Ready to sail again.

Well not really, but getting close now.
Firstly some pictures of the Kek Lok Si temple visit

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I enjoyed the temple visit very much, they sure know how to do Buddhas over here.

So earlier in the week we went to the Mall at Queensbay, they usually have something going on in the main open areas, today was no exception, I think they were selling power exercise drinks and potions. Quite mad if you ask me, however the two kids joining in made it seem ok, except at the end when they turn to face each other, I think the boy thinks the girl is going to high five him, but she walks right past when she realises he is way to young for her. Tragic.

Saturday we went into town for a veggie meal, great that they have such places here and the food was good. We passed a lot of street food hawkers on the way

Lots of things hanging down, weird

Time Square was interesting, I had never really looked around inside, quite classy.
IMG_2406After the meal, we popped along to the prom area where there was a big display of bears, think Cows, Penguins, Liverpudlian Lambananna, or just the latest way to move a lot of plastic around the world. But to be fair it has raised a lot of money for UNICEF, an organisation I have a lot of time for since I saw loads of little boys and girls marching to school for the first time in post Taliban Afghanistan, all carrying UNICEF bags with pencils paper etc.
IMG_2422Each bear represented a country, but we had one for the UK, which got me pondering again on our national identity. It had been a bad week on that front, firstly there was the independence day, when the British flag is lowered and the Malaysian flag replaces it. The whole country celebrates this day, then on the same day the taxi driver told me his son had graduated uni in Dublin and now lived near the post office on O’Connell’ Street there, and did I know it. Felt like shouting, look I wasn’t born then, it’s not my fault ūüėČ Anyway, so after trudging over to the E for England section, then over to G for Great Britain, I ended up at the UK bit, each bear represents an artists impression of his country and I was keen to see what we had, hopefully not a bear in a bowler hat with brolley. So I was rather disappointed to see this chappy. Perhaps he should have been placed by Germany, France, and the other EU countries, but facing the wrong way!

This one reminded me of the burning man, I named it burning bear.

Now I expect you are all thinking, that’s all well and good Paul, but what about the bowsprit!
Well I have finished working on that now. I need to replace the sprit and the platform at some point, probably when I’m in Thailand, but for now I have re-assembled everything and we are fit to slip our lines and sail off into the sunset, well once we finish the other 40 non-bowsprit related jobs.
Before I replaced the windlass, I thought I should re-fit the chain pipes, these are the metal tubes the anchor chain slides down. They were loose on the deck and would allow rain and waves to get into the chain locker, making it damp and smelly. When I removed them, I could see that they had never been sealed to the deck, and in fact worse than that they had leaked water into the deck core and the wood was rotted.

This can be a really bad deal requiring the deck fiberglass having to be cut out and just loads of horrible stuff that takes forever to do. Fortunately, these boats were designed with this problem in mind, and will not allow the damp/rot to travel far. In my case I was able to scrape it all out as it only went a few cm into the deck. Then I could fill the area with thickened epoxy

Rot removed and epoxy filled

The deck is stronger now and this problem shouldn’t happen again, at least not here.
This gave Kathy an opportunity to polish up the chain pipes ready for refitting

Finally I had everything in place and brought the anchor back on board, I’m still trying to work out how best to stow it, it’s not a comfortable fit on the bow sprit and has to be lashed in, just not quite sure how yet.

I reconnected the Navigation lights on the bows pulpit at the connections in the chain locker and was most disappointed to find the port light didn’t work, after making sure the connections at both ends were perfect. I lost count of the times I went between the pulpit and the chain locker with my multimeter, but eventually I found a break in the wire about 6 inches from the light. Now the break was caused by corrosion inside the wire, some distance from the end connections. I only mention this because the previous owner spent a fortune using the very highest quality pre-tinned wire, which in my opinion is useless, or as effective as gold plated loudspeaker cables, i.e. not useful at all.

Tomorrow I go in search of Oxalic acid and Acetone to restock, then more cleaning up the deck and rigging the dutchman, which isn’t a euphemism, all will be revealed.


Paul C.

Merdeka, Moon Cakes and Buddy Bears

Wednesday 31st August was Malaysia’s Independence Day, known as Merdeka Day, when Malaysia gained independence from British colonisation in 1957. ¬†The whole of August builds up to this day, with the Malaysian flag proudly displayed in shops, in windows and on balconies, and celebratory processions and performances are advertised on billboards for the day itself. It’s a national holiday, but not for shops, supermarkets and restaurants where it’s business as usual only busier. ¬†In the spirit of joining in with the holiday, we took things a bit easier for most of the day (me a little more than Paul if I’m honest), and headed to the Queensbay Mall early in the evening. It had rained for most of the day and was still falling when we left but it was warm and not unpleasant to walk in for half an hour, though our friendly gate guard produced an umbrella when he spotted us leaving and insisted that Paul take it. ¬†It kept collapsing on him all the way there and he pondered on how to fix it for most of the way. ¬†We heard music coming from the entrance as we got near the mall and discovered a keep fit dance event taking place in the foyer in celebration of Merdeka Day. It was really entertaining to watch – Paul filmed a bit of it and will hopefully put it on his blog at some point.

