It Ain't Half Hot Mum

Trip Start Nov 08, 2003
1
24
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Trip End Oct 22, 2004


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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Apologies for the delay in writing but having just arrived in Australia we're finding it hard to find time to put fingers to keys. Anyway, this six thousand worder about our two-weeks on Langkawi should keep you all going! I'll split the next few Pods into more manageable bite-sized chunks.


12/03/04

With bills settled and hands shook, we left for Saladan Pier for our ferry back to Krabi Town. Saladan was empty as we arrived, but come 1pm the town suddenly awoke from its English-seaside-town-in-Winter snooze as three ferries from Krabi, Phi Phi and Phuket steamed into port with their cargo of island hopping honkies.

As the hordes surged their way past the massed ranks of reps and taxi drivers it was our turn to board the Krabi-bound ferry. The boat wasn't too busy as we took a couple of seats downstairs for the two hour trip.

The journey passed smoothly as our driver stayed alert by constantly swigging a bottle of extra-strong Red Bull. Arriving at Krabi pier we jumped into a communal taxi with ten others for the twenty minute trip into town, where we were dropped off at the Thai Hotel, our overnight stopover from three weeks earlier. We were now valued customers of theirs and managed to knock the nightly rate down to 400 Baht, just under £6, for a seedy looking fan room with TV.

Once again we ventured out into the truly forgettable town that is Krabi for a bowl of pasta and confirmation from PP Family Tours that we'd be picked up the following morning at 7am for our journey to Langkawi.

With an early start the next morning and a town that didn't offer much we retired to our digs to watch Carlito's Way followed by a sleepless night in our sweatbox of a room.


13/3

It was 7am and our minivan that would take us to the ferry terminal was waiting at the entrance as we left the hotel. We immediately noticed the half dozen rucsacs already on the van's roof, and clambering into the back we sat in the only two seats available, separated for the first time in four months! But the van was full of Swedish girls so I for one wasn't complaining.

Along the west coast of Thailand the van sped at breakneck speed, our driver too swigged a bottle of Red Bull en route as he tried to stay awake. Four and a half hours and one refreshment stop later we had pulled into Thammalang Pier on the Thai-Malaysian border.

We'd have to wait two hours for the next ferry which was leaving at 1.30pm, so we sat and watched Thai taxi drivers smoking roll-ups and practising the traditional art of 'hanging around'.

We boarded the ferry at 1pm making sure we passed through the easily missable immigration counter where we'd need our passports stamped as we didn't much fancy two years in a Bangkok jail for papers that weren't in order.

The ferry was modern, quick and empty but for a handful of travelling Swedes and a vastly extended Malay family of 42 men, women and children. We sat back and watched a Thai soap opera until interference got the better of it as it crackled away the further we went out to sea. The crossing took just an hour and we pulled into a very swish looking Kuah Harbour that looked as if it had aspirations of becoming the Monte Carlo of Asia. The jetty led to immigration for another stamp in the passport and then into a Duty-Free mini-mall where a legion of taxi drivers lurked in shadows snaring lost looking backpackers with leering smiles and broken English. We were snared good and proper, but the £2 fare offered seemed good value for the forty minute drive to the opposite side of the island.

Our driver was a cheery enough chap and told us how he liked English football and how Shearer should still be in the England team . . . wise words, and half an hour later we had arrived at Pantai Tengah on the west coast, Langkawi's second largest beach.

We pulled into Zackry's resort where we were planning on staying a couple of nights but this soon went out the window as Zackry himself led us to a windowless flea-ridden squat which had a distinct lack of air-conditioning. It was his only room left and after he clocked the disgusted looks on our faces he offered to take us to an air-conditioned room at a sister resort ten minutes up the coast at Langkawi's largest beach, Pantai Cenang.

The Amzar Motel looked exactly how it sounded, a cell block along a gravelled road that wouldn't have looked out of place in downtown Baghdad, although that would be doing Baghdad a disservice. We weren't complaining though (not at the moment anyway) with a price-tag of 55 Ringgits (£8) a night and that all-important white plastic air-con unit perched on the wall ready and waiting to chill our sweaty bits.

