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Malaysia to Thailand and back ..... on a container freighter .....

Leg details

Date
February 13 - 24, 2011
Leg
Port Kelang (Malaysia) - Singapore (Singapore) - Laem Chabang (Thailand) - Singapore (Singapore) - Tanjung Pelepas (Malaysia) - Port Kelang (Malaysia)
PDF




Leg map (click to enlarge in separate window)

On Wednesday, February 9, 2011, we leave Australia for Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).
If all goes well, we won't be back for the next two years ......

We arrive in Kuala Lumpur ... or KL as the Malaysians call it ... shortly before 6 AM.
It is still dark but already the air is very warm and humid.

Even though it is rather early during the drive to our hotel, the Swiss Garden Hotel in Bukit Bintag, we get caught in several small traffic jams.
KL never sleeps ......

We reach the hotel just as the sun rises.
Of course it is much too early so we leave the luggage at the reception and head into town.

We get our first glimpse of the Petronas or Twin Towers and some impressions of the different living stiles and standards existing side by side ....

The street restaurants close by are still closed as they serve food almost throughout the night.
But the coffee shop opposite of the hotel serves some nice local food for a very nice price.

We already get our rooms shortly before noon and also a message, that we should call Nick, a friend of Ruedi from way back in the 70s ....
We agree to get together after he has finished working and that in the evening he will show us the area.

Together with Nick we leave the hotel around 6 PM.
The road with the street restaurants that was deserted when we went through in the morning is starting to wake up ... but only just ......

Some restaurants spray water mist into the air to cool down the seating area of their guests.
Nick's comment: It gives them a chance to get the legionary disease ....

Some houses still display the decorations for Chinese New Year.

One particular restaurant is getting ready for a large party.
Roasted pigs are sitting on the tables ..... so it must be a non-Muslim restaurant .....

We come past the monorail, a food court .....

.... some shopping centres with some Chinese New Years' decorations ...... it is the year of the rabbit!

Next stop is Nick's flat to have a look at his views. He has got it all .....

... the KL tower... the Petronas Towers ....

As we walk around the city we can still see many more decorations from the Chinese New Year.
Susi loves it!

We get closer and closer to the towers ....

... until we stand right underneath them and have a bit of a look inside of them.
But as we are not here to shop, which is a bit of a shame, but there is no space in our luggage, we are already too heavy ....

.... we leave past the park and the convention centre.

Many police are present and we are asked to get out of the way as they are expecting some high ranking officials soon.

This is fine with us as we intend to get up to the Sky Bar in the Traders Hotel.
It is on one of the top floors.
During the day it serves as the hotels indoor pool, at night it is an "in"-bar.
We want to be there before it is packed.

The views of the Petronas Towers are just stunning!!!

Too soon it is time to head back ... past some more pretty decorations and a magical fountain.
Click here for a short movie on the fountain (file type: .wmv, size: 2'178 KB).

In the evening we have a feast at one of the local street restaurants.
Nick reckons that in the three years that he has been in KL he has never ever caught a stomach bug.
Of course he is a bit careful when judging the restaurants ... especially their washing up.
He will not eat in a restaurant that has no running water, as they only rinse their dishes in a tub of water that is sitting behind the food stall ... and the longer the evening the dirtier the water they use .....

The restaurant where they had the roasted pigs now is adding the finishing touches to the buffet .....

Tired and full of impressions we make our way to the hotel.
We agree that we will meet Nick again for dinner tomorrow.

On Friday we want to explore the city on foot again.
We feel quite safe in Kuala Lumpur and enjoy the different smells and sounds.
It is hot and humid and soon we are sweating again and our shirts are soaked.

We head towards the Central Markets and stop at China Town.
Many colourful stands display mostly clothes and fashion artefacts.

But there is also a section with flowers which attracts Susi's attention.
She cannot resist and buys herself some Jasmine Petals; as they open the smell starts developing ....

We reach the Central Markets and have a stroll through it.
Very nice shops display lots of different things.
Again it is a shame that we cannot buy anything .... ah well, next time .....

We come past where the two rivers of KL join.
That is also where Kuala Lumpur gets its name from.

