Saturday, January 21, 2012

At sea 07 26.6 N 099 10.7 E southeast of Phuket, Thailand
We have been slowly making our way north to Thailand for the last 5 days.  The winds have been very light most days with a sea breeze of about 8 knots coming up in the afternoon, so the sailing has been lousy.  The scenery makes up for it though! We are in amoung the limestone karst islands that Thailand is famous for. If you ever saw the movie James Bond 007, The Man With the Golden Gun, it was filmed not too far from here.  The islands are monoliths that rise up out of the ocean for about 300 feet, straight up.  Their sides are usually striated cliffs, with crags and caves covering their sides.  We dropped anchor beside one and as we motored around in the dinghy we spotted ropes and rope ladders that are used to climb up and gather up the birds' nest for soup, a very dangerous undertaking. Yesterday we stopped at the Emerald Cave and swam through an 80 meter long cave, some in complete darkness that opened up into a small round inlet with a beach on one side.  There were towering cliffs around all sides, it was amazing, the area used to be used by pirates to stash their plunder. There were plenty of tourist boats around and the customers would get off the boats in life jackets and swim through the cave all holding on to one another, it looked like an fluorescent orange line dance in the water. On our way back we decided to go when we would be alone and we could not find our way through, we had gotten off to the right when we needed to go left.  Another group started back and we thankfully followed them.
Today we are headed halfway across an open stretch or water to Phuket and we should arrive there tomorrow night.  The next day in Chinese New Year and we hope to there are lots of festivities on the island.  We won't check into the country until Tues. as we have been told that we will pay an exorbitant amount if we check in on a holiday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A travelling chicken coop under construction
We are back in Langkawi now. It is very quiet and I am missing our family.  I wonder what they are up to??  We arrived back to heat and humidity and the Royal Langkawi International Regatta.  There are lots of racing boats in the marina and hordes of sailors and volunteers running around in matching t-shirts. I am feeling a bit miffed that we did not volunteer before we left for Christmas and we would have been in the thick of things, but Barry didn’t want to because we were going to be arriving back just the day before the regatta started.  Oh well, we have been busy getting ready to leave and hope to cast off the lines tomorrow. We will sail around the island for a few days and then head for Phuket, Thailand.  We went diving today, Barry cashed in his coupon I gave him for Christmas.  The visibility was very poor but there were tons of fish and some very interesting coral. We saw 4 tiny seahorses as well as a huge moray eel, and a somewhat irate lobster.  It was good to get a Malaysian dive in our log books.

Our last few days in Bundaberg were taken up with the construction of a chicken coup.  Trish really wants to have fresh eggs every day and so she is pursuing this goal.   In keeping with her recycling philosophy she has scavenged materials to build what will become a travelling chicken coup.  Apparently she will be able to move it about the yard so the chooks (as they are referred to down under) won’t totally destroy one part of her yard.  She got some material for the frame from a dumpster parked outside of a building site.  The conduit was found at the dump store and the tin roofing material was discovered a few days later in the same dumpster, which is just down the block and around the corner and I think the chicken wire was acquired from the dump store (which is a veritable treasure trove for Trish, she faithfully visits whenever she can to see what she can acquire, I spotted an almost new bodem and the perfect paper towel holder, a duck head and feet.) Graeme, the craftsman, went to work with his radial arm saw and his tape measure and pretty soon a travelling chicken coup was emerging. 

Trish with electric drill and screw driver went to work fastening bits together; these chickens are going to live like princesses.  I was sorry to leave before the project was finished, I managed to convince the kids to go for a bike ride with their Grannie one evening freeing up some quality building time.  The shots of the kids are when they were drawing on the grass just outside the construction zone.  The coup is plenty strong enough; the kids have been climbing all over it. 
Our three weeks in Australia just flew by.  It was wonderful to spend the holidays with family.  We really enjoyed sharing the time with Graeme’s parents.  We spent many days down at the beach with the kids while Trish and Graeme kite boarded.  It was impressive to see how they both improved with some quality time in the water. A couple of days there were some hot shots from out of town strutting their stuff and WOW were some of them good.  They would launch themselves in the air and do all sorts of tricks before gracefully landing and zooming away.  There were some awesome face plants and body slams as well. Too bad the gingerbread houses don’t suit the Australian climate. I said to Trish if she does it again, you would have to make the houses one day and eat them the next day, no leaving them on display for days. It was great taking the land cruiser down the beach one day, a typically Australian Christmas outing.   I am so glad we went!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

We went to the Botanical Gardens the other day and Quinn got to go and ride on the cane train.  Quinn is definitely train crazy , he has Lego trains and Thomas trains and then there is the cane train. The growing of sugar cane is a huge industry in the Bundaberg area and a group of volunteers have restored a number of diesel and steam engines and run it as a tourist attraction. We went last week and had a ride with the steam engine but we made a special stop today because the diesel engine was working.
Quinn got a special treat because they opened up the engine compartment so he got examine the big diesel engine, then had got to get up in the cab and blow the whistle.  That was the highlight of his day. Last week after we rode the train we went and fed the ducks and the pukekos, a very odd looking bird that we first saw in New Zealand, another name for them is swamp hen.  I uploaded a video of Quinn and June doing some gymnastics in the living room.  If you would like to view it go to the side panel on my blog and click on the link.