Published: February 18th 2009January 26th 2009
From the Cameron Highlands we got back to our original route to Pulau Pangkor, an island just off the west coast town of Lumut. After a bus-bus-ferry-taxi ride taking nearly the whole day we pulled up in Pangkor along with a million other Malay & Chinese holidaymakers and were surprised to see a million also leaving the island presumably after just coming for a day trip.
We'd planned this part of our trip quite badly in our eagerness to come here and had arrived on Chinese New Year Day, not a good time to go anywhere it seems. As soon as we'd got dumped by one of the cool pink minibuses in Teluk Nipan, the main town on the island, our first attempts at finding a room where in vain. Everywhere seemed either full or those that did have a room were charging some extortinate sum to take it on. Just as we were coming to terms with the idea of sleeping on the beach we bumped into an Aussie group we'd travelled to the Cameron Highlands with and they told us about the 'dorm' they were staying in. The owner was charging RM25 each for the beds which was
annoying as we'd just got used to paying RM25 for a whole room but when faced with this or the beach we took this option so booked ourselves in.
The 'dorm' was a bit of a surprise though as it was actually an old cafe terrace on the top of the accommodation block where the owner had put a load of double beds on the floor clearly with the intention of making a fast buck for the poor homeless backpackers. Despite it being a little makeshift we all loved this room with it's sea views and all the fresh air you could want, there was also a great group of people up there which always helps.
Our days in Pangkor were spent on the lovely but quite littered beaches. It's a shame that the huge influx of local holidaymakers turns a once beautiful island into a rubbish dump but we tried to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and make the most of the warm (but murky) water as much as we could. Unfortunatley the murkey water resulted in Dale managing to stand on a sea urchin spine on one day, all was not lost though as after some quick
research on the internet as to the threat of his life we discovered that they dissolve themselves so we quickly returned to the beach!
After a few days in Pangkor we felt that there must be more out there so set our sights on Langkawi a little further up the coast. We'd decided to miss our Penang, Malaysia's other main island destination due to hearing mixed reports on it.. this and the fact that Langkawi is duty free!
It was another long travelling day to get to Langkawi with possibly our most transport modes in one day to date... (pink) taxi-ferry-bus-bus-taxi-ferry-taxi... phew! After leaving our hostel at 6am we finally arrived in the resort town of Cenang Beach a whole 12 hours later. For a while we were worried that the accommodation story here in Langkawi would be the same as in Pangkor after learning in the ferry queue that it was a school holiday here.. just our luck! It took quite a lot of 'sorry we're full' and prices well above our budget but eventually we found a nice little hostel about 300m down a sandy lane at the back of the town. Dale was a little
dubious about this hostel at first because it was called Rainbow Inn and decorated in rainbows but at this point we didn't care and it seemed that the rainbows were literally just the name anyway so he needn't have worried that it was sending out the wrong message and we booked ourselves in for 7 nights of relaxation and beach fun!
Langkawi beaches are definately a step up from Pangkor, the main beach in the town is huge with really soft white sand and views out to some of the other 99 islands in front of it. The water still wasn't quite as clear as we'd hoped and the amount of HUGE dead jellyfish that kept being washed up put us off a bit but it was fabulous all the same and we loved our days spent there.
For one day we ventured away from the main town and hired ourselves a moped complete with matching pea pod skid lids. Off we set around the island with Sophie clutching a little too tight to Dale for the start.. she was concerned that if they came off her tan would be spoilt by the grazes that would undoubtedly be
caused! Our first stop was the cable car attraction to the west of the island, sadly it was too windy when we went there the first time so we left and continued on our mission to find the better beaches on the island...
The first beach we headed to we couldn't visit. This beach is actually a private beach just for posh hotel people which was a little annnoying as they don't say this on the map but we'd enjoyed our ride there all the same spotting loads of monkey families on the way. Every time we stopped to photograph them though they'd all start running towards us and we got scared and had to make a quick getaway on our moped which must have looked quite funny had anyone been watching us! After about an hours riding with the wind blowing in our hair we did find a really beautiful beach on the North of the island. This was exactly what we'd had in our minds.. pure white sand with crystal clear water and virtually no people.. yey! We can't remember the name of it but if we do return to Langkawi this is where we want to
spend our time, it's a shame though that the only hotels we saw round there were 4* luxury ones so not sure our budget will stretch to it but we can dream.
After a hawker beach lunch we set off back to try the cable cars again as it seemed like the wind had died down and we'd been told the view from the top of the hill was amazing. We were in luck the cable cars were running so we got our tickets and approached the cars... now you know when things always seem like a good idea when you are booking them and then when it comes to doing it you're not so sure.. well this is what happened to Sophie as she got in the car and looked up at where they were heading. Sophie doesn't like cable cars at the best of times and the ones at Alton Towers are enough but these ones go from sea level straight up the hillside to 700m and it is really scary, Dale had the nail imprints on his knee to prove it! Once at the top that's not it though.. you get out and walk around then
have to get back on again to go to the very top mountain on the otherside of the valley.. not good! The views are amazing from up there and on a clear day you can see all the way to Thailand, we didn't manage to spot that but we did see some huge shapes swimming around in the ocean and have no idea what they were but they were REALLY HUGE so we think they were some sort of sea monster!
At the top of the cable cars they have another great attraction.. a suspended bridge you can walk across complete with gaps between the planks so you can see right down to where you would fall to your death if the thing collapsed. Again Sophie hated this and as dale skipped off so she could take some photos of him he didn't return leaving her to very slowly edge her way across to meet him on the other side with everyone giving her very funny looks as they strode past her. Sadly what goes up must come down and we then had to endure the cable car ride back to the mountain base again.. oh what fun! Sophie
again sat on the wrong side and was unable to move once it got going so had to close her eyes for trip back to ground level again. It was quite fun but not for those with a fear of heights!
The remainder of our days were spent predictably on the beach not doing a lot really.. we love to people watch though and the best person we saw saw a Borat lookalike who hired out a jetski and made us laugh our swimmers off as he went up and down the beach at about 1mph with his wife screaming on the back! The evenings were spent drinking the fabulously cheap RM1.50 beer on the beach and smuggling it into the Reggae Beach Mat Bar to enjoy the free entertainment on offer.. great!
After 7 days in Langkawi enjoying uninterrupted sunshine every day we decided we really should make a move to Thailand in search of some more idyllic beaches....
There are more photos below