Langkawi : Sea, sunsets and silhouettes.

Langkawi Travel Blog

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Speeeeeding from Ko Lipe to Langkawi.
“Wow!” has it really been a month in Thailand already! “Phewf!” That just flew by.  Time for Malaysia now for a little while.  Yes, it is a visa run I’m doing ostensibly BUT I might well be there for a while.  I await word from m’darling sister as to when she and her boyf may be able to fly over and join me for Thailand Phase 2.  Malaysia?  Malaysia?  This is the first country I’m travelling too (even more than when I pitched up in the Czech Republic) that I know zero about, and have prepared zero for.  Currency and conversion rates?  “No idea!”  Language(s)?  “Not the foggiest clue!”.
Lighthouse at port in Langkawi
 
History and politics? “I don’t know zip!”.  Geography and desirable destinations?  “I haven’t got a Scooby Doo!”.  Should be fun!

With all this in mind once our passports have been gathered up at the small immigration office at the eastern extremity of Pattaya beach and we’ve been Long Tailed to the Langkawi speedboat, I practically pounce on the ‘Lonely Planet Malaysia’ that the nice American lady (Dotty) is flicking through besides me.  Cue half an hour of desperately trying to get a mental image of Malaysia, its wonders and sights engrained upon my mind… I rapidly, rabidly scribble down notes on the geography, logistics and accommodation possibilities for Langkawi.
Langkawi port
  This is not easy whilst bumping up and down at a squillion knots and hour in a speedboat!  My notes from this journey are an uninterpretable mess of travel-hieroglyphics.  Dotty assures me that her and her pal, Tabatha are going in equally blind.  “Yey!”  As long as we’re clueless together I don’t feel so bad all of a sudden.

Once docked at one of Langkawi’s pier points, the boat load of us shuffle about on shore with undue nervousness.  Our passports bagged up in Ko Lipe and not yet returned, this is the longest I (or probably many of us) have been physically separated from this most sacred of travel documents so far in my journey.  You can have my credit cards, my money, my vaccination records… you can even have my last remaining clean pair of underpants, but woe betide you should you make a grab for my little burgundy-red proof-of-travel-life!!!

Dotty, Tabatha and I hail a taxi to get to Cenang Beach.
Cenang beach
  Located at the south westerly point of the island (I think?) this is the longest, apparently nicest and most populous beach available for tourist consumption.  A lot of the reputedly more picturesque beaches on the islands other flanks are privately owned by their appended high end, luxury hotel resorts.  Langkawi island is a number one holiday / honeymoon destination for the Malay populace as well as the hordes of foreigners who flock here year on year.

Our initial glimpses and feeling for the place are not good!  This is an understatement.  Cenang Beach (not yet seen) is backed onto by the parallel Cenang drag of of eeeeeendless westerner-targeted bars, eateries, shops and restaurants.  I mean, several kilometres of the stuff.
Cenang beach
  I don’t need much of a glance to sniff out that this is a Euro-Brit-Deutsch ex-pat Mecca.  “Yuuk!”  It’s about midday and hot as heck.  Heat radiates up at the three of us as we stagger along the dusty, tarmaced surfaces of the arterial seafront road.  Dazed by development, gasoline and shop front hoardings and no idea where to take ourselves.  The grey road is flanked on either side by wide pedestrian paved walkways but these are almost entirely undergoing a facelift at the moment meaning that the place, ugly enough in look and feel already is a mish-mash mess of piled building materials, discarded construction detritus and often plainly-left-open manholes… watch your step at night people!  Our hearts are sinking swiftly.
Cenang beach
  Dotty and I just about ready to (near literally) hail a taxi right back off the island were it possible!

Our initial enquiries in pursuit of affordable accommodation are dispiriting.  Can’t find anywhere for less than 80 - 100 Ringgit a night (£16 -20!).  Budget panic ahoy!!  Word on the street is that if you haven’t booked one of the budget options ahead of time, they may as well not exist.  With this in mind the girls head one way giving up on this possibility whilst I hold onto the dogged hope that someone might have “room for a little one” the other way; the cheaper end of the strip.  By an absolutely wallet-preserving stroke of luck, Gecko Guest House, despite its prominence within the Lonely Planet pages (usually a traveller curse; a guarantee of being fully booked) has one final dorm bed that I can squeeze into for 15 Ringgit (£1.
SUPER-SIZED jelly fish washed up on the shore... enter the water at your own risk! ;D
50) a night! “Pheeewie!”  Saved!

All that’s really left to do now is that favourite travel past time of relaxation.  Orientation first.  Food next.  A yummy pastrami stack sandwich and then a long, slow amble end to end and back again of the substantial stretch of Cenang Beach.  It’s a nice beach too.  Long and languorous.  Huge palm trees stand as if perfectly corralled, an endless straight-backed line of brown and green soldiers, well trained in the discipline of the perfect symmetry demanded of package holiday photographs.  People flop in hammocks and sit in deck chairs reading books.  Another day.  Another beach.  Topping up their tans and Martinis.  

