A quiet time at Pangkor Island...
24 March 2010 | Pangkor Island, Malaysia
After leaving Tanjong City Marina at Georgetown, Penang we anchored up at the end of the island, hoping to make our journey to Pangkor Island a little shorter and hoping to get a good night's sleep. Indian disco man had sorely tested our ability to sleep in almost any condition and feeling like our eyes were hanging out of our heads we were heartened by the fact that apart from some road noise we seemed to have found ourselves a relatively peaceful anchorage. Boy, were we ever sucked in! The harmless looking houses that lined the waterway turned into a collection of local karaoke parties. The terrible high pitched yowling that passed locally for singing continued on into the early hours of the morning, we recognised neither the songs nor any of the words as it was all Malay and loud enough to shake you to the very core! Unable to sleep, Jay decided that seeing as he was awake anyway he may as well get us moving and so the anchor was pulled up just before dawn and we were on our way.
It's strange to be retracing our steps... it's also strange to be doing it alone this time. Revisiting places we first experienced in 2008 has stirred up memories of friends who are either travelling further around the globe (Dave on Sahula who has spent quite some time in Turkey) or have finished their journey for now and are becoming reaccustomed to the life of a land lubber (Brian and Brenda off Galiano who recently married, congratulations guys! And are back in NZ.) It's also strange to be seeing places at a different time of year, as we arrive at Pangkor Island we see two yachts anchored around the corner from our preferred anchorage, they are gone the next day and we are alone. Our fishermen friends with their nets do not come around at sunset as we expect we settle in for the first good night's sleep in a few days.
We wake up with the beginnings of a head cold, scratchy throats and foggy heads lead us to this conclusion, a parting gift from Penang and the big shiny, air conditioned shopping centres we spent time in. Heading to shore after a late start we take a much needed walk and take in the changes that have taken place in the last two years. There are new or refurbished resorts on the beachfront and a lot of work seems to be taking place, walkways being fixed and new lights being installed. Being Malaysia all of the wiring has been left exposed and the new lights do not fit into their surroundings very well. There are no other people wandering around, the tourist season is over and we remain the only yacht in the anchorage for the duration of our stay. The storm season is on its way and we have been experiencing a fair amount of rain which we have missed over the past months. The result is that everything on the island is lush and green and the smell that you get just after the rain when everything has been washed clean lingers in the air. Signs are posted on electricity poles to encourage people to pick up their rubbish and keep Pangkor Island clean, we love the way they word things here. The sign we came across said, 'Pangkor Island. I will always keep clean and ensure other people do as what I did. This is my island, I will always ensure the environment is clean, peaceful and harmony.' We round the corner and find the local motorbike hirer, we will organise a motorbike for tomorrow, the head cold has exhausted us and we return to the tender detouring to look at a marina built on a small island just metres off Pangkor Island. It is a well constructed marina and looks fairly shiny and new with its big empty buildings but the jetty's are starting to show signs of wear and tear. Someone has spent a lot of money to have it just sit there abandoned. Extremely weary we return to the Makani Kai to relax for the afternoon in the hopes that we wake up feeling fresh and brand new tomorrow.
No such luck in the health stakes but we decide to brave it anyway and head ashore to explore. We call the motorbike man who is with us in minutes, he presents us with a clunky old motorbike and two helmets for the equivalent of about $10 for the day. We are too tired to barter and hand over the money knowing we are being slightly ripped off. The bike squeaks as the suspension bounces when we ride over slight bumps in the road, the helmets would offer us no protection should we have an accident, the strap on mine is being held by a single thread that the slightest tug would snap. We know our way around the island, it is only small. We drive into the main township and take a left, past the sheds built out over the water where they build their boats and up a hill to a lookout. We climb the winding staircase that leads to the lookout, it is narrow and steep, it would not pass safety regulations in Australia. We get to the top and can see a small bit of water in amongst the treetops. The thing about these lookouts is that they build them but then let the trees grow up around them so that you can't actually see anything from them but we are not surprised, we return to the bike and head up the hill. It is a beautiful ride through the lush, green rainforest and as soon as we disappear under the canopy of trees the temperature drops to a comfortable level. The bike we have has no grunt and we crawl up the hill at a ridiculously slow pace, I offer to disembark and wait for Jay at the top but we persevere and eventually make it. We stop to watch an old man throwing a net for fish in the shallows, he doesn't seem to be catching a lot. We ride through the tourist strip and although there are a handful of people around most of the restaurants and cafes keep their shutters closed. We stop briefly at the strange Buddhist temple that has been made to look like a castle and has huge statues of Disney characters dotted around it before heading back to the boat. We will leave for Port Dickson tomorrow and have a couple of nights in the marina to recuperate.