Kuala Lumpur has a lot of colonial buildings that are in fairly good condition.
It is a pleasure to have a look at them.
Many are used for government offices these days.

They also have different shapes of street lanterns ....

We come past some Indian shops where they sell large flower arrangements that are used as donations in the temples.
They smell really nice and give quite a contrast to the sometimes a bit "off" smell of rotting food on the ground and unswept roads.
Well, it does not take much rubbish to generate a bit a foul smell in this heat!

There are also some old Christian buildings, some of them are used as schools today.
As we come past this one around 3 PM an Army truck is waiting in front of it.
In the school yard a group of boys of various ages line up in a single colum, march to the truck and get onto the back of it.
The youngest one of them cannot be much older than 8 years .....
Nick later on explains to us that the Army pays for the education of young boys but they will have to do some service as compensation for it once they grow up.
So the parents enrol them as it is their only way to give the boys a good education.

We reach one of the entries to the last original permanent forests in Kuala Lumpur, a 9.37 ha reserve in the middle of the city, just below the KL tower.
The ascent is quite steep and we are even more soaked when we reach the base of the tower.
The weather doesn't look good; it could start raining soon.
So we decide just to have a drink and come back tomorrow when the weather is hopefully better.

And sure enough, we don't get far before the first drops fall.
In between the showers we make our way in direction of Nick's house and are almost there when he calls.
He brings some umbrellas but as usual, as soon as we have umbrellas the rain stops!
So we head over to the entertainment district and have a nice Thai dinner.

Just as we are ready to leave the restaurant a truck stops and some young men in dancer costumes hop off.
They start unloading equipment.
Nick asks the people at the Thai restaurant what is happening.

The restaurant across has ordered a lion dance for good luck in the new Chinese Year.
Quickly we grab a table right beside the road and secure a prime position.
With a few cold drinks in hand this will be a great show to watch.

A few beers later the show begins.
First the lion has a dance with some mandarins inside of the restaurant.
A group of people beside Nick tells us that mandarins are a sign of good luck for the Chinese.
Now we understand why they offer mandarins everywhere as a gift!

Then the show outside the restaurant starts.
Please keep in mind that a lion is played by two young men and the artistic balancing and jumping act is done on poles as high as 2 meters with platforms of about 30 by 30 cm!
Click here for the first movie (file type: .wmv, size: 3'092 KB) and click here for the second movie (file type: .wmv, size: 2'561 KB)

"Do you think this dance will help?"
"At least it does not harm and is good fun!"

On Saturday Ruedi feels miserable, has diarrhoea and later on even a bit of fever.
Is it the retaliation of the Chinese lions????
Probably more the row gherkin he had eaten two nights ago .....
Anyway, we decide to have a quiet day, go to the gym and take it easy.

We watch on the Internet (www.marinetraffic.com ) if the "Buxmelody" is already close by and find her waiting outside of Port Klang .....

On Sunday it is time to pack all our gear.
Luckily Ruedi feels more or less fine again.
Since we leave KL today we store our belongings at the reception and walk to the tower.
It is again hot and humid and there will be rain later on for sure.

The visibility still is pretty good so we head up with the elevator and enjoy the views from the top.

Time flies and as we are picked up by the agent at 6 PM we head back to the hotel.

Allvin, our agent, is on time and we get all organised.
As we pack the last pieces of luggage into the van the heavens open .....
Luckily it is Sunday and there is not much traffic on the roads.
Normally rain in Kuala Lumpur means a complete traffic-jam.
People have to drive slower because of the floodings and also there are many breakdowns which don't help on the already congested roads either .....

On the way to Port Klang Allvin asks Susi if she really was born in the Philippines.
Well, Susi may not look like an Asian but she was born in Manila.
The question comes because the all-Philippino crew of the "Buxmelody" was all excited about having a Philippines-borne passenger.
Susi hopes that they will not be disappointed when she turns up and is not at all Philippino ... and does not even speak Tagalog!

Allvin has not received an updated passenger list so we cannot complete immigration.
He tells his driver to drive into the harbour to the position where the "Buxmelody" is just about to berth.
We wonder how he will manage that ..... but he seems to be a well-known person.
The people at the gate don't take much notice of us in the back of the bus and wave the bus through.