We didn't waste a moment as we jettisoned bags and set off into the big wide world of Langkawi to see what it could offer us over the next couple of weeks. We headed straight for the beach where we strolled for a while until we reached the northern-most tip where a swish £150 a night hotel called the Pelangi sat.

Before we arrived in Langkawi we had good intentions of staying at a boutiquey resort and restaurant called Bon Ton that was owned by an animal loving Australian lady called Narelle, who split her time running the resort with looking after an ark load of abandoned animals at her sanctuary called LASSIE. The resort was situated on some regenerated wasteland between Cenang beach and the airport but on inspecting our finances we'd decided to rough it. All the same, we walked twenty minutes along the road to have a nose to satisfy our curiosity.

Big steel letters spelling out BON TON affixed to tall narrow columns made from large pebbles (niiiiiiice) signalled our arrival and a long driveway led down to the main reception cum shop cum wine cellar cum restaurant where the manager appeared from nowhere to greet us and show us around. This place wasn't your usual run-of-the-mill, all-you-can-eat, screaming kids, tacky evening entertainment resort and not for the first time on our travels we'd come across a little gem, off the beaten track, sitting pretty, ready to empty our wallets.

By the side of the reception building, overlooking marshland, sat six century old traditional wooden Malay houses, and when I say houses, I mean houses. All had unique quirky names and were individually designed and subtlety coloured to match their names, ie White Frangipani, Blue Ginger and Yellow Orchid.

On the front lawn was a 'lap' pool and three more houses were in differing stages of construction. The manager informed us that between 10am and 6pm there was some building work occurring but only of the sawing and slotting bits of wood together variety and with the resort being a bit quiet at the moment he offered us a whopping 50% discount that would see the usual 430 Ringgits (£60) rate slashed, yes that's right, slashed to £30 a night. After a quick discussion we decided that even a bit of wood sawing could be put up with for a few days and nights in the best accommodation we'd seen in all our seventy combined years. We plumped for 'White Frangipani', the biggest house they had with bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom and dressing room and booked three nights.

It was early afternoon and time to punish our vital organs once more with a few drinks in the Bon Ton bar while the sun set and people arrived for dinner at their renowned open-air restaurant called 'Nam'. As Soph sipped her strawberry daiquiri and I guzzled a Tiger beer what can only be described as an angry act of God came forth as a thousand black crunchy flying insects of various crunchiness started to headbut the resort's high-powered lights in kamikaze fashion. A tornado of tormentors swirled demented in the strongest beam before concentrating their efforts on the subdued lighting directly above the unsuspecting diners.

What followed was an all-out cringe-fest as dinner guests scattered in all directions for tables in corners away from locust flightpaths, and those who had nowhere to go had to make their excuses and leave. Those that were left, sat cowering over their nouveau cuisine dishes with the odd flying beetle sitting comfy on the backs of their Versace shirts.

We sat marvelling at the biblical spectacle until 8pm when God had had enough of teasing mere mortals and decided to smite down his army of creepy-crawlies in one foul swoop. In the space of five minutes the restaurant had turned into a mass grave of bugs that had excelled in the art of bugging.

As we left the restaurant we walked over a carpet of, what seemed, black bubble-wrap and began to wonder what we'd let ourselves in for, it seemed we were due three days on a building site and three nights of plagues. We would soon find out if that would be the case.

After a ten minute taxi ride back to Cenang we sat down for a bowl of pasta at the least garish restaurant on Cenang strip, The Red Tomato, and left completely bloated for the outrageous sum of £5.

Back at the salubrious Amzar Motel Malaysian women roamed the hallway carrying mattresses on their backs from room to room figuring out how squeeze their extended families into three rooms.

It suddenly dawned on us that we'd arrived at the height of a large-scale Malaysian public holiday.


14/3

At 8am we were awoken by the sound of a Malaysian uprising as children ran up and down the corridor screaming while their mums had competitions who could scream at them the loudest, and after fighting our way through the hallway congestion we popped next door to the Amzar Mini Market to hire a bottom of the range Proton Kancil that set us back £8 for the day, we then shot up the road like a sloth up a drainpipe for a slap-up breakfast at the Breakfast Bar for £2, with the next stop being the petrol station for a day's worth of petrol (half a tank) at £3, a grand total of £13.

