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!
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.
But the reason we’re not moving on just yet is that old chestnut: money. I used to have a virtual job in the Australian mining media, but the downturn has put the kibosh on that one.
The other captain is working in Australia. And I’m try to figure out how to reinvent my career as an online writer. So if you happen to share my blog there’s more chance we can go sailing again sometime soon. Just saying…
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.
Johor Bahru, the capital city of the state of Johor Malaysia isn’t exactly a popular tourist mecca. Most travelers pass through on their way from Singapore, just over the causeway (more on that later), to Kuala Lumpur and beyond.
Tourist attractions in Johor Malaysia?
There aren’t many tourist attractions. In fact sometimes I feel like the tourist attraction, riding around three on my motorbike with my sister and eight year old niece.
Three things I love about Johor Bahru
Here are just three things I love about JB in the state of Johor Malaysia:
Race nights in Jalan Meldrum. We refer to this street fondly as Jalan Molly Meldrum. If you are mystified by this reference do yourself a favour and Google this much loved Aussie icon.
When the horse races are on in KL and Singapore the street is alive with bookies, gamblers, runners and onlookers. No-one gets to see the races but a lot of money changes hands.
The locals are incredibly welcoming and friendly. When one of the punters was talking to me I mentioned the other captain used to be a jockey. Somehow this has become legend and he is known as a world famous jockey there.
Better still, since he won a couple of bets one evening they figure he’s an internationally successful gambler and ask him for his tips.
One evening I attended a puja (prayer ritual) involving countless trays of chopped vegetables and stuff being thrown into a ceremonial fire, interspersed with bundles of wood and oil poured onto the fire to the soundtrack of chanting and drum beating.
At one point the priest’s pyromaniac skills slipped and the whole temple was engulfed in smoke. I could hardly breathe but it was incredibly atmospheric.
3. Food glorious food. There is endless variety, and the local food is not expensive. My absolute favourites include roast duck, and crispy pork and Sup Kambing (conveniently supplied with straws to suck out the marrow).
Since the Danga Bay Marina was closing we have moved our yacht Yana de Lys to the Senibong Cove Marina near Permas Jaya.
A causeway is a road not a bridge
I’d done a quick Navionics electronic navigation calculation on my phone while I was eating lunch one day.
Despite not having signed up to be a solo sailor, I figured I could sail the ten or twelve miles on my own. I know I’m not the first and certainly won’t be the last person to make this dumb mistake. I wondered why there was no Air Height shown on the chart for the bridge to Singapore. Doh! That’s why its called a causeway – it’s basically a road not a bridge.
I called the other captain back from Australia for the 90 mile circumnavigation of Singapore. Meanwhile I get to enjoy eating and exploring this dirty old town of Johor Malaysia.
Sailing up the western arm of the Johor Straits to Danga Bay Johor was an education in the stark contrasts between Malaysia to our port and Singapore to starboard.
Wonky stilt houses and untidy fish farms on one side, manicured parks and gardens on the other.
At one stage I remarked to the other captain it seemed they were blowing up the golf course on the Singapore side. Until I saw the sign identifying the Singapore armed forces site, warning us to stay clear as they practice using explosives there.
Steering clear of the invisible line
I made sure to steer well over the imaginary line delineating the border because we hadn’t cleared into Singapore and a Singapore customs boat plus two Sing police boats stalked us and kept a very very close eye on our progress.
Danga Bay Marina
The marina at Danga Bay Johor is now closed. It was built as a photo opportunity for the potential buyers of the condos planned for the site.
An almighty thud
There were huge barges constantly filling in the Strait in readiness for construction. One evening I heard some shouting from my boat. Then an almighty thud. A barge had bashed into our jetty. No people were hurt but the damage was extensive.
A snake in the sink
Another of my more memorable experiences in the marina at Danga Bay Johor was when I discovered a snake in my galley sink.
I was on my own as the other captain had gone back to Australia to work. One morning I lifted the lid on my sink cover and saw a snake slithering round. I immediately dropped the lid back down. I’m pretty sure it was as surprised to see me as I was to see it.
And honestly I think it shat itself with the shock because it stunk seriously in there. I peeked in one more time to check I wasn’t hallucinating before deciding to do the girlie thing and ask for help to get rid of it.
Asking for help
I asked some of the staff who were hanging out on one of the boats on my jetty, but they couldn’t help because they told me “We’re scared of snakes too”.
Then one of my neighbours, the Sultan of Darwin, offered to sort my problem. He came on board and calmly picked up the writhing snake with the multigrips he was using at the time.
I asked him to show the squirming monster to the staff. The staff were suitably scared.
The last I saw of my uninvited guest was when my obliging neighbour took it down below in his own boat to show his wife.
The Sultan of Johor
Speaking of Sultans, the Sultan of Johor Bahru’s residence is just over the road from the marina. I walked past the grounds and the huge great blinking bling crown at the entrance regularly but was never tempted to trespass on account of the scary signage.