The waters of the sea looks pleasant enough but I dunno, and am not inclined to get my head wet today.
  I feel tired from the trans-national movements of the day and am happy to walk once more with my bare toes trailing through the ends of waves.  Playing in the sand.  I gather little pretty shells from above the tide line.  There are many and of many varied, scalloped colours.  They all end up in my pocket, and will likely go no further until I either return them to the sands or leave them beached on some shelf or other of the hostel.  Walking along the shore several, sometimes very sizeable jellyfish have been washed up and beached.  Another reason I feel, to stay outta the waters today!  There are some real monsters in evidence!

The day is growing long, but the sun is unrelentingly hot.  At this time of day, any vestige of shadow and shade is chased by the angle of the sun way back off the beach to hide where it is of no use to me.
The regimented, pretty palm trees of Cenang beach.
  Most umbrellas and shaded seats here again the property of private resorts or bars that I’m not yet inclined to buy drinks from.  Nonetheless, I sit and read a while.

I place the shells I have collected at the waters edge back into the sands.  Their colours and my interest in them slightly faded now.  The sun is dipping.  Chilled out tunes are wavering out of the obligatory rasta-themed ‘Babylon Beach Bar’ behind me.  I resist the primal urge for a cool, cool sunset beer.  I watch people pass one way and another along sandy Cenang.  A small boy having gathered a green plastic bag up from the waves attempts to gather now within it as much of the ocean as its within the bags capacity to contain.  He runs up the beach, away from the waters edge, wishing desperately (I imagine) to show his mother the waters of the world he has captured and now proudly possesses.
  But these same waters leak out through a small hole he had not noticed in the bag as he runs.  Returning to the sands.  There is nothing left by the time he reaches Mom.  “She will never believe I possessed the ocean entire now!” he thinks and is disappointed in the belief it was once so in that way that only kids have the imagination to magically delude themselves.

A catamaran is de-masted by its crew.  I have fine sand all over me and everything here in my possession.  The sun continues to slide down.  Still resisting the call to sundown beer.  It’s a hard life trying to keep that budget under any semblance of control I tell ya!  I bury one of my wristbands - purchased from a street girl at sundown in Dahab, Egypt several months before - in the Cenang sands.
  Another little marker of my journey, my progress, discarded.  Left behind.  The chink of glasses and free and easy laughter somewhere abouts recalls to my mind a sentiment felt before, some long while ago in my travels.  Upon the ’Pont D’Art’ pedestrian bridge over the River Seine in Paris, also at sunset.  A sudden need for something familiar and simple, normally taken for granted to comfort me; someone beautiful and well treasured in my heart - family or friend - to be here and share this moment with me now.  Simple pleasures.  A bottle of red wine; good cheese; crackers; freshly baked French bread the perfect condiments for our happiness.  At the passing of this thought a promising sunset is swallowed early by a band of cloud sitting previously unseen above the horizon line.


… but it (the sun) reappears ten minutes later.  Turns out it had retired behind the curtain of cloud cover merely to more modestly change wardrobe for the remainder of the evening.  Pale buttercup yellow set aside in favour of a racier, burning neon orange number the colour that maybe my hair would match in brightness and hue were a million volts of electricity to run its course across my ginger scalp.  More silhouettes dance for my eyes along the shoreline.  I love this consequence of a sunset, or a dawn!  Peoples’ lives in little paper-cut, black silhouette moments of happiness.  A little paper-cut girl walks along the beach, stooping frequently to gather little paper-cut shells to show her paper-cut mother as they stroll along.  Plenty of young ladies in Hijabs have appeared for sunset and to remind me I have shifted through a cultural boundary once more in coming to Malaysia.
Dusted by the sands


The night is spent in the company of some nice guys ’n’ gals from England, Ireland, Wales and theres abouts… latterly, unfortunately involving too much beer, live football and conversation limited only to this latter subject.  This serves to remind me about several aspects of the often banal quality of (social) life at home that I’m happy enough to be far enough removed from to have begun to have forgotten for now… and I’d always rather end things on a sunset and paper-cut silhouettes than other more mundane thoughts.  So good night. 
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Speeeeeding from Ko Lipe to Langka…
Speeeeeding from Ko Lipe to Langk…
Lighthouse at port in Langkawi
Lighthouse at port in Langkawi
Langkawi port
Langkawi port
Cenang beach
Cenang beach
Cenang beach
Cenang beach
Cenang beach
Cenang beach
SUPER-SIZED jelly fish washed up o…
SUPER-SIZED jelly fish washed up …
The regimented, pretty palm trees …
The regimented, pretty palm trees…
Dusted by the sands
Dusted by the sands
Silhouettes at sunset
Silhouettes at sunset
Girl picks up shells for mother by…
Girl picks up shells for mother b…
Langkawi
photo by: Mezmerized