I'm a sailing traveller floating around South East Asia on my boat Yana de Lys. I spend as much time as I can exploring the back streets and pretending to act like a local.
I work as a Digital Nomad, blogging, editing and copywriting. Feel free to contact me if you need a hand with your writing project.
Malaysia: 60 11 1441 5196
Australia: 61 411 220 592 and 08 6102 5141
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Four anchorages. Five people on board. Cruising in company with a catamaran. Join our sailing adventures to Tioman Island Malaysia on Yana de Lys.
Are we nearly there yet? Oh yeah, sailing adventures are always slow travel
We sailed with our friends Tina, Adrian and their eight year old, Chloe who live in the residential community at Senibong Cove. They liked the idea of sailing, but wanted to experience real sailing adventures.
Tina won the World’s Best Galley Slave award. Her meals and OCD inspired cleaning were legendary.
Adrian took to the wheel like a duck to water. The other captain didn’t have the heart to turn the autopilot on. Didn’t want to spoil his fun.
I suggested Chloe was the boat boy. But she wouldn’t have it. “I’m not a boy. I’m the Tiny Captain. Are we nearly there yet?”
The other captain spent the time at our first anchorage replacing the leaking hose. Kindly supplied, with free advice and reassurance from Adam on Soggy Moggy, (did you guess she’s a catamaran?) our cruising companion.
Tina cooked a spectacular dinner.
Chloe wanted to know how long it would be before we got to Tioman.
Tanjung Pengileh to Desaru. Still a long way to Tioman Island Malaysia
We set off early the next day. At one point I counted 101 vessels in the shipping lane. A safety boat stalked us.
We’d steamed clear of Lima Pass and North Rock when the hose broke. Again. So we sailed most of the way to Desaru in a sloppy swell with the wind directly behind us.
The anchorage was very rolly. All night.
Our sailing adventure companions were close to mutiny. Chloe wanted to take a speed boat to Tioman. Adrian was seasick. But Tina was fine and managed to cook up a sensational Teriyaki Beef and Rice.
Resort with no beer
We made good time on our 40 NM leg to Pulau Sibu Tengah. And anchored out of the swell behind the resort‘s sea wall. Yay. No more talk of mutiny.
We mistook the call to prayer for the call to beer at the resort. Dreaming of cocktails and ice cold beer we rocked up to find an empty resort which didn’t sell alcohol.
Plenty of deer, pooping around the pool. But no beer.
Kay from Soggy Moggy must have known something we didn’t. Kay declined to come ashore. Citing a good book. Our hamburgers we deesgusting. “Nasty” according to the Tiny Captain.
The pool looked okay, but naturally the swim up bar wasn’t operating. I was afraid of catching a disease from simply looking at the skanky service area.
Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island Malaysia)
Day four was all plain (motor) sailing to our idyllic anchorage at Pulau Tioman. 40 NM at an average of 5.4 knots.
The other captain and I were here on our honeymoon 27 years ago. I’ll tell you about Tioman Island Malaysia in my next blog. I have to go snorkeling now.
Meanwhile feel free to share my sailing adventures blog!
Prawn fishing in Permas Jaya, in Malaysia’s Johor state, is an indoor pond fishing sport. Very popular with the locals. Hilarious for someone who grew up in coastal south western Australia, where all forms of fishing are done in the wild.
The other captain told me he’d seen the new prawn fishing shop in Permas Jaya. I’d seen the fish fishing ponds. They’re outdoors. But the prawn fishing shop?
Sure enough it’s in one of the Permas Jaya side street shop houses. There’s a fishing pond inside, a rack of rods and an attendant.
We checked it out. Asked some people who were prawn fishing at the time how it works. One of them was a self-proclaimed fish whisperer. We pumped her for all the information she could give us and decided to give it a go.
A quirky, fun thing to do in Permas Jaya
This is how it works. You pay RM45. You get bait, an ash tray, a fishing rod with one meter of fishing line and a float attached, and an hour of fishing for your investment. Plus you get to take your catch home.
The bait comes in a small round takeaway food container full of little lumps of mud.
At first I thought the pooh shaped bits of mud were the bait LOL. The attendant didn’t exactly crack up when he showed me the squirmy worms hiding under the mud. But he took pity on me and my ignorance and demonstrated how to bait up.
First he cut off a piece of wriggling worm with the rusty pocket knife provided. Then threaded it, writhing, on to the hook. Tricky. It took me a few goes to get the hang of it.
