Published: August 27th 2012August 27th 2012
I snapped this on our way up the cable car. We still had higher to climb
A few months back Jen and I were trying to peice together our wedding and reception in England while finishing our contracts in Korea. With most of it done we shifted our focus to the honeymoon. As we scoured the internet for a perfect destination to spend a few weeks in the spring of 2013 I turned to Jen and said, "Why don't we just take it this summer with our vacation?"
And with that we found ourselves enroute to Langkawi at the end of July. Langkawi is a small island off of the northwest coast of Malaysia. Famous for eagles, beaches, and all sorts of ocean activities. Neither of us knew what to expect when we arrived. Would our airport pickup be there? Would the weather be sunny and hot or would the famous Asian summer rains keep us holed up in the hotel? Would the hotel actually look like the pictures online or would that be an old picture, before the "remodel?" All these questions swirled around in our heads as the plane descended through the orance sky for Langkawi International Airport.
Because we'd resigned with our schools we were each awarded an extra wee's
vacation. That made it possible for us to spend 2 weeks living the island life. The brief research we did before our trip taught us that Langkawi is thick with dense jungle in the interior and spoiled with sandy beaches and warm turquiose waters.
Everything turned out to be fine with the airport pickup, the hotel, and the weather. It was raining the day we landed and we both prepared ourselves for drinking cocktails on the beach in the rain and having the shore to ourselves. After all, isn't the point of going to a tropical island to get wet anyway, be it beach or the sky. However, after that night we wouldn't see a raindrop until our return home to Korea.
That first night, both exhausted from a long day of travel, we'd spent the night in Incheon Airports Jimjilbang before making our way to Singapore for our stopover, we didn't feel like heading out to one of hotel bars. It being our honeymoon we thought, "Hey, might as well live a little." Within 30 minutes one of the hotel staff was carrying in warm food and ice hold beers into our comfortably air conditioned room. We
This was one of the highlights of the trip. I wouldn't make it back unscathed
ate and drank on the couch while looking out at the peanut shaped pool below.
I had found out that the best way around the island was to rent a scooter and make your way around like the locals but since the last time Jen spent time in the tropics on the back of a motorbike ended with 2nd degree burns on her hands and we still weren't sure of the weather, the sky in Southeast Asia can be cloudless and a deep blue during the morning and then as soon as you leave the comfort of your room each street becomes a river as the hot rain falls, we decided to opt for a car. And we were both glad for it, air conditioning was going to be a constant on this trip.
After a day of lounging on the beach and making sure that the cocktails were up to par our rental car showed up. We decided to rent it for 6 days so that I could fulfill a dream of hitting my right arm on the drivers side door everytime I wanted to switch gears before remembering that I was in a right
Salt Water Jacuzzi
The salt water jacuzzi might be the best kind of jacuzzi.
hand drive car and the stick shift was on my left. I had a blast pulling out onto the street and thinking to myselft, left side, left side, drive on the left side. Eventually I'd get the hang of it and speed around scooterists and dodge the cows that wander aimlessly around the island. That first day with the car we headed out to the Langkawi Cable Cars and Oriental Village. The cable cars are probably the most famous atrraction other than the beaches itself. We arrived mid day and found that the skybridge, a bridge between the mountain peeks was closed but we could still take the tram up to the top and get off at the checkpoints to snap photos. Our clear plastic box smoothly made it's way to the top, swaying more and more as the winds picked up with the altitude and I looked out at the jagged rocks on the bottom and wondered about the merits of Malaysian engineering.
For the days that we had the car we made sure to check off our lists of things we wanted to do while we had it. We went into the main town and did some
shopping, the entire island is a duty free zone. We headed to the largest city on the island, Kuah, and had a look at the sites around there, visited waterfalls, got lost, drove with the E break on, all those fun things you do in a rental.
We spent our days with activities we could find in travel brochures or by finding a place on the map and driving to it. One of the things we decided to do was a jet ski tour around Langkawi's 99 islands. It was just us and another couple with our guide and our three jet ski's set off to explore for the afternoon. We soon realized that the guides jet ski was much faster than our own and we did the best we could to keep up but eventually topped out at about 35mph. He took us through limestone caves, island hopping, to watch eagles feed but we found that they weren't hungry so we just watched them fly around a bit and then he let us have 2minutes on his jet ski which I spent going as fast as I could in a straight line with Jen struggling to hang on
Spoiled with these views the entire trip.
behind me. As we darted between the islands we even saw a pair of dolphins riding the waves out with us. I'd never seen wild dolphins before, it was pretty great, but it would only be second biggest finned animial that we would see in the rich blue waters during our stay.
