Langkawi, an archipelago of 104 tiny islands in the Andamon Sea in the state of Kedah, is last on our itinerary but the place I’ve been most excited to see since I found out I’d be traveling with a small group to Malaysia this summer to celebrate the extraordinary Colours of 1Malaysia festival and attend AEROMEET, an annual national tourism outreach program. When we reach Langkawi, we’ve already been traveling through Malaysia for the past nine days, first exploring ultra-hip Kuala Lumpur and the famous Hindi statues at Batu Caves, then heading to Borneo, where we watched orangutans and took boats out to meet the infamous long-nosed proboscis monkeys, and now, we’re here: in beautiful Langkawi. The flight from Kuala Lumpur was only 55 minutes, which makes it an easy vacation destination for local Malays or for anyone traveling through the capital of the youngest country in Asia. Langkawi is where we can finally rest, visit the islands, enjoy fresh seafood, swim in the sea, and think about everything we’ve learned about this magnificent place over the past nine days.
Langkawi’s islands are literally a hop across the sea from Phuket and Thailand’s other southern islands. Because it’s in the northeast corner of the country, the landscape is utterly lush, full of thick green trees, high mountains covered in vegetation, and flowers of all colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. Our resort, the stunning Berjaya Langkawi, is even a set of traditional Malay-style treehouses on wooden stilts nestled in the mountains overlooking the sea. We’re staying just a few nights here before taking the long journeys home to our countries, but there’s still so much to learn about the archipelago before we do.
The second morning we’re here we rent three jetty boats from the harbor and take a small group out island-hopping. The sun is a bright, round ball this morning, the skies are blue, and there’s a hazy fog to the air. Our first visit is to the legendary Pulau Dayang Bunting, Lake of the Pregnant Maiden, which has us hiking up and down the forest through some thorny paths peppered with mischevious macaque monkeys (one particularly brave one actually jumped on my friend’s backpack to try and grab her water bottle). This lake is incredible—not only are the waters cool and clean, the lake is nestled in a little valley that erupts from the hiking trails and winds down into a pier where you can jump off, swim, or lay in the sun. It has an unusual story to it, too: it’s believed that many centuries ago, princess Mambang Sari lost her first child and buried him next to her favorite waters in the hopes that her child would bring good fortune to all childless couples who bathe in the waters and ask for the gift of conception. We all dive into the water, feeling the chill of the fresh water and the cleansing power of the lake, dry off and sunbathe for a while, and then head back up to the trails, where our boats and boatmen are still bobbing in the water, waiting for us.
Because we’re late getting to lunch, we speed through our next stop, Pulau Singa Besar, and watch eagles, bats, and monkeys navigate through the mangroves and thick forests from our boats. We’re having lunch at Pulau Beras Basah, where, when we arrive, a set of wooden picnic tables underneath a little veranda is already set with paper plates and silverware for us. Beras Basah is one of the only smaller islands with a restaurant for its visitors, and they offer a nice variety of seafood, chicken and beef kebabs, fried rice, and potatoes in their outdoor cabanas. The servers bring us grilled chicken kebabs dipped in a spicy peanut sauce (can I say unbelievable?!), boiled shrimps, fried fish balls, and plates of yellow rice and Skol beer so cold ice still sticks to the cans. We look out over the water, which is Caribbean-blue on top of the pure white sand, and we talk about our journey to this magical place. What will we write about? What will we say? How can we inspire others to visit these beautiful lands?
Later in the evening, a few of the girls and I dress up and take a bus to Pantai Cenang, Langkawi’s famed spot for clubs, bars, and backpacker hostels. We stop at a fish spa, where the little sucker fish gravitate to our legs and eat away all of the dead skin from our feet, and we find a tiki-style bar on the beach with a live band, good drink specials, and lots of international backpackers. We stay until the bar closes at 1 a.m., catch a bus back to Berjaya, and get ready for our next day, which will be, I assume, just as unforgettable as this one was.
Karong Berkunci 200, Burau Bay
07000 Langkawi, Kedah
+60 (4) 959 1888
Kristin Mock is an award-winning travel writer, editor, blogger, and graduate student based in Tucson, AZ. Her work has been featured in in-flight magazines such as En Voyage and online in USA Today, Perceptive Travel, Sherman’s Travel, and others. She also blogs about travel, writing, and photography at www.kristinmock.com. This is her first contribution to Entouriste. Join her on Twitter @kristinmock.