Malaysian flag on the beach
Yet another miracle happened in my life! I was ready to admit defeat to the bastard taxi drivers and negotiate a rip off fee as needed to get to airport for my flight out of KL, I had my *well overpacked* backpack, and it was ridiculously hot and sweaty. First taxi i approach ‘how much to KL Sentral station please?’ Driver looked up from reading his paper and asked ‘do you want me to use meter?’ YESSSSSSSSSS RESULT and my faith partially restored, not all taxi drivers in Malaysia are rip-off merchants. Then we had a really interesting chat about how developers in the city are building apartments below landslide risks and he didn’t even ask me once if I was married. I gave him a tip and shook his hand.
One hour flight to Langkawi
, cost me about £10 (including all taxes) with Airasia.
Suspension bridge in the clouds
I arrived in what looked from the air like paradise. Langkawi consists of about 100 tropical islands in Malaysia, practically on the border with Thailand. Only 2 of these islands, I think, are actually inhabited. You can basically charter a boat or kayak yourself out to your own idyllic island if you wish. The main island however is pretty well developed, there are a number of small towns and tourist resorts dotted about. The island has a very green, lush, hilly interior dotted with rice fields, sloping down to pretty white sandy beaches. I stayed for 4 nights near the main tourist beach as it was cheaper and had my own fan bungalow, with own bathroom, no hot water. It was an amazingly chilled out place to stay, hidden away from tourist zone with beautiful views of the countryside, but still with easy access to beach.
YAAAAAAAY..... The clouds GTF out the way
There seemed to be quite a few long term residents and they all looked quite spaced out, couldn’t work out if it was something they had taken or it was just the ambience of the place! My neighbour looked like an aged Jim Morrisson with a mullet, with saucer eyes and a habit of wearing short sarongs and bending down a lot eugggghhh!! I think he was a nice guy though, couldn’t understand what he was saying most of the time!
Managed to get online, and one of the first things I see in my Twitter feed ‘ALL FLIGHTS INTO AND OUT OF UK SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO VOLCANIC ASHES IN THE ATMOSPHERE FROM ICELAND’. Well you know this gave me goosebumps WTFFFFFF woahhhh! So OK, I plan this big adventure for years, well most of my life actually.
Suspension bridge from above
Less than 2 weeks before I leave I have the car crash but miraculously am OK to travel, game on. So i leave on a flight from UK just TWO DAYS before the biggest cancellation of UK flights in aviation history (or something!) I feel someone is looking out for me, rooting for me, smiling down on me. I do not have specific religious beliefs, but do believe that things like this usually happen for a reason. It’s actually starting to freak me out...
Langkawi, nice nice place, felt extremely safe, pretty beach, amazing sunsets, cheap food, live reggae on the beach in the evenings, nowhere near as busy as i had expected. I really felt they could make more of this place with a few tweaks. The main island appears quite geared up for tourism with decent roads, eateries, places to stay for all budgets.
Another Langkawi sunset
The thing I do not get is that there is no public transport! Crazy. To get anywhere you either have to hire a car/bike, charter an expensive boat or, my favourite option as you know, get completely fleeced by a taxi driver. No cheap buses or taxi boats to speak of. So it is expensive and inconvenient to get around. If I was with someone else i would have hired a car but instead i bit the bullet and got a taxi halfway across the island to the Langkawi cable car for views across the islands and into Thailand.
It turns out that the Langkawi cable car had been closed for maintenance for the past 2 weeks and the day I decide to go was the first day of being re-opened. Lucky I guess that it was actually open but very unlucky that half the population of Malaysia are also there the same day, having had to put off their visits.
Pregnant Maiden Island
Bloody HUGE queues, ended up queuing for 1.5 hours actually in the heat but I had evil thoughts, haha the taxi driver is waiting for me all this time like we agreed, take that taxi driver karma, tough luck mate. Found another bonus to travelling alone was that i got to skip some of the queue as they could fit me in where there was only 1 space left in a cable car result!
I really wouldn’t take this ride if you don’t like heights as it is quite a bumpy ride and takes you rapidly up over 700 metres over tropical forests and up through the clouds. Yes unfortunately CLOUDS!!! From the first platform could see sweet FA other than a few rocks, a suspension bridge and clouds. They were nice and cooling though, felt like having the aircon on, but NO VIEW! I was starting to think I had wasted quite a bit of time for nothing then, without warning, the clouds very suddenly cleared and my breath was taken with it, what a view Had some laughs with a Malaysian family on the way down, one of the ladies was absolutely petrified of heights and kept SCREAMING whenever there was a jolt.
One of the many islands of Langkawi
I was crying with laughter, and again feeling lucky to be here doing this and to have seen that view when i had just given up hope! And the taxi driver....... well I flashed a big smile, complained to him about the queues and he was fine with me, even stopped for me to take some photos on the way back! Haha
Next I took a boat to explore some of the surrounding islands. Really enjoyed this, gorgeous scenery and I managed to scare a couple of Polish lads as a bonus! We were visiting ‘Pregnant maiden lake’ on one of the islands called ‘Pregnant Maiden Island’ because the hills look like......guess what? well look at my photos!! I had been speaking with these couple of Polish lads who were taking a cheeky day out of their business trip and asked if they were going to to go for a swim in the lake.
The locals that had me crying (with laughter)!
I had just been telling them about all the weird things that had happened to me recently so when they said neither of them could swim (!) I replied ‘well i had better not either as knowing the way things are going I might get pregnant or something!’ They looked at me with complete shock so I am assuming this was lost in translation thinking that i might get pregnant if i went swimming with them!!!! Ooops
Back to bungalow, sat chatting for the evening with an interesting French guy who had decided to live on his boat around Malaysia. He was staying at the bungalow while he was getting his boat ready. He had already been living there for a year and was as laid back as they come. I still haven’t really spoken much to other travellers, most here are on short-term vacation anyhow, but for the time being have been really happily meeting locals and ex-pats.
Cruising around Langkawi
Next destination Thailand, for a couple of weeks island hopping. I will just catch the end of the high season before many of the ferries around South Thailand stop for wet season.