Langkawi, the duty free island

Langkawi

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After the sleepless night I arrived to Kuala Perlis, the place in the Mainland where I could take the ferry to Langkawi. The bus was 2 hours late, but it didn’t matter, since the boat was going every 30 minutes. I kept sending messages to my host, informing about the delay. When I arrived gave him a call, and it turned out that he fell asleep. However, 15 minutes after my call, we caught up in front of Starbucks. Soon after hitting his couch, we went to have a breakfast. Meeting 2 of his friends, we went to the restaurant next to his house. Well, it should be called his house, office and apartments for rent. Had a breakfast, during which all 3 guys were smoking.

We arrived in the place. The location pretty much next to nothing (beach and nightlife far far away), but at least in the neighborhood there were some nice restaurants.

Or so I thought after the first few days. Just to realize later than indian cuisine, as delicious as can be, seriously lacks the salads and fruits.

Malays are lovely and extremely welcoming people,  however, they have one big problem (from my point of view). They smoke tons of cigarettes. And they smoke everywhere. No matter if it’s the restaurant during the meal, in the car, at home.. And this behavior is even more expanded in Langkawi, which happens to be the duty free zone. Due to that fact the cheapest pack of cigarettes cost below 2 RM, which is roughly 60 US cents. When I went to the bar the other night, it was hard to spot a person who doesn’t smoke, including foreigners. This island probably attracts smokers due to low prices of cigarettes and liberal policy – you can smoke virtually everywhere.

 

 

My personal attitude toward smoke is extremely negative. When I smell it, have a headache, when my roomies smoke, I can’t sleep but keep coughing. I believe that this is a true poison, not just the tobacco itself, but rather all the chemical substances added by producers of cigarettes, in order to make them more addictive.

In spite of the fact that the island is quite big, doing tourist stuff can make you busy for no longer than a week. There is a waterfall, a quite good tropical fruits farm, cable car, and some beaches.

I especially liked the tropical farm fruits. The visit took no longer than two hours, and because it wasn’t season for most fruits, I just tried a very limited selection instead of full variety. But what really made this visit worth, was our driver/guide. Always smiling, happy to make “special” photos, show us the hidden gems.. Good time!

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Unlike expected, beaches are of either bad or very bad quality. The water visibility is below 20 centimeters, and with huge jellyfish floating around, which means that the water quality is really poor.

2013-02-23-1561Except of one beach I found – Tanging Rhu. But there is a little tiny problem or actually two. First, it’s good 20 kilometers from the town or even further from the major tourist spot called Pantai Cenang. And it technically belongs to the hotel, which is right now shut due to renovations, and guards are told not to let anyone in. Of course I did sneak in. Here is how it looks like.

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I went to not so long time ago abandoned resort one day. From the distance it looked all right. Decent beach, nice views.. One could really like it. The one bizarre thing was the totally neglected and abandoned resort. I took my time to lay on the beach, and soon found out the reason. Even though it didn’t look dirty, it had lots of small animals, that started biting me. I went to the water, the bottom consisted of rocks, and then algaes. And the visibility was… none. Couldn’t even see my hand put just below the surface. I called the quits and kept laying down on the beach, this time putting my towel to prevent from the bugs. Tried to sleep, but couldn’t, due to the large boats going back and forth, making the noise comparable with landing helicopter. It became completely obvious why this resort became abandoned.

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On the other hand, the really good thing about the island are the people. Not only locals but also tourists. Friendly, welcoming and fun to be around. Nobody is in a hurry (I had to adapt not to honk when someone is late from the traffic lights or just going too slow), and everyone takes his time. The only time I was honked at was when in my car the trunk lid opened at the speed of 80 km/h.

The life here is truly peaceful and slow going. When I go for dinner with my host, we usually spend 2 hours for just that activity. Add to that the fact that I never go to sleep before 2 am, that it’s been raining most of the time and that beach of rather terrible quality is far away. As a result I hardly leave the room, except from restaurants and occasional parties. You will have the complete picture how perfectly lazy the days are passing by in Langkawi.

 

But it’s been enough, I shall go elsewhere in couple of days. I found Perhentian adequate. And from then I have an almost perfect plan. In march I’m going to Cambodia and Vietnam, and april is to discover the Philippines with my local friend, so I’m really looking forward to do that!

 

 

 

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