When both ours and the car's bellies were full we headed half an hour north along the west coast to one of the highest points on the island, Gunung Machinchang, for a ride in Langkawi's newest attraction, a cable car to the summit and views of Langkawi's 99 islands. Once again this island showed its bargain bucket mentality as £2 each bought us return tickets. On the way up we shared a car with a Dutch couple who filled us in on what Kuala Lumpur had to offer and we in turn gave them recommendations for resorts on Ko Lanta, their next destination. The chit chat did it's job of taking our minds off the 200 foot plummet which beckoned in the event of cable snappage.

The view from the summit was worth the anxious ascent as little photos dotted around informed us of what we were looking at, including one that pointed out Satun on Thailand's mainland (not the planet). Another cable car took you to another peek from a peak and this time to take our minds off the drop we were joined by a Malay family whose son studied at the London School of Economics and earnt spare cash as a steward at Stamford Bridge . . . probably the best job in the world.

After the cable car our next job was our regular look at some of the classier joints on the island beginning with The Andaman, then The Datai and finally Tanjung Rhu, and at each hotel we'd ask for a price list with the false intention of actually shelling out £150 to stay the night, we were quite happy with our £8 a night, dilapidated, roadside, Malay madhouse. We stayed for lunch at Tanjung Rhu where our budget just about stretched to a burger and a Club sandwich.

It was time to hit the heights again, this time by car, along a steep winding 23km road to the top of Gunung Raya, but on arrival it was shut. A security guard sat lonely and dejected in front of a gate close to the summit and the only restaurant around sat equally lonely and dejected behind lock and key. There was also a distinct lack of viewpoints, with only the odd layby offering a partial view through trees. We shot back down the hill unfulfilled in half the time it took to ascend.

A drive around the north of the island led us to Barn Thai, a famous restaurant in these parts with a novel entrance. A 450 metre long wooden walkway weaved it's way through an eerie mangrove swamp straight out of a Tim Burton movie leading to a large wooden building sitting on the banks of the widest waterway. Staff were preparing for the evening but kindly stopped to show us around and more importantly the menu. I had good intentions of eating at the restaurant when I heard about it back in the UK but the large dining room lacked character and the menu looked a little bland. I'm sure the place would have looked a lot more atmospheric during the evening but we left without booking a table.

Back in the car we hit the road once more vainly trying to use up some petrol in what was proving to be the most economical car in the world. We headed for the main town of Kuah where we'd arrived on the ferry, heading straight for a shopping centre called Fair Mall, a very average place with the odd recognisable outlet in the form of McD's, Adidas, Nike and Bodyglove where as soon as you'd cross the threshold of the shop assistants would follow you around like personal shoppers which Soph found irritating to say the least.

After a slow drive through town we headed back west to seek out some new accommodation. After sifting through a menagerie of mixed motels including a flea-ridden room at AB Motel and a nice, but slightly expensive room at Beach Garden, we settled for a resort on Cenang Beach called Semarak. This too was full of squawking Malay families, but had cheap thatched bungalows on the beach so we reserved a fan-room.

After a pasta dinner at the Beach Garden resort we headed back to our digs at Amzar to watch some TV. With only two channels available, and one channel broadcasting a Malay chat-show, we watched Malaysia's number one sport, badminton, live from the All-England Championship, with a background soundtrack of non-stop babbling emanating from the hallway as another night of Malaysia's number two sport, mattress swapping, held it's own All-Malaysian Championship.


15/3

Thankfully we packed this morning with the usual mental asylum cacophony of wild banshee wails like crows on helium and the constant scraping sound of flip-flop wearing locals unable to muster the energy to master the art of walking while lifting their feet.

We gleefully checked out and backpacked our way five minutes along the road to Semarak Beach Resort for a night in a fan-cooled bungalow for 70 Ringgits (£10). The bungalow was large enough and the sheets on the bed were clean but we were once again surrounded by Malay families who sat outside their bungalows all day washing clothes and saucepans, turning the resort into a holiday council estate.

