Monday July 16, 2012
Sunny days amidst the storms
ACCENTS By GUDRUN NIENABER
IT IS the low season in Langkawi at the moment in terms of tourist arrivals due mainly to the less than perfect weather. The weather during the south-west monsoon between May and October is less hot, a bit more rainy and windy, but there are still many beautiful sunny days.
Even during the south-west monsoon season, one can still find many sheltered, scenic and idyllic places in the Langkawi archipelago to enjoy swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or fishing.
It seems to be the time of the year for family events and celebrations, corporate events and get-togethers for friends. And we are delighted that quite a few families and groups of friends have chosen to celebrate their special events on our catamaran, Edu-Cat, in Langkawi.
We had a family of 19 from India on board celebrating their annual family gathering including grandparents, children, grandchildren and cousins. There was also a Malay family of 17 celebrating their grandmother’s 74th birthday.
A group of 26 Australians, family and friends, came to celebrate a wedding and three young Chinese couples from Kuala Lumpur spent two days and one night on Edu-Cat, just having fun. Next week we have a group of 25 corporate executives on board for a day as part of a teambuilding programme, and in two weeks there is another wedding including a beach BBQ and party.
Not to forget our own family, my husband’s daughter Juliette and her two children, Neve, six, and Patrick, eight, visited recently from Sydney, Australia to spend a whole week with us on the boat.
That required quite some thinking and serious planning to work out a programme to keep the children busy and happy.
As expected, they were very excited to sleep on a boat which they had never done before.
The first day we sailed from our home base, the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club in Kuah, to the other side of the island, Telaga harbour. It is an easy three-hour sailing trip.
We arrived at our anchorage in the afternoon and the children could not wait to get into the water.
After a few hours of swimming, diving and jumping and still suffering a bit from jet lag and an overnight flight, they got tired fairly early and had a good night’s sleep. That was a very successful first day.
On the second day, the weather was again fine in the morning, so we decided to visit the famous Langkawi cable car. I have to say, it is spectacular.
The ride up (the span between the last two poles is one of the longest in the world) and then the view from the top, was just sensational. It is a must for anyone visiting Langkawi. But then, the weather changed and the cable car stopped.
We were told it is due to a technical problem, but maybe it was due to the deteriorating weather. We had a coffee and cake up there in the little cafeteria and were wondering how we would get back down. Walking down takes an unappealing three hours, so we decided to wait. Finally, the cable car emergency system was activated and everyone was ferried back down the way they came up.
But that was not enough excitement for the day. By the time we were back down, the bad weather really kicked in with strong wind and rain.
We decided to have a nice lunch at the Oriental Village and wait until the rain stopped before going back to Edu-Cat. After lunch and between two downpours, we quickly jumped into our dinghy (also called life boat or rubber ducky in Australia) to get back to our boat.
We were in for a shock — Edu-Cat was not where we left her. What happened, where was she?
All of a sudden we saw her close to the beach, a few hundred metres further down from our original anchorage.
It turned out that the anchor did not hold sufficiently in the very strong wind and shallow water and the boat had drifted on its own quite a long way before the anchor kicked in again.
Luckily, no damage was done, but we were in shock for quite a while thinking about what could have happened.
We quickly packed up and set sail to get back before dark to our safe marina berth at the RLYC in Kuah.
That was not easy either. Halfway home, we ran into another strong storm with heavy rain and rough sea. Juliette and the children cosily cuddled inside the boat and had a lovely time, but David and I got totally soaked outside at the helm.
We made it safely home before dark. We definitely had enough excitement for the day and really enjoyed a cool libation or two that night!
The weather remained mixed for the next few days, so we did more land-based activities such as visiting the Underwater World, the Craft Complex, Pantai Cenang and the Unesco-recognised world heritage Kilim Geopark with its huge mangrove areas, fish farms and bat caves.
Towards the end of the week, the weather improved and the final highlight of the week was a snorkelling trip to Pulau Payar, about 20 miles south of Langkawi.
Pulau Payar is a marine national park with an excellent underwater world of reefs and corals in clear water with lots of fish including small harmless Black Tip Reef Sharks. The children had a ball.
The week passed too quickly, but we had a great time together. It is always a sad moment to say goodbye, especially since it will take quite a while before we see them again.
Now the boat is clean, back in shape and ready to sail again.
■ Gudrun’s love for Malaysia brought her back from Germany three years ago, after a nine-year absence when she resided in KL holding a senior corporate position. She and her husband are serial entrepreneurs and are passionate about staying fit and healthy, and promoting an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.