06.12.2011 - 10.12.2011
After two and a half hours on a small ferry from Georgetown in Penang across the Straits of Melaka, we arrived at the 99 islands that make up Langkawi. The water was emerald green and the sun was shining down as we sat out on the deck holding onto our hats. Approaching the main island we floated past lots of smaller islands, it was truly magical. We recalled what we had read about this being the place that pirates used to hang out, how exciting!
We had really been looking forward to our visit to Langkawi as this was one place we had considered when picking our honeymoon destination (but Sicily won in the end, you can’t beat Italian food!) We already had an image of the long stretches of soft white sandy beaches sketched in our minds. Plus, after the recent travelling and exploring of cities we were more than ready for a good beach break to recharge our batteries. With crazy Bangkok coming next on the itinerary we were keen to make the most of this opportunity to relax.
We arrived at the island’s main town, Kuah, and agreed to share a car to the beach area with Jaap and Esmeralda. We had met this Dutch couple a while back in Kuala Selangor and had been to see the fireflies with them, we were all pleased to meet again on the deck of the ferry. We have got quite used to bumping into people that we met in the last city/country; it can be nice seeing people you recognise sometimes. We do miss Sri Lanka though as there weren’t so many other backpackers around!
We arrived at Cenang beach at around lunch time and it was scorching hot. We checked into our hostel which we had pre-booked. At the time of our visit there was an international air show taking place and we had been warned that it would be very difficult to find somewhere to stay on the island. We felt lucky to have secured a room and even to have our own bathroom after sharing in hostels for quite a while.
As soon as physically possible we made our way to the beach, we just couldn’t wait to see where we would be spending the next few days. Plus we were really hungry, having had breakfast at 6.30 that morning. We found the beautiful beach to be almost empty along the entire 2km stretch; everyone was off having a siesta, what a treat! We picked a chilled-out shack on the beach and settled down for a delicious lunch with our feet in the hot white sand, watching the waves crashing in and admiring the other islands of the archipelago dotted across the horizon. Maybe we could stay here for the next few months and just not tell anyone…….
For the few days that we were on Langkawi we spent almost all of our time on the beach trying not to do too much. We had plenty to keep us occupied – we did lots of reading, plenty of sleeping and filled in the gaps with drinking from coconuts, collecting beautiful seashells and going for a swim. The long beach never got very busy, apart from later in the day when lots of the local families would arrive to splash in the water and watch the sun setting.
One morning we booked onto an ‘island hopping’ trip where we were taken by speedboat to some of the other islands of Langkawi. We visited the island of the pregnant maiden, so named because of the shape of the mountain top, a remote beach on an undeveloped island, and to a small bay where eagles swoop to feed, it was amazing. The highlight of the trip, though, was the boat ride itself. The boat zipped across the water between the islands soooo fast that it was bouncing up and then crashing back down and smacking back into the water. If our adrenaline wasn’t pumping so much it may have actually hurt! Soph had been expecting a slow paced cruise between the islands and even had her camera out ready. We luckily put it away as we set off, just before we got sprayed by the waves and completely soaked through! It was a great trip and it’s a very beautiful part of the world, with the large rocky islands, covered with trees, jutting out of the water, a real tropical paradise.
We also went for a long walk in the interior of the island, away from the beaches and explored the small villages where the Langkawi folk live. It was quite peaceful and they seemed to be rather well off compared to other areas we have visited.
In the evenings we tried out the different restaurants, there were lots to choose from in the little town behind the beach. One night we had a fantastic meal of grilled red snapper that had been caught fresh that day. It was delicious, although we had underestimated quite how much the cost per 100g could quickly amount to when we selected the fish from the ice. The bill was quite a surprise for our backpacker budget (oops!) but still a bargain compared to UK prices.
We finished every lazy day with a lazier evening at Babylon beach bar sitting on the sand with candle light, listening to the sea in the darkness and chilling to the sound of a live reggae band. The lead singer had dreadlocks down to his ankles, the haze of the sheesha pipes clouded the air and we wished our time on Langkawi would never end…..