I'm not coming across Anti-Malay am I? The way I'm shooting off here, Salman Rushdie's Islamic fatwa will be nothing compared to mine. I love Malaysians really, but I couldn't eat a whole one.

After dumping rucsacs we headed for the beach with the local newspaper, The New Straits Times, getting clued up on Malaysia's upcoming elections whilst upgrading our tans in 95 degree heat and watching fully dressed Malay families swimming in the sea complete with head-dresses (here I go again).

After a quick beer at The Reggae Bar (there must be a bar called this on every beach in the world?) we went back to our bungalow where our showers were spent squatting mosquitoes with a wet towel. The bathroom mosquito infestation settled it for us as we decided to look elsewhere for lodgings the next day.

We took a stroll south along the road this evening to a restaurant-cum-bar called Oasis where next door was a quaint little resort called Sunset Beach, and before we ate, Soph enquired about rates. They were just under £20 a night for a terraced mews-like room with breakfast in a well kempt tropical courtyard complete with TV, air-con and fridge and it gave us something to think about if we couldn't hack our current bungalow.

After a really nice £2 Indian meal we finished the evening in the Oasis bar for a few games of pool and some extra strong 8% proof Guinness brewed especially for the Asian market complete with bright yellow label and a threatening picture of bulldog on the neck.


16/3

We were due to move into a beachfront fan room this morning but after checking the fan, it proved to be slow and squeaky, so we made our excuses and left in a taxi bound for Sunset Beach, and on arrival an ultra-cheery receptionist offered us a 15% discount before we could say a word.

Being a cash only establishment we needed some more local currency, and with the nearest ATM being at the airport I popped next door to hire a mountain bike for an hour to pedal the half hour trip along the coast, just about managing to deliver back the bike within the hour.

That afternoon we walked along the road to Zon duty-free mall to fill our fridge with dirt cheap wine and beer. An hour later after a tax-free frenzy we staggered home with 24 cans of Tiger beer for £5 and a few bottles of Aussie red. It was almost worth taking up smoking with 200 Marlboroughs going for £5, but we didn't, honest.

In the evening we ate Malaysian beef curry and poached Barramundi at the swanky Lighthouse restaurant along the beach before heading back to Sunset Beach for our soundest sleep yet on Langkawi.


17/3

After a noteworthy complementary breakfast in a natty conservatory overlooking the beach, we grabbed a couple of sunloungers for a day on the beach reading and watching paragliders, speedboats, jet-skis and planes landing and taking off.

It was a hot day so that afternoon we headed for the shops for crispy accompaniments for an afternoon in the cool of our room sampling our wines. Being Australian wines, they were all superb, and with a couple of weeks to go before we landed in Sydney we wondered whether we should contact their local vineyards to warn them of our arrival so they could hire more grape crushers.

The hot day continued into the evening as we headed next door to our favourite eatery, Oasis. The humidity didn't seem to twig on with me as I arrived in trousers and long-sleeve top and proceeded to order the chilli con carne, doh!

After another bottle of wine we headed to the pool table for a spot of hustling where we met a couple of young gap year fellow-me-lads sitting by the pool table. Their names were Sam and Olly and you couldn't wish to meet a couple of nicer lads if you tried (I know they're going to read this) and Soph, being the gentleman that she is, offered Olly a game with me while she bored Sam stupid with tales of our travels (I know Soph's not going to read this).

After being beaten senseless with my repertoire of amazing flukes, the boys headed home leaving me and the brunette to challenge the bar staff at a game of mixed doubles, with England emerging victorious when the bell went at 1.30am.


18/3

We slept in till 10am and woke with slight hangovers. After getting a local paper I was disappointed to see our sporting exploits of the previous night hadn't made the back page, maybe in the later edition.

It was an absolute scorchio of a day and perfect conditions for a spot of body-barbequing so we headed once more for a day on the beach, and in the evening we walked along the shore to the Langkawi Holiday Village who were holding a Mongolian barbeque. Expecting raucous laughter from Mongol warriors wearing woolly mammoth skins and eating whole roast bison legs on a bed of pureed goat's gonads we were relieved to find a smart chef stir frying prawn, beef and chicken and a buffet of beef stew, noodles, rice and O'Brien potatoes, whatever they were.

