Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sand in my hair, sun in my heart

The only time to visit Langkawi is when the sun is shining and the sea is behaving itself. Clever me, my last visit to the island was during the monsoon season. The dark clouds poured their hearts out everyday and the sea was so choppy that it scared the bejeebers out of us. The trip so disappointed me that I swore to never return to the island.

So when our firm organised a fully expense-paid company trip this July, naturally it was destination Langkawi. The option of not joining the trip could not be considered, as lawyers who opted to stay would be made to go to court. Yours truly signed up on the spot.

I was prepared to be bored out of my skull. But as you know, Expectation is always in inverse proportion to Reality. So I was pleasantly shocked how my trip actually blew me away!

We lodged at the luxurious Mutiara Burau Bay Resort. With private cabanas among lush foliage set within a short walk from the sea–it was picturesque. The long stretch of beach was part white sand and part rocky enclave.

The boys went scavenging for snails and crabs and Ramesh claims to have even spotted a biawak. Saltwater lizards? Ick.

One tip about eating when one is up north in Malaysia is forget the sirloins and chicken chops. Even the hotel variety is dismal. The star attraction has to be the Malay food which is spectacular! The simple sambal and dried fish is transformed into a parade for the palate. And in Langkawi beer is almost as cheap as soda. Talk about a Happy Meal for a Happy Me!

Island hopping was without a doubt the highlight of our trip. We left the resort early at 8.30 am to enjoy the wholesome sunshine. We were told that it was better to get an early start as the sun can turn scorching later. Syeah, right!

Three boatfuls of us rode screaming into the sea as we jetted over the beautiful, beautiful emerald waters. Some of the islands were little more than giant limestone monuments covered entirely in green foliage right to the water’s edge. From afar they looked like mossy knolls sitting placidly on smooth green glass.

And then we came and shattered to smithereens what peace they had.

But soon our noisy entourage too was eventually hushed by the islands’ sheer serenity. It was like we were passing through sacred waters. We were dropped off at Tasik Dayang Bunting aka Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. After a 10-minute easy hike from the beach, an immense fresh water lake greeted us. It was even greener than the sea. One can take a dip in its cools waters, take a paddleboat to explore the lake or go crazy and go banana boating. The locals believe that the waters are beneficial for women who have trouble conceiving.

If you ever venture there, be careful where you dip your feet. There is one particular enclosure that is teeming with catfish. They usually trawl the lake bottom. But when they see feet, they surface to nibble the flavourful bits of dirt between your toes. I vow not to think too much when I next eat seafood.

When we got back on our boats, wadda-ya-know, it began to pour. As we sped onwards with rain lashing in our face and the sea throwing itself at us, we were completely soaked to the bone. Sunburn..humbug! Yet what fun!

Some of the passengers on the other boat didn’t quite share our enthusiasm. I don’t blame them. They had a Tsunami survivor as their boatman and he was cheerfully regaling his tale of horror throughout they journey. No wonder a few of my colleagues looked sick.

Then, just as suddenly as the rain had begun, it completely stopped. As we approached a quiet cove the boats stopped. Mr Boatman-From-Hell (so christened by my boss), tossed a handful of meat into the water. Typical of urbanites who grew up throwing bread into fish ponds, our eyes immediately searched into the depths of water until a loud “ehem” from the Boatman got us to look up.

And there came eagles.

There were three species of eagles. The Sea Eagle, the Swamp Eagle and the Hill Eagle. The Sea Eagle was the largest and by far the most impressive due to its while plumage and its significantly larger size. They circled high above us before slowly descending to the water - talons outstretched. We were in awe. Watching the eagles is a highly recommended experience!

After the eagles had enough of us, we made our way to Pasir Basah island where it was quite shallow and there were hardly any waves, making it perfect for swimming.

When we got back to the resort, we were completely drained despite it having only been a half day trip.

The rest of the vacation involved bussing around the various tourist spots. Langkawi may be touted for its mythical heritage but seriously, visiting Mahsuri’s Tomb and Field of Brunt Rice was a waste of time. Its just another excuse to entice tourist to part with their money.

Altogether it was a great escape and all the better that it was fully paid for by the company. One only needs to endure one’s officemates, which can already be trying on most days. Nevetheless the sun and sea was worth it. So you can just imagine how loathsome it was to get back to KL.

But no point in pouting. I end this entry with a picture that encapsulates perfectly the best bit of my 2 nights and 3 days in Langkawi.

It's the view from my hammock.

1 comment:

jo said...

of all the many times i've been to langkawi, i've never done all that! the eagles! the island hopping!

i so wanna go there now!