Chinese New year in Penang, Malaysia.

Tuesday 3rd February

Leaving Singapore we were finally able breath a sigh of relief that our engine worries were kick back into cruising mode and enjoy being on the open road once again. 

That was over three weeks ago and since then it's been a whirlwind trip to rush hundreds of miles north to Langkawi just to make the decision that yes we are to late and we will have to spend a full season here in Asia!

Over the SSB radio and email we've said our goodbyes to all those friends we wont be continuing the adventure with this year and hope that they have a fantastic trip through the Red Sea. To Ingvil & Gunnar on s/v Helen Kate and Astrid, Jasper & Marijn on s/v Antares, we send all our love and will cherish the memories...Thank you (we also expect a room to stay in when we come visit you next year so don't think your rid of us that easily!!). ..Missing you already.

Thus our year in Asia has begun and After spending a week in Langkawi discovering all the great duty free stores; where a bottle of rum will set you back 28 Ringgit (roughly US$8 or 5 British Pounds) and every kind Chocolate you can imagine is stacked to the ceiling at ridiculously low prices, we hired a moped to check out the main island. We found some great anchor spots and marinas which I'm sure we'll become familiar with over time and enjoyed the spectacular scenery with almost a hundred islands covered in lush green vegetation and snow white sandy beaches...Heaven.

Our bliss was slightly obstructed, however, when we found out that we would need to pick up a visa if we wanted to spend longer than a month cruising the Thai islands. So we upped anchor and headed back 50 miles the way we'd just come to the island of Pulau Penang where the Thai embassy is located. The city of Georgetown is the business end of the island and was once the hub of the British east India company when they first arrived in Malaysia. Unlike Singapore, Penang didn't fair well with the decline of the British Empire and has left an interesting mix of Chinese and Indian cultures without the high tech attitude. The architecture in the old town is beautiful, though slightly neglected, it gives an eclectic feel with narrow streets crammed from top to bottom with colourful decorations and a temple or mosque at every corner.

For those of you who aren't up with your knowledge of Chinese cultural events the 25th of January is Chinese New Year's eve and for all those born in the year of the 'Ox' this is your lucky year! Unfortunately we weren't here in time for that celebration but we were lucky enough be in town for the Jade Emperor God's Birthday on the 1st of February which also marks the end of the week long holiday.
With over 10 thousand people packing the streets of Georgetown it was a fantastic night of Dragon dances, stage and puppet shows on every corner, craft fairs, 'a lot' of incense burning and my favourite....street vendors selling an array of delicious food! Georgetown is great at any time for finding yummy meals but on this night the chefs were out in force selling everything from Smoked salmon kebabs to squid stir fry and steaming bowls of Curry mie to giant spring rolls packed full with who knows what. The celebrations went on all through the night with fireworks and singing that we could still here from the boat in the early hours...these Chinese really know how to have a good time.

The next day, however, was back to business as usual and so with visas in hand it's time for us to head back to Langkawi to do a final stock up before sailing to thailand... but not before we have one last curry of course!
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