Sailing Yacht SEA BUNNY

Christmas 2011 newsletter

Written at Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia, December 2011

Not much sailing - several land trips this year


Kuching delay and Singapore Christmas

Synchronised swimming

We had intended to be in Phuket for Christmas 2010 and New Year. However, because we spent 10 days in Kuching ridding Sea Bunny of an unwanted stowaway (rat) we only made it as far as Singapore. The compensation was being able to join Ley and Neil (Crystal Blues) and their friends for the festivities, based at One15 Marina. We discovered the advantages of large powerboats as party boats thanks to the hospitality of Rod & Angie (Blue Steel), Al & Mel (Saraburi) and Bob and Margaret (Highland Duck). In the photo Susan is having a synchronised swimming lesson from Ley.

Festivals - Hindu and Chinese

Thaipusam

The Hindu Thaipusam festival, where the faithful insert hooks through their skin and tow things or carry large objects supported by the hooks on their pilgrimage between temples, was spent in Johor Bahru,. Gruesome, but apparently it doesn’t hurt if you have got into a sufficiently deep trance.

Lion dance

By the three week Chinese New Year (of the Rabbit) celebrations we were in Penang, which was great fun. Temples burning so much incense that that you can hardly breathe on the street outside, smiley Chinese choirs singing their hearts out, fire crackers going off all hours of the day and night, oranges handed out in friendship, paper items of everyday things burnt for the ancestors to use.  You can even burn things for the ancestors to forward to their ancestors!.

Rebak, Richard's birthday and Phuket

Bunny party

We got to Rebak in time to leave the boat there for our UK visit in March and April. It was lovely to see the family and note how all the boys had developed. It was at this time that we realised the hardness of the past winter in Europe. Back in Malaysia we sailed to Phuket for a month of woodwork jobs, mainly so that rats would not invade us again!

Then back to Rebak for Richard’s 65th birthday party at the Hard Dock, bunny ears were much in evidence. His big present, new chart plotter and radar took weeks to arrive and weeks to adjust into our existing system. Now Raymarine has just sent us an upgraded version after we pointed out a potential safety issue. So Richard is still setting it up and the controls applications are different again so more learning – thank goodness Sea Bunny is not doing any serious sailing this year!

Myanmar

Bagan stupas

The year’s travel highlight was our guided trip to Myanmar/Burma. The itinerary took in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. Lots of friendly people (English is the second language) many still traditionally dressed, ruined temples and stupas, very active monasteries, one with 1000 monks to receive alms every morning. 85% of the country is agricultural - still carried out using carts and ploughs drawn by bullocks. Except for the main town streets all roads unsurfaced and in gullies from the rain.

Moving the buddhas

 We were fortunate to witness two full days of the Phaung Daw Oo Paya festival on Inle Lake, where four Buddha images are taken in a flotilla of boats to temples in the hundred villages around the lake so that people can pay their respects and add yet more gold leaf to the figures, which are already unrecognisable -- looking more like gold Michelin Men.

Laos and northern Thailand

Bamboo bridge

On our return to Rebak we made the ferry trip to nearby Alor Setar for Richard to have some minor surgery, then we were off again, this time to Laos and northern Thailand, returning 10 December. We flew to the capital Vientiane for a few days of orientation. This mountainous country, the size of the UK, had more bombs dropped it during the Vietnam war by the Americans than were dropped during WW11. Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) warnings are everywhere but it opened to tourists in 1990. The 12-hour bus ride (no railways and only small planes fly in) through the mountainous passes, to what is billed as sleepy Luang Prabang, was without breakdown. LP gained a world heritage tag in 1996, recognising the structure of this promontory area as a unique collection of villages (bans) each built around its temple and monastery. Of course, the tag has attracted the tourists, resulting in most of the original Lao houses being converted to guest houses and hotels retaining the French colonial style and it could now be billed as Disney world. Across the Mekong from the glitz was the real desperately poor Laos heavily dependent on foreign aid and hampered by an archaic infrastructure. Here the food was sticky rice and forest leaves and the people relied on the river for all their water needs.

Mahout

As well as temple visits and the night market we took in some elephant riding and visited a couple of enormous waterfalls. A two day trip up the Mekong to the Thai border gave us time to observe more river life. Back in Thailand we learnt a little more of the Lanna, Northern Thai culture and past opium golden triangle business. Back we travelled from the North, Chiang Mai to South, Alor Setar in Malaysia by train. Thirty km both north and south of Bangkok were still flooded.

Our bodies are still shaking from all this activity!

May the wind be always be at your back and may you treat life kindly.

With our love

Susan & Richard

 

 

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Last Updated on 14 December 2011


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