Day-hopping it to Langkawi

It’s been a long slog getting out of Indonesia, and, getting up the Strait of Malacca has been similarly slow. But, as always in sailing, hard times are compensated with good ones and arriving in Langkawi has been very rewarding!

After Port Dickson, near Malacca, it took four more day-sails before we reached Langkawi. In Port Klang, we sailed into the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, where we received a very warm welcome, free t-shirts and a few beers! The last two nights we found relatively calm and protected anchorages en route.

Once we reached Langkawi, we headed into Kuah to catch up with an old friend. We also met another kid-boat with two boys similar ages. It’s incredible how fast boat-kids connect, it literally took less than a minute and the four boys were sharing Star Wars stories, comparing Lego kits and non-stop chatting. They had obviously been deprived…

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We had a few squalls in the Strait of Malacca

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We saw plenty of fishermen

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They often turn around to come and check us out

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Approaching our anchorage at dusk

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another gorgeous Malacca sunset

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fishing boat against the orange sky

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plenty to see on the way

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Port Klang

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huge cranes and much activity

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it kept the kids entertained

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next morning, more cranes on the northern side of Klang

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cranes in the mist

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so where have all the port markers gone?

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after a few more days we reach Langkawi

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nice clouds

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catching up with an old friend

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sunset over the RLYC

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nice to do school off the boat for a change

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the pool at the RLYC

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playing cards with their mates

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in town

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the eagle, symbol of Langkawi

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what do they talk about all day?

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let’s get wet

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local shopping mall

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the anchorage on the west side of Langkawi, in Telaga

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Telaga marina entrance

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anchored under the cable car

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light-sabre fight at dusk

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next stop: Thailand!

 

 

Malacca

We are sailing through the famous Malacca Strait as I write. Even though the wind is mostly on the nose, it’s a good time of the year to go through as the weather is calm, with less chance of violent thunderstorms and Sumatra winds. We’ve had the sails up a few times, but mostly we will be motoring all the way.

It’s not the thunderstorms, nor the pirates (they’ve been mostly scared away since the government took action a few years ago), nor the busy traffic of huge tankers that worries us. It’s the fishermen. And not the fishermen themselves, but the kilometres-long unmarked and unlit nets they put out. It makes sailing at night nigh on impossible.

We’ve made a stop in Pulau Pisang (aka Banana Island) and Pulau Bessar. The latter is part of the Water Islands, named so because of the fresh water wells. In the olden days, ships used to stop here to re-victual. Today it’s a place of pilgrimage for muslims who come and visit the ancient graves of Sultans and other historical leaders that were buried here. There’s a resort and golf course too.

Our next stop was Port Dickson, where we took a few days rest and the opportunity to visit the ancient town of Malacca (also know as Melaka).

One day really wasn’t enough to do this fascinating historical place justice. The long colonial history (Portuguese, then Dutch, then British) is visible all through town and the historic centre has been classified a UNESCO world heritage site. But, most visible is the rich Chinese heritage which started long before the first Europeans arrived, when the daughter of the Chinese Emperor married the first Sultan and brought 500 ‘attendants’ with her, who all married and mixed with the local Malay. The famous mariner, explorer and diplomat Cheng Ho (1371-1438) stopped in Malacca five times during his seven legendary voyages. He was instrumental in getting Malacca on the map as a major trading hub and port. At one point, this port could accommodate 2000 ships. Right now there’s isn’t even anywhere to anchor Rehua! It’s all been silted up.

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Lots of traffic in the Malacca Strait

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glad to have AIS

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a fisherman and his kilometres-long nets, at least this one is marked with tiny white buoys

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sails up, but not for long, as we mostly have wind on the nose

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approaching Pulau Bessar, place of pilgrimage for muslims

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sailing past the town of Malacca, nowhere to anchor here

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so into Port Dickson instead, just north of Malacca

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a marina with a swimming pool. Yay!

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day-trip to the historic town of Malacca, a UNESCO world heritage site

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Queen Victoria’s fountain

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local transport awaits

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very colourful and tempting, but we prefer to walk

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in the red square, built by the Dutch

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‘Stadthuys’, the old town-hall

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and of course …the token windmill, left behind by the Dutch?

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Jonker Walk, the historic area in town, small streets with lots of quaint shops and restaurants

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lots of colourful decorations for the upcoming Chinese New Year

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plenty of Chinese heritage visible everywhere

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quaint little shops

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interesting antiques

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local art gallery

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‘chicken in a bun’; not an alive one, we assume?

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an old fort, always a favourite with the boys

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replica of the Portuguese galleon ‘Flor de la Mar’ with a museum inside

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imagine being on this ship …

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at the naval museum

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Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, practicing the three doctrinal systems of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. It’s the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia, built in 1645.