When we reach the "Buxmelody" she has already berthed and they are just about to lower the gangway.
Allvin has to wait until the customs and immigration flag are lowered signalling that the procedures have been completed before he can go on board to fetch the correct passenger list.

It is already dark when he comes back.
Now the immigration procedure begins.
We drive into Klang and are dragged from one building to the next one, collect stamps and fill out forms.
We are glad that we have an agent and don't have to go through this process which we don't know in a language that we don't speak with a writing that we cannot read on our own!

Finally we have the required stamps in our passports and are ready to embark.
Allvin informs us that the ship will only be here for a few hours and then will change ports from the Northport to the Westport to load some more cargo.

Before we go on board we agree with Allvin that he will pick us up again when we are back from our trip.
We are shown to our cabins and settle in.

Soon we head out to the little balcony to have a look at the loading.
The ship is just about ready to leave the harbour and they already start lifting the gangway.
Then a motorcycle arrives, a person jumps off.
The gangway is lowered again and the person gets on board.
We think it is the pilot.
Shortly after the ship leaves.

After a while we want to go back in and find the door locked from the inside.
Hmmmmm .... what now?
We check all the doors on our side of the ship ..... all locked.
We head over to the other side of the ship and start checking doors and bump into another person.
It is another passenger, Urs, from Biel in Switzerland.
He even knows Ruedi's sister Claudia because he lives close by!
How small is the world!

He also tells us that he was the person that had just made it back on board ....
Lucky him!
Freighters usually don't wait for their passengers .... they sail as soon as all cargo is on board.
If a passenger misses the boat he has to find his own way to the next port where the ship lands.

We decide not to stay up to watch the entry in to Westport and go to bed.
We wake up when the engine stops and know that we are now in Westport ..... and it is raining .... one more reason to stay in bed and not to go out to see what is happening ....

Monday morning the ship leaves Westport at 6:30 AM.
We just manage to see it leave the harbour before we have to head down for breakfast.

The cook welcomes us and John, the waiter, brings plates loaded with egg, beacon, fresh baguette bread, salami, juice, etc. etc. .....
Luckily we did not have dinner yesterday and there is space for many of the goodies!

Just a few hours later the engine stops again.
We ask what is happening and are informed that we are on a waiting location for Singapore harbour.
The ship will stay here until they get the ok to enter Singapore harbour.
There is not enough space in front of Singapore that all ships can wait there.

At 10 AM we are expected for morning tea.
The cook has baked some "Pan de sal", some Philippino bread.
He wants to introduce Susi to some Philippino specialities.

Lunch is served at 12 noon and we are served with soup, a full meal, dessert and a very tasty drink of fresh corn and milk, a kind of "corn shake".
But we have to stop this.
Even though we love the food we tell John to please tell the cook to give us half a portion from now on.
And we also let them know that we will not come for morning coffee nor afternoon tea.
It is just too much ...

Then we are ordered to the bridge and get introduced to all the security aspects of the ship, emergency procedures, behaviour in harbours and also how to act should pirates enter the ship.
As there is not much difference between the procedure we had on the" Matisse" (click here for the first journal of the" Matisse") we are done quickly.

Our pictures are taken and we are issued with a badge.
We will have to wear it every time we are in a port and also if we go ashore.

Then it is time to go and test the gym or "hobby room" as they call it.
It is well stocked and we agree that a good session on the cross walker every day is a must during our stay on the "Buxmelody".

At 5 PM it is already time for dinner.
Again we are served with a full meal with chicken, vegetable and potatoes.
Hang on .... potatoes for lunch .... potatoes for dinner ..... Susi has some memories in that direction ....
When she and her family came to Europe from Peru in 1970 they had travelled on a German freighter and she has some vivid memories of being served potatoes twice a day over the whole 3 week journey ... alternating as "Kartoffeln mit Petersilie" (potatoes boiled in salted water with parsley on top) and "Petersilien-Kartoffeln" (potatoes boiled in salted water and then turned in parsley).
She did thereafter not touch potatoes boiled in salted water for several years .....
She also sees that the officers never get potatoes.
So she quickly has a word with the cook.
He is a bit surprised but when we explain to him that potatoes boiled in salted water is something very German but not Swiss at all he offers to cook rice and pasta for us instead.
Yes please.
And every so often he may cook mash or French fries .... yes please!

