Birds Eye View

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Malaysia  , Kedah,
Friday, January 25, 2013

Until we started planning our visa run out of Thailand I had never even heard of Langkawi, it is an amazing Malaysian island the same size as Penang with stunning white sand beaches and a good selection of budget and good quality accommodation.

There is a boat from Penang to Langkawi, but having read reviews that it could be fairly rough we decided that a flight was probably the better option, this was possibly one of the funniest flight experiences ever. We flew Air Asia which is a budget airline but was actually very nice and new and comfortable.  The plane took off, the seat belt signs were turned off, the cabin crew walked the length of the plane and the seat belt signs were turned back on and the pilot announced that we had started our descent to come into land.  I actually think we were in the sky for less than 10 minutes.  Brilliant.

Accommodation in Langkawi is not particularly cheap compared to Thailand so as we were paying a little more than normal anyway we decided to stay in a more novel hotel.  We found The Cabin Hotel and just could not resist.  Each room is a shipping container, with air con, sky tv and all the luxuries of a hotel room.  The air con was certainly worth every penny as my legs were still burning with heat rash!

We stayed on Pentai Cenang which is the main beach with the most shops, restaurants and nightlife.  The beach was huge with pure white sand, but the sea was quite murky and unfortunately hid an underworld sea of jellyfish which decided to give me some kisses and add to my already extensive collection of itchy rashes!  Having later researched it I discovered that Langkawi is packed full of box jellyfish.  Funny enough I went off swimming in the sea on Pentai Cenang after that.

Langkawi is almost entirely Muslim, so it was quite strange to see the beach totally empty all day with just a few tourists toasting themselves in the midday sun, but then suddenly at about 4pm the beach fills to bursting point, especially at the weekend, with Ninjas.  I have never seen so many people so overdressed going in the sea fully clothed, on jet skis, banana boats and paragliders.  It is one way to protect yourself from the jellyfish I guess.  Maybe I need to get me a Burkini.

After two months of Thai food, the food in Langkawi was such a treat.  We found one restaurant called Tomato, which had the Thai style of garden furniture and general look of a refugee camp, but they made the best curries and roti breads I have ever eaten and dinner was cheap as chips. Yum.

There is not a huge amount to do in Langkawi and my heat rash restricted my desire to be out in the sun too much so we took a day trip to the Langkawi Cable Car.  This also has a James Bond style sky bridge but that has been closed for the last year as they cleverly made it from wood and it is starting to deteriorate.  Before we went to the cable car we were taken to a Bird Sanctuary and like many places in Asia this was quite a sad animal park with lots of beautiful animals that should be out in the wild in small cages.  We scooted through and gave the food that they gave us to the waiting animals.  We did see an animal we have not seen here before, a deer mouse.  The most tiny perfect Bambi style deer ever, adorable.  We also had some fun feeding the porcupines but I was not convinced that they were not going to fire their quills at us so we kept our distance. On our way to the cable car we stopped off at the 'Black Sand beach'.  This sounded really cool that they have a beach covered in black sand and they don’t know why.  It was definitely covered in black sand and was a little novel, but I am not sure that the cement factory towering over the beach might have something to do with the black sand??!!  Finally we made it to the main attraction, the cable car was possibly the busiest place in Langkawi we arrived and joined the Disney style queue which informed us that we had a 45 minute wait ahead of us.  The odd thing about this queue is that Tim and I were 2 of about 8 other white tourists, I felt decidedly underdressed and I was actually wearing a long dress to cover my red spotty legs.  It was quite bizarre being the minority where we were the ones being stared out through a sea of burkas.  The queue actually went quite quickly and as we got to the top it was well and truly worth the wait, at 700 meters above sea level on a stunning clear sunny day we could see for miles over Langkawi, from the beaches to the jungle.

