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14 April 2018 - Mostly Penang, Malaysia


It is worth noting that nine years ago today, I entered retirement and our cruising lifestyle began. Its also Diane's birthday.


Last week, we took a 3 day outing to visit the island of Penang to link up with our cruising friends Christopher and Christine from SV Scintilla. They were having their boat shipped back from Australia to the US and were in the midst of an East Asia tour. We first met C2 in Tahiti. We figured Penang was a good RV place. 


One of our first tourist sites that we visited was the Cheah Kongsi “clan” or “family house”. Established in 1810, it is one of Penang’s oldest Chinese clan associations.  Its members can trace their ancestral origins to Sek Tong Seah in the Sam Tor District of the Hai Teng County at Cheang Chew Prefecture, Fujian Province, China. The Chinese keep accurate records and show that the first person to have the Cheah surname was SIN PEK and his 36th generation descendent was known as XIE AUN (320-385A.D.), the premier of the Eastern Jin Dynasty. His name would have been shown as CHEAH XIE AUN, as the Chinese always show the family name first.



This eclectic, ancestral building was built in 1858 and completed in 1873. The beautiful clan temple, featuring Straits and post independence architecture, is built on a 1,500 sq meter plot of land acquired in 1828, and is accessible via an archway from Armenian street and a new main entrance from Pantai Street.




We also spent most of one afternoon at the Kapitan Keling Mosque. This mosque was built in the 19th century by Indian Muslim traders in George Town, Penang. Being a prominent Islamic historic centre, it is part of the World Heritage Site of George Town and lies at the centre of the city's Tamil Muslim neighbourhood, the Chulias. It is the first permanent Muslim institution to have been established in the area, and dates from the early 1800s. The exterior is ochre yellowed while the interior has white marble floors and a high ceiling. The interior aisles are formed by a series of horseshoe arches, crowned with King Edward's plaques. The façade of the building and its interior are decorated with geometric designs, as human and animal forms are forbidden in Islam. 



After touring the mosque with one of the religious leaders, we then took part in a Q&A session where many of our curious questions were asked. For example:


Q. Why are there no icons, statues, paintings or even drawings of Allah (God), or Mohammed (the last prophet according to Islanm, or even any of the other recognized prophets (Abraham, Jesus, Peter, Paul etc) on display or in their books?

A. Simple answer, it is forbidden in Islam to make any images of the above. Oh, and yes, just to confirm - Jesus was a prophet, definitely recognized by Islam - just not the “last” prophet.


Q. What is the ruling on women’s wearing of the hijab and girls? 

A. Women wear the hijab or burka to honour Allah and reduce the distraction of men. Traditionally, girls start to wear the hijab when they enter puberty. (This has been my experience, but I was taken aback in Malaysia with the number of young girls (some as young as 2 years of age) wearing a hijab out in public. I find this to be a bit extreme.)

Q. Why are there public photos of the Sultan’s wife, not wearing a hijab? Does she wear a hijab? Is she Muslim?

A. Yes, she is Muslim. She chooses not to wear a hijab. (it sounded like a bit of a sore point)

Q. What is Islam’s view on homosexuality, gay marriage etc?

A. Essentially, the Quran identifies two sexes, period. Any sexual behaviour that is not heterosexual is not accepted. Those individuals must take “additional training”….. 



Another of our Penang destinations was to see the Ken Lok Temple, a large Buddhist Temple on the outskirts of Penang (maybe 8 km from Georgetown). 




Originally built in 1891, Kek Lok Si Temple is one of the largest and finest temple complexes in Southeast Asia. There are literally thousands of magnificent images of Buddha and hundreds of beautiful meaningful carvings, sculptures and murals in the interior and exterior of the temple halls, pagodas and archways. 




The Kek Lok Si Temple is not just a centre for Chinese culture and Buddhist teachings, but also a unique heritage site where Mahayana Buddhism and traditional Chinese rituals blend into a harmonious whole, in the temple architecture and the daily activities of worshipers.






Obviously, some parts of the temple are still under construction and renovation.



If you paid RM30 (about $10 CDN) you could have your family name inscribed on one of these roof tiles.



Or, if that is too much, for RM 1, you could buy a “wish ribbon”, with varying printed wishes. 



In summary, we really enjoyed visiting this Temple. Its a pity that the air was so hazy. Although we had a pretty good view from the top, the photo doesn’t do it justice.



