Life on the hard! We had forgotten how much we really prefer to be in the water. But to tend to our faithful Long Passages' wounds, we must suffer a little also. We decided to take it easy on our health this time around and have the yard people do most of the work. Rebak Marina has a couple of outfits that work on yachts, and although they are not rocket scientists, they do seem to be competent. We hired Zeta Marine, run by Afendy, to do the work while we did small chores and visited the pool. To give an idea of costs in Malaysia, the work we contracted included:
The damage on LP's bow was effectively repaired by week's end, with 14 layers of fiberglass, lots of epoxy and a small amount of fairing to make her look sleek again. We should be ready to return to the water early next week.
We made several trips by ferry into the main island of Langkawi, and were able to rent a good air-conditioned car to tour the island - and no paper-work: hand over RM30 (US$8) and they give you the keys! We saw lots of Macque monkeys and a few Speckled Langors (aka Dusky Leaf monkeys) on Gurung Raya, the highest mountain on the island.
At week's end while checking a friend's web-site, we read of another Shannon that had come to grief, a 50 footer by the name of Queen Jane that collided with a container ship about 100 miles north of Auckland, New Zealand. Bowsprit swept away and bow crushed but no significant injuries. Our incident paled in comparison with the trauma associated with their collision. If interested, check out their story at www.bigel.net.
Ah - Back in the Water!! We are happy to have the boat work completed and be back afloat again. We spent the week making minor repairs, waxing the topsides, polishing stainless, and trying to make Long Passages shipshape. Below the workers sanded, ground filler, and applied epoxy and fiberglass to fix the damage to the bow (which really wasn't as bad as we had expected). A few trips to town for supplies and duty-free wine rounded out the week. A last minute discovery was a leaking exhaust pipe, so a quick trip to a metal shop got us a new stainless mixing elbow and exhaust tubing. By Thursday all work was done and we were back in the water.
Ramadan and Hari Raya - During Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting, work slows down in Malaysia. Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown, and the workers have short days to allow for prayers and lack of food. After the sun goes down, the streets come alive with food stalls and friends meet and break the fast! The mosques and radio stations broadcast the calls to prayer - 5 of them during the day, and the national newspaper publishes the exact time of each prayer session which is determined by the position of the sun or moon. At the end of Ramadan comes Hari Raya Aidilfitri, a 2-day celebration and national holiday when families visit friends dressed in their best attire. Having an opportunity to observe Islam up close, we are struck by the similarity between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The King's Death - Sadly, at the end of last week, the king of Malaysia passed away after a long illness. Doctors in Malaysia and Singapore had tried for months, but to no avail. Succession in Malaysia is somewhat interesting - although they have a Parliament and a Prime Minister, a role was reserved for a king. Since there had never been a king for the entire Malay peninsula, and each state wanted their own sultan or Raja to be king, they settled on a rotating crown. A sequence was established, and every 5 years the head of one of the states becomes king of Malaysia. So this week, a new king was selected from the state of Perlis. If we applied this in the US, we could be assured of 250 years between presidents from Texas - interesting thought...
About Face! After thinking about the options for a weekend, we decided that there was too much to see in Asia to leave so quickly; Cambodia, Tibet, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Plus we had not yet reached Thailand or cruised the beautiful islands people had described to us. And the world situation weighed on our minds a little - we are not sure how welcoming the countries around the Red Sea will be to Westerners this year. So, we decided: stay in Asia one more year! Then Judi had another idea: Let's take a quick trip to the US to visit her sister and brother for Christmas. Airfares were reasonable ($650 round trip to LA) so we made a booking, and within 4 days were winging our way back to the US, arriving 19 December. We decided to surprise her sister, so we have snuck up the coast from LA to Klamath falls in Oregon, planning our arrival Christmas morning in time for the eggnog. We started along the coast, with nights in Solvang (cute Danish village), Monterey before heading inland to Fairfield and Mt Shasta (in the shadow of this high mountain) where 2' of snow greeted us on the ground. Shortly we leave to get our dose of eggnog, so we wish you all
HAPPY HARI RAYA, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR
Rethinking options - We are considering our options for the next year, and may change some of our plans - stay tuned.
Snow, Snow Snow! - It has been over 10 years since we have seen a White Christmas, and we really enjoyed it. Klamath Falls is in the Oregon mountains, and several weeks of snow had left its mark - lawns and roofs were coated in clean white and many houses were decorated with blinking lights and the new icicle lights.
Surprise! At 11 AM Judi knocked on Sharon's door, and the 2 sisters hugged and yelled at each other in the surprise of the day. Fortunately Sharon, and her husband Larry, are pretty laid back, and welcomed us with open arms. We had a great day as more relatives arrived and the turkey aroma wafted through the house. After consuming more food than seems legal, we chatted late into the night and were glad that we had made the spur-of-the-moment decision to come back - is was the first Christmas Judi and Sharon had spent together as adults!
The rest of the week we ate leftovers, read in front of the fireplace, wandered through Wal-Mart, and generally relaxed. At the end of the week a friend, Stephanie stopped by, and she and Sharon started to plan a visit to sail with us in Malaysia or Thailand.
Next week we hop another plane to the East Coast and a blitz visit with Bob's son, Denis in Florida - stay tuned for a radical change in temperature.