Don’t Mention the Pork

Island hopping from Phuket to Langkawi

We took a couple of weeks island hopping from Phuket to Langkawi. Some sailors do this trip in 24 hours but that’s just not our style.  We’re slow travellers.

Our first anchorage, Koh Phi Phi (Phi Phi Island) was pleasantly free from crowds. Unlike our last visit when we could hardly move on the island during the day for all the tourists, and there was uber loud doof doof music for the party animals every night.  This time the sound track was something so benign I didn’t even remember what it was in the morning.

 Koh Lanta

The next leg from Phuket to Langkawi was hard work with 30 knots on the nose on the way to the historic east coast anchorage at Koh Lanta.
I decided to give the anchoring way point from our last visit a miss.  It was being used by a sunken boat.  Sunk by politics according to the local intel.  The interested parties couldn’t decide who was supposed to pump the bilge until it was too late.

This yacht in our anchorage at Koh Lanta (sailing from Phuket to Langkawi) was sunk by politics apparently
Sunk by politics

The green prawn curry was just as delicious as I remembered from our first stay. When I asked the staff if the prawns were farmed or wild he articulately pointed out to the sea.


Old Town, Koh Lanta (sailing from Phuket to Langkawi)
Old Town, Koh Lanta

Koh Muk

It was an easy run to Koh Muk. At one point I looked out the porthole and saw fish jumping a meter out of the water.  Like something out of the film Nemo.

The other captain kept telling me about the dolphins he was seeing.  All I saw was water disturbances.  Hmm.

Cruisn. Or is the other captain dolphin spotting (sailing from Phuket to Langkawi)
Cruisn. Or is the other captain dolphin spotting?

The fabled Emerald Cave

We visited the Emerald Cave on the way to Koh Muk.

It takes a 70 meter swim through a dark cave to get into the sea cave or “hong” as the Thais call it.

Our waterproof torch ended up being allergic to water.

On the way back out we realised we had taken a wrong turn.  We had to back up in the pitch dark.  Maybe that was the way to the fabled pirate treasure.  We wouldn’t have found it with a dead torch anyway.

Inside the Emerald Cave, sailing from Phuket to Langkawi
Inside the Emerald Cave

Koh Taratao

The unmistakable limestone karst geology of the islands between Phuket and Langkawi
Limestone karst island between Phuket and Langkawi

We took our time slowly heading south down Koh Taratao. I guess we didn’t want our cruise from Phuket to Langkawi to end.

We stopped at three different overnight anchorages.  Did some of exploring.  Had a bit of stormy weather.

One day we took the dingy for a look up one of the rivers.

Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a dog swimming.  It was a sea otter.

We heard the last of the Thai radio we’ll be hearing for a while, because suddenly, it seemed, we were in Malaysia again.

The Langkawi time vortex

Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, when we were sailing from Phuket to Langkawi
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club
Monkey caution sign on Langkawi Island, sailing from Phuket to Langkawi


Monkey on the electricity wires, sailing from Phuket to Langkawi
Oh. Is that what they want us to be cautious of?

Langkawi is a time vortex.  Like the Hotel California you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave. We planned to say a few days. We were there for a month.

Bass Harbour, Kuah

Anchored in Bass Harbour, Kuah, we were waiting for some credit cards to arrive in the mail.  And waiting.  And partying. And waiting. And eating.  (The Bak kut the which is the only dish on the menu at the Shark Fing is still my benchmark for that delicious pork stew.)
And of course consuming and stocking up on the duty free grog. And catching up with old friends. And making new ones.  And provisioning for our next leg.

Don’t mention the pork

Naturally the shopping had to include pork espionage.  On a Moslem island they do sell this forbidden product but it requires being in the know. 
You have to go into the back room of a shop selling spices.  Quietly – I thought the proprietor was telling us not to wake the baby – to choose your cloak and dagger snaggers.

They were yummy too.  Sausages and mash for dinner at our first anchorage on the way to Danga Bay.


Meet the Fishing Nets Langkawi-Johor Bahru Sailing Blogs

A snake in the sink and other fun at Danga Bay Johor Bahru

Eagles – Hotel California

Floating my boat

We left Australia in March after replenishing the anorexic bank accounts and returned to Langwaki where we lived in a room above our favourite lunch spot, the Watergarden Hawkers Centre and finished some work on Yana de Lys on the hard stand.