Around 8 PM the ship starts moving again and finds its way through the tangle of ships waiting for their turn to enter Singapore harbour.
As we will only arrive there in the morning we go to bed.

On Tuesday morning we get up at 6 AM and head to the bridge.
It is a nice day, a bit muggy and they expect some rain for the afternoon.

There is already activity on the bridge.
The officers are in contact with Singapore pilots to confirm their slot and arrange for a pilot.
Click here to listen to some of the radio conversation (file type: .mp3, size: 1'222 KB).

The "Buxmelody" sails on well-defined shipping channels into the harbour.
There is right-hand traffic.
Click here for a short movie it (file type: .wmv, size: 662 KB).

There are many ships behind the "Buxmelody" ...

... and in front of us ..... all waiting to get into Singapore Harbour!

Even though the channel for the large ships is well regulated there are lots of small fishing boats in their way that don't really care much about the commercial traffic.

Some of the boats don't even have engines ... they are rowing-boats!

There are small and large ships moving around in the harbour ... all in various shipping channels.
It is a real challenge for the crew to manoeuvre the ship through shipping channel intersections.
As a result of this the atmosphere on the bridge is quite tense.

We also pass some interesting ships like this one that is probably used for drilling.
Interesting to see that they have two sets of life rafts on board, one on each end of the ship ... or in other words: one on each side of the drilling tower ... one never knows ....

Around 8:30 AM the pilot comes on board.
Now we get moving!
Click here for a short movie it (file type: .wmv, size: 779 KB).

Singapore is quite a sight!

They started building some fancy apartments with view onto the harbour ...... don't want to know how much they cost!

Singapore Harbour is the second busiest harbour in the world, right after Shanghai in China.
And it is right in the middle of the city ... at least today it is so .....

In Singapore Urs leaves us and a new passenger joins.
Also some of the crew including John, our "waiter", leave for home-leave.

After the ship has been cleared by immigration we head over to the bus stop and wait for our shuttle to the gate.

The traffic of trucks, some of them carrying two containers at the same time, is amazing.
Even though today is a holiday for certain Singaporeans the harbour seems very busy.

We decide to walk to the Marina Sands, the new symbol of Singapore and its harbour.
The top part of the Marina Sands is a "ship".
It is built on rollers so that it can withstand cyclones and other nature "activities".

The area has been reclaimed from the ocean and a new city skyline is being built here.
Susi remembers flying to Australia in the 80s and seeing the Pan Pacific Hotels being the first building built on that reclaimed land ....

The history of buildings in Singapore is nicely explained with some pictures on info stands along the walk to the bay.
Click here to read the text and view the pictures.

On the way to the Marina Sands we pass 3 pavilions.
Signs explain what they are:
Nearly 9 m wide round platforms.
If motion detectors sense somebody under the platforms, 3 m wide fans start moving.
The structures provide cool and breezy 'pause points' for bypassers.

Each building's integrated solar panels can generate 4KW of power on a bright sunny day, enough to light up more than 250 table lamps of 15W each.

Also there is an area where mist is blown out of pipes, probably also to cool down the air underneath.
It looks good too.

Once all buildings are finished this area will look really nice.
What is also fascinating is that the river has been blocked by a dam ("The Helix") making the Marina Bay a large freshwater repository for Singapore.

Close to the Marina Sands there is a large shopping mall ..... with its own little gondola service ..... coffee shops .....

.... a casino ...... lots of posh brand-name shops .... and its own children's entertainment area ..... the hotel lobby ....

In the hotel we get down to the elevator area for the top deck, get some audio information devices and head up to this view:

The roof with the Jacuzzis and the 150 m long pool ..... for hotel guest only :-( ....
It must be a very strange feeling to swim towards the edge of the pool some 200 odd meters above ground!

