Monday, January 26, 2009

January 25, 2009 - Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, Langkawi, Malaysia

Our trip up from Penang to Langkawi was an easy daysail. There wasn't much wind, so we had to keep the motor running all day to arrive at the anchorage before dark. We haven't filled our fuel tanks since Bali; since then we've put a lot of hours on the engine. We arrived in Langkawi with about an inch of Indo diesel left in each tank - just in time to load up with duty free fuel.

Our first night here we anchored in a cut between two islands. The forests covering the steep cliffs around us were alive with the sounds of birds, monkeys and insects. When night fell, we were surround by total darkness. We haven't been in a place this devoid of ambient light since August.

The next morning, as we motored up to Kuah, there were eagles soaring overhead. With their reddish brown wings and white heads they looked like bald eagles to us. Seeing these predators in flight we could understand why this group of islands was named after these majestic birds; in Malay lang means eagle and kawi means strong.

About 20 years ago the Prime Minister of Malaysia designated Langkawi as a duty free island. Since then it has become a popular vacation destination for Malaysians, Thais and Singaporeans. In the past few years several luxury resorts have opened here, extending the draw of the island beyond its immediate neighborhood. Last year this group of 99 islands containing mountains, mangroves, tropical rainforests and limestone krasts was designated a UNESCO Geopark, which is expected to have a positive impact on the numbers of tourists visiting the island. For yachties heading across the Indian Ocean, it is the best place to stock up on wine, beer and hard alcohol at reasonable prices (beer is $10 a case here rather than $20 in Thailand).

Other than stocking up on duty free booze, we have a few other items to check off of our list in Langkawi. Several of Sten's projects (including dinghy repair and trouble shooting a problem with the main engine ignition) are best done while the boat is tied to a dock; so, we find ourselves in a marina for the third time this month and the fifth time in two years of cruising. Despite a stiff breeze and some tricky current Sten did a masterful job of parking Mata'irea in a tight slip next to a beamy Oyster 55.

No comments: