Langkawi and Lipé - where nature and holidaying meet!

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January 5th 2014
Published: February 11th 2014
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Kuah JettyKuah JettyKuah Jetty

Such a massive, detailed statue!
From the jungle of Borneo to one of Malaysia's most popular tourist islands Langkawi, this was surely going to take some getting used to! Langkawi is a beautiful island, at the top of Malaysia's west coast. So close to Thai border in fact that we decided to make the trip there on Day 3 of our 4 days there.

Admittedly we left our run a little late in booking accommodation for this trip (mid-December) and being on the end of peak season most places in the "main area" were sold out (for reference the main area is Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah on the island's south-west coast). We decided on the Bayview Langkawi hotel in the heart of Kuah town (south-east) purely because we got a good deal and booked an Executive Room with sea view that came with all those other supposedly-great benefits. It was a Griswald moment indeed when we turned up to the hotel and were given our welcome drink of tea/coffee/juice... hmm where's that Pina Colada I was expecting?? Our executive level lounge didn't have any alcohol either and only a choice of three snacks. The first night was actually the only night we
Langkawi Cable CarLangkawi Cable CarLangkawi Cable Car

The view from up here is amazing - a 'must-do' in Langkawi
bothered visiting the lounge. Instead we opted to walk across the street to the myriad of Duty Free stores selling 500mL Carlsberg beers for 2.80RM ($1 AUD). As someone wise once said, don't sweat the small stuff... but it does make you wonder why SO many restaurants do not serve alcohol on Langkawi. And then it clicks.

Just like Sex and the City's Samantha, I must admit I feel a little judged in Langkawi. There is a great deal of tourists on the island from the Middle East with a majority of women wearing the burka or veil. I had to be very careful at breakfast not to step on any beautiful flowing gowns! And while some may say I'm making a huge generalisation or assumption by saying this is likely the case, it was confirmed by almost all the taxi drivers and tour operators we spoke to. If planning a holiday to Langkawi (or Malaysia in general) don't be surprised if your hotel or restaurant doesn't serve alcohol - it's damn well cheap enough to just go buy it yourself 😊

Our first afternoon was spent browsing the Duty Free stores in Kuah,

Scooting around Langkawi around Monsoon Season? It's gonna happen.
then a 15-minute stroll to dinner. We had originally intended to go to Wonderland for dinner, but it must be closed on Sundays. Instead we went next door to the Thai seafood spot Restoran Kuboi. Our waiter must have shook everyone's hand in that restaurant - that's just the kind of service you come to expect in Malaysia. I had to go with a golden-oldie, Chicken Cashew (and mix vege), while Matt opted for Tiger Prawns. With beer the bill came in at 48RM / $16.60 AUD.

To really get the feel of being in a new place you really have to spend a day exploring. Asking locals where they eat, where they go for fun... Our second day in Langkawi pretty much served this purpose. The best way to get around and see the island? Scooter. And while usually I would err on the side of caution in countries like Thailand, Malaysia is a different kettle of fish. The cars move around the scooters almost as if it was the scooters who were there first - they're the ones who seem to get all the road-respect! Matt phoned reception and asked where was best to hire
Cenang BeachCenang BeachCenang Beach

Reminded me a bit of Patong, just in terms of how busy/built-up it was.
from and all be really got out of them was "Dee Shop". After a fruitless Google search we asked a security guard at the hotel who seemed to say "Dee Shop" too and pointed us in the direction of the nearest bridge. A 5-minute walk later and we found ourselves at T Shoppe - which we found out later has outlets all over the island. 4 Days Scooter hire with Insurance came to 140RM / $48.50AUD. A bargain considering a taxi from Kuah town to Cenang beach costs 28RM each way. Side notes on scooter hire in Langkawi - you aren't allowed to drive it up the highest mountain on the island, or on the beach; you will incur a fee of 40MR / $14AUD if you lose your helmet/it's stolen; costs approx 8RM / $2.75AUD to fill the tank (we used about a half tank per day).

With the wind in our hair and sun on our back it was off to see the island in all its' glory - and what better place is there than at 700m above sea level. The Langkawi Cable Car is about a half hour from Kuah / 10mins from
Telaga HarbourTelaga HarbourTelaga Harbour

Stunning part of the island. Any hotel around here would be secluded bliss :)
Cenang. Visitors have been coming here for the last 10 years to get a full 360-degree panorama of this beautiful island. We were not disappointed - the views were stunning and the breeze made you forget the blazing heat for an hour or two. Return trip costs 30RM / $10.50AUD per adult.

