Tristan’s Trip Report: Malaysia – Week 2, Langkawi

January 11th, 2017 (Day 8)

From: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
To: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
Activities: Beach Bumming
Stayed: Rainbow Lodge

Our initial impressions upon our return to Langkawi were not entirely the kind you write home about 😉

The beach seemed like it was a little more crowded than how we remembered it. The strip by the beach had been developed, and there were at least 5 more hotels under construction. There was a new mall and a large strip mall just a little down the street. The streets seemed to be teeming with new money. Large money. The kind of money Arienne and I didn’t have.

Beaches in Langkawi
The popular Cenang Beach. Our lodge was a short 7 minute walk from the beach.

Had Langkawi broken up with us for a flashier, wealthier lover? One who in the end would inevitably steal her soul and leave her with nothing but fake breasts and a large empty house???

I was reminded of the experience of returning to my middle-school after I had begun high school. The hallways felt smaller than I remembered them. The classrooms that once upon a time were oddly like a second home now looked foreign and unwelcoming. I couldn’t believe that this had been the place where I once thought I was so cool (note: I was never cool) and now felt almost foolish for having returned. What had I expected to find?

Was this what was happening to Langkawi? Paradise lost?

Nah!

By the end of the day, all accounts had seemingly come to order:

  1. Crowding: We realized that a bus tour must have come through. By sunset (and for the rest of the week) the beach was it’s spacious self.
  2. Development: Yeah, but what did we expect? The Malaysians to stay stuck in our picture perfect past? The reality is the development has been tasteful and has kept the atmosphere feeling tropical and relaxing.
  3. Broken-up with us for riches and lost culture: No! Well, maybe there’s a few more bucks flowing through the island (and good on em!), but the locals are just as pleasant and welcoming as ever.

We spent a wonderful and relaxing day at the beach. I didn’t even need nor indulge in any of Langkawi’s duty free bounty. The beautiful white sand, the crash of the waves, the refreshing warm water, the shade of the umbrella, the book in my hand…

Yes Langkawi, I still love you. And apparently, you still love me too!

January 12th, 2017 (Day 9)

From: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
To: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
Activities: Motorbiking the Island, Droning
Stayed: Rainbow Lodge

While the beaches of Langkawi are a slice of heaven, half the beauty of coming to the island is the freedom and ease with which you can grab (rent) a motorbike and hit-the-frog-and-toad. Considering the fact that traffic is pretty light on the island, the roads are well maintained, and that people drive with courtesy and respect, it is the perfect place to drop the training wheels and strap your legs around 50 cc’s of un-intimidating putt-puttiness. Trust me, nothing screams “Gramma’s Sunday Morning Drive” like a ‘twist-and-go’ 7hp Honda Spacey scooter.

What to do in Langkawi
The very sparsely populated but stunningly beautiful Tanjung Rhu Beach on the north coast of Langkawi.

So off we went. We checked out a variety of other beaches, most of which were far less populated than Cenang Beach (where we are staying), a couple of waterfalls, and the general northwest coast of the island. It was incredible. I liken it to the day you learn how to ride a bike, and realize the world of opportunities beyond the corner store. Oh the places we could go.

The highlight of the day for me was the Temurun Waterfall. It is the highest waterfall on the island, and was absolutely breathtaking to behold as the picture below will show.

At the bottom of the waterfall was the most pristine pool that amidst the 30+ degree heat called my name. I dutifully disrobed but began to hesitate out of concern for the temperature of the water, and what appeared to be a slippery and rough entrance to the pool. “What are you waiting for?” a little old Malaysian lady called to me. “I think it will be cold,” I pantomimed to her over the crash of the falling water. She simply shook her head smiling, pointed at me, and then to the water.

Who am I to argue with a sweet little old Malaysian lady? So in I went.

Folks… it was heaven. I have never enjoyed a swim anywhere in my life as I enjoyed this swim. At one point, I placed my body up against the rock wall, directly under the water that fell from the great heights above. It felt like my entire soul was being put through the heavy wash cycle of a washing machine. I felt like a million bucks!

If I had to go home tomorrow, I would be okay with it, all because of the swim I took at the bottom of the Temurun Waterfall.

