I’ve been talking a lot about Langkawi but I haven’t really explained where Langkawi is :p
(By the way, loads of pictures in this post. So if you’re on a slow connection … grab a cup of tea while waiting)
Langkawi is an island on the North-West side of Malaysia, part of the state of Kedah, almost reaching Thailand. It is surrounded by about 99 smaller islands. The name Lang means Hawk in Malay while Kawi is a reddish brown colour. Which is why the hawk is the mascot for this island.
There is a legend here where it was said that on this beautiful island, lived a beautiful girl called Mahsuri. She was so beautiful that the Village Chief’s wife got jealous and spread a rumour that Mahsuri was unfaithful to her husband and having an affair with another man.
Eventually, the rumours grew so strong that villagers openly accused her and she was condemned to death. And she cursed the island to have bad luck for 7 generations.
In any case, more about that later in this blog post and for now here are some of the places that we visited in our 3 day stay there :
Located in Kuah, this eagle man made statue is huge at 12 meters tall. And from here, you could see pretty sceneries of the many islands in front of you. Interestingly, if you check from google maps, this place has a star shape from the top.
We would have explored more places, but we couldn’t visit anything more though, as it rained rather heavily after that. Bah!
Early next morning, we headed to one of the quays in Persiaran Putera to go boating! We explored 3 different islands in Langkawi. And I was so very excited.
In case you were wondering, our private boat with a driver goes for $250 RM while it would be $30 RM per person if you were going by yourself (but you’d have to wait for at least another 9 more people to fill the boat up)
In any case, we were lucky that we had a pretty good day and we crossed our fingers that we don’t get caught in the rain while we were out (perhaps we could try this superstition of skewing an onion an chilli on a stick to ward off bad weather the next time :p)
Nevertheless, it was very relaxing, just to see the water and the islands (to me, it looked like a Microsoft Powerpoint Template … hahaha) and going up and down the waves. For some, it could be a little puke-conducive. But I like it.
Pulau Beras Basah
This was the first island we stopped at. By the way, Pulau means Island and Beras Basah means Wet Rice. This island is probably named that way because somewhere during the 14th century, with the prospect of Siam attacking this island, the islanders would rather throw the rice in the sea rather than having the enemies steal them (I could be wrong though)
Nevertheless, this island is so beautiful. Oh if only you could walk here. It’s like walking on soft powdery, lightest of brown sands, with the clear sea next to you. It’s not as transparent as the water in Capri, but its probably the next best thing for someone who can’t travel all the way to Italy
Check out how clear the water is from the jetty. You could see the fishes … and the bottom!
Little clams growing at the edge of the jetty. I’m having very vague memories of scraping them off the boat that my grandparents used to have while they were living in Pulau Tekong.
The “No Toilet here” is amusing. Especially with the 5 exclamation marks. There were at least 3 of the signs while we were exploring. I get it! I get it!
Camwhoring as usual. Hur hur hur.
It’s so lovely here, that I kicked myself for not bringing an extra set of clothes with me. My dad on the other hand just jumped into the water and swam happily about. He didn’t even had any other clothes with him! I should have followed his style.
This is such a gorgeous place. That I felt a little sorry that we had to leave it.
Our next island stop! Translated, Pulau Singa means Lion Island (Perhaps there used to be a lot of lions here?) And here is where a lot of boats stop by to feed the hawks with chicken parts and tourists could see the hawks up close if they are lucky.
To be honest, I am not sure if I support this activity so much, because feeding wild animals will only make them dependant on humans. Like the cats in Rome for example, they are fed so much that they don’t even catch mice anymore! (Plus the mice grow fat from the leftover cat food. Yikes!)
But ecotourism is a catch 22 situation. You know, tourists bring in income and create jobs, but destroy the ecology.
In any case, I didn’t really take much pictures as I don’t have one of those super high tech camera. So here is a video instead.
