The first stop of our Christmas Cruise after leaving Singapore was Pulau Langkawi – largest of a group of about 100 small islands off the coast of Malaysia and the first of three stops in that country.
Langkawi’s main industry is tourism, boasting a large number of beautiful beaches that attract a large number of visitors each year. To cater for them, the locals offer the usual beach entertainments, enriched by options for short trips to the many small, often uninhabited islands that dot the surrounding seascape.
Rather than following the usual tourist attractions, we decided to explore the island on our own. Taking a transfer to the second largest village on the island, we quickly found a small vendor on the side of the road that offered a car for rent. Spending 90 Malaysian Ringgit (about AU$ 30) for the day, we took the small vehicle on the circle route around the island.
After a short stop on a secluded beach for a quick dip in the ocean, we made our way to the Seven Wells Waterfalls, or Telaga Tujuh, for our first “tourist” stop. Sitting high up in the mountains, these waterfalls offered a welcome refreshment on a hot and humid day, especially after the 15 minute walk up the pretty steep hill. It is a fairly well known spot, so we were not alone, but the flat rocks and deep pools were very inviting and we spent some time just soaking in the surroundings.
Back at the carpark we enjoyed a fresh specimen of the second biggest industry on the island: a coconut – still full of coconut water (no, not the artificial one you can buy in stores) and with very soft and delicious meat. Yum!
Following the tourist map (and Willemijn’s stomach) we made our way to a chocolate and coffee souvenir store, which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. While the chocolate we were able to taste was quite nice, the prices were outrageous and the whole setup was clearly a tourist trap. At least we got some decent coffee and ice cream.
We had more luck with the next item on our list: the Kompleks Kraf Langkawi. Set away from the beaches, this complex houses a large number of stalls for local wares. Amidst the usual clothing stores we also found local artists creating beautiful paintings on silk and canvas, as well as a museum on local wedding customs. As Malaysia is a melting pot of many cultures, it was fascinating to see, how the different groups celebrate the union between two people.
After that is was time to enjoy the beach, so we picked the next, best one, parked the car in the large car-park and spent an enjoyable hour or so in the sand.
I am sure we missed out on a number of spots that we could have visited on the island, but having a car allowed us an almost complete circle of Pulau Langkawi and we got to experience a bit of the sights and sounds here. As a first stop with relatively little traffic, this was a nice introduction into our tour of this part of the world. Relaxation mode has set in.