Thursday, March 17, 2016

George Town foray

Even though we were anchored in the wee early hours, we wanted to get an early start for shore duty. After we lowered the dinghy into the water, we headed to the Chew Jetty, the normal dinghy landing. There are about 4 Chinese jetties made up of wooden shanties built over the decades by Chinese to avoid property taxes. Their rickety structures are perched on piling stilts in the shallow mud flats. Now, they are somewhat of a tourist attraction and where most of the residents take advantage of their uniqueness by selling novelties to the sightseers.

On approach to tie up, a resident woman intercepted us and denied us landing rights, saying "Too many work boats need this tie-up so no good for you, no room for you. Go to next jetty." The landing prospect of the next jetty was obviously not suitable. We put 2 and 2 together and knew she expected us to use their boats for a fee to ferry us back and forth. A previous year (July 2014), we tied up there several times and supported the businesses of the jetty and even gave at their donation box, but oh well, not this time though - Boo Chew!

We hesitantly then tied up to the Customs dock close by and walked into George Town. Our first goal was to apply for a 2-month pre-entry Visa for Thailand. We went to our usual agent, signed the forms, and gave her our passports with 2 extra photos which she sent it away for a 24-hour turnaround.

Our second goal was to find help for our non-functional GPS Receiver. A technically knowledgeable young man in the large mall determined it was unfixable and sent us to the Garmin outlet in the same mall.

The extremely friendly and accommodating Chinese shop owner immediately said he could get a Garmin unit sent in from Kuala Lumpur overnight. Problem solved. We paid for it, he ordered it, and then he bought us lunch!

Unlike other parts of Malaysia, George Town has centuries of Chinese mercantile history and consequently a high concentration of Chinese residents that have continued in the proprietorship. Many years of characteristic architecture reflect this unique quality to the extent that UNESCO has given it a designation, and with that, now the old heritage buildings are starting to be restored for the attraction of the tourist.

Needing restoration

Various stages of restoration

On our return to our dinghy, a couple of Customs employees very politely "asked" us to not tie up there again and suggested an adjacent pier that was unused by the local ferry system.

Exhausted after so little sleep the night before and a lot of walking city pavement, it was nice to get back to the boat for rest to finish up the day. We found the heat more bearable here compared to down south at Marina Island, especially now that we had a nice breeze filtering throughout the hatches.

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