Friday, February 16, 2007

Corporate air cadets 8 day camp

Recently back from an 8 day camp with air cadets - mostly in their early 20s. we did some hard jungle trekking for 2 days, carrying 8 litres of water to get us through. Challenging navigation in thick jungle with nasty huge thorns. the latter ripped my 2 pairs of trousers to shreds. Fortunately, you can buy trekking trousers here quite cheaply. Mostly, we went off tracks, followed creeks and ridges.

Then we did community service by helping a local farmer clear an area. We then had a bit of break while the group of 18 cadets did an overnight solo in the jungle near base camp.

After, went for 2 days sea kayaking via mangroves, then out a small opening into the sea, where we paddled to Pulau Langoon (Langoon island), where we had a very relaxing camp on the beach with campfires. Saw a huge black scorpion right next to my bivi spot. yikes.

shared all this with 2 other trainers - Jason , from the USA who has 6 years experience in outdoor ed. and Sandra, a local chinese Malaysian.

The group was fun, but exasperating occasionally as were a bit silly , and were hard to keep together on the kayak trip. I had to threaten to capsize those who went past the lead kayak, a number of times, to avoid us spreading out over 1km. incredible spires of rock on the islands, quite a few yachts moored around. quite hot, but ok with hat. cooler than Cairns at this time of year.

Just met a French yachtie near the pier - the real yachtie look, long hair, necklace. Says there are lots of French yachties around here, as the paperwork to stay here is simple compared to Thailand. he stays 6 months here, using Langkawi as a base to visit other islands, and Thailand. Then goes back to France to work - currently renovating a large building to let out several flats. His base is the fish farm we went past with our kayaks , where he moors for 60 dollars US a month. Got all his electronic and scuba gear stolen while in dry dock in front of the marina building, Rockhampton, Australia... his boat is called "Fripon", so I'll drop in to see him if I see the boat.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Settling in

Yesterday, walked to the local modern and air-conditionned shopping center with the French-Canadian couple: Guillaume and Marie-Eve. Then through a park, and discovered a local beach. had a swim while the imam at the local mosque gave a rather haranging speech which u could hear. Evening, eat at restaurant - 4 dollars for a good meal.

Malaysians are a very varied bunch, some women wear headscarfs, other don't. Interestingly, adverts, even those put out by the govmt, rarely feature women with headscarfs. 52 % muslim, the indians, chinese, and indigenous malays. conquered by the Portuguese, the dutch and finally the British in 1790 or so. Now a constitutional monarchy. Lots of foreign films on TV, so there seems to be little censorship.

People are friendly , especially if you speak a few words of Malay - they like you for making the effort.

Took a few pictures with the digital camera, which I will attempt to put on this blog. The town I'm in is Kuah, on the south side of Langkawi island, itself on the border with Thailand (west malaysia). Surrounded by 100 or so islands of varying size... so often no surf. weather is warm, but with cool breeze. Until 3 months or so, when the wet season arrives and it will be very humid.

Lots of electronic goods and such, as the whole of the island is duty-free.
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