Most of the ‘big’ jobs have been ticked off Paul’s list now, so we’ve been concentrating on the smaller tasks this week (ok, Paul has done most of those, I admit it ;)). The first couple of days after we arrived in Langkawi, both of us took it fairly easy. Even the trip to the supermarket is quicker and easier as it’s a lot closer than the ones in Penang. There was a lot of heavy rain during the first few days, especially at night. In the daytime, Paul worked on the engine, trying to find and fix the location and cause of the oil leak. My part was to hand various tools and things in the fashion of hospital theatre assistant (‘screwdriver’, ‘kitchen roll’, ‘hammer’ etc’) while Paul contorted his body to access the intricate inner parts of the engine. The same procedure took place when he worked in the cockpit locker to fix the bilge pump, with the added complication of my not being able to hear him very well from my position at the electrical control panel in the cabin when he was shouting instructions while squeezed inside the locker itself.
I’ve taken to going to the local shopping mall daily here as it’s only a ten-minute walk, and the roads to get there aren’t as hazardous to cross as those in Penang. The walk is pleasant and it’s always a joy to see the monkeys in the trees opposite the marina. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching them. They stare if you get close to them, and when one yawned I saw just how long and sharp its teeth were, but they run off when you get too close. They tend to pick up discarded crisp/food bags in their search for food, and I often see them scampering over a roadside cafe’s tables when it’s empty.
It was Paul’s birthday on the 18th. We had our usual leisurely Sunday breakfast after he’d opened his presents (and like me, his one and only card) and then it was work as normal for him for the best part of the day. In the evening we walked into Kuah (about 30 minutes’ walk), to revisit the Chinese restaurant we went to the first time I was here. It was just beginning to get dark as we walked through the park. Twilight is lovely here: the smaller trees are lit up like Christmas trees and there are stalls selling drinks to the families who come to visit the kids’ play area in the cooler evenings. As we got nearer to the town, I noticed that more construction is taking place here too. The buildings aren’t as high or extensive as the ones in Penang – Langkawi is more of a holiday resort. Billboards portray what the finished complexes will look like; modern, elegant holiday apartments and retail arenas, all opposite old ruined hotels and restaurants, their facades are full of character but sadly they seem set for demolition.
The meal was excellent. It’s testament to the success of the restaurant that it alone was busy and lively amid several others that were virtually empty. On learning that I was vegan, the waiter went through all the dishes that could be adapted for me, and he even sorted it so that the sauce that came with Paul’s meal could be shared with me. You can see all the food being cooked to order in the nearby kitchen. I enjoyed it all much more than the first time, now that I’m more used to the Malaysian way of dining.
It’s Autumn here now and we’re experiencing the south-west monsoon as it blows over the western coast. This means heavy thunderstorms, windy days and nights and choppy seas. The average temperature is still 30 degrees, however and this is probably the coolest we’ll get because it will get slowly hotter from now on. The choppy seas and wind are certainly making the boat rock at times but that is pleasant, as it’s like being rocked gently which is great when you’re feeling lazy and drowsy, especially when accompanied by the sound of heavy rain on the coach roof. The rain rarely lasts for longer than an hour, though and during one of these rainy afternoons we sorted out all the folders and files on the boat that were crammed with things like charts, old equipment manuals, yacht rally programmes, receipts and much more. I’ve also had lessons on chart plotting (using the navionics app on the ipad) so that I can – hopefully – take on the task of planning the itinerary for Thailand next month. Another benefit of being here is the proximity of Charlie’s Place, the marina bar. It’s nice to sit there after a swim, or a walk and watch the sun sink below the island.
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Paul concentrated on jobs that needed doing on the boat’s mast. There was a fair bit of preparation involved in this. On Lady Stardust he had to hoist himself up in a bosun’s chair, but this boat has rungs to climb up, so Paul had to ensure he had all the necessary tools and fittings for the job in a bucket attached to his safety rope. He’s related the details of what needed doing in his post. I felt that I should be outside while he was up there in case he needed me to do anything (although I would have stopped short of going up there to take something to him). I took pictures instead, from as many angles as I could. It wasn’t easy because it was hard to focus for long with the sun in my eyes, and also, it made me feel decidedly dizzy looking up at him that high up. I can only imagine what it must be like looking down! I refused his kind offer of ‘having a go’ at getting to the top myself when he came down. 😉 Some pics of the day are below. Next post will be about our trip around the island in a car yesterday.