January 13, 2017 (Day 10)

From: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
To: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malyasia
Activities: Motorbiking around the island
Stayed: Rainbow Lodge

We were somewhere around Kuah, when the dehydration began to take hold.

I remember saying something like, “I’m feeling a little light headed, maybe you should drive.” Earlier she had said her head was pounding. She sounded irritable, highly apt to rage. It was no right mind for driving the motorbike. “Did you say something?” she called. “Never mind!”

Langkawi, Malaysia

Suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the forest was full of what looked like huge monkeys, all hopping and screeching and jumping around the motorbike, and a voice was screaming “holy Jesus what are these goddamned animals?!”

No point in mentioning these monkeys I thought, my poor wife will see them soon enough.

We had already seen the signs. “Do not feed the monkeys!” It disturbs their migration habits, their diets, their natural fear of humans and can make them wildly unpredictable.

There is nothing in the world more helpless, irresponsible and depraved than a monkey in the depths of a junk food binge.

Langkawi
Don’t let their ‘cuteness’ fool you. These monkeys are cheeky!

Arienne asked if we could pull over, her butt was going numb.

“Wait,” I exclaimed in a panic. “This is monkey country!”

January 14th, 2017 (Day 11)

From: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
To: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
Activities: Beach Bumming
Stayed: Rainbow Lodge

Today’s trip report will be short anecdotes regarding people we ran into in the past 24 hours.

From Russia, with Love:

We didn’t have the best of sleeps last night. The Russian couple staying beside us decided to have a bit of a domestic, which under normal circumstances is understandable and… you know… happens. Unfortunately, neither party could come to terms whether to use their room or the porch as the field of battle. Each change of scenery was accompanied by a door slamming of nuclear proportions. Inside? SLAM! No, outside. SLAM! Oh, you wanna slam the door? SLAM. You call that a slam? SLAM! They call me the Shaquille O’Neal of door slammers. SLAM! What did the five fingers say to the door? SLAM! I particularly liked when the fella attempted to make one final epic SLAM to announce his departure into the night, only to realize he had forgotten the keys to the motorbike. SLAM on the way in. Don’t think that I forgot to SLAM on the way out. Oh, did you think she let him off the hook? Comes to yell something at him as he leaves. One more for good measure SLAM!!!

Turkish Delights:

We rented a couple of beach chairs and an umbrella and settled in for the day. Beautiful sun soaked white sand. The waves crashing in. The soft breeze cooling our already burnt skin. It was perfect.

Have you ever heard a Turkish television show that mixes loud action sequences with nauseatingly bad euro-techno beats? Well it certainly exists, because that’s what the man on the beach chair next to us decided to regale himself of those around him with. But don’t worry, the video would only run for about 20 seconds and then stop… only to be started again the instant we had started to take in the calm soothing order of the beach. I guess it was buffering and he was very patient, because his video stopped and started for the next 30 minutes.

How loud could it possibly be you wonder? Well, whatever phone he had, it must be some new model that certainly goes to 11.

(He left before noon)

Hope for the Future

After Turkish Delights left, he was replaced by a large Eastern European family. A father and mother, 2 teenage girls, 1 teenage boy, a boy of about 8, and a boy of about 3 or 4. Arienne and I cautiously looked at each other. Families are beautiful things and all, but they can be a little boisterous. After our previous neighbour, we really had been hoping for a little calm and quiet.

As if on cue, the littlest boy picked up a water pump and began to hose his dad. The spray ricocheted off his father and started to splatter me a bit. I quickly moved my soft cover book out of the way and looked at Arienne in concern. “Just our luck!”

Moments later, the little boy, now stark naked, calmly walked up beside my beach chair and stood there looking at me. I turned to him smiling and said, “Hello!” The boy then raised his right hand and began speaking to me in a passionately sincere voice. I could not understand anything he was saying, but he was looking me right in the eyes and then gestured toward my book. “I’m sorry,” I said sheepishly, “I don’t understand.” “He says that he is very sorry that he sprayed water and that it almost ruined your book,” said his mother, “and he wants you to know that it won’t happen again.” My mouth dropped open. “What a polite and kind little boy! Please tell him my book is okay, and that I think he’s awesome.”

The little boy nodded his head in approval and then marched his little bare bottom off to fetch a bathing suit. They were wonderful neighbours, with the kind of kids I hope to raise one day myself.