Between us the other captain and I caught eight prawns. A local also gave us his catch of four. We ate them back on Yana de Lys. Footie snacks watching our team win their Australian Football League game. Yum.
I couldn’t help thinking about the times we went king prawn fishing under the Fremantle bridge in the Swan River with our friend Rover. Man that was an entirely different fishing experience.
Have you ever been prawn fishing? Indoor pond fishing? What was it like? BTW I would love you to Google+ and share my blog!
Driving in a straight line for an hour and a half without seeing another vehicle. Is this the great Aussie outback? Nah. Just a normal part of the road trip from Perth to Esperance WA (Western Australia).
I grew up in Esperance. 750 km south east of Perth, Western Australia. My roots are there. And my mum. And my little brother. Who is way taller than me by the way. But likes drinking wine as much as I do. So the night we arrived we did a bit of wine tasting, as you do.
Whale watching in the Aussie outback
The next morning I was seriously thinking about getting up, but frankly my body wasn’t responding, when we got the call. Whales. Cavorting just off the beach.
Erghh. My niece and I groaned and put on some warmth over our PJs and headed for the beach.
Worth it! The last time I saw whales was when I was doing the boat handling unit of my Yachtmasters course, off Fremantle, before my sailing adventures really began. It was my turn at the wheel driving the TAFE catamaran. Distracted by the whales spouting I almost failed the ongoing assessment.
The first time I saw whales was when I was in primary school. At the whale factory in Albany Whaling Station on a primary school excursion. But that’s a another story.
The whales off Castletown beach seemed to be resting, perhaps just waking up like my niece and I. It looked like a mother and baby closest to the beach. Felt like 30 metres away.
At first glance they just looked like rocky outcrops. Really. Then when I looked closer I could see the mini islands moving. And spouting water. Amazing. When I’m sailing I reckon any day with dolphins is a perfect day already. Any day with whale sightings is perfectly excellent.
Frenchmans Peak, Esperance WA
The next day we decided to climb Frenchman Peak. (We all call this Esperance WA icon Frenchmans Peak.) We climbed it as kids. It’s just a tiny bit scary as an (um older) adult. But sooo satisfying. I never admitted to being fit, just up for it. And the view from the top is, of course, spectacular!
Three things you have to do
When you visit Esperance WA there are three things you always have to do. Climbing Frenchmans Peak is optional. But:
You have to go to at least one Op Shop. I can’t get enough natural fibre white or light shirts for sun protection when I’m sailing. I scored big time with a linen and a cotton number at $5 for both. Bargain.
Coffee at the Taylor Street Tea Rooms. Going by different names these days it’s still right there on the beach next to the port. The coffee is still good, and it’s still one of the best spots to have it.
Drive around the beaches. I traveled all the way to north Queensland as a teenager before I realised Esperance has some of the most spectacular coastline in Australia. And in my personal sailing adventures it still rates as totally magnificent next to Thailand’s Phang Na Bay. Esperance just has the isolation advantage. It’s not crowded or full of trash. We’re talking about Southern Ocean water coming from Antarctica. Clean, achingly blue and cold.
A little bit spooky
So…driving back. (You gotta love a two way road trip.)
My niece had remarked Esperance looked like it had been flushed with money, now down on its luck.
In fact Esperance and the next town Ravensthorpe (only 185 km away, but not in a straight line. Not counting Munglinup – Google it) had the same feel. The last mining construction boom has run its course. The big nickle mine there was built at the height of the cycle. The massive cost overruns, partly due to the skills and supply shortages of the boom, linked with falling commodity prices chimed the death knoll on the mega project.
Then Newdegate. Like a town with no people. Seriously. We drove through in the middle of the day and didn’t see a living soul. Didn’t help having a particularly creepy bit of War of the Worlds as the soundtrack. Something about taking blood from the living… shiver.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my take on the Aussie outback is like in the remote desert. But the world is getting smaller, so maybe my road trip to Esperance was a bit Aussie outbacky after all?
Hey and BTW did I tell you sharing is sexy? Feel free to share this story if you like it…
I did some reverse travel a while ago. Back in Australia visiting family and friends.
One family member works at Boshack Outback, ninety minutes from Perth, Western Australia. A fascinating and hauntingly beautiful spot near Toodyay. People come from all over the world to experience the Australian outback, just 100 kms from Perth.
Kitchen makeover in the Australian outback
We visited the Boshack Outback farm for business and pleasure. There was a kitchen makeover involved, as well as a barbecue and lots of witty chat.
