First-time in Langkawi, Malaysia
It was past 10:00 pm and we just had finished our meal at Marry Brown, inside Kuala Lumpur’s Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). My friend, Karen, and I, were surfing through our individual laptops, trying to find a way out of our situation. You see, our trip to Putrajaya delayed us for several hours that we made it to the airport’s check-in counter five minutes too late. In short, we missed our flight to Langkawi.
But instead of whining and complaining, we were determined to make the most out of our trip. We considered staying in KL, or going to the nearest beach. Still, Langkawi lingered in our minds. We checked the internet for other ways to get to this northern Malaysian island. We found out that we could take a train. However, it would take us about 12 hours of transport because the train would lead us to a town where we had to take a bus or taki to get to a port. Should we take a bus, we could go via Atol Setar, which requires another taxi ride to a jetty port, or to Kuala Perlis where a shorter ferry ride could be taken. It would only take us seven hours on the road and an additional 45 ringgit. The bus ride would be long enough for us to spend the night on the coach.
Based on what we read online (which we never really got to research thoroughly as we were running after time), we could take a bus from Hentian Duta. Hurriedly, Karen and I took the transit train to KL. It was past 11:00 pm when we got to KL Sentral. A man at the station told us that the bus station might already be closed at this time. Still, we tried our luck, paid for a budget taxi at a taxi counter, hopped inside the cab, and drove off to Jalan Duta.
There were still buses when we got to the station. We approached the driver of a bus and asked if there are any trips to Kuala Perlis. He led us right to a group of men at the ticket counters. A burly tall guy told us to wait for our bus, which would be at the station by midnight. So as to dispel any thoughts that we could be tricked, I started using the tiny bits of Bahasa Indonesia I knew. There are several similarities with Bahasa Malay that I could use from what I learned in my seven-month stay in Jakarta. Since we got out of the LCCT, we were just relying on locals to guide us for the rest of our journey.
When our double-decker bus arrived, we were led to the upper deck. I liked our bus – wider leg room and soft cushions. It was a smooth ride but I couldn’t help waking up every now and then. I think we made five or six stops before we got to our destination. At 6:00am, dawn was coming and we were driving through towns, rice paddies, and a typical Asian countryside that was very much similar to home.
As we got to Kuala Perlis, we boarded the ferry that took us to the island in 45 minutes. The jetty port at the Kuah town was modern, complete with fast food and shops. From the port, we could already see our hotel from afar. We took a cab, the only way around the island, but as we got there, we found out that the hotel has no beach front and 30 minutes away from the airport. We rummaged through the brochures we gathered and started calling various hotels. Then we decided to take a cab to Cenang Beach and look for a backpackers’ inn.
True enough, the cab ride was 25 minutes long. Langkawi was a big island, after all. The driver dropped us along the highway at Cenang Beach with rows of restaurants, souvenir shops, and resorts and guesthouses. We inquired in two resorts before we found Sandy Beach Resort. The front desk receptionist told us that they had rooms for 160 ringgit and 110 ringgit. The cheaper ones were across the highway. But before we could make our decision, she told us that she could give us a cottage by the beachside at 80 ringgit a night.
We were excited to try the cable car ride, which was what we were looking forward to in Langkawi. But, what good timing, the cable car was down until the end of the month. Because of this misfortune, we decided to go to the Seven Wells Waterfall. It was a 26 ringgit cab ride there. Since it was a bit remote, our driver offered to pick us up at 6:00 pm. He seemed nice so we readily agreed.
The waterfalls were about a hundred or more steps. We went to the bottom of the falls and as we got there, we were overwhelmed by the site. The water falling from above had a large smooth boulder on the backdrop that seemed to have been polished by the pressure of the current.
There were some people who were taking a bath there. We didn’t see anyone wearing a swimsuit, so we hesitated a bit in taking a dip in one of the huge wells.
We took the first-hour camwhoring until there were fewer people at the falls. We finally swam and positioned ourselves right below one of the mini-falls. The water rushing on our back was relaxing and therapeutic as if I was having a massage. However, the water current became forceful and I had to struggle to get out one of the smaller pools. Some of the rocks were slippery so we had to be extra careful.
Aside from that, more and more monkeys were getting to where we were so we left before they’d even join us in our swim. It was many steps down on the way back that the muscles in my calves seemed to have been overstretched.
We walked the highway, passing by the riding horse area towards the parking lot of the cable car gate where we would be meeting our driver. As it turned out, the parking lot also led to the Oriental Village. There were hanging bridges, a man-made lake, some Chinese restaurants and small shops. With the mountains behind it, the place seemed to have come out straight from a painting.
I shopped a bit and had some ice cream before we headed back to the parking. Our driver, named Aman, was waiting for us. He was a bit of a conversationalist and asked us what we were doing for a living. When she learned that my friend was from the media and that I keep a travel blog, he immediately handed us his calling card (you can contact him for taxi service at +60195499842 or +60175637962). He was so nice that he again offered to bring us to the airport the day after.
The powdery sand was like milk powder on my feet. There were guys jetskiing at the sea. Others took a banana ride while there were some were doing parasailing. Hanging around the beach was relaxing. Smaller islands fill the horizon. The beach was wide and not crowded. Most of the people hanging around the beach were tourists.
The day after, the sun was late in rising that we were at the beach while the sun was still on the horizon. The sea was still, with only tiny waves, and few people swimming. With the sea pushed farther away from the beach by the low tide, the smooth, compact sand was ideal for jogging. My friend decided for a jog, while she was joined by other tourists.
As we decided to enjoy the water, there were a number of swimmers seriously making a lap. Because the sea was very tranquil, it seemed like a giant swimming pool. The water was cold and clean, except for some small jellyfishes that were stinging us, driving us out of the water.
The Kuala Muda Road
What’s beautiful with our resort was that the other side was the beach while behind it was the main highway. The southern part of the road was the Underwater World. The northern part was the airport and the Morac Go-Kart. In between that was the backpackers’ area filled with various restaurants offering Malaysian, Thai, Arabic, and Italian cuisines.
There were also spas, fruit stands, money changer, and shops selling souvenirs, shirts, and inflatables. It was pretty safe walking through the lighted streets. Right beside our resort was a mini-shopping arcade.
Langkawi was a great break from the daily hassles of life. Our stay was short but it was truly memorable. I realized that I went to Langkawi not for the sole reason of enjoying the beach (we have plenty back home in the Philippines), but more for the experience of adventure. And I got one. A very thrilling one.