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Pierre van Rooyen

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Langkawi, an archipelago of ninety islands.

Travelling by yacht may be likened to back-packing. It is always hard work and there certainly are no tourist comforts.

Caption to pic: Thai sea gypsy waters, Butang Islands, just 25 miles from Langkawi.

This was a difficult anchorage, deep, the bottom rising steeply toward a reef close to the boat. If the wind came up, we would have had to move.

When we were back in Langkawi, a murder took place here. A Burmese deck-hand had been shanghaied onto a Thai fishing boat and forced to work as a slave.

One night he slipped overboard and made his way through the water to an anchored yacht with just a husband and wife aboard. Because the husband resisted, he cut the husband’s throat, dumped his body
overboard and made the wife motor the boat toward the mainland.
There, he took the dinghy and outboard, and escaped ashore.

Faith and I have been in so many lonely places, so often, and seen so much poverty, we would always co-operate if threatened, give the desperado what he wanted, and try to make the encounter happy and unstressful for him.

Okay, back to no tourist comforts. If you do all your own maintenance, sailing is cheap. We can’t afford tourist prices, so if we eat out, we eat with the locals … Malay-, Chinese-, Indian-, Thai-food. Except for a couple of bicycles, the boat is all we own. No house, no car, and all that jazz. Ha, ha … and on our tiny pensions, we still gotta pay the Receiver of Revenue something every year. Although I suspect by now we are below the income tax threshold.

Here are some pics of the islands.

Faith’s diary of a round trip we made, Langkawi, Penang, Phuket, mentions a couple we met who have been together and doing a lot of sailing on the cheap for twenty five years. Her father is still upset that his son-in-law ‘kidnapped’ his daughter and didn’t buy a nice house with a white picket fence, in a good area. She says she wouldn’t change her existence for anything.

On our round trip we anchored off Chew jetty. This is what it looks

We sailed the boat up to Phuket in Thailand. Many beach shots here.
Curiously, as we live outdoors and have to watch out for skin-cancer,
we never go to the beach. It’s too hot and we can’t take the sunburn.
So we stay on board and watch everybody else from the cockpit.

The baby elephant on the beach is for real. We have seen him lying
upside-down under the water with his trunk and his feet in the air.
Also, on the beach snuffing up sand in his trunk and blowing it over
his keeper when he stops to talk to a friend. The baby elephant wants
to go, man, go.

This is the link to Faith’s diary.

Have fun.