Another side trip was to the top of the Penang Hill, by way of the vernacular railroad. The highest point is at Western Hill, about 833 metres (2,733 ft) above sea level. The hill stands out prominently from the lowlands as a hilly and forested area. It was used as a retreat during the British colonial period, and is now a popular tourist destination in Penang.



The top of the mainly granite hill is accessible via the Penang Hill Railway from its base station at Jalan Bukit Bendera, Air Itam. To date, this funicular railway system is the only one of its kind in Malaysia, transporting over a million visitors to the peak of Penang Hill as of 2014.


You can’t visit Penang and not see the street art. Penang Street Art, and in particular George Town Street Art, has in the past few years enhanced its position as the street art capital of the country. Since the inscription of the inner city of George Town as a World Heritage Site, the street art scene has developed with increasing vigour. 




Here are some total strangers getting into the act.



Finally, every visit to Penang includes eating at Food Courts. I don’t think anybody eats in restaurants.



We even stopped by a Hindu temple, for a quick look.



This is one of the great things about Malaysia, religious freedom. We have seen many varieties of Christian churches, Muslim mosques, Buddhist temples and Hindu temples. While the government and country professes Islam, people seem to get along quite well and there doesn’t seem to be any difficulty observing the religion of your choice.


One of my maintenance projects has been to “service” the water-maker. Over the past 9 years, this has only consisted of changing the pre-filter elements, pickling the membrane, or even changing the membrane (once). According to the service manual, our high pressure pump was long overdue for overhaul. The EchoTec supplied spares kit was very sparse, it had no seals or -rings for the pump. 



There was evidence of a little salt water weeping on the housing of the pump, but this all cleaned up nicely. 



I think I made 3 trips to Flex-Seal for o-rings (a 20 minute drive) and one trip to Ipoh for seals (a 2 hour drive). I changed the oil, but the belt and motor brushes are still very healthy. After conducting a simple test on the dock to confirm that the pump isn’t leaking, I then re-installed the pump in its original location, and changed the membrane and all its housing seals. This membrane is 5 years old, so it was due to be changed out.


There are some pretty wild potato chip flavours on offer in the local stores. This one is “black pepper crab” flavour. I wouldn’t imagine it would gain market acceptance in Canada.



Even these local monkeys prefer fresh fruit and nuts to high carbs!





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SV Joana is listed for sale at this site with Our boat and home, is always "for sale", and we are always open to new "opportunities". The price is substantially below the actual built cost (over $500K for materials alone, not including any labour cost) in recognition of the fact that the hull and systems are getting dated - although well maintained.

Countries Visited since we left our home, Canada in May 2009, and detailed in the Log:         

(35 countries by boat - to date)

Antigua: May 2011
Australia: November 2016 - July 2017

Bermuda: June - August 2009
Bonaire: February - April 2014

Bahamas: December 2009 - March 2010, December 2010 - February 2011

Barbados: March 2012
British Virgin Islands: May 2011
Colombia: October 2014 - December 2014

Cuba: March - May 2010
Curaçao: May 2014 - September 2014

Dominica: May 2011, April 2013

Dominican Republic: March - April 2011
Fiji: September/October 2015
French Polynesia (Marquesas, Tuamotos, Tahiti and the Society Islands): April-July 2015
Galapagos: March 2015
Grenada: June-November 2011
Guadeloupe: March 2013
Indonesia: July 2017 - October 2017
Malaysia: October 2017 - 
Martinique: March 2012, March 2013
New Zealand: November 2015 - November 2016
Niue: July/August 2015
Panama: December 2014 (San Blas Islands), (Portobello and Canal) January/February 2015

Puerto Rico: April 2011
Singapore: October 2017

St Lucia: May-June 2011, December 2011 - February 2012, December 2012 - February 2013

St Martin /Netherlands Antilles: May 2011

St Vincent and the Grenadines: June 2011, February 2012, December 2012, April-May 2013

Tobago: March-May 2012
Tonga: August 2015
Trinidad: May - December 2012, June - November 2013
USA: August - November 2009, June - November 2010
US Virgin Islands: May 2011
Venezuela: November 2013 - February 2014
Vietnam: January 2018

Before we went cruising, we also "had a life" and did our fair share of visiting (or living in) other countries.
We've also been to a few other countries, but just not with our boat.  (36 countries so far)

Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzogevinia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway,

Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland), Vatican City.


SV Joana HomepageBuilding Milestones The CrewBoat specsWhere is Joana?FAQ2017 Ships Log2018 Ships Log