Ruining Paradise at the Airport

Spent two days in Langkawi (pronounced lan-cow-ee), an island off the western coast of Malaysia. We have had a lovely visit. Upon arrival, it was so strange as it was a shock after Laos and Cambodia. We’ve moved to the beach, it is hotter and more humid, had chosen a more basic hotel and it is Muslim as opposed to Buddhist. Any one at a time is easy, but a big change. We fairly quickly adapted. Our little beach was off the beaten path, but close to the action. The owners were nice and our basic room had all we needed. Perfect.

The view from our little veranda. Nothing fancy, but a pleasant place to stay.

We found a lovely beach dinner with a nice rose wine which eased the transition., Next day was bird watching in the morning with Wendy Chen. An excellent bird guide who gave us an overview of the birds of Langkawi from shore to rice paddy to the mountains. This will help us as we move through Malaysis. She is also the e-bird checker so I must watch my P’s and Q’s in ID’ing birds correctly!

Striated Heron

White-bellied Sea-Eagle (similar to an Osprey)

A Brahminy Kite

Turns out Langkawi has some big craggy mountains that are quite old, Cretaceous and something like 500 million year old sandstone (don’t fact check me too closely). Beautiful mountains, craggy and jungle covered. After our bird watching we took a walk to the 7 pools waterfall. We were worried it might be crowed, but there were only a small number of folks there. Beautiful fall with lots of little pools for cooling off.

Pretty fall. When the water is running a bit more, I’m told you can slide from pool to pool. Well, maybe not the long slide!

This was a big lizard – a monitor lizard. As with all lizards, he did not want us too close. Maybe a meter in length. He was at the falls but I don’t know if anyone else saw him. We didn’t tell anyone as evidently they are good eating, even if we were in a Geo Park!

Tourists attractions exist everywhere and we decided to see if the sky-bridge and gondola would be busy. We’d heard it was packed. But, we went late in the day and thus, walked right in. I’d seen pics of the sky-bridge and thought it looked fun. It’s one of those places you see photos of in the web photos of amazing places that circulate in the web. Very enjoyable, cooler in the 360º mountains and the views were great.

Skybridge from the highest observation platform.

The Skybridge.

Another view of the Skybridge

Man my face looks fat! I hate selfies. But we were having fun!

A beautiful view! Our hotel was just past the right end of the jetty which ended immediately next to our hotel.

Part 1 of the 2-part gondola ride. No 2nd cable for security here!

Our 2nd day we took an all-day kayak trip into the mangroves on the far side of the island. We had a great guide that showed us animals (not too many) and told us about the mangroves. She also told us about the tsunami that came through in 2004??? It really hit Puket hard – no destruction on Langkawi, just knee deep mud. IT was “funny”, we does not watch TV and her family was all calling and saying, “are you OK”. She said yes and they hung up. It was not until after she sent to breakfast and saw the fishing boats all akimbo that she checked in with a neighbor who updated her.

Fiddler Crabs (the male has the big claw) negotiating a relationship with he mud skipper as mediator.

The mangrove

Pretty old sandstone bluffs on one side and mangrove on the other.

Langkawi which already seems to have much of it’s mountainous vegetation intact is learning about the importance of it’s mangroves as there was no damage at all in the mangrove area. Thus, we planted very interesting plants. They grow as plantlets on the trees and fall to the ground at low tide, stabbing themselves into the mud, a new plant already started. The wonders of biology.

Sylvia planting a mangrove tree from the kayak. Gardening is important everywhere.

A baby mangrove tree newly planted.

We had seen signs for the first Langkawi Blues Festival, created to ring in the new year over the last three days of the year. Lovely venue on the beach, intimate. The lead in group (I don’t remember their name) was quite good. Some local dudes I believe.

This was one of the decent blues groups.

Then onto Purple Haze???? from Australia. Decent blues, good instruments, vocal OK.

Finally, the third act fell into rock. They started with Steve Ray which was good, then, Satisfaction by the Stones, ZZ Top, Pink Floyd, ….) and we’d had enough. Vocals not good enough. But good for Langkawi. Interesting seeing a few women with head scarves carefully getting into the music. Fun.

Speaking of head scarves and full coverage clothing; I have no pictures to share as one does not want to become (too) rude. Traditional Muslim dress does not seem unusual and we are seeing all levels and variations of traditional dress, along with all levels of western dress as well, but seeing a woman on a beach vacation with a full coverage burka with sun glasses strikes me as funny. How could one enjoy? Perhaps that is not the point. The husband is in long or short pants and flip flops. But, I’m trying not to judge.

We have seen many women with head scarves enjoying the water with their pant legs rolled up. Have not seen any burkenees, but have not looked for them. Will look when we get to Penang, our next island stop. I don’t think I could be Muslim and wear traditional dress. I am roasting in shorts and a light shirt. How does one wear even just a head scarf? I would be drenched in sweat. More power to them! One more comment on dress. Beyond the Muslim dress, we saw a woman in a yellow cocktail dress and heals at the bat caves. Another woman was in a long black and white off shoulder formal dress with gold pointy slippers at a beach restaurant at lunch. Then a third last evening in a long black dress, clearly with nothing on underneath cut to the but crack walking down the street. Her beau was not dressed in anything formal. The visitors to Langkawi are from around the world (not many Americans though) and thus there are many ideas of dress.

The bat cave. but no pic of the yellow dress.

Now, on to the ruining of paradise. Calmer now. The variations of each airport, security procedures, rental car shysters (they did not win but still irksome) and loading the plane, waiting, getting off the plane, waiting, getting back on the plane. All tiresome and not required. But, we are now in the lap of luxury in our historic hotel in Penang, I’m sitting on my opium bed. So we’ll move on with the fun!

The daily dose of  macques…

Turns out monkeys do swim. They also like crab at low tide.


Ruining Paradise at the Airport — 2 Comments

  1. Hummm, so it sounds like the contrasts are more closely associated with one another in Malaysia, more crammed together? Differences in income, of modern with traditional?

  2. I’d say there is less contrast from one perspective – more general affluence. There is more diversity of culture here though, at least in Langkawi and Penang (where we are now) than in Cambodia and Laos.