31 March 2020
Well, here we are, locked down and locked up on Rebak Island. It’s murdur .......... or to use the hotel’s own description, “Imagine being on your very own private island. Where the blue Andaman sea flirts with the secluded beaches and vibrant jungles across 390 acres of discovery. Imagine unwinding at Vivanta Langkawi, Rebak Island, one of the top resorts in Langkawi. An island with tropical climate, stunning rock formations and a lush forest that goes back a 100 million years, this 5-star resort in Langkawi is kissed by crystal clear waters......” See what I mean. Pure Hell.
We’re here either until this whole mess clears up or we get forcefully ejected when our visas run out at the end of May. That will be a great government initiative to help spread the virus globally. Anyway, being on our own wee private island, accessible only by boat, off an island, off mainland Malaysia means we are seriously well socially distanced. With just a couple of dozen other cruisers and of course the remaining staff who busy themselves supplying us with carry out meals delivered to the boat, groceries from the small store and pointlessly disturbing the peace with their leaf blowers, blowing leaves from one end of the resort to the other so the afternoon sea breeze can blow them all back, it’s all very comfy. It’s just us lot........and the monkeys.
Every morning when it’s still cool, as in just a chilly 28c, we head over to the pool for our online exercise class; (try it! Base Fitness Stirling on Facebook). As it’s early morning cool the monkeys are also out foraging for breakfast. Normally, their diet is substantially and possibly wholly, the bananas, Danish pastries and apples the hotel guests nick from the extensive morning buffet. But right now, there’s no guests. So no Danish.
Just two whities walking through their jungle in the early morning gloom. Their territory.
You can see the whites of their eyes in amongst the undergrowth, all staring out as we nervously go past. I swear you can hear them licking their lips. We pick up our pace and get swiftly past them and onto the pool side.
Some folk here think they’re cute. Anne thinks they’re viscous little buggers. I just hope they’ve not seen Planet of the Apes.
28 March 2020
Heard a Dr. on TV saying in this time of Coronavirus staying at home we should focus on inner peace.
To achieve this we should always finish things we start and we all could use more calm in our lives.
I looked through the boat to find things I'd started and hadn't finished, so I finished off a bottle of Zinfandel, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Whisky, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiumun srciptuns, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how feckin fablus I feel rite now.
Sned this to all who need inner piss. An telum u luvum.
And two hash yer wands, stafe day avrybobby!!!
24 March 2020
Anne says my last post was rubbish. I agree. It wasn't my best, but getting material isn't all that easy. It's even more difficult now we're in lockdown, living cheek by jowl with each other with no respite. It's been nearly a week now. Ashore, the Polis, ably assisted by the army are now, correctly, ensuring the lockdown is enforced. Unlike the UK where it seems a sizeable proportion of the population are self deluding rather than self isolating. Self deluding by joining masses of people to go shopping or hill walking. Heading down the pub, with crowds of their mates. Perhaps they think eight pints or a few cocktails a night is the solution. Likely not though.
In Langkawi and I guess the rest of Malaysia there's a Movement Control Order in force. Only critical journeys are to be undertaken, individuals are to stay two metres apart and only one person from each family is allowed to go shopping at a time. So, it's not all bad.
One of the challenges though is this two metre rule. Half the cruisers here are too old to really know what a metre is and the other half still work in feet and inches. A sizeable proportion left their hearing at Woodstock or the like and, to better hear what you're saying unconsciously lean into your virus free personal space no matter how hard you back pedal. Keeping your distance is difficult.
However, one of the benefits of living at anchor is that one has a limited supply of fresh water. We've five hundred litres to last eight weeks. This means that on Time Bandit we are quite frugal, washing the dishes in one inch of water, using the cap of my shaving foam to rinse my Gillette G3 and showering once a week, whether we need it or not.
