Unfortunately we seem to get further and further behind on our updates, since we have been either sailing in waters which need constant vigilance or in a marina touring Singapore or Malaysia. I am planning to send out several updates soon. Thank you for your patience and your emails, which we will answer shortly.
We arrived at Raffles Marina on September 21 after a fierce storm, possibly a "sumatra." After we left Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island, Indonesia, we traveled along the south side of the shipping channels of the Singapore Straits, which we can attest to as being the busiest in the world. We had more than 50 blips on our radar screen which we have been using even during the day. We crossed the shipping channels at its narrowest point further west with less boat traffic, but it was still unnerving crossing six+ lanes of freighter traffic from both directions with other boats merging from anchorages along the coast. We were also amazed at the amount of land that is being reclaimed and is not on current charts. We noticed coast guard boats actively patrolling the Straits to deter piracy which thankfully has declined in this area. About three miles from the marina, we turned around to return to the freighter anchorage, praying that the lightning would strike them first since they are bigger and taller, during a lightning storm with strong winds and torrential rain causing zero visibility. Needless to say, we were very relieved and thankful to be safe in Raffles Marina late that afternoon.
We really enjoyed Singapore and were very impressed with how efficient they are! The MRT/ bus system is an absolute technical marvel, moving 4 million Singaporians to work every day. There are thousands of high rise apartment buildings (concrete jungle) but their perfectly manicured landscaping everywhere presents a facade of continually living and working in a natural park. All cars are new and very expensive. All service stations are camouflaged under buildings. Everything is very clean! We enjoyed the people, always smiling, friendly and helpful to us everywhere. The world could learn much from the success of Singapore. They are a very small country with many people of different beliefs living peacefully together in a beautiful clean environment.
We left Raffles Marina every morning on the 8am staff shuttle bus to either Boon Lay or Jurong East stations, where we hopped on the appropriate bus or MRT/train/subway to our destination. We purchased cards which are used on both. We spent a whole day at the Jurong Bird Park, probably the best in the world, where we saw the most spectacular birds and their shows. We saw the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo and enjoyed all the shows and the animals there. We did not visit the Night Safari since we are always concerned with mosquitoes and malaria. There was an outbreak of dengue fever there which is carried by a daytime mosquitoe and we always put on our repellent in the morning. Another day was spent at the National Orchid Gardens at the Singapore Botanical Gardens. We can only imagine the Gardens during spring time! We were impressed with the Singapore National Flower which is Vanda Miss Joaquim and by other orchids hybridized and named in honor of important personalities such as Princess Diana and Barbara Bush. We visited the Ming Village to see artists painting reproductions of Ching dynasty pottery. We purchased several beautiful vases. Every day we ate at a local "hawker" food stall in a food court. We enjoyed Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian food which was being eaten by the local workers. We paid less than $10US for lunch for the four of us! The rest of our time was spent shopping! We walked around the Muslim quarter (Kampong Glam, where the Yanmar dealer is), Chinatown, and Little India, amazed at the mosques, the gold jewelry, and the temples. We were in awe at Simlan Square with four floors of electronics, computers and cameras. How do they sell it all! We did purchase a DVD player and a World Radio. Olympus repaired the power button on our digital camera for about $20US in only four days! We also provisioned, purchasing frozen chicken imported from Brazil and eggs from Australia which were being rationed because of the bird flu virus. We are definitely suffering with our inability to catch our own fish. We have caught nothing since we left Darwin and have been told not to expect any until after we leave Thailand.
We sadly left Raffles Marina and Singapore on October 2. We sailed 33 miles to anchor at Pulau (Island) Pisang along the western coast of Malaysia in the Malacca Straits. We needed to watch constantly for logs, floating debris, and fishing nets and boats. The freighters did not seem to be a problem since they were further west in the shipping lanes. The following day we sailed to Pulau Besar in the Water Islands, off Melaka. Other cruisers took the ferry in to town the following day, but we did not feel safe leaving the boat at anchor there with the very real possibility of strong winds and rain. We arrived at Admiral Marina at Port Dickson on October 4.
Admiral Marina and Leisure Club is a luxurious club with no one there similar to what we experienced in Nongsa Point Marina and even to some extent at Raffles. Veronica, the very efficient office manager, checked us into the country and even loaned us taxi money to travel into Port Dickson to the bank. We accomplished some boat work and cleaning and we sent out our washing since there is no laundry here. We hired a taxi to tour Kuala Lumpur, which will be very difficult to tour in a day. Unfortunately, we just can't do it all! Friday we will tour Melaka and we will check out and head to Langkawi on Sunday. We have been reminded again about the cleanliness and beauty of Singapore when compared to their neighbors on both sides, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is difficult to adjust to seeing and smelling garbage in the sewers along the sidewalks in the streets of the town of Port Dickson and wondering how we can eat at any of these restaurants along the road. Veronica also informed us that she boils and filters her water at home (she is pregnant with their third child), so we will not be filling our tanks with marina water as we did in Singapore.
We hope that you are all happy and healthy and enjoying autumn with beautiful fall colors which bring on the change of seasons. We are experiencing our second fall (no spring for us this year), however, we have recently experienced the hottest and most humid weather of all our travels. It has been very difficult to sleep at night. We cannot use our air conditioners unless we run our generator or are connected to US shore power, so we are using our fans! We seem to have been a jinx on the marina swimming pools since the one at Nongsa Point was closed for renovation (could use the resort nearby), the pool at Raffles Marina was closed for the first five days for cleaning when we arrived, and they have a leak in the pool at Admiral Marina, so they are not circulating and cleaning the water...so no swimming for us!
Please keep in touch. Be well. Be safe. Take care. God Bless.
Please let us know if you no longer wish to receive our periodic updates, and we will remove your name from our mailing list. Also, please remember when you reply, do NOT send our letter back to us with your answer.
With Love, Peace and Aloha,
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
S/V PEACE AND ALOHA
October 4, 2004
Admiral Marina, Port Dickson, Malaysia
02 Deg 29 North 101 Deg 51 East