It is a beautiful night. The Southern Cross and the Big Bear constellations are easily found in this night sky as Imani
's crew lies hammocked in her forward tramp, reading the stars. Soundtrack to our stargazing, the sound of a lone amplified voice drifts by as the beautiful plaintive cry of the day's last call-to-prayer makes its way from the large Al-Hana Mosque on the shore. Yes, we are in Malaysia, on Langkawi Island just south of the Thailand border and we've found it to be a surprisingly easy and interesting place to exist on a cruising sailboat. Malaysia likes and welcomes cruisers and Langkawi is transforming itself into Malaysia's boating center.
Checking into Langkawi is an incredibly painless process. All pertinent officials, Port Captain, Immigration and Customs, are located in the same location—the Ferry Jetty Building, which is found just to starboard of the large eagle statue that juts out onto Kuah bay. Within one half-hour the check-in is complete. Ordinarily, for most passports (including US, EU, Australia, and New Zealand) the officials will ask if you would like to stay for one month or three, and then stamp your travel documents accordingly. These standard visiting visas are free of charge. Making a trip to Thailand with your boat or by ferry and returning gives you an additional three months to stay in Malaysia. We have met many boaters who have been moving between Thailand and Malaysia this way for years. The people of Malaysia are very easy going, welcoming, and respectful. We have found them to be very honest and helpful. Even being Americans in this Muslim country post-September 11, we feel very safe here among these very gentle people.