The other captain was there to help his brother with a small construction project. While the boys and resident backpackers built the ceiling, my sister and I wandered around the lake, soaking up the serene scenery. After lunch the owner Deryck, gave us an express tour of the highlights.
The path through huge wise old paperbark trees is soggy and silent. Until you get to the itty bitty waterfall. Then the ground is soggy with a gentle falling water soundtrack.
My brother in law refers to this sublime spot as the Meditation Centre. Deryck, calls it the Reflection Area.
It’s peaceful alright. Even groups of schoolkids can stay still and quiet here for a minute and twenty seconds, according to Deryck.
Chasing sheep is the number one most popular activity
Who would have thought chasing sheep would be such a hit? I’m guessing that statistic is from the children’s feedback. My sister and I decided to give this exciting activity a miss. We got enough of it when we were kids.
I understand eating live, raw witchety grubs comes a close second in popularity.
It’s a small world…
… when you can visit the Australian outback an hour and a half drive from Perth. I used to think of the outback as the remote, arid interior of Australia.
But the people who come from Singapore or England or wherever probably think they’re in the Never Never already when they get off the Great Eastern Highway.
The air is soooo clean compared to Senibong Cove back in Malaysia. And the silence is almost deafening. You can’t get phone or Internet connections. I guess that’s why the Boshack website invites you to Rid Yourself of Nature Deficit disorder.
Zen and the art of boat maintenance…why there’s nothing half so much worth doing as messing about in boats
It’s endless. It’s frustrating. Boat maintenance can be repetitive to the point of inducing Alzheimer’s.
But as Water Rat said to the Mole in The Wind in the Willows “there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”
Different attitudes to boat maintenance
There are different ways of approaching boat maintenance.
A friend told me about the idea of looking after your boat as if you have a superyacht crew. Hard work but your boat’s going to look schmick and run well. (You hope.)
Another couple have a strict schedule of “One job per day, perhaps”. And that’s between two people.
I aim for work/life balance. It’s not all beer and skittles though. Sometimes it’s all beer. I follow the tools down at happy hour rule if I can.
Confessions of a boat boy
When Yana de Lys was moored at Yacht Haven in Phuket we had friends who had boat boys – locals who looked after their boats for them. Keeping the boats clean. Taking care of regular maintenance. So when they went sailing all they had to do was show up.
Most sailing boat owners have to do their own boat boy work. Like me.
It can be fun. It can be tedious. It can be frustrating. It can be satisfying. Despite the poor pay – well the no pay – it’s better than working nine to five any day.
Even the interminable cleaning is okay. Any job involving water when it’s stinkn hot is fine by me. But I had to laugh the other day when I saw the boat boy for a small motor cruiser on my jetty hosing down his boat in the rain. Under an umbrella. Really.
I could smell incense. I thought I could see a hidden temple. So I parked my motorbike on the side of the road. And carefully threaded my way down the treacherous slope.
I crossed the dodgy bridge to where I glimpsed some buildings in the jungle.
It’s a Hindu hidden temple
Aah I thought so. A Hindu temple. Run down. With empty Tiger beer cans, crushed cigarette packs and other rubbish lying around. I like the lack of reverence. Opposite to my strict Catholic upbringing.
“Sshhh don’t talk during mass or you won’t get an ice cream after”.
In Hindu tradition, there is no dividing line between the secular and the sacred.
Ganesh on my radar
As I wandered around the hidden temple I recognised Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. He is the god of wisdom and learning.
I keep a small statue of him on top of our radar on Yana de Lys. His job description is “remover of obstacles”. I’m not sure if I have our relationship right though because I can’t get my radar to work.
This week I had a local Moslem guy helping me with the trouble shooting. When he saw Ganesh there he said “That’s why it cannot on”. (“Cannot on” is the technical term in SE Asia for anything that won’t work).
I have an email pen friend at the Furuno office in Singapore. He’s been giving me troubleshooting ideas. His latest advice is to bring the unit in for his people to check out. Looks like another trip to Singapore coming up. Any suggestions for art galleries to visit?
I drive past the temple entrance on my way home from Permas Jaya town to Senibong Cove Marina nearly every day.
Recently I was intrigued to see a frenzy of motorbikes and cars parked there as I rode past. This went on for some weeks. A work party. They’ve chopped down the jungle which gave it atmosphere. It’s not a hidden temple anymore. Everything is in plain view. And painted a nauseous shade of green! Oh dear.
