Admiral Marina, Port Dickson Malaysia ,
But before we go
Having arrived in Port Dickson more than a month before our flight back to the US, we busied ourselves with boat projects, personal maintenance, and "touristy" things.
After re-beading the traveler, installing a new AM/FM/CDV/MP3 radio, changing oil, coolant and completing several other projects, we started looking into a visit to the dentist, the eye doctor, and Rene needed to have "annual" blood work done. For $150 USD, I had a crown replaced, cleaning was $17 and for less than $30 Rene had a complete blood work up. We took a bus to Serebaun where Dr. Loo did complete eye examinations, costing $40 each. We were impressed by the quality of the work and the professionalism of the people we encountered and we felt that the care we received was as good as what we would receive in the US. Okay, these were check ups not major surgery, and lets face it, this is the best of the local market. So how do they keep the cost down? Well, if I were to die in the dentist chair the dentists probably had no insurance for Rene, but then "what me worry".
We are located a few degrees north of the equator and it is hot, hot, hot and humid. Our flights to tourism are motivated more by the desire to spend a few nights in an air conditioned room than to visit a few museums. Although the boat is equipped with air conditioning our portable step down transformer is too anemic to run the a/c. We know because we have burned one out already. So we plan to have a permament unit with sufficient capacity installed but not until we return with it from the US.
So our first trip is to Malacca, one of the most historic sights in Malaysia. We arrived at Hotel Puri in the historic district on a rainy Sunday night. The street fair on Jonker Street was still going on, although somewhat limited because of the sprinkles. The next day it was off to the many historic museums depicting the reign of the sultans, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English and the 1956 declaration of independence which was made in Malacca. Few relics remain of the old fortress since most everything was destroyed as the regimes changed and Malacca succeeded its leadership in trade to Singapore and Panang. But the city is making the most of what few relics they do have and is developing other attractions like the kite museum and the museum of Natural Beauty. Pass this one up since the natural beauty is body art and the pictures are of how man has "beautified" his body with tattoos, scars and piercing his nose, cheeks, ears and other soft skin appendages with large objects. Except for the later it was a good trip. We could have seen all we wanted to in two days but we took three just to enjoy the a/c and cable TV.
Next we were off to Kuala Lumpur. This capital city is enjoying a building boom and the sky line is cluttered with buildings wrapped in green netting indicating that the construction is not yet complete. The transit system of rail, monorail, and buses can take you to any corner of the city inexpensively. KL is of course the location of the second tallest buildings in the world. The tallest for now being located in Taiwan. The garish architecture of the Petronas towers lends to an understanding of how powerful oil is in the country. Petronas, the national oil company, is developer and the primary tennant and the building which is the symbol of the emerging economy of Malaysia while providing a focal point for national pride. Malaysia is, after all, a very diverse country in terms of ethnicity and religion and at every opportunity the government talks about unity and the sense of being Malaysian. You may or may not like the design of the towers but the point is well made for this country of 20 million people.
The city is also about shopping. Luxury items throughout the world are marketed here and not in a small kiosk in a major department store but rather as a major store front as large as many flagship stores. Just for kicks I looked at a few price tags and was astounded by the weakness of the dollar or how out of date my shopping index is, I'm not sure which. Of course, I don't need any of it (and now understand that I never did) but I wonder how a country with a GDP per capita of around $4,000 USD can support such shopping complexes. Or are these enormous shopping center an attraction for tourist. I also wonder about the earnings of luxury hotels and restaurants. This is a Muslin country and alcohol is expensive and gambling is frowned upon. So how do the earnings of these chain hotels compare with other locations, say Rio de Janeiro??
We did visit the Batu caves which contain a most remarkable Hindu shrine. In fact many shrines are tucked in the corners of this immense cave. First you climb 218 steps above the street level, past the troupe of monkeys to the first level and then further into the labyrinth where there are other shrines dedicated to other Hindu gods. We were fortunate to find a wedding ceremony underway during our visit and Rene was invited into the shrine with all the women to take pictures.
On our last night in KL, we searched for a good Chinese resturant and found one. The speciality was shark fin everything and abalone. No prices were given for these rare delicacies but I do know that in some places shark fin soup can run $100.00 USD. So we moved further down the menu not just to save money but also so as not to promote any form of "finning", a gruesome technique where sharks are caught and their fins removed before they are returned to the sea to starve or suffocate.
We had beat the crowd and of fifty tables only two were occupied. The service was oppressive. Three waiters hovered over us and with every sip of tea there was a refill. It finally became a game but we were always to lose as a passing waiter or manager would fill our cup or plate without asking and scowl at the assigned waiter who we had been holding off. The food was delicious but the elder lady who was our primary waiter wouldn't allow me to add sugar to the tea. It reminded us of the movie "The Big Night".
You know these Malaysian words:
Antik Ambulans Aksesori Restoran Buk
Kupon Bas Lektrik Teksi Musik
In the last few days participants of the rally, now called the Darwin, Bali, Langkawi Rally have arrived the the marina and local governemnt and gone all out for the event. Don't miss this rally stop if your headed to Thailand.
And we're off. We will stop in Singapore for a few days before returning to the US but no time for a log entry. We would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and all the best for the New Year. We will return to the boat in mid January and will be back with website entries while en route to Sri Lanka home of the Tamil Tigers.
If you're headed this way:
- Langkawi may have been a better stopping point for us than Port Dickson. It is difficult to find any marine parts in Port Dickson and Langkawi is a duty free port so we believe imported items may be cheaper there. But we feel that Admrial Marina is a wonderful facility and a very safe place to leave Shiraz while we return home for a couple of months.