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beautifully decorated inside

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lighting a candle

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offerings on the table inside the temple

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colourful houses along the canals

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plenty of opportunity to stop for a rest

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late afternoon, overlooking the Dutch square

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Dinner before we head back; we found this delightful Tapas bar called ‘The Curly Tail’, serving pork-belly, jamon iberico, patatas bravas, calamares, yum yum yum …

Sunday in Singapore

The boat stayed in Malaysia but we made a day-trip into Singapore. It was remarkably easy to hop on a bus and for the price of roughly 1 pound you were dropped off in the middle of Singapore. Of course, the bus had to stop off at Immigration to sign everyone out of Malaysia and then another stop to check into Singapore. The system was pretty smooth. An ex-colleague and friend of mine picked us up from the bus station and was kind enough to host us for the day. After a favourite pizza lunch we headed to the “Future World” exhibition at the art and science centre, then for a walk by the waterfront and finally some satays for dinner. Lovely day!

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afternoon tea

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one of the many malls

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city tripping can be exhausting!

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skyline photo. Check.

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where to next?

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Marina Bay Sands

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‘Future World’ exhibition at the Art & Science centre

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lots of fun and interaction

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just walk through

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so true …

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waterfront. notice how clean everything is?

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Sunday walk

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botanical gardens

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rent-a-bike

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monkey bars

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tunnel effect

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satay by the bay!

3 countries in 1 day

Breakfast in Indonesia, lunch in Singapore and dinner in Malaysia. Must be a personal record for Rehua? Our 3-day sail from Belitung was (thankfully) pretty uneventful in terms of squalls. We saw a few very threatening ones but didn’t get hit as badly as we did in our last two passages. And we crossed the equator (again); Seathan was the only one awake at the time and I think he just had a quiet one-to-one with King Neptune.

The last day kept us very busy. We had stopped at night, just before entering the straits of Singapore, to get a few hours sleep on the hook. We happened to be right in front of a petroleum plant which as it happened put on the biggest all nighter “Roman Candle” the boys had ever seen. It was dark when we arrived and we carefully navigated our way in, using satellite images. As soon as we dropped the hook, a security boat came over to see what we were up to, no English, no Indonesian, roll forward thirty minutes queue the same boat with an orange suited petroleum worker who had excellent English:

“Why you stopping here?”

“Mate…. Ive been steering for three days and I’m knackered, we’ll be gone by 5 in the morning.”

Okay, why stop here? To answer that would have involved a multi faceted answer; because you have ten meters of water with sand and mud, because your out of the swell, because its 360 degrees shelter, but Seathan opted for “You have a beautiful beach……” He was a happy man….if only a little perplexed, there is no beach or sand for thirty miles!

Sailing across the Singapore Straits is not for the faint of heart. It’s one of the busiest ports in the world. This is what the chart looked like at one point:

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And on the chart plotter, things looked pretty busy too: Got to love the vectors on AIS at this point. Anybody else remember the game “Asteroids”

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Somehow we had to get across all that lot. Seathan didn’t seem very phased by it, “no worse than than Sydney Harbour on a quiet afternoon,” he said. I, on the other hand, was very happy to give up my watch and stick to galley duties for the day 😉

The boys loved checking out all those tankers from so close by. We certainly didn’t get bored. On top of that, we got treated to a full-on flight show (one F18 and two F16s). They kept doing crazy loops and tricks and did a few fly-overs over Rehua. Very nice welcome to Singapore.

We passed Singapore and kept going to Malaysia, just across the other side of the straits, we went under a bridge and then into a marina. It’s the first time since Auckland, 2 years ago, that we’ve been in a marina and it feels strange, being tied onto the dock.

Clearing into Malaysia was SUPER easy. A complete contrast with Indonesia. It took a total of 10 minutes only (and I’m not exaggerating), no complicated forms, just some fingerprints and, bam!, our passports were stamped and we’re good to stay for 90 days. Customs didn’t even visit the boat, neither did Quarantine.

The marina itself is brand new, much cheaper than anywhere in Singapore, the staff are friendly, the showers are clean, there are laundry machines, … The harbour is surrounded by many restaurants,  including a Belgian one with mussels and fries, a great selection of beers and other homely treats. And Legoland is just a few kilometres away. Looks like we’re getting our Christmas treats after all!

Some photos from the passage:

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Beautiful calm seas as we sail along without a care in the world!!!!

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Even calmer and still carefree as an albatross in the Southern Ocean

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Not going to rain today, I promise!

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time to hoist the “can’t be upside down flag”

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The Singapore Straits, busy with tankers, as opposed to tizzy with bankers further ahead!!!

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Spot the rooftop garden “strung out and lazy” over three rooftops!

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We argued….she said cloud………… I begged to differ.

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Same garden just closer, Oh look someone lost their bicycle wheel!

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Anyone seen MY CHOPPER?

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Back in the cheap seats further south.

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Thomas the tug boat lives on, and he knows he can do it!

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Just finished the boys new paper darts, GOOSE!