I have absolutely fallen in love with Johor Bahru. After more than three years of resort islands its grittiness and purely unpretentious localness is incredibly refreshing. But I couldn’t stay in Danga Bay Johor because the marina was closing down…
Are you an armchair sailor? Or dreaming of floating round the tropics? Come cruising with me in these sailing blogs!
Ten sailing blogs in one: Island hopping and day sailing from Langkawi to Danga Bay
The weather gods were kind to us when we sailed our yacht Yana de Lys south from Langkawi Island to Danga Bay in Johor Bahru .
We weren’t hammered by any many sudden storms. We didn’t encounter much wind though, being so close to the Equator. We spent a lot time motoring, rather than actually sailing.
We were in no rush, just day sailing our way down the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Our trip was just peachy, the whole way!
Nine anchorages and two marinas
We made ten stops, mostly deserted anchorages: Pulau Tuba, Monkey Beach and Pulau Rimau (Penang), Sungei Dinding (Lumut) , Pulau Angsa, Che Mat Sin (Port Klang), Admiral Marina (Port Dickson), Pulau Besar, Tanjung Tohor, Pulau Pisang, Danga Bay.
(We’re navigating with Malaysian charts which refer to Island as Pulau, Tanjung as Cape and River as Sungei.)
First night at Pulau Tuba
We spent the first night at Pulau Tuba, just around the corner from Langkawi so we could get a head start on the 50 NM (nautical miles) plus leg to Monkey Beach at the north of Penang the next day. It was one of the rolliest anchorages I’ve slept in.
Meet the Fishing Nets
Then we started meeting the Fishing Nets.
At our second Penang anchorage off Pulau Rimau on the south western tip, the first net, drifting with the tide and current, wrapped around our bows.
We were enjoying the happy hour view of the islands and the bridge and all of a sudden the local fisherman had caught our yacht Yana de Lys in their 200 meter long drift net.
The fishermen scowled at us when they cut the net off. It happened so quickly there wasn’t time for us stop the capture ourselves.
Avoiding 87 fishing nets
The next day we avoided 87 fishing nets.
It was easy enough to figure out how to avoid these nets as they were dragged between two fishing boats.
At our deserted, idyllic anchorage that evening we listened to the call to prayer on the radio and, incongruously, to an Australian Football League match. Our team the West Coast Eagles lost. Again.
Heading for Lumut
Our course to Lumut was infested with fishing net flags. In shallow water.
The trick is to work out which flags go together and if you can’t avoid going over the net in between head for the middle, take the engine out of gear with enough boat speed to propel you forward and hope the net doesn’t end up wrapped around the propeller.
Our strategy worked. But it was a slow 15 miles.
Lumut International Yacht Club
The next anchorage was in front of the Lumut International Yacht Club.
Lovely architecture but not exactly what we expect of a yacht club. They didn’t serve food or drink or anything.
The call to prayer sounded like a gentle romantic love song.
The Lumut boardwalk infrastructure along the river is really pretty, with the most salubrious public toilets I have ever met. The blokes toilet is actually a large aviary.
Pulau Angsa, Che Mat Sin and Sungei Bernam
The next stops at Pulau Angsa, Che Mat Sin and Sungei Bernam, where we sort of blended in with other residents of the stilt burbs, were gloriously uneventful.
Some sailing blogs make it sound like hardship, but we were getting the hang of this cruising business.
The Admiral Marina, Port Dickson
Then we caught our breath at the Admiral Marina at Port Dickson for a few days.
All very civilised, resort style.
It was our first marina stay after being at anchor for the last three years.
When I woke up the first morning with another boat’s mast looming largely right there in my porthole I had a nanosecond of Anchor Angst.
Until I remembered where I was and that our anchor hadn’t dragged, but we had deliberately parked this close to another boat. Phew.
Port Dickson town
In Port Dickson we stopped for a beer at an unassuming café and ended up staying and eating and staying even longer absolutely spellbound by the chef constantly cooking a minimum of three high speed wok dishes at once.
Like a highly entertaining live cooking show.
The Malacca Strait
On the move again the cargo ship traffic in the Malacca Strait was beginning to build up.
I’ve read sailing blogs about pirates in the Malacca Strait. It’s really the big boats we had to worry about, not pirates.
We poodled along in the slow lane with a constant stream of varied commercial vessels parading past in the fast lane. Flying fish and dolphins kept speed with us.
A peaceful anchorage at Pulau Pisang
When we had just settled in to a very peaceful anchorage at Pulau Pisang some fishermen came up to us and politely asked us to move.
“Boss you move boat boss” indicating the nets they intended to lay out. So, reluctant at first, we moved and were safe for the night.
Anchored in the middle of nowhere
It was different the next night when we were camped in the middle of nowhere out of the way of the shipping lane freeway.
We were woken by a loud clunking near the bows to find Yana de Lys well and truly caught in a drifting net with increasing burden on the anchor.
With no fishing boats in sight we had no choice but to hack the net off. It came free with a super loud twang. The pressure release was scary. We apologized to the invisible fishermen.
The next night we made it to Danga Bay. I’ll tell you all about it in my next sailing blogs.