.... the view of the city and the harbour entrance with all its waiting ships .... and many are waiting for cargo, still "parked" here as a result of the global financial crisis .....

.... the harbour .....

Then it is time to walk back past the large construction area where some more skyscrapers will be built ..... with the various means of transport of the workers ....

Back in the harbour we catch the shuttle again.
As it only goes in one direction we get a good insight into the size of the harbour.

As we climb on board strong rain sets in ..... and we just made it "home", great!

We have some time to watch some of the things that have changed since we have travelled with the Matisse.

One of them is the way the huge cranes move.
They run on electricity and "burry" their cable as they go.

At dinner time we meet Mike, the new "waiter", and also are introduced to Mario, the new passenger.
He is not really a passenger, he is here to revise one of the ships auxiliary diesel engines and will travel with us to Thailand and back.

We get some fuel.

Some large ships arrive .... and some small barges bring containers from ships that are anchored outside of the harbour.

As night falls we are pushed out of the harbour.

Singapore is a very attractive harbour to leave at night.
The lights are just great!

On Wednesday, February 16, we are out on the ocean all day travelling to Thailand.
We work on the computers a bit (many pictures to be processes ....) and also start inspecting the ship.

Ruedi's stomach did not appreciate the Philippino sausages that we had for breakfast ... probably to greasy ....
It seems like his stomach still has not fully recovered from the Kuala Lumpur bug.

During the night we get into a bit of a storm and the ship rolls a few times.
But by morning it is calm again.

On Thursday Ruedi still does not feel too well so he lets the cook know that today he will only eat toasted bread.
The cook feels sorry for him but does as ordered and presents him with some toasted raisin bread.
In the evening his stomach is fine again and he can join the fun of eating good food again.

By 10 AM we have reached the waiting room for Laem Chabang, the harbour of Bangkok and Pattaya.
The anchors are cast and we wait.

For us it is good to have a bit of a break.
We have to start preparing our Africa trip.
We are only a few weeks before heading there and still have no clue where we will go and when!

Tonight at around 10 PM we are expected to be allowed into the harbour.
We decide to go to bed, assuming that we will wake up when the engine starts again.

When we wake up on Friday morning we are still anchored out at sea ....
Apparently they have some kind of strike or what ever resulting in the "Buxmelody" being delayed by one day.

For us it means that in Thailand we will have to look for an Internet Cafe and change our hotel booking in Singapore since we will arrive one day later.
Let's hope we don't get any more delays as this could result in us having to leave the trip in an earlier harbour than planned as we have to catch the flight to South Africa on the 25.

For Mario this extra day is exactly what he needs.
It gives him the chance to finish his work and fly home from Thailand instead of having to go back to Singapore.

Some of the crew have to paint the back wall of the ship, some other ones have time to fish ... they even catch a small shark!

We continue working on our Africa planning.
We also follow our daily sports-routine.
So far we have been doing our exercises every day.

In Laem Chabang we can also see some large Maersk ships anchored ... waiting for cargo .....

At dinner time we hear that apparently we will be allowed into the harbour tonight at 9 PM.
We go to bed ..... and are woken up by the starting engine at 10:30 PM.

Ruedi decides to stay in bed, Susi goes out and watches the entry into the harbour.

By 11:30 PM we have berthed and Susi can go to bed too.
Duties of the photographer ......

On Saturday morning when we get up we see that the ship has almost been unloaded.
Only the front hatches still have the lids on.
But only empty trucks line up so they are still unloading.

A military boat comes in .... strange to see a military boat in a commercial harbour ....

After lunch we get ready to go into town.

We check the status of the ship and see that now all hatches are open.
It looks like they are getting the last few containers out of the hull of the ship.
But compared with the morning there are full trucks waiting too so loading will start soon.

The ship does not have much draught anymore ... even parts of the rudder and the top of the propeller are visible ....

We grab a taxi and head into Pattaya.
We get dropped at a shopping centre and do "business" first: Internet!
We find mails from our shipping agent in South Africa confirming that the OKA has left Singapore and that it is on its way to Durban.
We can also change the booking for the hotel in Kuala Lumpur, so that is settled too.
Then it is time for a walk around town ......