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Raffles lighthouse, not even close to the Hotel. otherwise…

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Darts doin’ loops

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Darts begging to differ at the bottom of the loop……

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Darts doing barrels whilst chasing an F18 with a very bad paint job.

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meanwhile……….. after sixteen voyeuristic airshow beers on the water….Auds driving of course!

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many huge tankers around

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lil too close there tiger back off

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all good

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these guys are still at it……… and of course so am I

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whoops, that’s close……….. reeeeverse!

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Weeeeeee……….. thatsh a fasht one!

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Kids did you call the thunderbirds???

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Glasgow Express, wanna meet the Flying Scotsman?

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sailing past Raffles Marina, shame the tide was out……..

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yes we’re going under that bridge,  air draught WTF, stay calm, by this stage I was having difficulty calculating 25 metres into  (hic) feet! Very, Very long airshow…. troops!

 

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Looking really tight,62 foots, divides by 8sh multiply by 5sh, no no, its 305mm to the footsies so therefore 25 x 305 =12/36 all shquared to give yardsh, we don’t have yardshies, shit, then volume of the hypotenuse, f*+k what’s the height in feet, no not the keel the bridge!

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But I knew all along it was going to be just about fine until…………

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Safely tucked up in Puteri Harbour……………………….minus 2 mtrs of mast (JUST KIDDING!! There was plenty of space for us under that bridge)

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Puteri Harbour with Singapore in the background, ……………………………………yes hello hello,  I need a number for Selden Singapore 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Belitung-Malaysia

We are well over half way now “motor sailing” into 2knts of Nth-Sth current at just over 6 knts, position 00 04.129N:104 56.681E, we recrossed the Equator at around 0700hrs this morning no fancy ceremonies, everyone is still asleep. We will cut up through the west coast of Batam and join the TSS East and below Singapore early tomorrow morning, no pictures today as this is via SSB.
Boys are suffering sleep deprivation, not through wild seas or “Mal de Mer” but in raw anticipation of a belated Xmas day out at Legoland, wish I was still 12 as well!
To our lost friends down south, its been an easy run, even the fishing nets are sailor friendly, the current has never been over two knots, looking forward to catching up. So Malaysia early doors tomorrow for some down time off the boat. Rehua standing by on 16……
S.

Exit Indonesia

After six months the time has come to clear out of Indonesia… It wasn’t nearly long enough to discover this vast archipelago of diverse islands. Maybe we will return one day…

We’re in Belitung, an island roughly halfway between Jakarta and Singapore, and we were able to complete exit clearance here. Indonesians love paperwork and we were chuffed to complete the entire process in just one day. Yes, apparently it can take several days, if you’re unlucky.

We started the process at 8am with Immigration. Taxi to the other side of town, friendly welcome, photocopies had to be taken, forms filled in and stamps were promptly received, an hour later. Next stop: Customs, located near the port authorities on the other side of town. They also needed photocopies, of all sort of documents, but when we said we didn’t bring copies, they were happy to accept scanned pictures via email. Then they announced they had to come and inspect the boat. We were surprised.

“Really? We are clearing out, not in.”

“Yes, yes,” they said, “we still need to check the boat.”

So while the kids and I waited in the office, Seathan went back to the boat accompanied by the customs officers. Apparently they were keen to check whether we had AIS and whether the engines were working. Whilst that was being established, the kids and I played a monopoly card game (or three) and were offered delicious chocolate cake by the staff.

Late morning, and, step two of the process completed, we headed to the Harbour Master, who, apparently, would be issuing our ‘zarpe’ or exit document which we need to enter the next country. However, they informed us they couldn’t do anything until we had gone to Quarantine.

So off to the next office: Quarantine, based around the corner. This was the point where Seathan and I had to take a deep breath and remember to keep smiling. It’s the first time ever we had to go to Quarantine when leaving the country, but, apparently, yes, in Indonesia that is a requirement. More forms. More stamps. We asked the three women in the office to explain to us the purpose of Quarantine?

“To communicate with the other departments,” was the answer.

Ok, that makes it clear, then?!?!? Never mind, we got the stamps and headed back to the Harbour Master before they went on their long lunch break.

We got there just in time. But, there was a problem. We didn’t have an inward clearance document from the Harbour Master in Biak, where we checked in. When we arrived in the country the authorities told us there was no need to see the Harbour Master, so we didn’t.

“Not to worry,” said the big chief. “We will coordinate with Customs and prepare your clearing out document for this afternoon. Just remember for next time. Go and have some lunch and come back at 3pm.”

So that’s it, all done, in one day! Result. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to the barber shop and a final diesel run. Next stop: Malaysia!

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Tanjung Pendam is a large beachfront park, close to where we are anchored

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great place to practise scooter tricks

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quick trip to the barber shop, checking out the menu…

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latest hairstyle trends in Indonesia…

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let’s just keep it simple

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result

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and then, a final diesel run

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team effort

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waiting in the Customs Office, monopoly and chocolate cake