December 2002
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SINGAPORE to THAILAND

We left Singapore for an easy overnight trip to Port Dickson in Malaysia. Well, at least we thought it would be easy.  First, it turned out that the growth in Singapore Harbor was so prolific that we could barely make 5 knots and the engine was running quite warm.  We worked our way out of the harbor and stopped the boat so Jeff could go in the water and clean the prop and rudder.  Meanwhile, Gail used the radio to notify the sailboat behind us that we were dead in the water.  It seems that the message never got from the person on the radio to the person on the cockpit.  About 10 minutes later they came up behind us and missed us by just a little bit.   From there, the trip got worse.

We were traveling as a group of 4 boats, busy dodging ship traffic in the Malacca Straits, keeping an eye out for pirates and trying to avoid little unlit fishing boats.  Then, the thunderstorms hit with massive amounts of lightning.  Radars were useless and we kept talking to each other to make sure we didn't run into each other in the dark.  Then, one of the boats called to let us all know that he had a problem and was not coming directly towards all of us.  Definitely raised our adrenaline levels.    Fortunately things worked out fine.  The next morning we all arrive at the marina in Port Dickson where Greg Yap and his staff took wonderful care of us.  Another day to settle the boats and do some planning and we all headed for Kuala Lumpur, the largest city in Malaysia.

We were driven to KL by "the major", the father of one of the local taxi drivers.  The Major was from India but had lived in Malaysia for 30+ years and had recently retired from their military. This was a 2 hour history lesson up close and personal.  We took a few trips with the Major where he was able to point out where various battles took plate.  He was a wealth of information on Malaysian culture, the political system, etc.


KL is truly a big city.  They boast the tallest building in the world - if you measure from the top of the antennas - and the people went out of their way to make sure we all felt safe.  A number of people emphasized that Americans were safe in Malaysia.  We checked out Chinatown, some of the temples - there are Muslim, Hindu and Chinese temples - and attended a wonderful dance presentation at the Malaysian Cultural Center.  The night market yielded more good deals on DVDs and everyone stocked up.  There was a bit of excitement when the copyright police showed up.  Seems they were red jackets to let everyone know they are coming.  All the vendors disappear but they come back 10 minutes later after the police leave.  We also visited a multi-story building full of electronics vendors, computer stores, DVD stores and software stores.  Again, there was a lot of stocking up.

All the taxi drivers are tour guides; one took us on a 3 hour tour to the sacred Batu caves.  Elephants followed Jeff through the parking lot as he tried to pull individual bananas off the bunch we bought.  Then, the Major drove back to KL to pick us up.  $35 for a 2 hour taxi ride.  We also visited the ancient city of Malacca, formerly the center of trade in SE Asia.  Not much left that is truly ancient.

A 2 day trip to Langkawi, a resort island and our last stop in Malaysia.  Then, onto Thailand.  We did some diving at some of the islands and then arrived in Phuket, got the boat settled and jumped on a plane for Bangkok and Chiang Mai with Lee, Paul and Jessie from Poppy 1.  We toured Chiang Mai and enjoyed a number of sites but the main reason we were there was to ride the elephants.  While it turned out to be quite touristy, we thoroughly enjoyed the 1+ hour elephant ride through the jungle.

Gail was feeling a bit flu-like in Chiang Mai and ended up resting on our last day there.  We flew to Bangkok and she felt worse so we went to the local hospital where they ran blood tests. Somewhere a nasty mosquito must have gotten her because she had Dengue Fever.  They admitted her and she spent 3 days in the hospital.  The doctor seemed capable, the facilities were reasonable and the nurses, except for the fact that they didn't speak English, were wonderful.   We returned back to Sea Witch, got some things cleaned up, packed and headed for Los Angeles.

30 days in Los Angeles went way too fast.  We didn't really get to visit too many people and didn't get all our administrative stuff done.  But, we needed to get back here to Thailand and get the boat ready to head for the Red Sea.  We'll stop in the Maldives for a few days and then meet up with a bunch of boats to travel together up the Red Sea.  We'll probably leave Thailand on Feb 4 and will probably enter the Red Sea at the end of February or early March.  We'll try and keep our position updated on the web.  We've also added pictures to the web and put up a couple more of our newsletters.

Jeff & Gail
Sea Witch