Returning to Southeast Asia
For 11 years, P.A.E.'s Brian Saunders lived and sold boats in Southeast
Asia. It was a wonderful time for him where he grew to love the
land, the people and the customs of the area. Now for the first
time in two decades - as a crewmember of Leg 2 - he finds himself
back in familiar territory. Unfortunately, because of the nature
of the ATW trip, Saunders will only get a taste of his past experiences
in the Malay Peninsula and the Gulf of Thailand. Here are some of
"Nordhavn's" brief stopover in Phuket on February 4 and subsequent
departure toward the Indian Ocean has been a thrill and has stirred
so many memories for me. After all, my reason for coming here in
the first place - back in the 1980s - was the boat business…plus
I am a fan of Somerset Maughan and a great adventurer at heart.
I wanted to see the rubber plantations, feel the life they had on
the Malay Peninsula, ride elephants, smell the cooking fires, taste
the curries and their other wonderful foods.
Cruising up the Malay coast is exciting. The area is full of history,
with lots of terrific places to stop. You can safely anchor at a
small yacht club - the Perak in Lumut - and enjoy the company of
other yachties or locals. I would jump off the boat, take a bus
and then a taxi to the Cameron Highlands. It's a three-hour trip
to the tea-growing area in this cooler highland part of Malaysia.
Decades ago, this is where the English summered to avoid the heat
and humidity, prior to air conditioning. There's wonderful walking
and hiking with very large Tudor-style homes surrounding each hill.
They are now owned and maintained by large banks and corporations
for their employees to use.
Other times I would go to watch laborers harvest latex from rubber
tree plantations. They cut the tree on a 45-degree angle, letting
it's sap drip into a ceramic cup or half a coconut and then come
back by 6 or 7 p.m. to collect and process.
Awakening at dawn to go see how they harvest tea and rubber - to
really experience this culture - is what cruising is all about.
Sunsets are early. You have a half-hour of twilight and then night
is upon you with its beautiful smells of Asian foods being prepared.
Dine on board or at a different place each night, drink a cold beer,
then sit back and listen to the Malay jungle with all its great
sounds before retiring to bed.
The romance of it all…oh, for the time to be able to enjoy all