Back at the Oasis bar we met up again with Olly and Sam for lashings of beer and games of pool.


19/3

We woke late to another hot, humid day before packing once more for a midday transfer along the coast to Bon Ton resort. On arrival our crates of beer and wine were whisked away to be put into a giant coolbox full of ice which was then delivered to our house.

We were due to meet Olly and Sam again that afternoon to cramp their style once more as along the road was the Morac Go-Kart track. Arriving at 1.30pm we were met with a notice saying the owners were off down the local mosque having a good old time praying and wouldn't be back until 3pm so we invited the boys back to our mansion to give them a taste of the good life. They weren't disappointed as they scraped their jaws around our celebrity crib and while we waited for the track to re-open we hung around our private pool dangling our smelly feet in the shallow end.

At 3pm we were back at the circuit and booked a few eight lap sessions with Soph opting out and acting as the official race photographer. The first race ended with a crushing defeat for the young pretenders as Olly foolishly attempted an inside overtaking manouvre on a hairpin and spun into oblivion while Sam entertained himself pirouetting his kart on each and every bend and driving cross country at every opportunity. The second race saw Olly pull his socks up and pull away from the chasing pack, his extra bulk helping his kart stick to the track around corners (did I tell you he played number 8 for England under 19s at Rugby Union?). The third and final decider saw Olly feeling a little unwell after his exertions in the previous race thus leaving the wily old fox to a clear track and a lap record of 1 minute 32 (and did I tell you I was the same age as Schumacher?). The track was an Internationally known venue and run very professionally and after each race we were handed printouts of lap-times and all sorts of other data.

Pebble-dashed from top to toe in sweat and gravel, the day proved an adrenalin rushing success and although it was probably the most expensive attraction on Langkawi, it was worth every Ringgit.

That evening we ate rack of lamb and fillet of beef at a surprisingly insect-free Bon Ton, the night of the plague must have been a one off. Once again it was chokka with the successful people of this world and tasting the chocolate dessert it was no wonder.

Once again the south coast boys gave up a night of chatting up young willing fillies by spending a night with a couple of old washed up fruitcakes like ourselves. Their Grandparents are very lucky people, Olly and Sam would relish a hand-knitted pullover for Christmas. We all met at Chin Chin, Bon Ton's tasteful pseudo-Chinese bar at 9pm, and to a background of Sade's dulcet tones we supped beers. After an hour we called a taxi as the bar lacked the all important pool table and we were all getting cold turkey over the lack of smashing balls senseless across a green baize.

Ten minutes later we were at a strangely un-Irish Irish pub where we played pool and darts all night til 1am at which time we said our good-byes to Olly and Sam who were off to Penang the next day.

As we sped off in a taxi I vowed that one day when I was on that washed out slag heap of desktop publishers I'd get a job as head security guard at their sixty-storey office block in downtown Southampton. One day these smelly penniless University graduates would be captains of industry and would look after me as an old man. They should receive the begging email in 30 years time.

When we got back to 'White Frangipani' a breakfast tray had been delivered consisting of bread, jam, yoghurt, fruit and a cafetiere of fresh coffee.


20/3

We woke at 11am, another hot, muggy day, with still no sign of building work and still no sign of anyone else staying in any other houses.

We took a taxi to Cenang for the local papers and an Internet fix before shooting back home to drink loads more beer and cheap Mateus Rose.

Being the only restaurant in the vicinity we ate once more at Bon Ton, which is no bad thing for the stomach, although very bad for the wallet. We had calamari, snapper in pomegranate sauce and a platter of traditional Malay delicacies (I hate spelling out what we've eaten when I envisage everyone at home eating meat and two veg). But spell it out I will, that's snapper, s-n-a-p-p-e-r. We than retired to the bar for coffee and a game of scrabble where the brunette spelt out all sorts of dubious words too rude to repeat.


21/3

Soph does like a firm mattress. Quote.

Trying to sleep on a bed used for Langkawi's trampoline championships was never going to be easy so we had to settle for five hours apiece.

