2009-08-24 Langkawi - Borneo (English)

Hello landlubbers, 
Good heavens, what an emptiness and how quiet it is after the visit of Jacky’s sister Rita and her son Rob. We’re back to normal and take our time to prepare for further trips. But there isn’t  much to say about the next trip because we go East again and the Melaka Street isn’t  exactly the most exciting place to be. We sail (and use the engine a lot) in company of two other yachts, Silent Wish and Gentle Lady. In Port Klang we tie up at the most filthy River we’ve ever seen. An enormous pile of debris goes up and down the river with the tide and often we push off the boat to release a heap of stuff. We don’t want to stay here too long but the six of us take the train to Kuala Lumpur and have a wonderful day over there. After a few more days we arrive in the brand new Puteri Harbour Marina. This is just over the River West of Singapore. Despite the low prices there is almost nobody there. Malaysia promotes sailing very much but unfortunately there is no wind and not many sailing yachts and that doesn’t change very much. They build new marinas but they don’t know where the ships must come from. Anyway, that’s good for us. The prices are low, we’ve got excellent internet on board and the management brings us everywhere we want to go with a car or van. Everybody is more than friendly and we think this is the right place to wait for our friends of the Pelikaan who had visitors on board In Langkawi. We go several times to Singapore and we know our way there as in our hometown. Then, when Pelikaan arrives and we put Fien back again where she belongs as we play cards, it is time to go. With Singapore at port we manoeuvred between hundreds of tall ships and later we had to cross the shipping lane what is a tricky business because the big ones come from everywhere, and fast! Than we go straight East, direction Kuching Borneo, and since we’re not in a hurry we try to sail as much as possible. We only start the engine when the speed is under 1.5 Kts. and it takes four days to arrive at the little place Santubong, about 30 Km from Kuching. We pick up a local bus and the driver helps us with finding the offices for the clearance formalities. We decide to go to the Tourist Information and before we know we are in a van which brings us to a National Park Semenggoh sanctuary with free Orang Utans. The big strong leader of more than 100 Kg is a very imposing fellow but you’re not allowed to come to close. It is most surprising how much the Orang Utans behaviour looks like the humans way of doing. Their body language and mime looks very much like ours and despite the female is not really handsome all males circle around her. Unfortunately for them, the big leader has giant muscles and is a bit irritated by all this interest. All together this is a very special event  and we would like to see more of this.  After all our travelling and experiences we just were on the wrong foot about Borneo. You always make expectations and this time we were completely wrong.  Borneo is surprisingly far in its development and in the province Sarawak, where we are now, it is clean and many people drive fancy cars. We see real estate of more than reasonable standards (40.- to 80.000 €) and work and businesses everywhere. Only 26% of Sarawak is Islamic and the Chinese have got the main influence. The good thing for us is their good food and the hundreds of small shops where you can find anything. Together with Hans and Fien we rent a car for a week and we explore the wide surroundings of Kuching. We hike and climb in Bako National Park, visit bat-caves and the enormous Fairy cave. We loved the more than 1000 stands night market in Kuching and we visit one of the typical Longhouses. A Longhouse is a traditional way of living in this area where many families live in a private house under a long roof. Social life and meetings take place at their common veranda.  On our way to find a place for lunch we were invited by a Chinese man in his garden where a band was playing. He offered us food and as much beer and whiskey we could drink. Although we are Dutch we left in time (you know decent) and politely thanked him a 1000 times. We go a little bit further with the boat to  the Isle Pulau Lakei. We do something what looks like a hike  but it is in fact more like a survival track. After two hours we think it’s enough and turn around to climb and bottom slide our way back. Good heavens, you should have heard the ladies! We all were so glad to be back on the beach that we just stripped off our clothes and jumped stark naked in the  water. The water was far too hot but anyway it gave some refreshment. Yes, it’s HOT in Borneo. It’s bloody hot! When we left Holland 8 years ago the theme was “Never winter again”. We still do not like winters but once in a while a fresh nose would be nice. And if I’m talking weather than there is more. Borneo has got the most thunderstorms of the world. It’s not too bad right now. And we’ve got water spouts.  We have seen several and of course we try to avoid to come too close. The black clouds with the long trunks are dangerous and can be very violent. Our plan is to sail up the Rajang river, this is the longest River of Malaysia. This river has many branches so we can take a different way back to sea. The First stop is at the River mouth  and the next stop is next to the little town of Sarikei.  They’ve never seen a tourist here and we are welcomed like celebrities. A retired policeman shows us extensively around in his car and everybody is interested and we are stopped many times to have a little chat. The next stop is Bintangor. This is even smaller and more isolated. On our last evening we end up, totally unexpected, in culinary tour the force. In a low end Chinese restaurant we get the most delicious langoustines and other dishes and we all agree that  this was very special (Good to know for you in the developed world that we paid €5 for it and that included a beer). Then we head for Sibu. This is a pretty modern city (250.000) and it is an administrative centre for an extensive interior. Again here is a strong Chinese influence. People speak frankly with you and they laugh often and friendly. I am allowed to go to the hairdresser after a long time. The following happens: we open the sliding-door and this is a big consternation in the little room, I say that I want a haircut, nobody understands that but a young lady takes her mobile and starts calling (obviously she thinks that the big guy with the long hair wants a haircut), I am directed into a chair, somebody raps me in towels and we wait for a while, the Maestro, 20 years old or so,  enters,  with great feeling for drama and, no doubt, great skills he cuts almost 1 Cm and thins it out a bit, he looks me in the eyes and says,  “READY”, Wash hair?, I say “NO”, I am directed to another chair, The Maestro has gone....!, Somebody starts washing my hair, back to chair one, hair dryer, pay, 8 Ringgit equals about € 1.60  Do you believe it?  Great experience. Another example of these contacts is what happened in the electronics store. I ask for a plug an immediately get the “No Have”. I ask “No have?” “Yes.” And then, “Where do you come from?” I say “Holland”. He again “Wait, wait”. He fiddles a bit on his computer and suddenly our national pride and hymn Het Wilhelmus sounds full blast in the store. Ohhh, how sad life can be, hahaha! We like Sibu a lot and from here we want to travel a little without our boat. You’ll read more about this next time.
Rob & Jacqueline

 

Good heavens, what an emptiness and how quiet it is after the visit of Jacky’s sister Rita and her son Rob. We’re back to normal and take our time to prepare for further trips. But there isn’t  much to say about the next trip because we go East again and the Melaka Street isn’t  exactly the most exciting place to be. We sail (and use the engine a lot) in company of two other yachts, Silent Wish and Gentle Lady. In Port Klang we tie up at the most filthy River we’ve ever seen. An enormous pile of debris goes up and down the river with the tide and often we push off the boat to release a heap of stuff. We don’t want to stay here too long but the six of us take the train to Kuala Lumpur and have a wonderful day over there. After a few more days we arrive in the brand new Puteri Harbour Marina. This is just over the River West of Singapore. Despite the low prices there is almost nobody

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