Monkey island

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, October 4, 2005

The fast ferry from Penang was pretty sweet, so after an hour and a half we'd pulled into Kuah's main ferry terminal on the south east side of resort group of islands (about 100 in total) called Langkawi.

Bustle and construction was in evidence all around, signs of a growing community coming out of the monsoon season that is making the best of their duty free taxation status to lure hordes of both local and foreign tourists. Whilst I waited for my ride I paused to have a small fries from KFC and to watch the passing parade.

Despite being no work of art myself, I have to say that in general package tourists are an ugly bunch.

Tengah beach, just south of Cenang Resident monkey eating some laundry

Half an hour later I found myself at Gecko Guesthouse, a hundred metres or so off Cenang Beach on the western side of the island. A menagerie of dogs, cats, chickens and very cheeky monkeys were screeching around the place much to the chagrin of the manager Rebecca. Once a dorm bed was secured and some laundry retrieved from one of the resident primates, new friends Sem (India), Lindsay (New Zealand) and I headed off for lunch and an island tour in Sem's hired car. Very convenient indeed and it's funny how one thing leads to another when you're travelling.

Tanjong Rhu Lindsay and Sem enjoying some sunshine

Torrential rain started falling soon after we set off, and despite running on fumes for the half of the trip we drove out the other side of the storm and finally made it to a little place called Tanjong Rhu at the extreme north tip of the island. Here we found more limestone monoliths poking out of the water and a wide sandy beach with reasonably clear water. Very pretty indeed as the photos above attest - so much so that Four Seasons has located their swanky resort here. We bypassed the resort and stuck to local vendors for lunch, but that didn't save us from an extravagance - Lindsay's fish meal was charged by the 100 grams so her whole fish ended up costing 30 ringgit. About two days worth of meals on her backpacker's budget!

Locals in the waterfall Monkeys at the base of the waterfall Shame it was not flowing more

After some shell collecting and beach roaming we headed off across the north of the island in search of waterfalls, beaches and other sights. Due to the recent rains the first falls we stopped at were nicely flowing, but for some reason the second wasn't much more than a trickle. However the family of monkeys (plural anyone?) feeding at a rubbish bin at the base of the falls made up for the lack of hydraulic action, and the sounds emanating from the surrounding jungle also aroused some interest and concern. This was turning out to be a pretty weird place.

Further weirdness awaited us beyond the aptly named Pebble beach. More monkeys. I can't remember the name of this particular place but it was pretty nice and it featured another gaggle of monkeys picking some sort of food off the sand in a methodical manner. Made for a good photo anyway, before they started menacing us...

Monkey on the beach Monkey family prowling on the sand

Onwards and westwards, we drove by a few very exclusive resorts and a nice golf course to complete the island circuit before heading south towards home. We couldn't get into any of the private properties as serious guards, fencing and boom gateways blocked all entrances. And I think that's Langkawi for you in a nutshell, great if you're on a romantic getaway at a five star resort (where all you do is stay on grounds in manicured luxury), but otherwise pretty dull and dare I say a little worn in many of the public areas, such as the strip between Tengah and Cenang beaches).

Next day we were less fortunate as the rain came back with a vengeance. Still, I'd seen all of the main island the day before so was intent on visiting the major offshore attractions sooner than later in order to move on. So Sem and an amusing young Canadian couple joined me on a boating expedition to the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden and to the Sea Eagle feeding, despite the deluge all around us.

Pregnant maiden laying on back

The hills around the lake do look like a pregnant maiden laying down, and the lake itself was quite pretty, but the profusion of concrete, banana boat rides and busloads of Japanese tourists made the whole experience a typical tourist trap. However, the boat ride to and from, and the sea eagle feeding certainly made up for it (there's a short video in the gallery).

We were surprised with the number of birds around and the soaring and swooping was a sight to behold. Pretty cool. Still, it was too damn wet to stay long so we hightailed it back to the main island, bouncing from wave to wave with our 85 horse power motor powering through the choppy seas. It cut the tour down from four hours to two and a half, but hey, it got the job done.

Sea eagles feeding Sea eagles feeding again

Next entry I power into Thailand and who knows where I'll end up there. Hopefully the weather will improve!

Until then, take it easy.

Confirmed mozzie kills

So far whilst travelling: 208

They're everywhere! Aargh!
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Where I stayed
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