Thursday, March 03, 2011

LANGKAWI - Jewel of Kedah

Another beach visited by the duo. We were in Pantai Chenang, Langkawi :)
Kuala Perlis Jetty to Langkawi has recorded a phenomenal amount of visitors this year during CNY holiday. About 20, 000 people swarmed the jetty to go to Langkawi and it was estimated about 50, 000 visitors in the island during the holiday (NST News on 2nd Feb'11). My group of 10 outdoor enthusiasts were among the statistics. No kidding.

On the day of our arrival, 3rd February 2011, the jetty was haywire with groups of people from all walks of life trying to get tickets. There were lots of tourists from Asian countries compared to the western tourist probably due to the end of holiday seasons in the west. We spotted groups from China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The locals, no need to mention; LOTS.

Mr. Cute aka Comel, Dean and myself in the cable car
that can fit up to 6 persons per ride
It’s not easy to buy ferry tickets. The queue was long and the waiting was like forever. From 7am, we waited more than 3 hours to be boarded. We got onboard at 10.30am and arrived in Langkawi at 11.15am. Lucky we have arranged our transportation earlier with a friend who operated a tour company in the island itself. It’s pretty usual to hire a car or a motorbike once you were in Langkawi. Since the tour operator is our friend, we get a discounted rate for the van rental at about RM80 a day and it was 10 of us travelling together. Normal rate for a van is RM120-RM200 a day depending on type of van. Toyota Estima or Alphat will cost you more, of course.

At the Kraf Centre of Langkawi. Lots of handicrafts and batik
designers' cloths. We modeled the 'mengkuang' hat.
According to our boat handler, a local, he said, Langkawi is a name derived from a Malay word of ‘lang’ (short of ‘helang’ which means ‘eagle’) and ‘kawi’ is the name of the limestones that can be seen around most of the unihibited islands, sea edges and crevices and natural canals surrounding the island at the Unesco Geopark of Kilim. However, when I googled it, 'kawi' could also mean 'reddish brown', may be referring to the eagle's colour or the red limestone in Langkawi. Other articles related it to the ancient city of Langkasuka. This Jewel of Kedah, is actually almost as big as Singapore. The main island itself is 478.5 sq.km in size compared to Singapore, 646 sq.km. However, Langkawi were made of 99 islands. True to its name, you can find lots Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus (the brownish coloured eagle) and the 'kawi' rocks around the island. There's an 18 meter high giant eagle in a place called Eagle Square where you can take photos to remember Langkawi forever (:

Pantai Tasik Tengkorak where we camped for our first night
Thus our journey in the Island of Legend begun. Almost every parts of Langkawi have its own legend especially one significant lady named Mahsuri. She was believed to be wrongly accused of infidelity and was brutally murdered, 200 years ago. Before she died, she cursed Langkawi and its people for her wrong persecution. She bled white blood which gave fear to all her executors and villagers. For 7 generations Langkawi is believed to be shadowed by Mahsuri’s curse. The island has been left undeveloped until the curse end in 1987 and the same year Langkawi was declared duty-free zone.

Miraculously, Langkawi has flourished in terms of social and economy after being declared duty-free zone and with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia playing a huge part in it, of course. He initiated prestigious events to mark Langkawi in the world’s map, i.e Lima (Langkawi International Maritime & Aviation Exhibition) and Le Tour De Langkawi. The status of Langkawi as a duty free zone continues until present day. Most Malaysian went to Langkawi for branded household products, chocolates, perfumes and many more to name a few. Try Daim and Whitakker's Chocolate. There are the best!


Coolloop and Cumi at Telaga Tujuh, one of the waterfall there.

Mount Mat Chincang Cable Car – RM15 per person for cable car ride up the mountain. Lookout tower and hanging bridge overlooking seashores and lagoon. You can spend the whole day there.
 
Pasir Tengkorak Beach - it has a camp site ground and a toilet as your water source. The beach has some rocky edges and million years of rock formation if you care to look and search.
 
Kilim Geopark - you can take a boat ride to Bat Cave, Fish Farm and even visited nearby islands like Pulau Dayang Bunting (pregnant maiden island). Bat’s Cave, Fish Farm and Falcon Sighting/Feeding near Kilim- RM200 per boat of 2 hours ride.
 
My friend Dean in the sky. 
Lubuk Semilang, Gunung Raya – camping, rock climbing and picnic site with 4000+ steps towards Gunung Raya peak.
Para Sailing in Pantai Chenang – RM40-50 per person for a 3km via boat tailing.
Sunset Cruise – RM100 per person for 4 hours cruise and dinner with free flow drinks onboard
 Shopping in Pekan Kuah – Hj. Mohamad Ismail sells the cheapest chocolate. Recommended chocolates: Daim, Cadbury Turkish Delight and Witakkers Roasted Almond.


If you had bigger budget, you may want to do Island Hoping, 4 hours boat ride to some of the significant island which formed Langkawi. It’ll cost you about RM400 per boat for a four hours ride.

Island hoping sharing basis is only RM25 per person but had to be booked early in the morning for the last boat leaves at 2.30pm.

If you were at the Chenang Beach, a handful water sports can be had such as parasailing, jet skiing, banana boat ride or just lazing in the sun. Langkawi has one of the most beautiful sandy beaches you will ever see in the world for its very fine almost white sands and clear blue sea. It’s much much cleaner and better than the Kuta Beach in Bali. Trust me (:

All of us minus Zam on top of the Sky Bridge

Amazingly this was only my second time to Langkawi since 2002 right after the tsunami hit the island badly. At that time things were pretty much bad and it affected the people so much that very few tourists can be seen. We rented a car at that time and had been travelling peacefully around the island. Boat ride and other stuffs were pretty much cheaper. This time around, North part of Malaysia including Perlis and Langkawi is experiencing draught. We can see river water receding and public toilets without water. However, we were lucky to just camped nearby Lubuk Semilang with lots of water supply even though lesser than its usual flow.

There you go folks. My backpacking style to Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah. We couldn't get a bus ticket back to KL on the day we were supposed to go back. We had to cramped up in a budget hotel till the next morning. Phew... what a vacation.
Bat Cave in Kilim Unesco Geopark

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