Later in the week we booked ourselves on a sunset dinner cruise. The evening was warm and clear and we set off from the dock with a few other vacationers on a yaucht for the open sea. The crew kept us supplied with cool drinks and food during the duration of the trip and then announced that the salt water jacuzzi was up and running. I'd been looking for it the entire time we'd been on the boat because it was advertised in big orange letters on the flier we received from our hotel but I couldn't find it anywhere. I wandered to the back of the boat and noticed a long peice of rope ladder netting being towed beind the boat. A member of the crew handed me an ice cold beer, pointed at the netting and said, "Salt water jacuzzi."
great. We gave him our beers, jumped off the front of the boat, caught a rope connected to a life ring following behind and the crew would pull us into the netting. Once in you'd lean back like on a lay-z-boy and they'd hand you a beer as you enjoyed the salt water jacuzzi. It's the little things like that that I really enjoy. Nowhere in America would you be allowed to have that much fun, surely somebody would want to fine you for it.
The next morning I awoke with bruise on my hip and a peice of skin missing from my knee. "What happened to you?" Jen asked. "Must have lost my sealegs sometime last night. Do you remember the sunset?" "No, I don't think I remembered to watch it." "Me too, but that salt water jacuzzi was great." Later in the week we would run into the friendly crewman that was serving us drinks and pulilng us into the netting and I had an eerie feeling that when he asked me if I remembered him he was thinking about some embarrassing scene were I'd made an ass of myselft, probably something to do with
Our guides tossed food out to the reef sharts in order to draw them closer. Not sure if that's a good idea with people in the water but they had all of their limbs and no visible scars so we trusted them
my bruise but then I thought, he must see people do stupid stuff all the time, he works on a booze cruise. So we talked for a bit, thanked him again for all the fun and headed off down the road.
The whole vacation was shaping up to be really good. Early one morning we woke and shuffled onto a bus to visit Palau Payar Marine Park and do some snorkeling. We met a pair of Austrailian women on the boat ride out and talked about various things, namely, the baby shark feeding that was advertised on the brochure. When we got to the island we could see baby black tip reef sharks, about a foot long, swimming all over the place in the crystal clear water. Colorful fishes darted around and did their best not to be eaten. The guides gave us our gear and told us to stay inside the roped zone so we didn't get carried out to sea. He also mentioned that the bigger reef sharks hang out on the other side of the island and then turned and went about his business. I, and the rest of the snorkelers made our way
Black Tip Reef Shark
This and about four others were our swimming buddies for an afternoon. Absolutely amazing and one of the best things I've ever done.
to the ocean and jumped in. We made our way through the warm water, pointing out the baby sharks, the colorful fish and everything else we saw. I made it out to the boundry line to the floading ropes. I had assumed it was a net to keep the bigger sharks out in case they tired off their place on the other side of the island but when I got out to where I thought the net was I realized that it wasn't a net at all. I could see out into the darker blue water and I started to turn around and make my way back when I saw something much larger than the fish I'd seen earlier sleekly move through the water. I looked back and saw this time that it was a 3-4 ft. black tip reef shark swimming freely out in front of me. I said something under the water that came out sounding like, "Ghroglly Bphsglit!" I made my way back to Jen to tell her about it. I don't think she believed me and then it came right it front of us and she said, "Ghroglly Bphsglit!" This was definitely the highlight of the
One of the 99 islands off of Langkawi
trip. We watched them feed while we took a lunch break and then I got back into the water and swam within ten feet of them. I thought I'd be a little more nervous to be in the water with a shark but it's strangely hypnotic and you realize that they're not really interested in you. At the end of our day of snorkeling the sharks had appeared to leave for someplace unknown to me. I was about to get out and call it a day when right below me, withing ten feet, what looked to be a four footer swam out in front of me. There is something disturbing about bobbing in the ocean thinking you've got it all covered and not realizing that a shark is behind you and swimming your way. The fact that he could see me way before I could see him made me pause for a moment. I did a quick head spin to make sure there wasn't another one headed for me and made my way to the shore while saying, Ghroglly Bphsglit!"