Moving right along…or not
While I was meditating at the no longer hidden temple in the jungle, I started thinking about my blog. (I have to admit I didn’t meditate long. I was attacked by a swarm of non vegetarian mosquitoes.)
Are my readers disappointed that my adventures are all “Land trips on the side” lately? Rather than sailing on Yana de Lys? I’m still living on Yana de Lys. Still living the dream, still loving living in Malaysia. Just waiting to get my ducks in a row before crossing the South China Sea to Borneo…
When we sailed past last year, we didn’t stop because there were no good anchorages. It’s been burning a hole in our bucket list since then.
So we decided to ride the Yarley there.
I guess 125cc Yamaha scooters aren’t made for 300+ km road trips for driver, pillion passenger, two wine bottles of spare fuel and two backpacks.
Why? Because we had our first flat tyre about 50km down the road. We had to roll our bike 5km, hot and sweaty and constantly asking myself “are we nearly there yet?” to have the tyre replaced.
(It was trashed.) Later we learnt you can use the help phones on the side of the motorway. Don’t you love hindsight?
We had the second flat tyre on our way home. Apparently the new tyre was made in Malaysia, not destined to last.
I tried using the motorway help phone. I was wondering what to do next after five minutes of listening to “Please hold the line” when a kind truck driver stopped. He offered to take us and our moto to the next town to have the tyre replaced. With a tyre made in Vietnam. RM5 cheaper but better quality, so we’re told.
Eat, drink, pray and visit museums in Malacca, Malaysia
The food in Malacca is fabulous. The tandoori chicken and naan bread at Pak Putra is sensational.
The Portuguese chicken dish at Eleven Bistro was delicious.
Also I discovered why everyone raves about Malacca’s famous chicken rice balls and steamed chicken. Yum.
Buying wine was a bit tricky, but we managed. On the first night we found a supermarket selling reasonably priced red wine as we headed out to dinner. It was okay so on our way back to our hotel we decided to get a second bottle. The checkout chick in headscarf, asked me if I had finished the first bottle already. “No no this one is for tomorrow” I said. Headscarf smiled.
Malacca’s long history is visible in the variety of places of worship from a Catholic church to a temple sponsored by Guinness and Tiger beer. Well that’s what it looked like anyway. The columns featured advertising for both beverages.
There are more museums than you can poke a stick at. Wikipedia lists 38. We visited two. The Maritime Museum, housed in a replica of the Portugues Flor de la Mar, a 400 ton nau or carrack (sailing vessel) from the 16th century.
And St Paul’s Hill. A ruined church with a spectacular view. Famous for being the temporary resting place for St Francis Xavier’s body enroute to India.
There are churches, mosques and temples everywhere.
A trifecta of temples
Jalan Tokong, AKA Harmony Street, features three temples and a mosque. You can get your multicultural spiritual fix in one short walk.
The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia. Another trifecta here: It’s for devotees of the Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.
Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia.
The architecture of the Kampung Kling Mosque is a combination of Sumatran, Chinese, Hindu and Malay styles.
I lit incense in the Xiang Lin Si Temple which is run by Buddhist nuns.
On the Sunday I had planned to go to mass at the historic St. Francis Xavier Church. I have very catholic spiritual tastes and admit I am more lapsed than Catholic.
It was bucketing rain. The streets were flooded. So I borrowed an umbrella from the hotel and had a cappuccino and croissant just round the corner instead. Divine. So good it was almost a religious experience.
It was lucky the deluge ended before we headed home. Another flat tyre in the pouring rain might not have been much fun.
Have you visited Malacca Malaysia? What were your impressions? Or maybe you have suggestions for other places worth visiting? And BTW if you enjoy reading my travel stories I would love you to share my blog!
One of my favourite pieces in the Ritz-Carlton Singapore art collection: Frank Stella’s Moby Dick.
Looking for something different to do next time you visit Singapore? Check out the self-guided tour of the Ritz-Carlton Singapore art collection.
It’s free. It’s fun. It’s filled with famous names. Valued at $5M, there are 4200 pieces in the collection.
Puttin on the Ritz for Singapore art
Take the Circle Line MRT to the Promenade exit. As I mentioned in my earlier post it’s easy to get around on the MRT.
Check out the spectacular Roy Lichtenstein Sculptures Plaza in the Millenia Walk shopping mall. It’s on your way to the link bridge which takes you to the Ritz-Carlton.
When you get to the hotel head for Guest Relations. There is an exquisite set of Henry Moore etchings on the wall behind the Guest Relations desk.
