well and are eager to hit the wilds. Today I went on a long run, another last for a while, I was again reminded why I love Indonesia. I was greeted by the brightest most genuine teeth filled smiles, warm greeting, “Good morning sir” to which I answered Salamet Pagi, which fetched even warmer smiles and waving arms, “pagi pagi”. I am back!