After the cable car trip we started to get a tad hot... Standard for Malaysia in January. We thought we had better check out the 'sold out spot' of Cenang so headed in that direction. On our way from the Cable Car we went through Télaga Harbour. A stunning harbour, with more posh yachts than derelict long boats, it seems to be a popular spot for those who are sailing the world (AKA lucky bastards). Télaga Harbour is also home to the exclusive hotel The Danna. We decided to be cheeky and head down the unmarked driveway to the side of the resort, which brought us out on the same stretch of beach as the hotel. There is a line of rocks marking the hotel property but we pulled up our scooter just off the sand and jumped in the water. I was tempted to
A New FriendA New FriendA New Friend

I pat every stray cat I came across! Although I suspect this little girl is looked after pretty well by the Telaga Terminal staff
write 'cool' water just then but it was really anything but... more like a luke warm bath. Two other couples pulled up while we were there and took a dip, but it's about a 500m stretch of sand so there was plenty of room... And that view!

Riding wet was actually the most refreshing part of our swim. Even if it was only 10 minutes to Cenang. The busy shopping/dining strip back from the beach and the beach itself reminded me of a 'polished Patong'. I'm not a huge fan of crowds and hiked prices so to be completely honest Cenang didn't really float my boat. We grabbed a quick 73RM/ $26AUD lunch at 3 Amigos Mexican on the strip (where I ate the hottest dish I have ever had in my life - Beef Tacos, how embarrassing) it was off to check out Underwater World (also in Cenang). We were hoping to see some spectacular marine fish and coral, considering the local pool of wonders. Unfortunately the marine displays were fairly average yet on the whole we enjoyed our time there. We were in and out, not too much to look at (other than the super
Koh LipeKoh LipeKoh Lipe

Wanted to jump off the speedboat straight into the water
cute Rockhopper penguins which I found hard to walk away from) so it was 40RM / $14AUD (per adult) well spent.

Clouds seemed to have mysteriously formed while we were in UWW and we hopped to it and scooted back to Kuah town. We had planned on getting massages at Mimosa Spa @ Bella Vista hotel in Kuah and knew we'd have to get there soon to grab an appointment. The heavens opened around 5 minutes out of Kuah and we were completely soaked through when we reached Mimosa! Luckily the Kyuri Kyrui package started with a Sea Salt Food Bath which warmed us right up. Next was a full body traditional Malay massage, scalp massage, full body Aroma Scrub finished off with a full body Cucumber Wrap. We thought it was great value at 148RM per person / $51AUD, especially for over 2 hours of treatments.

We were up early for our scooter ride to Télaga Terminal for our day trip to Thailand on Day 2. More specifically, the small island of Koh Lipe. We booked the Bundhaya Resort Speedboat transfer online through the Télaga Terminal website for 466RM / $161AUD (for 2 persons). The 2 hour wait would have seemed forever if it wasn't for a certain furry friend who hurried over and jumped on my lap as soon as I sat down. The cat belonged to the terminal caretaker and was extremely friendly to everyone it met that morning. Even preceding to flop on the counter in front of the man handing out boarding passes so as to meet all the new visitors one-by-one. Too cute!

We were lucky the weather was beautiful during our time in Koh Lipe which made the hour-long trip over so smooth that most people on board managed a little nap. Crystal clear azure blue waters greeted us on the xxx side of the island, where we hopped from our speedboat into a smaller Thai longboat to take us safely into the low-tide shore. I was surprised to see how busy the tiny island was (you can walk around it in half an hour). A majority of guests were from Europe, though you can't tell from their deep chocolate-brown tans!

There is one main street through Koh Lipe where all of the shops, restaurants, massage parlours and snorkelling/diving companies are
Pulau Payar Marine ParkPulau Payar Marine ParkPulau Payar Marine Park

A great day out with East Marine.
based. We grabbed a snack from the Pan Cake lady (not to be confused with pancakes as this was literally a cake-like concoction fried in a pan) and then it was off to hire snorkels and fins (100RM / $35 for 2 people). The diving shop recommended the tiny islands off shore from Power and Sunrise Beaches on the other side of the island. The swim out took about 15 minutes and was also crammed with fish and coral (albeit in a slightly tattered condition compared to the island). Once there we saw such a huge array of fish - everything from large rainbow wrasse to tiny clownfish, angels and coral beauties, damsels and hawkfish. The most impressive of all was the school of Powder Blue Tangs we came across behind the island - they were so big and tended to hang around us instead of scooting away! Unfortunately it was at this time that my wrist, forearm and lip started to sting like I'd been lashed with a hot fishing line - sure enough when we surfaced my arm started to welt up. It wasn't until we went back under and I got stung a second time (on my
We found Nemo!We found Nemo!We found Nemo!

Look for the anenomes and you will find them too :)
upper arm) that we were certain it was some type of jellyfish. The second mark really came up in a tentacle pattern. I was so disappointed I had to walk up the rocks and away from those Powder Blues!! The air did the sting a world of good and I got back in to snorkel back into shore. This took us to around 1:30pm and we only had 2 more hours left on the island - enough for some tanning time and lunch. We headed back to the 'main beach' for lunch at Bung Roon Halal Cafe (just down from Bundhaya Resort) which came in at 320TB including Changi beer.