We are quite shocked about what we find.
It is such a well-known place to go for a beach holiday ..... but all we see is long rows of "sun-baking-chairs" on a beach that is maybe 10 meters wide .....
No thanks!

We walk through the streets.
There is a lot of traffic and as the pedestrian walkways have been used to accommodate stalls and restaurants it is not really enjoyable.

We find a quiet road and decide to take that one.
Suddenly we realise that we have walked into the red-light district ..... pretty young ladies display themselves ... some in uniform, some just in an excuse of underwear .....

As we have ordered the taxi back to the harbour for only 8 PM we have to find something to do until then.
Best way to do this is with a cold bear and a good pizza!
Then we head back to the shopping centre and stroll around the shops.
Luckily the taxis is early!

Back in the harbour we wait for the bus that should take us back to the ship.
The guard at the gate quickly gets chairs for us .... that should have made us suspicious .....
We wait .... and wait ..... and wait .....
There is a lot happening at the gate and we are busy watching the trucks .... but still ......

After a good hour of waiting the man at the gate starts calling around.
Then he signals us to follow him ..... it looks like he will walk us to the ship.
After the first row of containers another guard comes toward us, we are passed on to him and off we go again for the next few rows of containers!
This happens a few times and then we already see the "Buxmelody" and are "home" again.

The ship is even higher out of the water .... it really must be "empty emtpy" as Susi calls it .....
For whatever reason they have stopped loading ..... but as the ship will sail tomorrow fully loaded they probably will start during the night.
Whatever .... we go to bed!

On Sunday, February 20, when we get up there is not much happening so we go for breakfast.
At 8 AM it looks like there is a change of shifts .... and then things start moving!

Trucks are lining up.
Each of them has a large number on the roof so the crane driver can make sure he is picking up the correct container and is placing it at the correct spot on the ship.
One of the "Buxmelody" officers does the same on board, just double checking.
Imagine if a container would be in the hull that has to be unloaded in the next harbour ......
They would have to unload all the containers that are standing on the lid, then remove the lid, and finally all the containers that are on top of the container in question.
Not to forget that all the other containers would have to be reloaded.
That could take hours!

With three cranes the containers are lifted into the ship.
It is fascinating to watch the containers disappear into the hull.
Click the individual links below for movies on:

- loading a container on deck (file type: .wmv, size: 5'186 KB).

- loading 2 containers into the empty hull (file type: .wmv, size: 3'389 KB).

The freezer containers are connected to power so the cooling chain is not interrupted (the temperature in the containers is kept at -21°C).

Then the first two rows of container are latched down with iron bars.
This is done by the local crew and then double-checked by the ship's own crew.
They cannot take the risk of having a container becoming loose and possibly a whole pile of containers falling into the sea ....

An open-top container is loaded.
These containers are used if the freight is higher than the highest standard containers; currently 2.96 cm is the highest.
They have to be placed in the hull as top row because:
- nothing can be placed on top of them and
- they have no water-proof lid and have to be protected against waves and spray.

Click here to watch a movie on closing the hatch (file type: .wmv, size: 3'389 KB).

The hatch is closed and the lid is fixed with some strong hooks.
Usually on top of the lids only the first few levels of containers contain freight, the rest of the containers are empty.
Otherwise the weight and the force generated when the ship starts rolling could rip the lids out of their hooks.
Also the point of gravity would be too high and the ship could tip over.

Once loading has been finished, the last thing placed back on the ship is the tray with the boxes full of self-interlinking "hooks".
They are mounted on each bottom corner of the container and will interlink with the container below once they are placed on top of each other.
Click here for a movie on mounting the little hooks (file type: .wmv, size: 646 KB).

When the ship is ready to sail the officer on duty will check the salinity of the water so they know how much draught the ship will have.
If they have a lot of empty containers as cargo they will compensate the missing weight by pumping water into ballast tanks in the hull and in the hatches.
This way they get the ship deeper into the water which will reduce rolling.
If they enter shallow harbours it may also be necessary that they pump some water out of the ballast tanks to avoid running aground.