Each time we’ve visited the mall in the three weeks we’ve been here we have looked with interest at the stalls selling moon cakes. ¬†They look delicious and it was clear that they were food linked to a sense of occasion, like mince pies or easter eggs. ¬†It was also clear they were very popular. I’d read it was a Chinese tradition to do with the Mid-Autumn festival but from the queues at the stalls, and the amount of money changing hands we wondered if there was a connection to Merdeka Day. ¬†Deciding it was time to see what the fuss was all about we chose a stall and agreed to buy a tin with four moon cakes. ¬†There are lots of different flavoured-fillings which turned out to be quite glutinous in texture, and are encased in a thick pastry (they look a little like pork pies). ¬†We spent some time choosing four flavours for 50 ringitt (¬£10), (durian, fruit and nut, pumpkin, and red bean paste). ¬†All I can say is, they look a lot better than they taste, we have three going spare if anyone’s interested – nice tin though!

Moon Cakes
Moon Cakes

On Thursday, Paul was out most of the morning sorting out parts for the bowsprit, so later on, when it was time to go to Batu Maung to collect the frame from the welder I went with him. This small town is quite a run-down looking place, a dusty industrial area with the main street creating the impression of streets seen in Western movies. ¬†Once we’d collected the frame from the industrial estate, we went for a drink in one of the roadside cafes. ¬†We got more outright stares in this town than anywhere else we’ve been, but we must have looked odd – a Western couple walking around with a cumbersome metal frame…and then we sat right next to the smouldering giant joss sticks that had been part of the recent ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’ so the wind blew thick smoke into our eyes and throats.

Paul with the bowsprit frame, Batu Maung
Paul with the bowsprit frame, Batu Maung
Pungent smoke just before the fire brigade put them all out
Pungent smoke just before the fire brigade put them all out

Friday, and a good deal of Saturday were spent doing the final bits of work on getting the bowsprit polished, cleaned and put back together, as well as ticking off other jobs from the large ‘to do’ list. ¬†Early in the evening on Saturday we took a taxi to George Town to eat out, having looked up some vegetarian places beforehand. ¬†We had a look around The Times Square¬†Mall when we arrived. It was one of the few places Paul hadn’t been to before. The Chinese design and decoration of the place was spectacular! Artificial, but elegant and stylish trees adorned the floors, with flowers and bridges in the middle. Most of the lavish, ‘airport style’ shops were empty, some not even open, yet quite a few were advertising for staff. ¬†It’s hard to see how they make any money, but again, building was going on to create more shops.

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It was twilight when we came out of the mall and such a lovely, atmospheric light. This, and the breeze coming off the sea made ideal walking conditions so we took the long way round to the restaurant area, taking in George Town’s back streets. ¬†The quiet, residential streets have a unique charm in that there is no uniformity in the architecture of the small shops and houses. ¬†Places we’d walked before in the searing heat of day looked entirely different in the evening. ¬†Little India was our destination, but not for Indian food this time. We’d picked out half a dozen options from a google search and the one I favoured was the second one we came upon (the first being closed), called The Leaf Healthy Recipes. ¬†Inside, it looked like an English tea room but the smells were mouthwateringly Asian. ¬†The waiter left us a couple of menus with pictures and descriptions of the dishes, and a pad to fill out our choices on (a great way to get over communication difficulties). I loved the fact that the drinks menu boasted no added sugar or ice – my main problem with most non-alcoholic drinks on offer has been their sickly sweetness and the fact they contain enough ice to make it a sweet ‘slush’. We opted for a tapas-like array of different dishes to try and share as many as possible of the delicious range. The Tom Yam soup was a bit spicy but the Pumpkin Mee and the side orders were wonderful.

Pumpkin Mee
Pumpkin Mee
Vegan fare
Vegan fare
Inside Leaf Healthy Recipes
Inside Leaf Healthy Recipes (Paul did enjoy the food, honestly:))

We intended to go straight back afterwards but as we approached the promenade to find a taxi, we noticed the park lit up, with clusters of people gathered to look at something, so crossed over to take a look. ¬†It turned out to be the Buddy Bear Tour (details in a pic below). ¬†149 bear statues arranged in a circle, standing shoulder to shoulder, arms up, representing various countries of the world to promote world peace and harmony. Each bear is decorated with a different design and in the middle of them all stands a huge wire bear lit up with light that changes colour. It was a lovely atmosphere: lots of families, vendors selling night toys for the children, food and drink but no alcohol, so no loud, drunk people and hardly anyone smokes outdoors in Malaysia. I found it to be so much more enjoyable than some of the crowded events and festivals I’ve attended in other places. A great way to end a night out, and I had a glass of wine or two to look forward to when we got back to the boat ūüôā


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