With no energy to venture out of the compound we once again decided to do absolutely nothing today. It was a nice hot day, and thankfully no building work was being done so we sat by the pool. Soph wiled away the hours with her nose in 'Hello' and 'OK' while I got my notepad and pen out ready for a spot of plane-spotting. Yep, there I was, the once darling of the UK underground club scene making notes of take-off times, landing times and airline marques. I began feeling like Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man. What was happening to me? Did a plane-spotter pinch me or worse still, bite me?

Frightened with my metamorphosis I rushed inside for another game of Scrabble with my calming influence of a wife, once more hitting the bottles, plural, and not remembering much else about the rest of the night apart from a lovely meal at Bon Ton once more and another muggy sleepless night being attacked my mosquitoes.


22/3

Not remembering much about the previous night I guessed it must have been good by the constant nagging ache emitting from my liver region. Sure-fire sign of a good night.

It was time to check out once more under the influence of a shi . . . shed load of alcoholic beverages, and a taxi took us back to Sunset Beach, our favourite resort on Langkawi, where we were welcomed with yet another reduction in the nightly rate with a night costing just 91 Ringgit (£13).

It was yet another Sweatsville, Arizona of a day so we spent it spread-eagled in front of our bestest air-conditioning unit in the whole wide world: the Mitsubishi Z86, triple-injection, multi-direction, turbo-icer,
room-freezer. I think I got that right, anyhow, it's the quietest, most powerful room chiller in the civilised world and can be witnessed in all it's bone-icing glory in room 208 of the Sunset Beach Resort, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi.

At 4pm it was time for a late lunch at a welcoming little bistro on the main road called 'Offshore'. Once again the old adage 'the cover never tells the story' lived up to it's clichéd name. Nearly everything we ordered wasn't available and when it came an hour later it was burnt to a crisp and covered in feasting flies.

That evening we re-visited our old haunt, Oasis, where the waiters gave us 'haven't you gone home yet' looks as we gorged on trays of yummy bargain basement Northern Indian food.

After our late night exertions of previous nights we hit the sack early with a re-run of 'Kill Bill' on the laptop sending us to our deepest sleep for a week.


23/3

After a good nights sleep we were ready to hit the sights of Langkawi once more with a trip along the road to Langkawi's 'Underwater World'. From the outside it didn't look much due to the building site adding an Antarctic wing to the building, but once inside we were surprised at how large and varied it was.

For a £2 entrance fee we were treated to a show of big ugly fish, sharks, giant turtles, manta rays, Koi carp in a feeding frenzy, sunbathing otters, lizards and the very strange Dragon Fish. This attraction was yet another example of how Langkawi gives good value for money and doesn't take relatively rich western tourists over a barrel like other islands I could think of, no names mentioned . . . Sri Lanka . . . oops, sorry.

That evening we ate at Sun Village along the coast at Pantai Tengah where we consumed a job lot of 'real' Malay food including Nasi Goreng and pineapple and eggplant curry all served by a troupe of transsexual Malay ladyboys. Give us Thai food any day.


24/3

After hiring a car previously we decided to hire a moped today and walked along the road to the newest bikes we could find. £4 bought us a sleek shiny black number with a pair of equally sleek 'CHIPS' style helmets.

Thirty minutes along the coast was the much overlooked Ibrahim Hussein Museum housed in a modern self-effacing white structure over two floors. Just six years old, it was built to feature exhibits from artists and sculptors from around the world and being an independent institution it survives on the generosity of visitors and benefactors.

When we roared up to the doors they were closed until we woke up a snoozing receptionist who sheepishly came out to un-lock the doors to the museum. Business wasn't good, and on wandering around our very own art gallery we wondered why. Most of the exhibits were the owner's own pieces and every canvas was 'a work of art' and being non-homeowners, every piece would have looked great above our imaginary mantle-piece.

A number of imaginative thought-provoking sculptures sat proudly, surrounded by Hussein's paintings and they too were worthy objects in this world of conveyor-belt produced contemporary art. Ooh, let me screw up a piece of tissue and call it modern art. Don't get me started.

