Saturday, 13 August 2016

Gajean out to lunch in Miami with Perry...........

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Return to Langkawi and our lovely old girl. Days 63 - 71 29th. July - 6th. August

Hi to all,
Well, our long sojourn to Turkey, USA (Miami) and Colombia is over and we are now back on the boat on Langkawi. We arrived on Saturday (06/08) and then spent most of the day waiting for our cleaned aircon which was continually promised hour by hour. We had already emailed them twice to remind them of our return date. We were getting anxious because we didn't want to spend a night without it; however, it finally turned up about 5.
We had spent the last 4 days in Miami (since the last blog) in some sort of hiatus emailing Colombia re details of the purchase and generally sorting through the finer issues. One thing which annoyed us somewhat was that apparently it is common practice to agree on a figure and then put the transaction through at a lesser value. This is so the vendor can avoid a certain amount of capital gains tax (10%) and this was not explained to us. It came out of the blue. The tax on this at 10% would amount to around USD1300. We expressed great concern at this non disclosure and eventually the agent generously offered to compensate us through their own commission. With our faith completely restored, we will use the offer to create the servery from the kitchen to the dining area, so all's well that ends well!
We've been swimming in Perry's pool which is a good swimmable length and very pretty under the coconut palms. Perry has had the gardening contractors to take away excess coconuts because if they fell on anyone's head (particularly the small Peapods) or indeed either of the cars the result would not be pretty. It's by no means unknown for people to be killed by falling coconuts - they are quite dangerous.
Jean went to more swimming lessons with the Peapods twice and Jim swam every day in the pool. Otherwise trips to Wholefoods and/or HomePro to get things for the new house. There have been rats or Raccoons in the ceiling and so off we went again to get some wire netting to block up suspected entry points.
It's all worked out rather well because Perry's start date with Microsoft has been put back to the 8th. August when he flies to Atlanta for signing on/inductions, etc. So the timing couldn't have been better all round. It's given him time to sort much of the house and also time with us and Jean in particular. Tracie continues in her job with Brightstar and Rosa remains her exuberant self, in spite of a badly sprained ankle not long before our return. Jim decided to try cooking some Brussels Sprouts in the same way that he had had them at Wynwood before we went to Colombia and so plenty of orange juice and zest of orange. Tolerably good but still not up to that standard. However, we now have some idea and will work on refinements over time.
We didn't get back to Wynwood due to other things happening but maybe it was just as well as the first homegrown outbreak of Zika virus in the continental US has occurred in that neighbourhood. Apparently, and not far from Perry and Tracie's new home either. However, we feel very sceptical about the whole thing and suspect that it's another scare developed to keep the population at large in fearful thrall, just like chicken flu and a host of other scare tactics in recent times. If you have the inclination read and you will not be happy!!
All too soon, the sad day for departure (02/08) arrived. Our flight was not due to leave until 2100 so we had all day to pack and we taped up the carton we had bought to transport all the goodies for the boat and anything else that wouldn't fit into our small cases. Chain, shower drain water pump, and solar powered vent as well as bronze screws and an electronic flare supposed to render obsolete the necessity to carry conventional flares which expire beyond their use by date, and which are fiendishly expensive to replace.
We arrived at Miami International courtesy of Perry and accompanied by Carter who unfortunately was having a "terrible twos" episode! Checked in and all was well, said another sad goodbye to Perry and Carter and went through to the departure area where we had a tolerably good meal for USD73! That's NZD104!
At this point we must have a final comment about American food - or what passes for it. With the notable exception of the meal in Wynwood before we went to Colombia, the food ranged from awful to just OK. Even macaroni cheese at the upmarket supermarket of Wholefoods was tasteless and STODGY. It's one of Jim's favourites and he was remembering the same dish in El Poblado in Medellin which was arguably the best macaroni cheese he'd ever had. And the Colombian empanadas compared to the Miami variety - 'nough said. Sorry Perry and Tracie; we don't mean to be super critical and the meals we cooked at home were great, but American food is largely overpriced and definitely underwhelming. Wynwood is an isolated gem by contrast and well worth braving the Zika virus to experience again.
