We had rough sail back to Malaysia with a heavy squall on the way – of course it hit in the middle of the night but no damage so we arrived at the island of Tioman tired but happy to be in one piece. Tioman is the easiest place to check in and only took us about an hour so we headed straight to the bottle shop to stock up on some duty free alcohol and then had lunch. We wanted to spend few days here this time so we sent round to the lovely bay of Juara. There are only a few restaurants and backpackers here and no cruising boats.
Vince had met a guy last time who lived here and ran an outdoor education facility for Singaporean students who had invited us all to visit when we returned so we spent a very lazy afternoon drinking beer and finding out all about the place. It turns out that he was raised only couple of doors down the road from my childhood home! We both knew each others families but didn’t remember each other. Small world. The village of Juara is spread out along the beach with only one or two shops, a school (see pic above) and a clinic. There is a market a couple of nights a week and that is all… We spent a lovely few days here, kayaking down the river and swimming, eating and socialising but all too quickly our final night approached. We were heading back to Penang with a visit to Australia squeezed in and Vince and Ingrid were heading to Sebana Cove and then on home.
Last drinks on the beach in Juara
The next morning we set off for the Straits of Malacca again. We took a few days but arrived in Penang with a couple of days to spare before our flight home. Catching up with friends and enjoying the luxury of living in a Marina again – bliss. We were up at the crack of dawn for our flight back to Perth to catch up with our kids which is always exciting. We had some business to attend to and caught up with lots of people including Vince & Ingrid who we managed to see for 20 minutes at the airport on our way out as they were just flying in. Big hugs and more waves goodbye and we headed back to Indian Summer who was waiting patiently for us in Straits Quay Marina.
We had another month in Penang with two lots of friends coming for a visit. Penang is a gorgeous place with so much to do and so a couple of days later our friends Bronny & Paul arrived from New Zealand and we hit the ground running. The first afternoon was spent on board in the pouring rain catching up on news and drinking champagne.
The next day we went up Penang Hill. Penang Hill is 830m high and accessed by a funicular railway and is a great way to escape the hot and humid environment of Georgetown. It was the favourite haunt of the British as it was so much cooler and fresher before the advent of air conditioning. As a result many houses were built on the Hill in an English style and at times it felt like we were walking through the Cotswolds – the giveaways being the heat and the tropical flora. We went up on the funicular into the clouds which obscured our view but that didn’t dampen our spirits, in fact it was lovely to be able to walk around in the cool.
View of Penang from top of the Hill
We stopped and had the best coffee and wandered amongst the beautiful houses. It rained on and off which kept the heat down but also made it feel even more English.
Even has an old fashioned pillar box!
We headed down to Georgetown for lunch and found a really brilliant Indian restaurant in Little India. We were ushered into the back and were given our meals on banana leaves with an assortment of different sauces. Not as hot as we thought it would be but delicious. The afternoon was spent wandering around finding different artworks, amazing architecture and ending up at the E&O Hotel for a drink. The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is over 100 years old and is a testament to the grand elegance of the British Colonial era. It has a sea frontage of 902 feet! It still retains its charm and it was a lovely way to end the day.
The E&O Hotel – Georgetown, Penang.
The next day Bronny & I spent the day in Georgetown exploring while the guys played around on the boat – actually they were replacing the newly galvanised chain. We found a delightful hotel where we had our morning coffee – another superb architectural marvel and a place I could spend many hours.
Coffee break in this gorgeous hotel.
We managed to spend the whole day finding different art works, visiting museums, markets and shopping ending up with a taxi back to the Marina to see how the guys were getting on. That night we all went to the hawker markets with Phil & Karel from Tehani Li
Three very different architectural styles – all well renovated and maintained.
To give them a change from Georgetown, the next day we took the bus to the top of the island to Batu Ferringi. This place is the main tourist centre of Penang as all the larger hotels line the beach and all the watersports run from here. We walked the length of the beach and had a swim but we found the water clarity not brilliant mainly because we are in the Straits of Malacca and there is a lot of run off but it was still very refreshing to cool off in the water.
Batu Ferringi Beach
Having found some delightful little spots in Georgetown, we took Ian & Paul in the next day starting at the Clan Jetties. The Clan Jetties are along the waterfront and inhabited by the descendants of Chinese settlements. They are over 200 years old and wooden houses built on stilts connected by a long pier. They even have gardens between the pier and their houses. Each jetty is named after the clan who live here. They are shut at night but you can wander around them during the day and most of the houses have shops that serve the tourist well.
We needed a coffee after all that walking and found a small cafe that served Vietnamese coffee. You are given a tray with a pot of hot water, a coffee infuser, some condensed milk, some ordinary milk and a whisk. You then proceed to make it yourself and wait while it infuses. Very sophisticated!
Vietnamese Coffee time.
The next morning we went to the Pulau Tikus markets. One of the oldest markets in Penang, they still have a genuine feel of authenticity about them. We found a guy who for the last 40 years has been selling roast pork and duck. He roasts them himself, carves them up and everything is sold by about 10am. The veggies here were really good, but a lot was imported rather than local – including oranges from Australia!
We all decided we wanted to have a sail so the next evening we untied the lines and headed out to Monkey Beach. This bay is right at the top of Penang and is only accessed by boat. Similar to Thailand, we watched as the local boats left with their passengers and only a few backpackers were left on the island. It was quite idyllic – we had our roast duck for dinner and the weather was kind so we had a very peaceful night and in the morning Bronny & I had a swim. I opted out of the swim to the island but Bronny & Paul went. They had a look round and got a lift back on a jet-ski. It was lovely to be on anchor again with all the breezes coming through. Marinas are great but they are really hot ….
We sailed back to the marina mid afternoon,tied up and decided to go out to dinner as it was their last night and our 31st wedding anniversary. They treated us to a lovely Indian meal down on the waterfront.
It was a lovely end to their visit – next time New Zealand….
We saw them off and 24 hours later welcomed Gabby & Henry. They arrived just after lunch and we spent the first day on the boat – it was really hot as we had had no rain for a few days so they were exhausted. We had dinner in the marina that night and by the evening they were feeling much better.
The next day we showed them Georgetown. We visited the Clan Jetties again, Little India, Chinatown, lunched at our special Indian restaurant, walked along the waterfront and even ended up back at the E&O Hotel. We were really feeling like locals now.
Lunching – with our banana leaves ..
Gabby & I in the lobby of the E&O Hotel.
They wanted to have a sail so we set off for Monkey Beach again. It was not so calm this time and I was worried they would not like it but no worries, they loved it! There were far too many jellyfish in the water to take a swim off the back of the boat this time so we had a barbeque on board, drank lots of rum and talked till the small hours. The next day while we were sailing back we saw a pod of about 30 dolphins who stayed with us for about an hour. They told us that the sailing/night on anchor was the highlight of their visit..
At anchor at Monkey Beach
They had to leave the following day so we did some shopping, they bought some presents and we had dinner at the Marina and in no time it was time for them to leave.
That night we had dinner with a few cruisers in the marina and set off early the next day for Langkawi where we are going to stock up on booze, check out of Malaysia and set sail for Thailand once again.