The next "official" stopover is in Phucket, which we will reach at the end of nearly one month of "free cruising" along the shores of Malaysia up to the island of Langkawi, to then enter Thailand (everybody is a bit nervous because several days will pass between our exit from Malaysia and our official entry into Thailand, which can only take place in Phucket).
The romantic Port Dickson yacht club, in a perfect colonial style
In fact our first contact with the country when we went to Fort Dickson for the entry formalities, after having moored Shaula in the nearby nice, colonial-style marina, was rather disappointing, but we soon acknowledged the contrasts of this country, where the ultra-modern Kuala Lumpur, with a city centre which is dominated by the Petronas twin towers and rivals with Singapore, coexists with the colonial-era buildings of Melaka (the ancient capital) and Georgetown, both recently appointed "World Heritage" sites by UNESCO.
The main road across the historycal block of Melaka
Also in this Country there have been subsequent occupations by the Portuguese,
then the Dutch and finally the British, each lasting about 150 years, and traces
of the three cultures are still visible, together with the influence of the many
Indian and Chinese inhabitants.
The Petronas towers loom over a skyscraper scenery in downtown Kuala Lumpur
(left) Kuala Lumpur's "National Monument" and the "National Moscque" (right)
Just out of town, the Hindu temple at the Batu caves
Unfortunately, the sailing north along the Malaysian coast has not been very pleasant, with the usual mixture of tropical squalls, head-winds and short, choppy seas.
Shaula beats against the short swell of the Malacca straits
We had to make-do with only two stopovers, one in Port Dickson, from where we went to visit Melaka (Malacca) and Kuala Lumpur, and later Georgetown.
The Georgetown city hall
The Khoo Kongsi (Khoo clanhouse) in Georgetown
Rickshaws are a common sight in this part of the world
It wouldn't be actually needed, but Enrico enjoys hand-steering the boat
A radical change in Langkawi: change of landscape, with complex, dramatic
sceneries, little islands, plenty of anchorages and navigable rivers. Change in
the weather, with long periods of very light rain and spells of burning sunshine.
Change in the shopping facilities, because the place is a huge duty-free for the
locals: if you need a camera, or chocolate, or cheap liquors, there is plenty of
choice, but if you need bread...
Sunset in Pulau Dajang Bunting, a small island near Langkawi
A couple of days ago, we went with a local boat along a navigable river where we
saw sea-eagles, bat-filled caves and a strange-looking crab, called "horseshoe
crab" whose upper shell reminds closely that of fossils we have seen so often in
These boats, equipped with an automotive engine and a straight prop-shaft are very common in this area
Now we are heading towards Thailand and its hundreds of spectacular anchorages.
Before heading towards Thailand, we decided to spend a night at anchor in the same river we had visited few days before from land; several yachts come in this idyllic, tranquil anchorage, and if you want you may go by dinghy to a nearby village on stilts, where you can have dinner.
The first leg towards Thailand was very short, we just went to nearby Ko Lipe, a tiny island with a long, sandy beach fronted by restaurants and bars. An holyday location to be sure, but it was a pleasant stop in good company with the crews of some other Rally yachts.
The beach of Ko Lipe, crowded with very noisy "longtails"
The extraordinary wiews of Bangkok royal Palaces
And the people: there's the insisting seller that does not take "no, thank-you"
for an answer, but there is also the fisherman approaching on his canoe to offer
freshly caught fish and crabs and who keeps smiling also if you do not buy
anything, and the tourist-boat operators that smile and chat at every
opportunity when they anchor nearby.
And there's also the cart-vendor selling fried locusts, cockroaches and worms,
which literally horrified Baby...
(left) a traditional dance, care of the Blue Water Rally and (right) sightseeing in Phucket
In fact, crowding is the worst aspect of these places, however nice and
interesting; not surprisingly, this is where we have seen the highest number of
western people who came here to settle, very often middle-aged europeans who
found a local woman and never went away: it's the myth of the Polynesian vahinč,
which becomes real in an entirely different place!...
Patong is Phucket's main tourist destination
Once in Patong, we discovered that the wind had shifted to the north-west, to
which the harbour is not sheltered, making the anchorage very rolly. Only few of
the Rally yachts had remained there instead of seeking shelter elsewhere, and
there was no plan to do anything in company during the night.
Last Update: 21/09/2014
Shaula4 website (text and images) by Gianfranco Balducci is licensed under a