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Kings, Cakes, and Cats

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Kuching, Sarawak White Rajah

Our travels along the coast of Malaysian Borneo bring us to the capital city of the state of Sarawak.  Long ago, this land was part of the Bruneian Empire, ruled first by the sultan of Brunei, then ceded to an Englishman named James Brooke as a gift of gratitude for helping the sultan crush a rebellion.  James Brooke later was given the title ‘White Rajah’ due to all he did for the people of Sarawak.  During his reign, he suppressed piracy throughout the area and protected the peaceful, indigenous Dayak tribe from their head-hunting enemies.  Charles Brooke, his successor and nephew, continued developing Sarawak by promoting trade, extending its borders, improving sanitation systems, building hospitals and establishing prisons.  A daytime ride down the river offers glimpses of Kuching’s eventful past, with remnants of the White Rajah’s reign everywhere.

'Kucing' is the Malay word for 'cat', and this city takes its name seriously!  Cat statu…

Sailing the Malacca Straight - A Close Call!

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As we were sailing to Singapore, the city known for the most lightning strikes of any city in the world, we received a text from another cruising family.  They'd just been struck by lightning while they were in a marina in Singapore, of all places.   Everyone was safe, but the boat had multiple issues that would keep them there much longer than they'd planned.  They wouldn't be able to join us in the rally anymore.  My heart sank and raced.  I was sad and terrified at the same time. Is that even physically possible?  My eyes searched the skies and our radar screen for any sign of a squall or lightning among the traffic of cargo freighters and tanker ships as the news settled in.  Needless to say it was not a restful night on watch.

Our radar had been giving a false reading right in the center of our track.  Most of the time we could decipher the blip on the screen, but with all the other ships and fishing vessels, the blip became an added stressor.  I began my night watch…

The Malacca Strait - Rush Hour!

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Since leaving Pangkor, we have been working our way south. We stopped in Port Dickson for a few days to check out and enjoy the nice swimming pool at the marina, and now we are heading south around Singapore.

Right now it is 8 AM and it’s my turn to be on watch. When I came up, the chart was full of activity.  Ships were surrounding us and on the radar their telltale long red arrows showed their courses and speeds. The Malacca Strait is like a super highway with a lane down the middle that’s a ‘no go’ zone.  On the right, boats are heading south, and on the left they’re heading north. Throughout the night we could hear chatter on the radio between the captains of the vessels - huge cargo ships and some military ships making sure that they were staying out of each other‘s way and that each of the of the captains understood the intentions of the other.  Occasionally the radio would come alive with a little bit of frustrated chatter as the ships were trying to give each other enough spa…

Pangkor - Life on Land

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Even Field Trip is getting some time on the good old Terra Firma here in Malaysia.  We’ve hauled her out to reapply five shiny coats of new coppercoat to her bottom.  Who doesn’t want a shiny bottom, right?

It was a bit uncertain if we COULD haul out here, given the type of lift that they use.  A trailer goes beneath the bridgedeck, between the two hulls, and literally raises it up like a forklift would pick up a wooden pallat.  Once out of the water, she got a high pressure shower and was set up on wooden blocks right next to a boat she’d sailed with across the Pacific - Loch Marin!  How nice, to know someone in your new neighborhood!

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n fact, we’ve met a couple of sailing friends from years back since we’ve been here - Brenda and Hugh on SV Scotia, and Susan and Mark on SV Erie Spirit.  After years on our own, its fun to meet up with old friends and find out how they’ve ended up here.  Marinas and boat yards always lend themselves to new friendships, too, and we’ve met a few boat…

Medical Tourists - Our Health Screenings in Penang, Malaysia

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Yesterday we spent all day at the Island Hospital in Penang.  Our plan has always been to get medical checks done while in Malaysia, as we’ve heard their services are top notch and their prices are ridiculously low.


Before arriving, I had made an appointment online.  They wanted us to pay online, but our bank cards weren’t compatible with their system.  I decided to go anyway, guessing they’d take our money in person.  There was a Premium Health Screening Package available for only about $200.  The list of tests and checks included in the screening was long - full bloodwork, abdominal ultrasound, heartbeat monitor, chest xray, BMI, vision check, urinalysis, cancer marker screening and more.  I also knocked out a mammogram and PAP smear just because it was available and so stinking cheap!!  ( ultrasonic mammogram = 180 Rm = $43 USD)

The lobby was buzzing with activity at 7:30 in the morning.  The screenings were given on a first-come-first-served basis, so I took a number and filled o…