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                               PANGKOR AND GEORGETOWN (Pulau Pinang)                                                                        


Nov 20  We pulled away from the dock at Port Dickson Marina at dawn and motored across the windless, flat steely grey seas, temps in the 90's all day. Late afternoon brought the arrival of the predictable lightning storms which lasted well into the night. The light show was spectacular but somewhat sinister to say the least, as lightning repeatedly cut across the sky in a never ending spiderweb of forks, flashes and fireballs. There were so many fishing boats completely surrounding us that it looked like an intermittent array of city lights between the explosions of lightning that lit up the sea like daylight.

At daybreak, we arrived at Emerald Bay between Pangkor and tiny Laut Island, just off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, where the entire fleet of rally boats from the Raja Muda were stationed. We dropped our hook beside GWTW and Liam swam over to greet us. Afterward we hit the hay for several hours.

We awoke to the tossing and rolling of the boat as numerous runabouts sped by from the ultra modern resort on shore. It was not long before our tolerance level was exceeded and we pulled anchor and moved around the corner to Tortoise Bay, where some rally boats from SailAsia were anchored. It was an enchanting bay bordered by a white sand beach and swaying palms. It was a haven from the hustle bustle of all the city life we had just encountered. 

Beach Party

Later that afternoon all the boats got together on the beach for drinks and snacks. The long expanse of beach was almost deserted except for imprints left from the seabirds that had been combing the sand for crabs and other delicacies.

The island is home to many hornbill birds but we only had one Hornbill sighting and he was sitting very high in a palm tree. Nevertheless it was an interesting bird with its huge yellow beak and black body.

Nov 21  All the boats had vacated the anchorage at Pankor by 6:30 am for another windless motor-boat ride.

The water in this part of Malaysia was incredibly foul, with refuse floating everywhere. At one point we thought we had sailed over the sight of a sunken fishing boat, there was so much debris in the water! We actually had to pick our way through a barrier of floating garbage so not to get our prop fouled. Finally we anchored in the protected channel ready to make our way into the marina in the morning when the light was better to navigate through the sand bars.

PULAU PINANG (Malaysian for Betel Nut)

Nov 22  We continued through the pass and soon reached the bridge that connects Pinang Island with Malaysia. As we passed under the long suspension bridge, we could see the skyline of the port city of Georgetown beyond.

We were somewhat apprehensive about staying in the Tanjong City Marina at Pinang as we had heard tales about  the ferries entering the marina causing such a wash that boats were actually being damaged, with lines breaking and cleats twisting, at the docks. And sure enough we could see the boats  wallowing and rolling when we entered the channel. Our  slip was right at the entrance but the approach was tricky with the wicked currents and it was so shallow that we got stuck in the mud temporarily. We finally maneuvered into our slip and tied Ascension amidst a clutter of floating debris (including a dead dog!).
The marina had suffered considerable damage from the Tsunami but repairs had been done and the resort itself was first class, albeit unfortunately empty of residents.


A walk to Georgetown gave us an insight into a lively, compact Chinese dominated city, shaped through the centuries by trade and commerce. Its old world charm and eclectic blend of colonial, Moorish, Indian and Chinese architecture was evident throughout the grid of picturesque streets lined with faded yet ornamental Chinese shophouses, atmospheric old hotels, antique shops and temples.

Numerous Hindu temples and Chinese clan houses displayed ornate carvings and decorative figurines.

As we walked through the maze of narrow convoluted streets and 5 foot walkways, we were enchanted with a mix of old English style buildings, a spectacular combination of old and new, an amalgamation of different cultural styles, all coexisting side by side.

We enjoyed the sights and smells of  Little India on our quest for lunch. Stores lined the streets, cluttered and musty with lots of hidden goodies waiting to be discovered.

Ancient slate tiled roofs over narrow 2 slated Chinese shophouses

Penang Train

We boarded the old Pinang Train that took the steep grinding climb to 830 meters above sea level. The 30 minute ride took us through dense jungle and bamboo groves interspersed with beautiful gardens.

The train is built angular so the seats are level

Pinang Hill is the highest summit in Pinang. Unfortunately the day we rode the train, the visibility was not ideal but we took in a magnificent panorama view of a badly regulated island development  through smoky haze.

Riced for Good Luck!

At the summit there was a striking Hindu temple, decoratively carved with figurines representing  stories and myths.

We were required to take our shoes off and wash our feet and legs before entering the temple. A holy man greeted us and after a ceremony with incense and chanting, I was blessed with rice smeared on my forehead for Good Luck. The interior of the temple had numerous shrines.

Next to the Chinese Temple was a Muslim mosque with it's expected array of loudspeakers mounted on each of the gold plated onions adorning the rooftop. We could not enter the mosque.
Aviary Garden

A short walk away was the Aviary Garden, home to a number of regional birds on exhibit. The variety of birds was interesting and included Hornbills, Cockatoos, Kingfishers, Macaws, Parrots, peacocks and others

Kek Lok Si Beddhist Temple

Nov 24

We visited an extraordinary Buddhist Temple complex clambering up slopes between housing blocks. It is the largest Buddhist Temple in Southeast Asia.

Built in 1886, a giant statue of the Goddess of Mercy overlooks the mammoth temple grounds. Even the ceilings were elaborate in their design.
Inside, statues of large gold Buddha's dominated the decor and small gold Buddha's covered the walls, amidst the intricate glittery carved granite and gold filigree. Lit candles and incense dominated the surrounding offerings. 
The towering Pagoda dominating the vast complex is a bizarre amalgam of Chinese, Thai, and Burmese styles. We climbed to the top, 30 meter 7 stories up, for a stunning view over a labyrinthine network of colorful halls, shrines, gardens and courtyards.

A colossal Buddhist symbol overlooks Georgetown. Displays of delicately carved ivory artifacts. Gord rang the bell for...you guessed it!...Good Luck!

Wat Chayamangkalaram
(Reclining Buddah)

Gateway to the 19th century Thai Buddhist monastery where mythical serpents twist around the entrance to the hall, a blend of Chinese, Thai and Burmese architecture

Reclining in technicolour majesty is a 32 meter Buddha, claimed to be the third largest in the world. Its toenails are adorned with inlaid precious stones.

A Cemetery on a Wall

The entire wall is containers of  ashes in urns, a cemetery on



Buddhist Shrine


Burmese Buddhist Temple

  Burmese Buddhist Temple guarded by stone lions. The shrine had amazing carved woodwork around doorway.  

Spire of Buddha Temple. Inside gold Buddha's

Nov 25

We left the dock at Pinang mid morning taking advantage of slack tide but just barely skimming thru the shallow waters of the marina.