We had a great day at the beach.

Cenang Beach Langkawi
Enjoying the sunsets on Cenang Beach.

January 15th, 2017 (Day 12)

From: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
To: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
Activities: Motorbiking the Island
Stayed: Rainbow Lodge

Today we took the motorbike back out but there wasn’t really too much to write about. We checked out another waterfall (Arienne, photo please!) and then lazyed on a less popular beach for a couple of hours. We brought Alice the Drone out to spin her props for a bit, and then drove off to try to check Datai Bay. That, was a total bust, as we rode the bike (which makes you sore in the saddle after a while) for about an hour before coming to a dead end. We just barely made it back to civilization coasting on fumes and empty stomachs.

What to do in Langkawi
The Seven Wells Waterfall in the northwestern part of Langkawi.

Anyways, what I thought I’d highlight for you was our spending on the day. I’m sorry, but these prices are ridiculous. For Malaysia to be such a modern, civilized, easy to navigate country with absolutely the most lovely people, you’d imagine things would cost a wee bit more.

Breakfast:
1 – Plate of Koay Teow = 5 Ringgits ($1.47)
1 – Plate of Nasi Goreng = 5 Ringgits ($1.47)
2 – Iced Teas with Milk – 4 Ringgits ($1.18)

Motorbike:
1 – 12 hour Motorbike Rental = 25 Ringgits ($7.36)
5 – Litres of Gas (@ 2.1 MYR/L) = 10.5 Ringgits ($3.09)

Things to do in Langkawi
Motorbiking through the rice fields on Langkawi.

Lunch:
2 – Chicken and Rice Sausages +
6 – Deep Fried Banana slices = 5 Ringgits = ($1.47)

Duty Free:
1 – 1L Bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin = 55 Ringgits ($16.20)
3 – 500ml Cans of Carlsberg Beer = 9.60 Ringgits ($2.83)
1 – 330ml Can of Anchor Beer = 1.80 Ringgits ($0.53)
1 – 330ml Can of Tiger Beer – 2.20 Ringgits ($0.65)

Dinner:
2 – Roti Canai
1 – Large Order of Butter Chicken Massala
1 – Plate of Briyani and Curry
1 – Large Naan
1 – Large Bottle of Water
1 – Large Iced Tea with Milk
TOTAL: 27.50 Ringgits ($8.10)

Dessert:
2 – Lime Vanilla Ice Cream Bars = 3 Ringgits ($0.88)

Okay, never mind the fact that I got a small can of beer for $0.50, but that legit, authentic Indian dinner for $8!!!! Are you kidding me???? You have to get your butt to Malaysia.

January 16th, 2017 (Day 13)

From: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
To: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
Activities: Beach Bumming
Stayed: Rainbow Lodge

Okay, I’m going to pat myself on the back. You may or may not have noticed that this entire week has been pretty much riding a motorbike and lying on a beach. Yes, other things have happened as I’ve meticulously detailed (splattered) in this fine trip report. But you’re smart. You know I’m working my tail off here trying to keep this thing entertaining.

But today, today I got nothing. We sat on the beach. I amazingly burned exactly one half of my body while lying under an umbrella and swimming with a shirt on. Seriously, if I raise one arm, the side of my body looks like 2/3 of a Neapolitan ice cream tub. Don’t even dare start to make jokes about where the chocolate is!

It was our last day here on Langkawi. We are flying home tomorrow, and I can only hope I don’t get pissed on by the airplane like I did on the way out here. A 1-hour, 4-hour, and then a 15-hour flight. I’m concerned.

But what really matters here is the fact that I have returned to Malaysia and come away not with a renewed love, but a deeper more passionate one and I want the whole world to know it. I could not think of a place I have visited where climate, culture, cost, and cuisine can all combine so beautiful, so easily, and wrap its arms around you and say, “hey, why don’t you stay awhile.”

I’ve written about both Malaysia and Langkawi before, and again during this most recent set of trip reports, so all I will say now is when will you stop reading about it and come and see it for yourself?

Depending on how the flight home goes, this may be my last entry for this trip report. Thanks as always for reading. I have been greatly touched by those who say they enjoy reading the musings I tap into the keyboard.

This is your week 2 trip report.