1 week in Langkawi
We realised that since the trek we had spent most of our time in cities and we were longing to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle. A bit of beach time was what was required and Langkawi was happy to oblige!
Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, off the coast of northern Malaysia on the border with Thailand. The name Langkawi roughly means the island of the reddish brown eagle in Malay.
Langkawi is now a major tourist destination, popular with Malaysian and Indian tourists in particular, with a fair share of tourists from further flung Asian countries and more international visitors (such as ourselves!)
One of its major draws (besides beautiful beaches) is its tax free status. A stark contrast to the predominantly Muslim mainland, where alcohol in particular is heavily taxed and very expensive.
We spent our days mainly eating, drinking, lying around on various local beaches and swimming. For the first time on the trip it really felt like we were on holiday!
Our most nearby beaches were Pantai Tengah and the southern part of Cenang Beach.
A slightly further walk away (about 15-20 minutes) was the main stretch of Cenang Beach. This is the main tourist destination on the island. With its epic stretch of white sand, huge crowds, beach bars and duty free malls you can see why.
Despite all the lazing around on the beautiful local beaches we did manage to drag ourselves away to take a few excursions around the island as well.
Excursion 1: Cable Car and Sky Bridge
It advertises itself as the steepest cable car in the world (!) which goes up 708m to Langkawi’s second tallest mountain (Mount Machinchang). As you can see, we really felt like we were going up into the clouds….
I was most excited by what was at the top of the cable car – the Sky Bridge! It is the longest free span and curved bridge in the world and it pretty impressive as it is strung up between to mountain peaks with amazing views across both sides of the Island. My obsession with bridges continues.
However, in the space of time it took us to walk down to it a torrential rain storm engulfed the whole bridge. We were the last people allowed on, which meant we had a fairly unique and entirely private bridge experience – despite not being able to see more than a few metres in front of us! The attendant ushered us down a roped off section at the end of the bridge where we cowered like trolls waiting for the rain to subside!
Excursion 2: Island Hopping Tour
A day or two later we decided to explore some of the surrounding islands and went on a ‘island hopping tour’. We were joined by a group of young Malaysian girls and a couple who live in Kuala Lumpur and were visiting the Island to celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary. There were lots of selfies involved with both groups!
The first stop was Dayang Bunting (meaning ‘Pregnant Maiden’). The landscape below is supposed to resemble a pregnant woman. The story goes that the maiden’s son died soon after birth and she left him to rest in the lake (nice!) – now the islanders believe that that the lake promotes fertility in all that swim in it. Safe to say Ryan and I were reluctant….
None the less we visited and had a look around. The lake was beautiful and it was too tempting not to swim. Ryan even engaged in a fish pedicure thanks to the local catfish (you can see people queuing up for the privilege in the bottom left picture below!)
The next stop was Pulau Singha Besar island. This island is frequented by the eagles (which give Langkawi its name). We stopped briefly to watch them feed.
The tour finished at Pulau Beras Basar – a beautiful Island with a stunning beach. We took our snorkel and masks, but the visibility was not that great and we just had a nice swim instead!
Excursion 3: Cycling Across the Island
Having felt inspired by the Langkawi Ironman race the day before (!), we thought a bit of exercise was in order. We started by thinking we would just potter inland around our local area to see some local life and beautiful paddy fields. However, this quickly escalated and we thought it was a good idea to cycle diagonally across Langkawi to Tanjung Rhu (28km).
This turned out to be a little too ambitious!
About half way there, in the centre of the Island we stumbled across an amazing Nasi Campur buffet. We noticed it because of the huge crowds of locals there and the amazing smells! We just couldn’t resist. Afterwards we fund out that this place is particularly famous and is a bit of a hot spot for Malaysians. A good find.
I still have no idea what was the vegetable or flower in my curry was (bottom right, next to my fish). It looked like artichoke – but wasn’t – it was certainly delicious! Any ideas?
A large meal mid cycle was probably not the best idea and we continued the long cycle to Tanjung Rhu beach. We arrived just in time to rehydrate and have a quick swim on the beautiful and uncrowded beach before a massive thunder storm rolled in! The thunder was deafening and the winds whipped up the fine white sand on the beach – it was time to find al alternative way back!
We managed to find someone who could call us a minivan to take us and the bikes back across the island (cheats!)
Langkawi was definitely a restful and fun break. We really felt like we were on holiday! Langkawi is a crazy island, with a very touristy feel. I think we would both say that we were very happy we went but wouldn’t necessarily be in a rush to go back again!
Next stop Bangkok!