I got 99 islets…
Nestled in the Andaman Sea not far from the Thai border the island of Langkawi is a Malaysian paradise. The area has so much to offer, from UNESCO world geopark sites, sailing, shopping (the island is duty free people!), from mangrove forests to scenic views and unique wildlife.
One of the more serene beaches is Baras Basah which you can get to by boat. It’s a white sand beach with beautiful clear water and with a dense forest in the background it is a great spot to relax in the afternoon. There isn’t much on the island aside from a snack area and public restrooms so it was a great location to bring a book and have a nap. A lot of tour companies stop here on their “Island Tour” so know that there are boats that come in and out frequently. The day we were there I was the only non islamic person sunbathing, I never thought I’d feel out of place in a bathing suit on a beach!
North on the island during wet season is a black sand beach, while I was there they were in serious dry season so I came upon the beach not only was there nobody there but I could barely tell it was black sand. Although busier, I preferred Cenang Beach on the west side of the island. Cenang is also home to Underwater World, Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium. I opted to snorkel and see the real thing so I bypassed the aquarium visit. Also because of the season, north on the island are several water falls that were currently dried up due to a drought.
Geo Parks and Fresh Water Lakes
I used to work at a birth center and it seems like everywhere I go I encounter something related to childbirth, I just can’t escape it and Malaysia was no exception. Here in Langkawi there are some entertaining folk lore about some of the smaller islands and one such story is of Dayang Bunting, or the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. There is a beautiful fresh water lake that is surrounded by rain forest jungle. The legend is that a man fell in love with a fairy princess at the lake and they soon had a son. Their son died and they laid him to rest here at their lake and now this is a place known for people who need luck with fertility to come and swim in the water. Monkeys live in the trees that surround the access to the lake so keep your phones and camera’s close, they are extremely curious so watch for little monkey hands snatching up things when you aren’t looking.
What makes the area even more intriguing is the surrounding hills carve out a shape of a pregnant woman laying on her back, can you spot her in my picture?
Langkawi is full of wildlife from bat caves, crocodile farms or butterfly gardens but the best part of my animal excursions on the island was when we fed eagles from our boat.
I should preface this story first with a background on our driver. He spoke about three words the whole day, never took off his sunglasses and drove our speed boat like a bat out of hell making him the most bad ass guide I’ve had on any of my guided tours to date. We stopped at a smaller island and he grabbed some chicken he had in a cooler in the back of the boat and tossed it into the emerald colored water. The eagles already had begun to circle around our boat knowing that food was about to come their way. They swooped down and with their powerful talons gracefully skimmed the water retrieving the pieces of food. After several more appeared our guide threw more poultry high into the air and the birds caught the pieces mid flight and soared off into the trees with their snacks.
Small, brightly colored cable cars bob slowly up the hill, floating atop the lush verdant landscape of Machincang Mountain. Traveling over the jungle in a plexiglass box is an exciting and terrifying experience, the gondolas cover 2.2km and once you finally arrive at the top you are over 700 meters above sea level with an impressive view of the surrounding forest and jeweled toned waters.
I’m not afraid of heights and this ride gave me a few butterflies in my stomach. You don’t realize how far up 1 1/2 miles is until you are hanging by a cable for twenty minutes! The scene from the look out platforms are incredible and it makes the exhilarating world’s steepest cable ride worth it. Walk around the viewing platforms and at over 2,000 feet above sea level you feel like you’re above the clouds while you take in the spectacular views below. Make sure you check the Panorama Langkawi website for maintenance and closures, while I was there the Sky Bridge was closed for renovations but even just to see it from the top lookout platform was impressive.
I’d recommend hiring a driver or renting a car while you stay in Langkawi. If you want to spice up your vacation stories, go with the adventurous “foreign car rental” option. The size of the island is small and traffic is non existent so I braved “wrong side of the road driving” and rented an old beat up Malaysian PROTON so I could explore the island for the few days I was there. The steering wheel shook uncontrollably while idling and it randomly shut off right as I was snooping outside of the Four Seasons, which was totally embarrassing. Luckily it restarted and with the one radio station in English I continued to putter along for the next two days exploring different beaches and seeing the sights.