I'm sure I seemed like a child to onlookers that afternoon - whining to Matt "but I don't want to leave!" If I had my time over I would have ditched the trip to Penang and checked into a hotel on Koh Lipe instead. Oh well, that's what travel blogs are for 😊 Surprisingly the boat was packed going back to Langkawi and it was dusk when we returned at around 6pm. We had to wait quite a while for our passports to be returned to us (as the speedboat company take it from you and sort all your customs clearances/stamps etc). It was off to Cenang for dinner, where we pulled up stumps at D'Khas Cafe, one of the cheaper eats in the area. Sure our meals took a while to come out but we used the time to trawl through all our underwater snorkelling shots. Another bummer is that D'Khas don't serve alcohol, but we were both super happy with our meals and it only set us back 28RM / $10AUD and you just can't complain with that.

Day 3 we just couldn't say no to a second snorkelling trip, this time to Malaysia's only protected Marine Park, Pulau Payar. We saw many advertisements for snorkelling day trips to Payar but through extensive research on Trip Advisor we decided to book with East Marine, out of Langkawi Yacht Club in Kuah. For 200RM / $71AUD we were provided lunch, snorkel mask and life jacket (no fins allowed). We were also picked up from hotel in shuttle bus at 9am for 10am departure. From the get-go East Marine were completely organised, professional and friendly. Everyone was smiling and quite sincerely seemed to love

Hands down best Satay we've ever had - anywhere in the world!
their job - when we arrived at Payar one hour later we could see why! The island is untouched except for the Marine Park precinct and the waters are so clear you can spot the fish and coral formations from the walkways some 3 meters above the water. They do not allow fins here so a life jacket is recommended for floating above the coral which is so close to you! It was really disappointing seeing some tourists standing on the coral adjusting their masks etc it is lack of respect like this that will lead to the further coral spoiling of this beautiful marine park. Matt and I were excited to see a vast array of wrasse, clown fish and angels. Though we didn't spot too many tangs, the excitement of the Powder Blue Tangs at Koh Lipe was equalled by Pulau Payar's Black Tip Reef Sharks. We had read they would be on the reef and our tour guide had warned against feeding them as there had been incidents with injured hands in the past. Having seen them at Langkawi Underwater World also and learning how placid they are it was clear excitement when we first spotted them
Temurun WaterfallsTemurun WaterfallsTemurun Waterfalls

This is at one of the smaller ponds downstream - but they would be even more beautiful after/during rain!
around midday. We swam towards them and tried to get some photos with both us and the sharks in the shot but to no avail. These lithe creatures are so fast and yet so graceful. At one point it must have appeared from above as though we were being 'circled' by a whole school because we could hear people yelling - when we surfaced they were pointing 'sharks sharks sharks!' Clearly someone’s' tour guide didn't mention they were virtually harmless.

Relaxed and recharged we returned to Kuah Harbour around 4:30pm and did a little local shopping before heading to the Kuah Night Markets for dinner. If you are in Kuah Town on a Wednesday or Saturday I highly recommend it! The local food was so delicious and ended up being the cheapest eats during our entire Malaysia trip! For just 17.50RM / $6.10AUD we picked up:

* Mee Goreng Ayam (Noodles with Chicken)

* Roti Murtabak Ayam (Thick roti parcel with Chicken)

* 4 Chicken Satay Sticks

* 2 Orange Juices

* And for dessert Roti Canai Piseng with Nutella (Banana Roti) and 2 Small Apam Balik (Peanut Pancakes)

This was the night that our love affair with Apam Balik truly began. Imagine cooking a pancake but before flipping to cook the other side you sprinkle the bubbling side with crushed peanuts and either chocolate or sugar. The pancake is the folded in half, covered with butter, flipped and browned before being served in wax paper. Gooey, sweet and salty-crunchy all at the same time 😊 quite addictive, especially at 1RM / 35cents AU per pancake. It made for a great last night in Langkawi; Kuah more specifically. If we were to return to Langkawi we would opt for a more central location like Pantai Kok or around Télaga Harbour - they have the best of both worlds; half way between Kuah ferries and duty free and the nightlife and restaurants of Cenang & Tengah.

Day 4 was a little overcast and our flight wasn't until the afternoon, so we took advantage of the time and made a quick scooter dash to the northern peninsula of the island. We went to the Temurun Waterfalls which weren't cascading as there hadn't been rain for two days. Nevertheless it was a pretty spot and wished we had more time so I could literally take a leaf out of a fellow travellers’ book and sit beside the lagoon and read in peace. It was back on the scooter to try and see the grounds/beaches of the exclusive northern resorts - Andaman and Datai. Unfortunately security is super tight and all you can see from the gate is forrest. This area of coastline is rumoured to be the most spectacular in all of Langkawi, reserved for access to hotel guests only... looks like it's time to save those pennies!

We headed back to Kuah for a quick street lunch at Rootian Seafood Hawker Centre - Mee Goreng and a Tiger for each of us for just 14.50RM / $5AUD. The rain started coming down just as we got back to the hotel from returning the scooter so we couldn't have timed our departure from Langkawi any better.

Now off to Penang for Malaysia's "best food"! Talk then, much love xoxo AG


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