Just realised while editing the video, my mum was singing Sharifah Aini’s Terbang Helang (Eagle, Fly) Hahaha! She’s really feeling it, huh? It’s a very pretty song by the way
(And now I’m having an earworm while editing this post)
Pulau Dayang Bunting
Can you see the figure of a pregnant woman lying down in the picture below? Well, Pulau Dayang Bunting, means Pregnant Maiden Island when translated.
There is a legend that there was a bunian (I suppose its a sort of Asian Fairy?!) who fell in love with a human. She was about to give birth, but the baby didn’t make it shortly after it’s birth. She decided to bury her baby in the lake there.
It’s been said that if you drink the water (or bathe) from this lake, your wishes will come true. I am very sceptical of this, although I had a number of relatives telling me that they got pregnant soon after visiting this place, or their illnesses went away …
Getting here, you will be greeted by loads of monkeys. You should be careful at this point of time, because these monkeys aren’t scared! They will just grab anything that attracts them. One tried to steal my water bottle, but luckily my hands were latched to it.
At one point there was a monkey that grabbed and ran away with a woman’s bikini. I have no idea why!
I don’t like monkeys.
There are also mudskippers here. Those are quite interesting to see.
Getting to the lake is quite perilous as there is a very steep decline and I don’t recommend anyone wearing heels, not even a little bit! My mum slipped and hurt her ankle while we were about to leave, but luckily there was a hospital in the mainland and we were relieved that she didn’t get any fractures or anything serious.
And here is the lake! A freshwater lake, where there is no hint of salt, even though we were so close to the sea.
You could go boating here if you like, although we were all content at just dipping our feet in the lake. My dad on the other hand, jumped in the water and went swimming! And he looked so happy at doing that too!
Remember the legend about those who drink the water here, will get their wishes come true? Well, I got a water bottle and filled it up. It’s now left in Singapore though! Aww!
In any case, I did drink some (my brother Haikal was cringing though, “Why are you drinking water with a dead baby in it?”) just to satisfy my cynical mind. In case you were curious, I just wished for something generic – Happiness, Riches and Health.
All in all, I had a very pleasant day and if you are in Langkawi, I highly recommend going island hopping.
The next day (our last full day), we got up early to head to the other side of the island (Datai bay area) so that we could get on the cable car.
Driving through the roads, you will be greeted by scenes like these :
Loads and loads of water buffaloes
And rice paddy fields. We were lucky that we managed to see one harvesting rice that day.
In any case, to get to the cable car, you’d have to pass through an area called the Oriental Village. It’s a pretty place, just rather manufactured looking and touristy. But there are loads of picture ops that you could do here. Like how the village looked like with the hills behind
We noticed something interesting by the way … a rabbit petting area, which I guess is great for kids. What amused me a lot was that big pot at the side. Is it for cooking the bunnies?! Oh my!
One big tip while going here is to always carry cash with you. While they do have a credit card machine, it wasn’t functioning that day which frustrated Cart and I a lot.
The cable car appears to be a very popular spot, and the day we were there, we had to wait for a while just to buy the tickets and then a very long time queuing up for getting on the cable car itself. Urgh.
But as soon as you reach the top of the line, you’d see these placements on the ground where you were supposed to stand at. It was cute to see the row march forward one by one.
But at length, we were off!
And going up, you should be able to see a few of the 7 Well waterfalls along the way.
By the way, the cable car ride is very high! It’s the highest one that I’ve experienced to date! Even higher than the one in Capri. (Although the one in Capri would technically be a chair lift instead of a Cable Car)
I don’t recommend it to anyone who is afraid of heights. From the highest point of the cable car to the bottom is a good 700m. Almost a 1km drop!
This dude isn’t scared though. He’s chilling in his personal cabin (with no glass) like nothing.
From the top here, you should be able to see a panoramic view of the island with Thailand in the background.
Unfortunately for us though, it was a rather hazy day and we could hardly see anything. Oh well!
Nevertheless, the air was slightly fresher and cooler up here.
