Wonderful Langkawi, sweet!

Trip Start Mar 11, 2006
Trip End Apr 18, 2006

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Sunday, March 19, 2006

Caught the second the two ferries from Penang to Langkawi. It took 2.5 hours to get here but was a quiet trip with views of the Malaysian coastline. It's a little remote here which is cool because there's not too many tourists around. I believe it is the shoulder/off season and the schools here have just gone back. We are staying in quite a nice resort on the beach for RM80 (NZ$37) per night and we're here for 3 nights. We also rented a car to get around the island, isn't very flash but works OK and was only RM150 (NZ$65) for 3 days so a bargain too. The car rental place had no office just a few plastic tables and chairs set up in a carpark. It's not dodgy though - they had a proper contract thing to sign - it's just the way things are here. We've already driven to the beach we are staying and then to the ATM at the airport (as it was the closest). The beach here is wonderful, white sand, calm water, island out to sea and mountains in the backgroud. I rented a jetski, a large 700cc one for RM100 (NZ$45) and got about a half hour of great fun. Pretty cheap for the jetski, usually at least double that in NZ. Couldn't convince Trudie to ride with me but maybe tomorrow. We've had a spell lying on the beach and went for a swim in the warm water (about 26-29'C I think). Downside is there seems to be a few small jellyfish and we got some stings, they are not harmful and about 15 minutes later they don't hurt and the marks are gone. The stings are only just noticible.

Ended up having a few beers at an Irish pub (not really too Irish). Nice little place, all outdoors with sticks for walls but iron on the roof. Beer is cold and staff very friendly,wee come back. Had a meal at a Chinese place - Trudie has spag bol and they killed it, Trudie wasn't happy. I had oyster hot platter and it was below average. Wouldn't go back.

Quite a few Muslems here (we call then Mussies for short). Some of them cover up completely, even down the beach! There seems to be varying degrees also, some are completely dressed in black with faces covered while others wear floral dresses and white hoods. I'm not sure why they differ, perhaps different temples require different standards?

We went to the Gondola (longest cable car cable in the world) today, and the creepy high bridge above the bush. The cable car was quite high and a little scary. It goes up over 600m and takes about 30mins total. Cost is RM15 per adult, so not too bad. The suspension bridge is at the top and provides views out the opposing side of the island. At the top of the cable car you can see one whole Northern side of the island, though with rising mist (after the rain I assume) it was a bit cloudy looking. After visiting the cable car took a drive to the Jetty (or Jeti in Malay), checked out the tickets for the ferry to Satun (Malaysian/Thai border). Only RM25 each, we reserved tickets. Also looked into buses from Satun to Krabi, was RM110 for prebooked trip Langkawi-Krabi so gave that a miss in favour of sorting the bus once we got to Satun. Called into the mall next, I grabbed 2 pairs of Abercrombie and Fitch shorts for RM49 (NZ$24), would be at least NZ$100 at home so a real bargain. They aren't fake but are apparently made here so can be sold much cheaper. Trudie got a dress and a couple tops at some reasonable prices.

Before it got too dark we set off back home. We were recommended not to travel at night due to buffalo on the road. They don't move for you and are easy to hit, especially ay night. We came across herds of them on the road yesterday and this morning and can see why you'd not want to hit them. We've discovered that there are several rules for driving in Langkawi:

1. If there are no speed limit signs, travel should be done at an appropriate speed and of course any speed is appropriate.
2. Speed limit signs are to be ignored, travel should be done at an appropriate speed and of course any speed is appropriate.
3. While the road is divided into two lanes, there is an unofficial third lane stradling the center line. The number of lanes may be further increased if there are scooters on the road.
4. Finally, indication is only to be used by foreigners. Locals have ESP and do not need to indicate, however this does fail from time to time and result in crashes (of which we saw 1 and evidence of several others today.
5. Give way to Buffalo.

Earlier today we took a lovely walk on the beach. A few thousand crabs also joined us on the walk, mostly smaller crabs and a few tiny ones also. They like to stroll in groups of several hundred and look like moving sand from a distance. We also can across several deceased octipus' and a few other sea creatures.

This evening we has a few beers and a meal at our favourite place, "Debbies Place". It's a little Irish place (as Irish as it sounds in Malaysia), the food, beer and staff are all great! Once we're finished fielding emails we're off to book a tour visting three islands in the area. Planning to go jetskiing tomorrow afternoon and have convinced Trudie she should come.

Beach day, met up with Liam and Louise on the beach when walking. Wasn't planned, they'd been over at the Cameron highlands and just returned to the west coast. Turned out they were staying 3 hotels down from us. We basically hung out on the beach for the day. Trudie and I went for a jetski, which was good - calm water so Trude was pleased. We got quite a bit of sun and ended up red by the end of the day. Got in some good swimming, but wished we had some masks and snorkels so we could have a better look around. Will have to save the snorkeling for later. Managed to get some lunch after several hours of looking (and several beers). We wanted burgers but didn't have much luck as the two places we found had run out. We had better luck with dinner and managed to get a few burgers from a hawker stall. They were good - I had a couple special burgers, special seems to mean 'with egg', which is fine. We just chilled at Liam and Lou's room and had a few beers for the rest of the night. Our hotel was run by Muslims, so no alcohol allowed.

A day of travel. Sounds like a bit of a mission but wasn't too bad. We started off in the morning by driving our rental car (with Liam and Lou in tow) to the ferry terminal. Managed to get our deposit back for the return of the car keys (which was good!) Picked up some ferry tickets, however our reserved ticked seem to have become unreserved - though there was free seats and wasn't an issue. The ferry ride was average, not very exciting. The ferry terminal in Satun was a tout-fest. Many touts trying for our dollars (baht is used in Thailand - 100Baht = NZ$4). The line was long and had only one window operating for processing people through immigration. Eventually we got through after about 45 minutes to be faced with more touts! We politely ignored most of them and caught a taxi to the bus station in Satun which turned out to be a great plan. The bus was ready to leave in an hour and would cost us less than the tout price, in fact justabout half (350B). The bus looked like something out of Pricilla Queen of the Desert, bright pink and adorned with accessories. While the bus was flash, with a loo and all, the seats weren't that comfy and we soon tired of the 4 hour journey. Our bus practically ran every other vehicle of the road, always accompanied by much honking of the horn. Scooters, trucks and cars were all practically forced off the road to let us past! Final stop was Krabi, we caught a taxi from there to Ao Nang about 30 minutes away. Our hotel there can be described as quaint, we only lasted one night before shifting to another hotel. The first hotel - R.A. House was OK, just a bit smelly, the water was brown and had no Aircon. It was a family operation and only had 5 rooms. Our new place was a about twice the size and aircon. Downside was it was twice the price, though at 1200B it was still cheap by NZ standards (NZ$48). It also included breakfast. We set off into town soon after arriving and found that the town was actually quite large with repeating souvineir and rip-off shops (DVDs, bags, shoes, Tshirts etc). We took a look in a dive shop and all four of us ended up buying mask and snorkel sets. I made sure to get one that was suitable for diving. The English guy in the dive shop made some suggestions for dinner and we ended up at one called adjacent the dive shop. I had a Penang curry and Trudie a musaman - they were very good. Walked back to the hotel and had a sleep.

Snorkelling around Chicken Island + a couple more spots. 4 Island tour on a longboat.
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