The undoubted benefit of this water conservation strategy is that within just a few days, one acquires a certain "ripeness". Like a good Brie. Isolated together we don't really notice but, if we meet others, and feel they are getting slightly too close, a raising of the arm to scratch that itch on the back of your neck quickly has them back in their zone, possibly further depending on the wind direction.
"Anti-social distancing" I call it.
Try it. You might lose your social life but you'll keep the bug at bay.
Back to Indonesia - Pasarwajo
20 March 2020
trying hard to catch up on my videos while we’re in lock down.
Stranger Than Fiction
20 March 2020
One summer, a few decades ago we returned home from our two week summer vacation. Back then, a summer holiday was to find a campsite somewhere remote, under a few big mountains where my pal Richard would drag me quivering and whining up some decidedly scary and stunning peaks. We'd be out of touch for days on end and to me, that was just perfect. No whining clients, no moaning staff. No phones.
Back in the campsite Anne would courageously manage the kids until daddy got back to take them up slightly less scary slopes. We were living in our own little world, happy as sandboys.
Holiday over, a thousand or so miles home and it was the usual routine, mum and dad empty the car into the hall and garage. Kids running around screaming finding toys they hadn't seen for what seemed like a lifetime.
As things quietened down I flicked on the tele, catching, purely by accident a live update on the global pandemic. I watched, horror struck, as the news anchor detailed the origins of the disease, how it spread and talked to reporters around the world. I just sat and gawped, open mouthed. "Anne! Anne! Come quick. Hurry. You'll not believe what's happened while we've been gone".
The programme was so realistic it took us a good ten minutes to realise it was fiction and we'd been sucked in like the listeners to the 1939 radio broadcast of H G Wells War of the Worlds, when, like me, stunned and terrified listeners, believing it real, thinking the Martians had landed and they were all doomed.
Out here in Langkawi it's all beginning to look a bit familiar. We're not exactly doomed, but now it is another media drama. Almost as scary as walking across a twelve inch wide snow ridge with two of the Alp's longest free bum slides on either side, Richard messing with my head, not to mention my trousers, stopping half way across to take a photo.
It's not quite as scary here in Langkawi but it is beginning to take on the mantle of a ghost town. All the street restaurants are shut. Most shops are shut other than the only supermarket, some pharmacies and reportedly, Charlie's Bar in the marina........and that's just been proven scuttlebut as I've just been chucked out. But at least they left the WiFi on.
At least I can catch up on my videos.
15 March 2020
No, not the name of a trendy brand of yachting clothing, more the sound of doors being firmly slammed shut in most of the places we'd planned to stop en route South Africa.
Just as we concluded our in-person, visa applications for Indonesia, back in Penang (and, no, I didn't make my Friday appointment) the mayor at our scheduled first stopover in Sabang at the north of Sumatra said that reluctantly he and his island was no longer open for visitors. Then they changed their minds. Folk were welcomed and wandered the streets. Then they changed their minds and asked folk to try a week in Disneyland instead. Further down Sumatra, the authorities have secured ten Aussies on their dive boat, refused permission to leave.
The Maldives has tucked away about ten newly arrived yotties in a corner of the lagoon for ten days. Hell, isn't it! Stuck for ten days anchored off a deserted, white sand cay in crystal clear, warm water. Their biggest threat is to the booze stores.
The good news, apart from the fact we've not got a touch of flu, is that as the Sabang, door closed, the door at Chagos opened. Chagos is a speck somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean and it makes a handy rest stop. Not that there's anything there but good for a solid eight hours kip. And if there's enough yotties, a few sundowners.
And then what? If Madagascar shuts its doors we're stuffed.
I told you it wasn't all beer and skittles out here. All and any suggestions welcome.
Nurse! The Screens. (PG18)
26 February 2020
Its been a tough week here in Penang. Plan A had been to sail the sixty miles down here, park the boat in the marina, get my missing molar fixed and sail back to Langkawi. Simpls.
