Pulau Langkawi 1-4 March 2008
The ferry out to Langkawi took approx 3 hours, and as soon as we arrived we could see we were in resort territory …very commercial with lots of shops at the waterfront as well as the kitsch giant sea eagle perched at the entrance to the harbor.
Langkawi is about the same size as Singapore, and a scenic island consisting of jungle clad hills leading to beaches. It has been the strong focus of government development as a tourist attraction and there are a few luxury resorts around. The island is also duty free so is a bit of a shopping haven. Alcohol is ridiculously cheap approx 40 cents $Aus for a beer so it is a bit of a party island too.
We stayed in Pantai Cenang in the SW of the island which is a long beach strip with a major concentration of restaurants and where the cheaper accommodation is to be found (though still pretty pricey for food/accommodation c/f Penang…have to have beer for tea!) We had a couple of days relaxing, and hired a car from our guesthouse (a bit clapped out ..no suspension and the windows were stuck but v cheap!) and did the rounds of the island.
A lot of the attractions are a bit manufactured for our taste eg) the delightful largest manmade waterfalls in Malaysia. This was built by the Malaysian Prime Minister who is very fond of Langkawi having spent a lot of time there prior to entering parliament, and is built out of concrete, now a bit worse for wear with holes in it. Our photos of this didn't come out well, but you're not missing much!
We saw the fields of burnt rice, where allegedly villagers once set fire to their rice in order to stop it falling into the hands of the Siamese invaders, and burnt rice grains can be seen to this day after heavy rain. We drove up to Tanjung Rhu in the far north of the island where we had a delicious seafood lunch overlooking the water and up to the top of Gunung Raya the tallest mountain on the island at 1300 metres above sea level. All in all a nice break, but to be honest not really our sort of place. We were going to go on the cable cars but visibility was very poor that day, as it was really hazy so we didn't bother. Langkawi is no doubt a great destination if you can afford one of the 5 star places and like resorts. Definitely some money here and Andrew enjoyed seeing the marina, chock a block with luxury yachts. We thought we had seen far better beaches on our travels and the extensive building everywhere was a bit excessive especially as the hotels /resorts/shops all seemed to be half empty. I guess it really fills up in the busy season.
The sea wasn’t all that tempting as we got bitten by some sort of sea lice which were very itchy. We upgraded for one night to a mid-range hotel which was a bit out of town but had the plus point of a great pool so that was a bit of luxury, and we topped up the tans prior to heading back to Penang. We had lunch there which was an experience. We ordered chicken burgers and having waited almost an hour (we were the only ones in the restaurant) they finally arrived. We were starving and just about to tuck in when the waitress leant forward and advised us to be careful, as she had thought the chicken was off, though the chef disagreed and insisted on cooking it anyway!! Somehow we couldn’t fancy it after that! Bet that doesn’t happen at the 5 star places!
Anyway, back on the ferry again, the car should now be sitting in Georgetown so off to do battle with customs and hopefully we’ll be on the road soon -6 weeks 4 days and counting since we saw the car!!
UDATE 5 MARCH 2008 - WHOOPPEE!!!! The car has finally arrived our shipping agent did a great job this end and we were straight through the formalities. We had been starting to think it'd never happen! Finally off again ..next stop Malacca.