Scootering back to Kuah Town we took off our black roll-neck art critic jumpers and headed straight for some critically acclaimed quarter-pounders and fries whilst admiring the head scarved uniforms of Langkawi's Muslim ladies flipping burgers for Ronald McDonald.

After a scenic route back to the west coast it was time for me to organise a solo search party to find a TV screen showing the Chelsea-Arsenal Champions League game the following morning and after various enquiries and the help of a gawd-blimey, love-a-duck geyser in a Chelsea t-shirt it was clear I wasn't going to watch it live the following morning.

While Soph watched her third re-run of The Godfather that evening I entertained myself with the choreographed grunts of WWF on Malay TV.


25/3

This morning I woke at 3.30am hoping that a local Langkawi TV channel might be showing the game, but after flicking through all two channels on our set I was out of luck. The thought of venturing out to scour the streets for a big screen at that time of the morning for Chelsea's most important match in their history came a close second to a comfy bed and a cool room.

Six hours later I was up again, this time it was to satisfy my carnal urge to plane-spot. The moped didn't have to be back til 10.30 so out I jumped onto my throbbing thrill scooter for a trip to a look-out hill high above Langkawi airport. It had been raining for most of the night but a few puddles weren't going to stop me from my hot date with a Boeing.

Arriving with ten minutes to spare til take-off I could see the steps being wheeled away from the 10am flight to Kuala Lumpur, the very flight we'd be taking the next day, the excitement was just a little too much as I flitted around the mound for a better view as the plane began to taxi.

From where I was standing the plane seemed to cruise down the runway at 30mph but somehow that big metal bird of paradise lifted gracefully off Langkawi's sticky tarmac heading south for the metropolis. A plane-spotters tear welled up in my eye as I noted in my pad: 10.05 take-off, not bad.

With the scooter safely dropped off I grabbed Soph on the way through to the beach where we stayed toasting for the morning. Come lunchtime it was time for me to head out in search of a repeat showing of the big match, finally ending up at the un-Irish Irish pub along the road. They were the only people I knew with a working satellite dish but on arrival no-one was there. I was desperate so I got saucy. Switching on the TV, I started to fiddle with the satellite and somehow came across ESPN. The show was just beginning as I settled back in a comfy plastic seat.

Well, if I had a beer it would have been spat out in disgust. Onto the field jogged serial-adulterer number one, Becks. Real Madrid v Monaco. I furiously flicked through two thousand channels until it was no use. There I sat alone in 95 degree heat without liquid refreshment watching overpaid Madrid players nick a win (because, of course, Chelsea players aren't overpaid).

On the way home I stopped off at an Internet café as I couldn't take the suspense much longer and saw it ended 1-1. Fair result. (see footnote).

With a raging thirst we headed straight next door to the bar for a long cold bevvie or ten, and as it turns out it ended up as a ten bevvie session as we were joined at the bar by a couple of fresh-faced Aussie beach bums named Azza and Scottie Too Hottie, I do believe they were christened with those exact names. They had only arrived on Langkawi that morning and couldn't have timed their entrance any better as I was just about to have my ears talked off my head by a Victoria-loving ex-Melbournian ex-pat who I ex-cused myself from as soon as the New South Wales boys sidled up to the bar.

The boys were on their way to England to work for a couple of years so the rest of the afternoon was spent exchanging info on what to see and do in our respective countries, followed by an evening session on the pool table while Soph went off for an on-line chat. We finished the night in the company of a couple of Swedish girls who we left to Scottie Too Hottie who was going to try and live up to his name. It was past midnight and we had to be up at 7.30am for a 10am flight the next morning to Kuala Lumpur.

Overall we found Langkawi better than we expected. Everything was ultra-cheap from the beer to the food to the attractions, the people were friendly, the weather was glorious, there was plenty to do and see and all sites were linked by a smooth, quiet road network covering the island. We were pleasantly surprised with Malaysia's main holiday island but tomorrow we'd see how their capital city compared.


Gazzy Too Spazzy & Sozza
xx



Footnote:
Obviously I now know the aggregate result, hurrah, and a trip to the millionaires playground of Monte Carlo beckons which should make the Chelsea players feel at home. Two home legs should see us through. Famous last words if I ever heard them.
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