In the meantime the ship behind us has left.
Just the military ship is still there.
A large MOL freighter is waiting and will soon be coming in to berth.

After lunch we leave Laem Chabang and get on our way back to Singapore.

Mike is allowed to steer the ship out of the harbour.
He wants to become a helmsman and is in training.

On the way out we cross the "MOL Promise" ..... she is quite a bit larger than the "Buxmelody".
The "Buxmelody" has space for 12 containers in front of the bridge and has an overall length of 215.45 meters.
The "MOL Promise" can carry 14 in front of the bridge and 4 behind it ..... she must be close to 300 meters long!

The last task of the crew when leaving a port is to get the flags down .....

We have a busy afternoon and work on our pictures.
There are quite a few by now .....

During dinner we hear some singing going on in the crew's mess.
It is the birthday of an officer and they are having a bit of a party.
The officer invites us to join them.
It is karaoke-time!

One of the crew plays guitar and soon Ruedi gets his guitar as well for a bit of a jam-session.
The crew loves it and tell us that we have to stay on board and are not allowed to leave them in Port Klang again.
Haven't we heard that already on the "Matisse"?
It seems that the crew likes passengers on board as they give them a bit of a change in routine.
Well, for the time being we will just give our best and join into the fun!

Click here for a bit of karaoke by the crew of the "Buxmelody" (file type: .wmv, size: 1'850 KB).
Sorry about the sound, but the photo camera was just at its limits with the amplified sound in the crew's mess ....

The next day is spent out in the ocean.
The weather is not too good, a bit overcast and rainy ....

We ask the cook how we can organise a party.
Because now that we are one day delayed we will still be on the ship for Susi's birthday!

At lunch the cook comes back and informs us that the captain likes the idea of a crew party.
The cook shows us the list of drinks he recommends .... just one box of beer ..... we ask him to double it .....

In the afternoon we are allowed to visit the engine room.
Click here for a separate page on the "Buxmelody" and all the technical details of the visit.

At dinner time the cook informs us that the captain has ordered some Philippino specialities for the birthday party.
Now we are getting curious ....

During the night we hit a storm again and the ship rolls quite a bit.


Luckily we reach calmer waters again before dawn so we can enjoy the day and work on the computers.
If it rolls too much it is not really possible to look into a monitor for too long ....

On Tuesday, February 22, the morning sky is overcast.
Let's hope that the weather will improve a bit .... otherwise we will have a wet visit of Singapore.

Due to the delay of one day we are in Singapore at the same day as Susi's cousin Esti who is on the way back to Switzerland from her holiday in Australia.
We will meet her at the Marina Sands and do a bit of sight-seeing.

Again we wonder about all the ships that are in the area.
Sadly we are not allowed on the bridge anymore .....
So we watch from the balconies on each side of the bridge.

At 11 AM the pilot arrives and guides us into the harbour.

Again we pass some interesting ships on the way .....

... and again see barges transferring containers into the freight terminal from ships that anchor outside of the harbour.
Some of those barges even have their own little crane!

We get almost the same location we had the last time.
This makes our live easy as we already know the bus line and the procedure.

At 1 PM we can finally leave the ship and head into town.

We meet Esti at the Marina Sands.
There is so much to tell.
One of the stories we tell Esti is about something we had seen in Pattaya:
An aquarium with fish in it and people sitting in front of it and holding their feet into the tank.
The tank had been lit and one could see the fishes eating the skin of the feet .....
Hmmmmm .... a bit special ... and it tickles.
We know that feeling from Australia, where they have some little fishes doing the same in the billabong at Dalhousie Springs.

And what do we see in the Marina Sands shopping centre?

A "Fish Spa Internet Cafe"!!!!
While you access the Internet you can have the old skin eaten off your feet .....
And even better, everybody can see your feet!
The setup sure is different!

Together we explore the Marina Sands area.

Every so often some rain disturbs our sightseeing and we have to flee into a "Starbucks" Coffee.
There we download our emails onto the iPhone and see that our South African agent is looking for us.
We will have to call her tonight on the Sat phone.