The staff will swap your passport for one of those itty bitty postage stamp size iPods. (What do they think you are going to do? Run off with the device? Steal one of those sublime Henry Moores? Come to think of it, they would look good in Yana de Lys’s salon, next to my etching of Captain Cook.)
The tour starts at the hotel entrance where Zhu Wei’s Mao Figures lean forward to welcome visitors. A pop art take on China’s famous terracotta warriors.
Moving inside you can’t help noticing the magnificent lobby stairs. A work of art. Or is that technically architecture?
Moby Dick is near the pool
One of my favourite works in the collection is Frank Stella’s Moby Dick.
The wall sculptures are apparently inspired by movies of beluga whales. I don’t get the connection, but maybe I haven’t watched enough movies about beluga whales. I certainly haven’t seen any when I’ve been sailing.
You can make up your own mind when you see the two pieces from the series in the lower lobby leading to the swimming pool.
While I was examining details of the finish up close, looking for evidence of whales, I reflected on how art seems so much more alive when it’s not in a museum.
Some guests were relaxing in the lounge chairs, discussing their love life. Not wanting to eavesdrop I moved on.
Through Dale Chihuly’s magnificent Anemone Wall in the Chihuly Lounge and a wealth of treasures. Including a rare Andy Warhol Poppy serigraph.
David Hockney is waiting for you in gym
I was grateful when the receptionist at the gym handed me a bottle of water. I was parched.
The David Hockney in the gym lobby is not one of his famous swimming pool pieces. That would be too obvious wouldn’t it? It’s a crayon lithograph from the Celia portraits series.
Do you have any Singapore art secrets to share? Let me know your comments. Maybe I’ll check out your ideas on my next visit to Singapore.
I like visiting Singapore because it is so totally different to Johor Bahru.
Singapore is just 0.8 nautical miles away from our berth in the Senibong Cove Marina.
Here are five reasons I appreciate having Singapore in my backyard.
1. Visiting Singapore is easy
Visiting Singapore is easy for me. Getting there from Senibong Cove Marina is quick, cheap and simple. I take the Yarley, my 125 cc Yamaha moto (scooter) into town. Park just under the stairs to the Customs and Immigration Building. Take the bus from Johor Bahru in Malaysia to Woodlands, Singapore. A border crossing bargain at $1.70. I get a ninety day visa for free. If there are no traffic jams on the causeway l can be there in less than an hour.
2. It’s easy to get around
On my last visit to Singapore a, taxi driver told me “A blind man could make his way around Singapore on the MRT”. (He also told me Singapore has no crime.)
Hmm. Well the MRT is easy to navigate. And I haven’t been the victim of any crimes in Singapore either.
3. Art and culture
When I’m visiting Singapore I always try to get an art fix by visiting a gallery or two.
I found the feast of galleries in the Old Hill Street Police Station. One of my favourite exhibits was an Andy Warhol style treatment of Lee Kuan Yew by local artist Sukeshi Sondhi.
I’m not talking about the designer brands in Orchard Road. High heels and haute couture are irrelevant on a cruising yacht. I’m talking about a genuine chandlers.
I once made the trip just to buy some teak cleaner and an anode.
5. Food Glorious Food
Yeah yeah I know. It’s always about the food.
A couple of my favourite eating experiences are:
Free flow Verve Cliquot and as much five star local, regional and international dishes as you can eat at the Pan Pacific Hotel’s Edge Sunday brunch. What’s not to love?
A chapatti set with mango lassi in Little India. A satisfying and delicious feast for $4.50.
I’m interested hearing why you like (or don’t like) visiting Singapore. Feel free to leave your comments below.
We were about to park and I had taken my backpack off to check the time on my phone. I was holding the bag in my lap.
There were two people on the crime bike too. One was the snatcher, the other the getaway driver.
We followed them for a while in the hope of getting their number plate, but they were too fast and there was too much traffic. And it had started raining.
We had just given up the pursuit when we realised we were in front of a police guard station. One of the cops immediately said “follow me” to the central police station in town. At 100 kmph in the pouring rain. But we didn’t lose him.
At the Polis Diraja Malaysia ( Royal Malaysia Police )in Johor Bahru city, my report was taken by a kind young cop. It seemed to take forever as his English skills were only slightly better than my uber basic Malay. And his hunt and peck typing skills were even more rudimentary than his English.
Fortunately my cheap phone, limited cash and Aussie driver’s license were the only items of value. And more importantly at least we weren’t hurt!
No crime in Singapore
Apparently it’s a totally different story over the causeway.