Unfortunately I then spent much too long looking at weather GRIBs. If I got my skates on, it seemed I’d get down there OK but, according to the outlook, the way back would be a motor fest. And you know I don’t like burning fuel. That and the last time we anchored in Penang we had two nights from Hell bouncing and slapping around for hours and hours, all night long in wind over tide. And so, I made the decision to go with Plan B, leave the boat in Langkawi and late on Sunday found myself on the afternoon fast ferry to Penang. Fortunately I’d been watching these ferries come and go and having seen the boats’ gunwhales strung with air con units, as a precaution, I packed a fleece and a Buff. And just as well. It was perishing. Thirty five degrees outside. Ice box inside.
Three hours later me and the rest of the chittering, blue lipped travellers stepped into the welcoming embrace of Penang’s late afternoon heat. Thawed out, I made it to the hotel, a quick kip and by 09:00 next morning, horizontal on the dentist chair and invited back that evening for what turned out to be a marathon two hours forty minutes root canal job. Fortunately I’d taken my iPhone and I spent those hours trying to focus hard on the last weeks news from the BBC podcast at the same time drowning out the noise of Ms Dentist digging around in my cavity.
In the end, it wasn’t that painful and next day, as a reward, I thought I’d treat myself to a massage. Another massage in fact. At less than ten quid a go out here, you just can’t get too many massages. We’d only just been the previous week with Dave and Linda up in Thailand. The original plan had been to go for a swim so I’d worn a pair of knee length swimming shorts i.e. “commando” and so, when it came time to disrobe I was a bit embarrassed at having to explain my absence of underwear. However, as with all masseuse, the girl was ever so discreet and professional and deftly waved around a towel as expertly as a Spanish matador and not a hint of naughty flesh was exposed.
And so, back in Penang, post dentist, if that’s not a pun, having spotted a massage shop just round from the hotel, I waltzed in and asked for an oil massage. “No problem, come this way” and I was shepherded past the rows of reflexology couches, through into a dimly lit, red velour corridor with curtained off treatment “rooms”.
Knowing the routine, after the quite attractive masseuse had left and pulled the screens shut, I stripped to my underpants and lay face down on the bed. A few minutes later she came back, oiled her hands and started on the now familiar routine; quick overall oiling, shoulders then lower back. At that point, it’s quite normal for the masseuse to pull one’s pants down an inch or three so as not to get oil onto your pant’s waistband. Normal that was right up until my pants passed my knees and she just whipped my pants clean off. “Whoa” I thought. “No modesty towel” but she set to work again, unfazed, doing all the usual stuff.......while I focused intently on the details of my root canal treatment.
Once done with my back she says to turn over. Expecting the towel to now make an appearance and be discretely draped over my modesty, I spin over onto my front only to find myself lying on the slab, with only the light draught from the air con to cover me. So, while I’m now intently concentrating on recalling how the dentist had to cut away part of my gum in order for the new crown to have something to bond to she says, “You wan’ massage?” while at the same time, tapping Captain Midnight to clearly emphasise her meaning.
“Whoa. Wait a minute!!!” Instantly, flashbacks of tabloid headlines and photos of handcuffed gentry and politicians being hauled out of Glasgow’s dodgy massage parlours came to mind. I tried to process all this as quickly as I could but as she obviously realised my mind was necessarily elsewhere, anywhere but there, if you get my drift, she repeats, “You wan’ massage?” tapping John Thomas once again to make it patently clear she wasn’t talking about reflexology.
Somewhat taken aback and confused as to whether I was in Glasgow as part of a Tabloid sting or in a reasonably touristy part of Penang, I politely declined her kind offer.
With a shrug and a kind of “well, suit yourself” look she gave me a final towel down, said thanks, drew back the screens and vanished into the red velvet gloom. I quickly jumped up, grabbed my pants, had a quick look around for any blinking red LEDs from the imagined blackmail video camera and hot footed it out to reception where I quickly paid my fifty five Ringits........and made an appointment for Friday.
24 February 2020
For our few YouTube followers on SV Time Bandit, here's the latest from Indonesia. Months late but catching up.