Sunday was a travelling day to the island of Langkawi. We had our hearty breakfast and then hit the road, back through the outskirts of Georgetown, over the bridge onto the mainland, and a two hour drive north to the ferry. Once again, we loved driving through Malaysia and seeing the lush landscape and rice paddies. We parked the car as there are no car ferries from the mainland to Langkawi and we had to leave it behind. We got the 10.45am ferry, which took about 1.5 hours and included a scary spider movie being played on the plasma, before we saw the huge eagle statue that welcomes everyone arriving by boat to Langkawi. The ferry port was like an airport terminal so we made our way through the shops, restaurants etc to the taxi rank and got a taxi to our hotel. We didn’t like not having the car because we felt like we wouldn’t see as much of the island as we wanted to. On the drive to the hotel we observed that Langkawi is nowhere near as developed as Penang but is much more naturally impressive.
Upon arrival, the hotel was pretty standard and we were slightly concerned about the location because there didn’t seem to be anything around us at all, with the exception of the airport next door. The view from our room was overlooking the pool, the control tower, and the runway! We were hungry when we arrived (about 2pm) and without any other immediate options we ate lunch in the hotel. Over lunch we exchanged looks that said we weren’t entirely sure we had made the right decision. We had asked at the Holiday Inn, Penang if they had any rooms available for two extra nights so we could have stayed there but unfortunately they were fully booked. At that point, we felt like we had spent a lot of money (petrol, tolls, ferry, tax) and taken a lot of time to arrive somewhere that we didn’t have easy access around (no car), we were not within walking distant of anything and the hotel pool was manky!
We had been told that there was a shuttle to a sister hotel nearby, which had a pool and a beach. After mum noticed a thin layer of grossness over the pool, we thought we might as well go because if worst came to worst we could go in the sea. So after lunch (which was actually very tasty) we got changed into our swimmers and waited for the shuttle. It was another Intercontinental to Petronas Towers scenario as we arrived 5 minutes later at the Four Points by Sheraton, Langkawi. Oh my… We walked into a modern reception and were greeted very warmly by the receptionist. We then walked out to the most stunning infinity pool and beautiful beach. We couldn’t believe our luck (and our instant mood change). I gave mum a high five.
We enjoyed a perfect afternoon walking on the beach and chilling by the pool. I don’t have enough praise for this pool, it was just huge and beautiful and infinite! Everything about it was heaven. At about 6pm it started to spit so we called our hotel for the shuttle but suffice it to say they don’t know how to be accommodating so we walked back and it only took us 15 minutes (and the rain held off until we were back). We then showered, got changed and went down to the hotel restaurant for dinner (another good meal). As we were drifting off to sleep (granted it was still relatively early at 9.30pm) we suddenly heard someone practicing what sounded like a wooden flute! We couldn’t believe it, the hotel was massive with 6 floors and two wings and we were next door to the flute player!
Yesterday morning we got up quite early and went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Before coming to Langkawi we decided that we wanted to go to the Langkawi cable car. There aren’t many activities on the island: a visit to the field of burnt rice (exactly as it sounds as we found out when mum asked and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when the lady started with ‘well, you know rice…’), hot springs (which are closed for renovation), a visit to the tomb of someone I don’t know, a waterfall, a prawn farm… and that’s about it. So the cable car it was! We had enquired at the tour desk at our hotel who gave us a ridiculous price to take us to the cable car so we chose to get our own taxi.
After breakfast, we walked to the Four Points as there are always taxis in their car park and got a left to the cable car. On the drive there we made a number of observations:
1) Langkawi is stunning. We passed a wonderfully rugged landscape, lush tropical rainforest, a beautifully quaint harbour and shopping quay and observed rural Langkawian life. We really liked the fact that it was not built up at all.
2) It is a ‘resort island’. All the resorts we passed were not near anything so we assume most people come to spend time around a pool. We suddenly didn’t feel so ‘left out’ being based at our hotel.
3) We would both love to come back to Langkawi with a car and have the freedom to explore the island as we please because even on the short 25 minute drive to the cable car, we saw a lot of variety and beauty.
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the cable car to find that there was in fact an entire ‘Oriental Village’ at the bottom with shops, restaurants, cafes, a lake, elephant rides (boo), horse and cart rides, a duck tour… All based in a beautiful setting with the mountains in the background. The whole area was extremely well landscaped and kept with bridges and ponds and soothing music. We got there at about 9.20am so none of the shops were open and there were hardly any people around, which was perfect for us.
At 9.50am we joined the queue for the cable car (it opened at 10am) and once we had purchased our tickets we were off. It didn’t take us and our four fellow passengers long to realise that a cable car isn’t the best idea for someone with vertigo… Mama wasn’t a happy bunny going up! It took about 15 minutes to climb our way up to the top, suspended in a car over a pretty terrifying drop. I was able to observe the views, intermittently reminding mum to breathe. Although I’m not afraid of heights, for some reason because mum was panicking I started to get a little bit nervous, but obviously I couldn’t say anything because I had to be reassuring. I was glad to get to the top, but mum was ecstatic to be on some sort of solid ground again… Even though at the first stop we were over 650m above sea level!
The views were incredible. Langkawi is a real untouched beauty. We then went up to the other stop, which is 700m above sea level and has a number of viewing decks. We could see the mountains, the sea, beaches, the harbour and the ‘Oriental Village’. We were impressed! Finally we went out on a suspension bridge so that we could see some more views. This was another test for mama but she did very well. After an hour of viewing the amazing scenery we got the cable car back. Mum was much more relaxed going down (the thought of going back to real solid ground!) and was able to look out of the car. We saw the waterfall too, which was a bonus.
After a traditional Malaysian lunch (noodle based of course) we got a taxi back to Four Points and spent another perfect afternoon by the pool and beach. In the evening we once again had a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant. There was a storm in the evening and right on cue at 9.30pm-ish the flute player started up again and gave me a mega fit of giggles. We tried to go with the music but then the player would hit a bum note and I would giggle all over again.
After a rocky start, we are SO happy that we did make it to Langkawi. It was definitely worth it. As I have already mentioned we would have loved to have the car so we could explore the landscape and beaches more. Nothing is accessible safely by foot as there are no pavements and the cars drive really fast but we are very happy with what we were able to do in the 42 hours that we had on this incredible island.