Time for a shift of gear. Ah, but first we need some gears to hand before we can start to shift âem! Langkawi has plenty on offer to see ladies and gents. Itâs possible to escape the tourist mundanities of Cenang beach, âoh yes!â
, but youâre gonna need some wheels to do it. There is no public transport infrastructure (bus, rail or any other) on Langkawi so you have few options. You must either hire a motorcycle or a car or be a slave both in (lack of) time and money to a private-hire taxi cab to ferry you around the islands chief points of interest for the day, presumably in an unsatisfying manner and at half the speed of light.
Coi fish in pond swirling for the food-throwing attentions of tourists.
I chatted - briefly - with a few people on the day who were suffering under such constraints.
So I have decided to bite what would be a big travel bullet for me. With the aid of a French pal made at breakfast Iâm gonna have my first go in my life, hiring and riding a moped-style bike! Ooo!
Excitement! I spend a lot of time, nervously psyching myself up for the consequences of this insurance-company-quaking decision âŚ but to cut a short story shorter still, it doesnât happen. Contrary to the assumption that outside of Europe, with the right amount of money you can pretty much pay your way into any position of potential personal harm you care to gun for, the Malay people are extremely thorough with my UK Drivers License.
Langkawi Cable car
They scrutinise and realise correctly that I am not specifically bike qualified and so said bike is denied. Fair enough. Iâm a bit of a straight arrow myself when it comes to red tape so I donât begrudge anyone sticking to The Rules on this occasion. 10 minutes and 50 Ringgit (ÂŁ10) later though and Iâve got my own car for the day! Vroooom! âPoop-poop, the Open RoadâŚ itâs the only life for me! Poop-poop.â
So, cut loose of the constraints of Cenang, taxis and two feet Iâm off on my one day long island adventure. This really is the only
way to see LangkawiâŚ the whole
of Langkawi, at your leisure and low cost. First stop for me is the Oriental Village, a tacky little mock-up village of retail and food shops clustered picturesquely, in a phoney kinda way, around a coi-stuffed pond.
The awesome (windy!) suspension bridge.
The reason you come here though is the Langkawi Cable Car! 5 minutes in and Iâm heading for the skies, sat in a cable gondola swinging unnervingly in the winds that are up today. A lovely couple from Singapore and their inquisitive tiny little boy share the ride. Little âunâs clearly coping better with it than I. The first of the two stages of the cable car is by far the most vertiginous and I must admit to a fare-sized bag of nerves clenching in my stomach as we rock-rock-rockingly
ascend. The views both out and over the waters and up the cliff face are impressive though and I try to distract my thoughts in their appeal.
Stopping at half way, there are a series of tastefully designed viewing platforms grafted on to the tree-drenched mountainside.
Langkawi cable car viewing platform
Time to pause. Steady the nerves. Captures oneâs breath and take in the incredible, incredible view spread out before you. The various vantage points afforded by the Cable Car I would hazard an opinion are peerless in the views of Langkawi and the surrounding swathe of island atols in the surrounding seas that they afford the visitor. A beautiful introduction to the fascinating topography of the island. The beaches and bays and the yachting marina stretching out to the south before you. Further in the distance a cluster of haze-diluted islands stretch away, as if floating off towards an obscured horizon line having loosed their mooring lines. The cable car housings and structures are an elegant sight in themselves too.
Heading on to the upper viewing platform via a second cable car, more viewing platforms and an incredible suspension bridge arcing above a cleft in the rolling green cliffs of the mountain tops about.
Malaysian islands seen from atop Langkawi cable car,
The wind is whipping through this pass at quite a clip today and I pin my lightweight spectacles to my face with finger, pushed to frame and forehead in case they are ripped off by a gust. This makes me look rather foolish Iâve no doubt. There is a jungley (yeah yeah, I know
thatâs not a real wordâŚ get a life!
:) path down, along and back up to the midway station if you wish to take in some of the forest scenery at closer hand. I start this but soon head back in the end for fear of losing too much time and preferring to face my fears down once more on a return cable car all the way.
Back in my Wes-mobile, I head a few kilometres in land now to a pair of waterfall attractions.
Air Terjun from below
Well, itâs the same falls but seen and interacted with from two different angles. The waterfall is Air Terjun, and well, is what youâd expect of a waterfall really. Itâs pretty and cascades and adults and kids play and sunbathe in its descent-spent waters. Up above though - 270 sweaty struggling steps above to be precise! - is much more fun! The âSeven Wellsâ of Air Terjun. Basically the stream waters just prior to going over the falls pass gently over and through a series of natural rocky pools or âwellsâ. Here you can have fun stripping to your swim-suits and sliding freely down the little naturally smoothed rock âslidesâ that lead from a couple of pools, one to another. Just be careful not to get carried awayâŚ and carried over the edge of Air Terjun!
Sticking to a waterfall theme I next drive some ways out to try to view Air Temuran, the highest, most impressive waterfall in Langkawi.
The 'Seven Wells' above Air Terjun waterfall - including the natural rock'n' pool slides
Unfortunately the monsoon rains having not fattened its flow yet, the short walk to the rocky mountain face the falls would usually caress is only currently troubled by a near invisible trickle of water. Not the right time of year for this one. Local kids still swim happily in the waters at its base.
Next a drive and a brief stop at Black Sands Beach. Not sure where this name comes from as the sands are not black as far as I can see. There are some pretty views of the seas and rock-islands about though. I pootle on over to the estuary area of the small Kilim River from where several nature trail boat trips to Bat Caves and other such things can be bought into. The trips are expensive, the day is getting on and the place has an abandoned disinterested air about it which is not conducive to further investigation today.
Stevie, his 10-second timer and a lonesome sunset :)
With an hour or so to go before sunset I head up to Langkawiâs highest point. Accessible by road all the way. This is the summit of Gunung Raya at a modest 900 metres above sea level. I figure this should be a pretty cool place to take in my second and final Langkawi sunset. Itâs an interesting drive with the road twisting and writhing as youâd expect on such a route. A giant tarmac serpent coiling itself all the way around the mountainâs midriff to the peak. There are a couple of places to stop and admire the view intermittently. Small groups of bird watchers stare through viewing-glasses from the roadsides, the avian life of Malaysia strong throughout the nation, but particularly so up here Iâm told.
At the summit, amidst the pylons and off-limits railings of various communications and military emplacements up here, there is a viewing tower which one can ascend for 10 Ringgit (ÂŁ2).
Sunset from Gunung Raya
The viewâs pretty cracking, excepting the visual impediment of the communications towers up here. I stand alone on the platform, exposed to increasingly strong and spectacle-threatening winds. To my mild surprise I remain alone up here too. I thought this place would be quite a magnet for sunset chasers, but not today it seems. This is pleasant though in its own way. I am left alone with the elements and the fading of the sun. Staring out - finger pushed to spectacle frame to forehead again - at the splintering shards of islands spread out in the seas to the north and south of Langkawi as the sun throws them into slowly into muted purple silhouettes.
A lonesome lovely sunset. Itâs been a fabulous day. I drive back down the serpentâs back to sea level, into the dusk, and then the dark and then Cenang.
The 'lake' in the Oriental Village.