We had time for one more day trip in Langkawi and opted for the island hopping tour, this started like most tours in absolute organised chaos.  We were dropped off at a pier and given an orange sticker and entered a sea of people all wearing different coloured stickers. Eventually you would hear a shriek of Orange, Orange, Orange and a surge of people would send you to the end of the pier.  We managed to safely get into our little boat.  I didn’t really pay much attention  to what sort of boat we were in until the front of the boat popped out of the water and we were speeding out to sea at a rate of knots.  There was a Chinese family with a small boy sat next to us who had been happily eating his breakfast roti until the boat took off and the next thing he is holding onto his roti like there is no tomorrow crying his eyes out.  I think maybe like me he expected to pootle along on a little slow boat.  The picture of him crying into his Roti will stay with me for a long time, heh heh.  The first stop was pregnant maiden lake (Tasik Dayang Bunting).  Said to have fertility powers so I was a bit apprehensive about taking a dip, but the early morning sun and the glistening waters were just too much to resist.  The lake is 10 meters deep so jumping into the dark water was like jumping into the abyss.  It was also fresh water so it was an effort to stay afloat after months of playing in the salty sea.   We could have happily spent the day here, they even had solar powered pedalows which you just float around on, genius idea.  But an hour later and we are back on an overcrowded pier waiting for our boat.  We saw our boat approaching so made our way over and were surprised to see that it was already packed to bursting point.  Seemingly some American tourists didn’t like their speedboat so jumped onto ours instead, so we balanced on the back holding on for dear life and set off from the pier.  Fortunately the tour guide spotted the rogue passengers and booted them off the boat and made them make a mid sea transfer onto their own boat.  That is some walk of shame!

Onwards to Pulau Singa Besah bay.  Langkawi has a huge population of eagles.  Just lying on the beach you can see them swooping and hovering overhead.  We went to an island where they live and I have never seen so many birds of prey, not even in the Gobi.  The guide would throw cooked chicken over the side of the boat and moments later these amazing, huge birds would swoop down and grab it.  It is not good for the birds to be fed in this manner as they rely on the tours and get lazy, but it was phenomenal to see.  The final stop on the tour was Pulau Beras Basah (Monkey beach), this beach had beautiful pure white sand and clear blue sea, so it was something of a treat to take a dip in the sea without the constant fear of which, how many and where a jellyfish might be lurking.  We took a dip and and laid on the beach to dry out watching the monkeys terrorising anyone that had anything to grab.  As we were waiting to get back onto our boat we met the most brazen monkeys.  They took one womans entire carrier bag of lunch and sat in front of her devouring the rice and roti, then they sat scaring a man until he gave in and gave them his bag of cheesy crisps.  Such adorable little scamps.

After some time out relaxing, watching sunset, eating good food and some good tours it was time to bid a fond farewell to Langkawi and make our way back into Thailand. The only way to do this is in style by a speedboat to Koh Lipe.  Usually when you take a land crossing into Thailand you only get a 15 day visa on entry but as we had a 60 day visa we were good to go.  We got picked up for the boat and whisked to a tour operator who copied our passports and told us to come back in two hours.  So we decided to be very cosmopolitan and sat in Starbucks doing some blogging.  We made our way back to the tour operator and were loaded into a mini van to get stamped out of Malaysia, so we drove to a random immigration office, had our passports stamped and were officially in no mans land.  There were only 9 of us in total on the boat so we were travelling in absolute luxury.  Unfortunately one of our fellow passengers is one of those travellers you dread bumping into.  We (behind his back) called him the King of Lipe.   He seemingly thinks he knows everything that everyone needs to know about Koh Lipe and needed 4 bottles of beer an hour just to stay drunk enough to drive us all mad and talk incessantly about what we should and shouldn’t do, where we should and shouldn’t go, and generally waffle about nonsense that we don’t give a damn about.  The sound of his whining, know it all voice made me want to slap him but fortunately the speedboat engine soon drowned him out. 

2 hours later after a perfect crossing we were in Koh Lipe.  Hello Koh Lipe, you cheeky little islet.
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