(Another Microsoft Powerpoint Template)
After spending some time here, it was time to go to our final stop of the day
(As a sidenote, what do you think of different pricing for locals and tourists? A lot of the monuments have special pricing for locals)
Our last stop in Langkawi is the Mahsuri Tomb. While Tripadvisor doesn’t seem to give it a high rating, I think that it’s an interesting place to go to anyway.
Remember the legend about Mahsuri? It’s been said that when she was struck by a kris, while blood poured out and birds flew to cover her body (Odd legend, but who am I to judge?)
In any case, as soon as you enter the building, you’d be greeted with a group of girls playing the gamelan :
(I’m really happy that my friend Mus showed me how to play one by the way, it’s a very cool instrument)
And then followed by a diorama, one of them being the condemnation scene.
And then there is the tomb itself, where she was buried.
Luckily, that wasn’t the only things to be seen (It would’t be worth paying $10 RM if that were so) There was also some traditional Malay village recreates here.
Like this platform, which was where people sat and chit chatted.
(By the way, I’m kind of iffy about the use of “Buka Kasut” Personally, I don’t think that’s right and “tanggal kasut” should be used instead)
Congkak! I really enjoyed playing this when I was a kid! It’s pretty easy to play. There are 14 small holes and two big houses. You put in 7 marbles in each small holes. And two players play simultaneously. Picking up the content of one small hole and putting a marble clockwise. The player with the most marbles in their house wins (It sounds complicated, but is really easy when you play)
And here is another place where villagers hang out
And here is a random picture of my dad playing on the swing
There is also a re-creation of the house where the chief, the general and regular villagers lived and this is where you could see how life was like then. I quite like it.
Unfortunately, a lot of the houses were closed to public. But there was still a few where we could go in and explore. Going around, it feels so secondlife-y! Haha
There are a couple of instruments for farming, which I am not too familiar with. But I’m sure that they have something to do with rice since there are a lot of rice fields in the area.
There was a house which was reportedly belonging to Mahsuri herself.
You could see that it’s very spartan in here.
This was her bed
This was her mekap table
This was the entrance to her kitchen
By the way, Langkawi, being on a tropical area is a hot and humid island. There were times when we felt quite uncomfortably sticky on the island. But believe it or not, it was very cooling in the houses.
This would be from all the ventilation in there, from the holes all around the house which is a great form of engineering considering the lack of technology during the time.
No need for aircon! Or fans for that matter!
I don’t mind living in a house like this (just as long as there is wifi inside)
(This happy little girl kept running in my shots and photo-bombing me, so I’m putting her in my blog. Hehehe)
Oh! Before I forget, this was the well where Mahsuri bathed in, which was said to give her her beauty and radiance. My sister and I immediately washed our faces when we read that. Hahahaha!
There was even a counter nearby where you could buy a bottle of the well water (a clean and treated version)
(Ohai! I am Steve Urkel the snake. Uhyuk!)
Oh wait, now this is our real last stop for the day. A night market! You could find a lot of things here and it’s a feast for the eyes, seeing all the colourful wares. We were full from our dinner, but it was still nice to just walk around and burn off some fats.
The one that we went to was located in Kuah and it operates once a week. There are other night markets in other areas in Langkawi and you might want to check with a map that you could get at the airport.
You could get loads of things here ranging from clothes, to toys, to food. Like corn drinks (Which I doubt is popular outside of Asia)
Apam balik which is a type of peanut (not peanut butter) pancake
Fresh seafood?! That’s something new, even for me!
This scene is amusing. Instead of fanning the satays, they used an electric fan instead. Man, I would have gone for some nice satay if we weren’t stuffed.
And that was some of the places that we’ve seen and experienced in Langkawi. If I could turn back time, I wish that we could have done it differently so that we could have visited and done more things. Nevertheless, I had a very enjoyable time in this beautiful island and will always have fond memories of it
(Freaking heck, almost 3k words in this post? Okbai)