Day hopping isn’t something that seems to come easy to Temptress’ crew. However we decided to take things easy as we sail north to Langkawi. After all we are in no hurry as our only appointment is the passage west which can’t commence until the north east monsoon has settled in.
Having left Pangkor on the morning tide on Wednesday we happily took the north running ebb up the coast towards Penang. The sea was glassy flat, the sky cloudy. Forty or so miles later we dropped the hook off the south coast of Pulau Kendai, a small steep to jungle clad island just south west of Penang. Nothing remarkable except a downpour and distant thunderstorm during the night.
Thursday we motored further north along the Malaysian coast to the cluster of islands some fifteen or so miles north of Penang. The first, Bidan or Bidang though pretty proved too exposed to be a comfortable anchorage. The next couple are even smaller. The last in the chain Pulau Bunting, is a bit wider and lies along an east west axis close to the coast. The south side was a bit lumpy in the sea breeze but around the other side was beautifully calm. We anchored and once settled, enjoyed our first swim in ages.
Bunting, like many islands in this part of the world is uninhabited, a rocky foreshore fringes steep jungle clad slopes. Sea eagles clatter and squawk from their roosts in the trees. We enjoyed the contrast between the island’s wooded slopes and the flat, extremely flat coastal plain of the mainland just a mile or two away. The mountains are distant hazy shapes here, the coast home to rice paddies.
However this is possibly the only island oasis of its kind served by a dual carriageway running over a causeway complete with suspension bridge! Intrigued we turned to Google – built between 2002 and 2005 by the Kedah State government the causeway and bridge cost 120 million ringett (around 54 million sterling). From the boat we can’t see where the road terminates but a satellite view shows it simply reaches the island shore to end in a dusty reclaimed area. Apparently they had hoped someone would build a powerplant on the island. For now it serves as a platform for locals to fish from and as an intriguing attraction for yachties sailing up and down this coast.