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Published: April 8th 2015
Getting from Mandalay, Myanmar to our next destination Langkawi, Malaysia was slightly long winded but made easier as we caught a flight from Mandalay to Bangkok and then another one to Hat Yai where we settled for the night.
Hat Yai was not what we expected. Arriving at night this place was buzzing. Lots of market stalls selling food, cheap clothes all side by side next to many high end malls. Throw in some rats and some suspicious looking women hanging around on street corners and you have Hat Yai.
Next stop Langkawi, Malaysia. In order to get to Langkawi the following morning we caught a tuktuk to the bus station, then a coach to Satun, another tuk tuk to the ferry terminal, a ferry across the Thai border to get into Langkawi, and then a fixed rate taxi to the beach town of Pentai Cenang. We'll tell you this, if you haven't travelled by all of the above in the space of a couple of days, you haven’t travelled. Travelling ain't in no way easy, its tiring, exhausting and challenging but oh how it is rewarding getting there and eventually overcoming any initial perceived challenges. That's what
makes it all worthwhile.
We never actually booked accommodation at this beach town and because of the highly popular LIMA show (Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace) we found it very difficult to find a room. You can imagine how tired we were by this point after around 2 days of travel; we just wanted to settle somewhere. Most places we stopped by said they were full for the next 10 or so days. One after the other same thing, no beds. Finally after our 8th or so guesthouse we came across the Rainbow Lodge with one room at 120ringgit /£24 not the price we were looking for but a room was a room, we needed a place to stay and we could no longer keep searching. We were tired, drenched in sweat and needed to rest.
Noting a 24hr Mcdonalds, KFC and a Subway on the main strip behind the beach; we knew as soon as we arrived that this place was going to be touristy and sure enough it was but as we were just looking forward to some beach time we didn't really mind the tourism to much. What helped was the beach on
Penang Cenang; it was was stunning. Albeit difficult to walk on at times due to the tiny crystal like sand particles that glistened in the hot sun. It was like walking on hot flour at times! The whole beach stretched far and wide, and although it was crowded in one area, the beach was big enough to find our own little quite spot with both sun and shade and without sitting on top of the people we were next to. We enjoyed our time reading and people watching, as many tourists engaged in the water activities on offer here such as the parasailing, banana boat and jet-ski rides.
One attraction here was definitely tourists, we observed many here who must have extended beach time as they had tanned to the point we questioned whether they were darker than the 2 of us put together. Haha. We did not think that was achievable for someone who was born with fair skin. But believe us it is. What was nice to see here was the amount of Malaysian Muslim families on the beach together, enjoying their shared time, making noise, children and adults together both catching the waves building sand castles
Langkawi was the only place we could find this delicious meal
and running after each other; thus offering a different perspective to family life away from the towns and cities.
One rather annoying or enjoyable thing (depending on whose perspective you take) was the fighter jets practising their circuits for the upcoming LIMA show that weekend. As with most locals Chris was intrigued and in awe by the fighter jets as they practised their manoeuvres prior to the festival. Initially he was a bit concerned as one roared past on our first morning causing the whole cabin we were staying in to shake! For P the overwhelming roaring and deafening sounds of the fighter jets that passed us by while relaxing on the beach or in our cabin was enough to make her want to duck in fear. The horrible rumbling and rippling vibrations made it hard for her to really relax and after all that’s what we wanted.
With not much to do here apart from spend time on the beach we took the time we needed to recover (in intervals according to the passing jets). Watching the sunsets here was especially a lovely pastime; the beach offered amazing views of the sun setting with the
beautifully glowing orange, purple and blue skies turning any stand-byers, boats and nearby islands into mere silhouettes. Did I mention the food already? The food here was delicious and consisted of both seafood and Malaysian curries. We found a little street food stand and ate here most nights sampling all of their specialised rendang curries from chicken, beef, prawn and mutton; all served on a banana leaf with curry sauce, rice, a boiled egg and peanuts. It was delicious and all for 5MMR /£1. Cheap as chips.
After we had enough of the beach we opted for a half day island hopping trip. We visited the pregnant maiden island with a huge freshwater lake within that we enjoyed swimming in along with a smaller more deserted island. The tour was okay, very touristy as boats full of mainly local tourists pulled in together at each place ready to enjoy what that island had to offer. Not as secluded as you were led to believe due to all the day trippers but enjoyable at the same time.
After 3 days, we had our fill of the beach life here and wanted to see some real culture; see
what the real Malaysia is all about. What better place to do this than Penang.
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