We then made our way to the gate for boarding only to be told that the flight was delayed due to weather conditions. Certainly there was a thunder and lightning storm raging. In the end the flight was delayed 3 hours to midnight but we weren't overly concerned as we were to have had 10 hours on the ground at Istanbul and so this was reduced to only 7! The flight was pretty much full but we had bulkhead seats which made it more tolerable.
There were only a few bullets flying around at Istanbul and one or two explosions but we just kept our heads down and survived. ONLY JOKING. You wouldn't have known there was anything untoward although we never left the airport as we were in transit. We had an excellent and reasonably priced meal which made us again wish we were staying a few days. We will definitely come back to Turkey (maybe on the boat if we ship her next year), and a visit to coastal areas in the Sea of Marmaris or the Black Sea coast would be highlights. Anyway, we needed to get back to the boat so we pressed on. The Istanbul - Kuala Lumpur leg was about the same length (11 hours) but was on an Airbus 330 which is a better aircraft than the 777. More legroom and more comfortable seats and the food - obviously loaded at Istanbul was way better than the rubbish out of Miami - which wouldn't be hard! Thick cloud over northern India so didn't see a thing and then ran into turbulence over the Bay of Bengal. Not too severe though, so no worries! Jim doesn't like turbulence; keeps thinking the wings might come off.
Then it was finally back in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur International seems designed to frustrate, even though there appeared to be almost no aircraft or people there compared with Ataturk Istanbul. First you deplane and walk miles keeping expecting to come to the Immigration counters. Then inexplicably you arrive at a train station with obscure signage which seems to indicate that you need to board the train to get to Immigration, Customs and baggage claim. In another terminal altogether. And so it proved. We headed to an area of "foreign passports" which had lesser queues but were peremptorily waved to the other side with ridiculous queues and then told to go back whence we had come, only to observe the same nitwit waving us back again! We took no notice. Took an age to get through Immigration; like most of Malaysia it seemed to be mired in its own inertia.
Anyway, we were finally through and very relieved to find that our box (carefully packed and addressed) had arrived also. Grabbed it off the carousel and soon got a taxi to take us to the hotel. It was the Vistana in KL and was very pleasant. We went across the road to a Chinese restaurant which the hotel recommended and had a paasable meal, but nowhere near up to the same standard as Wonderland in Langkawi. We were exhausted by now having travelled nonstop (including time on the ground) for 36 hours, and so were very glad to have a welcome shower and get to bed.
We had been contacted by Angela and Leonard, the very pleasant young couple we had met on Langkawi some time previously and they very kindly invited us to dinner the next night with Angela's parents as well. They had come down to KL from their home in Taiping for a wedding that weekend. They took us to an outdoor Malaysian restaurant where there were all sorts of eateries and we had a great time talking to them and enjoying the food. Then it was back to the hotel and another fitful sleep as we had to be up early for our 0955 flight to Langkawi. All went well and soon we were landing at Langkawi after the 1 hour flight from KL. A final comment on local inefficiency - in the baggage claim area there was an electronic sign proclaiming that baggage from the KL flight would be coming through on carousel no. 2. There are only 2 carousels there. But lo and behold it came through on no. 1! Not at all serious or even inconvenient, but one can only shrug one's shoulders and laugh hysterically!
Then a taxi to the RLYC marina and "Tiare Taporo III". She's a bit mouldy on deck but that was expected but down below everything was fine and we were soon unpacked and feeling exhausted again. It will be about a week probably before our body clocks are fully programmed to Malaysia time. The freezer needs re-gassing again ahead of a proper fix under warranty so we have more or less no food on board and went to Wonderland for dinner where we were greeted as long lost old customers and Jean fell asleep at the table! The restaurant was as busy as we've ever seen it with 99% Chinese locals and tourist groups. We estimate somewhere between 200 and 300 diners. It was an entertainment just watching the staff who are amazingly efficient in a seemingly chaotic environment.
Then back to the boat courtesy of an elderly family member of the family that owns the restaurant. Only charged us 10 ringgits and then finally to bed - our long sojourn finally over.
Now the agenda is cleaning the boat and completing the property purchase in Medellin. Then to lease it until we are able to return and start a new chapter in our lives.
Con mucho amor desde nostros.............
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club
Pulau Langkawi

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