We have the "task" of organising nibbles for Susi's birthday party.
Once that is done we enjoy the afternoon and have an early dinner at a Thai restaurant.

Then it is time to say goodbye and we head back to the ship as we have to be on board by 10 PM.

Back at the ship we call South Africa on the Sat phone.
The agent was looking for a copy of the Carnet the Passage and had not realized that we had sent it already.
So that was settled too.

At 3 AM in the morning the engine starts.
As it is raining not even Susi feels like getting up and watching the ship leave Singapore.
And besides that .... she already has pretty pictures of "Singapore by night" ....

When we wake up on Wednesday morning we are already in the waiting room for Tanjung Pelepas, our last harbour in Malaysia before we leave the ship.
We hear from the cook that we have to wait at least until lunch until the pilot comes.
Sadly this delay means that we will be in port tonight and as the crew will have to work we cannot really have the party we had planned.

As we had a short night after breakfast we head straight back to bed for a "siesta" .... the privilege of being a passenger ... and birthday child!!!!

Where ever Susi shows up the crew congratulates her, she feels a bit like a celebrity!

Around 1 PM the pilot arrives and we enter the harbour.

We see a few oil bore platform and also come past a coal power plant.

Then we reach the berth.

We come past two large Maersk ships.
They must be at least the same size as the MOL in Thailand if not even 1 - 2 rows of containers longer!
We are impressed!

We decide not to go on land and stay on the ship.

After dinner we get ready for the party.
The cook has prepared some pork crackling and also some chopped grilled pig ears with some kind of a sauce.
The crew likes it ..... we try it but decide to stick to the chips and peanuts .....

Even though many have to work we still have a cosy little group and have a couple of nice "musical" hours together.

Click here for a movie for Susi's favourite"Philippino_Geography" song (file type: .wmv, size: 5'960 KB).

Click here for a movie for an interpretation of Freddy Aguilar's "Anak" (file type: .wmv, size: 2'2720 KB).

Susi also finds out what the "España, Manila" means in her birth certificate ..... she has always wondered a bit about it.....
It has nothing to do with the fact that the Philippines once were a colony of Spain.
It is just that the district, where the Hospital was and still is, is called "España" .....
It is a funny feeling for Susi to hear about a place where she practically has no recollection off .... her family left the Philippines when she was only 3 1/2 years old.

During the night we leave our last port and take course to Port Klang.

On Thursday morning we wake up to a hot and humid day.

On the way to Westport the captain has a hard time avoiding all the fishing boats in the channel.
Every so often he has to toot the horn and even navigate around the fishing boats.

Then we reach Westport.

Allvin, our agent in Kuala Lumpur, had said that it is the prettiest harbour he has seen ......
Well, we agree that all is new and that the port terminal looks impressive ..... but he must never have been in Singapore ......

Allvin comes on board and after we have been cleared by customs and immigration we are allowed from board.
The driver picks us up.
Around 4 PM we are at the immigration and then on the road back to Kuala Lumpur.

We send Nick an SMS that we are here.
He replies that they just had a very strong thunderstorm in KL and that we must expect the traffic to get really slow.
Also it is rush hour ....

By 7 PM we are still in the traffic jam .....
We decide not to go out tonight and meet Nick tomorrow for dinner.

By 8 PM after almost 3 hours on the road we are back in the hotel, take a shower and go to bed!

On Friday we check out of the hotel and move all our junk over to Nick's place.
The taxi driver also does airport transfers for a reasonable price so we book him for our transfer tonight.
Then we enjoy KL for one last time.

Nick introduces us to tea jelly with honey ... which actually is not bad!
We enjoy a last Malaysian dinner.
When we come back to Nick's place the taxi driver is already there ... one hour too early ....
He says that it took him almost 1 hour for 4 km and he would suggest that we leave early for the airport.
Nick agrees so it is time to say goodbye.

Dear Nick,
Thanks for having us and taking so much time to show us KL and its gems!

Thanks to the taxi driver's skill in finding ways around the traffic jams we reach the airport a good hour before we must check in.
All goes well even with our extra luggage .... but more in the next journal!


 

 

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Last updated: Saturday, 18.03.2017 9:33 AM


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