And finally relaunched with brand new standing rigging, clear see through windows, freshly painted topsides, a lot less leaks, new engine mounts, LED light tricolour and anchor light and a myriad more improvements.  Still a lot to do, but at least she’s floating again.



The plan is to sail to Phuket and finish Yana so we can focus on cruising after that.

It’s been fun living in Kuah. Our room came with one TV station – A National Geographic channel which seemed to have The Dog Whisperer on a continual loop.  I saw a Bollywood movie shoot, and one car crash out the window .  No one was hurt in the crash, just a bit of mangled metal and lot of walking around in circles by both parties.  And occasionally I heard all the taxi drivers over the road shouting.  That meant another tourist was driving the wrong way up the one way street.

I treated myself to an Ayurvedic massage in Pentai Cenang  at one point.  The Njaravkizhi treatment was described as a relaxing massage in the brochure, but I did find it a bit hard to relax while I was being bashed by bags of hot rice.

We took the ferry to Penang for three days so we could get our extended Thai visas.  I love Penang.  The food at the Red Garden is sensational.  We ate there every night, even though we tried to talk ourselves into trying somewhere else.

We lost track of how many times we got lost shopping for items for Yana de Lys which weren’t available in Langkawi.  On the third day we decided to play tourists and hire a scooter to check out the Funicular rail at Penang Hill.  It feels like you’re going up vertically. And when you get to the top the views are sensational.  I felt like I could see all of Malaysia, while we drank the most expensive beer of our whole trip.

Meanwhile back in Langkawi we loaded Yana with provisions in readiness for our our trip to Phuket.

Navigating a nest of vipers

Our final anchorage for this trip to SE Asia was at Awana Porto Malay on the south west corner of Langkawi. I planned an extra cautious route as the chart showed lots of areas of shallow water, a wreck and underwater rocks – a real navigational nest of vipers, especially around Pulau Ular (Snake Island). We arrived safely after a detour near Pulau Singa Besar where we hid out during a short storm, and anchored for two nights in company with Sweetie and a fun collection of friends and family.

The anchorage is near the Awana Porto Malay Resort, with its totally incongruous and unmalaysian  Mediterranean-style architecture. We were surprised when they made us pay RM20 per dingy to leave our tenders at their jetty when we first went ashore. As far as we could work out the fee entitled us to use the facilities for 24 hours so we decided to hang out at their swimming pool the next afternoon. At least we got something for our money, including a fresh water shower.

Awana Porto Malay Resort


We spent a whole morning exploring the itty bitty Pulau Ular. Contrary to the expectations of the five year old in our party who announced it looked like an “extwemely boring island” as we pulled up in the dingy, we found it endlessly fascinating. The interpretive signs told us it’s a Geological Monument. The rocks are truly amazing. I swear some of the formations look like they have been carved by a talented and funky stone artist. I found a tiny cave filled with bats. And we all feasted on the most delicious fresh oysters straight off the rocks.

Pulau Ular

When we got back to Kuah, the other captain and I started getting Yana de Lys ready for the planned haul out and (sigh) our return to Australia.

Holed up at the Hole in Wall


The Hole in the Wall seen from the Kilim River.
The entrance is almost impossible to spot from the ocean.



Kilim River


Trees grow horizontally here


Yana de Lys at anchor in the Kilim River


Yana de Lys close up


The other captain, driving the dingy

Continuing on we rounded the eastern corner of Langkawi to arrive at the Hole in the Wall anchorage on the north coast, at the mouth of the Kilim River.   Apparently this is where the pirates used to hide out before Langkawi was settled.

There are monkeys in the mangroves and lots of monitors swimming in the river.  Around one bend I counted 14 sea eagles feeding.

We visited the Gua Kelawar (Bat Cave).  At the end we realised we hadn’t seen any bats though, so we started again from the beginning,  and there they were, hundreds, maybe thousands of the cute little critters hanging up right at the entrance.  We’d been too busy marvelling at the stalactites and stalagmites to notice them before LOL.

There are a couple of fish farms and a floating restaurant just round the corner from our anchorage.  When we dropped in to the restaurant for refreshments, Rod asked for a couple of Tiger beers to begin with.  “No thank you sir, we only have Skol” was the waitress’s terminally polite reply.

Electricity wires going to the fish farms

Those places get their electricity via cables which snake through the mangroves and over the limestone karsts to a jetty about 20 minutes by tender down the river.  At high tide some of the lines hang in the water.

Oh, and now it’s started raining again.  We could be here a while…