Langkawi Revisted 2014 – Glimpses of Langkawi

Welcome to Langkawi (@all rights reserved)
Welcome to Langkawi (@all rights reserved)

Wherever people go for a holiday or to have their batteries recharged or even just to visit, there will always be places that has a story or stories attributed to it, as there are places where there’s just isn’t one.

For the holiday island of Langkawi, it’s no different. Aside from the myths and legends synonymous with Langkawi the likes of Mahsuri and her curse for seven generations, there are also places where all you have to do is just to stay still (it’s better though if you are sitting down) and take in the scenery.

Petronas Quay from the highest station at Langkawi SkyCab. (@ all rights reserved)
Petronas Quay from the highest station at Langkawi SkyCab. (@ all rights reserved)

The Petronas Quay in Langkawi is, in my view, one of them. It is new to Langkawi and from what I understand, came into being as part of the drive and development to make Langkawi a holiday destination of choice for tourists and visitors of varied interests including yachting and luxury boat enthusiasts.

Petronas Quay (@ all rights reserved)
Petronas Quay (@ all rights reserved)

After all, Langkawi is an island, is it not? And being an island and a beautiful one at that, it has an unlimited coastline made up of white sandy beaches, well protected coves complemented by an unlimited access to the wide open sea.

Looking at all those yachts and boats and catamarans docked by the pier, I must admit to a tinge of envy and at the same time, can’t help but wonder what if one of them actually belongs to me?

Pier side view of the Petronas Quay. (@ all rights reserved)
Pier side view of the Petronas Quay. (@ all rights reserved)

And if so, which one would best describe me? A speedboat? A catamaran? A yacht? Hmm, yes, what if? Well, one can dream can’t one?

The Petronas Quay could also be seen from the highest station of the Langkawi SkyCab. It needs to be said that the view of the Petronas Quay from the top station of the Langkawi SkyCab reveals that the Petronas Quay is located within a well-protected cove, and hence relatively safe from the elements.

There are no myth or legend attributed to it. Well, as far as I know, there isn’t one. But the view is breathtaking enough and sanguine enough to warrant a mention for a visit, even if it’s just to take in the view and a few photographs.

Night scene at Jalan Pantai Cenang. Arabic dishes anyone? (@all rights reserved)
Night scene at Jalan Pantai Cenang. Arabic dishes anyone? (@all rights reserved)

Jalan Pantai Cenang is another one of those places. Located on the south-west of the island, Jalan Pantai Cenang has grown by leaps and bounds since I was last there in 1995. Back then, the landmark of Jalan Pantai Cenang was the Underwater World. And I did say it has grown by leaps and bounds, because in 2014 I was hard pressed to locate it.

Sidewalks of Jalan Pantai Cenang. (@ all rights reserved)
Sidewalks of Jalan Pantai Cenang. (@ all rights reserved)

In its defense, I was at Jalan Pantai Cenang at night and despite being lighted up by the many colourful neon lights and what with the new additions eg the eateries and the hotels and shopping outlets (in my book at least), the task of locating it was not made any easier. Maybe I should go there during the daytime next time.

In fact, the next time we are in Langkawi (hopefully soon), I think we should spend more time at Jalan Pantai Cenang. Maybe, even spend a couple of nights there at one of the hotels in the locality. Mind you, there was still development work going on when we were there, so we can expect changes. How much, that’s hard to say.

Jalan Pantai Cenang - eating out is not a problem. (@all rights reserved)
Jalan Pantai Cenang – eating out is not a problem. (@all rights reserved)

But at the pace it is developing, it would not be surprising if Jalan Pantai Cenang is made totally pedestrian. The roads are too narrow, and any attempt to widen it would, most likely, involve land acquisition and that involves a lot of money. But for the hotels already there in existence, converting Jalan Pantai Cenang into a pedestrian walk does have its advantages.

Meal times are always important times of the day for most and some, it is VERY IMPORTANT. Some say, breakfast is very important for it sets the tone for the rest of your day and they would normally be right. Of course, being ‘a morning person’ would help as breakfast IS usually served in the mornings. Otherwise, brunch would suffice I think.

A quaint family restaurant in a village setting in Langkawi. Very relaxing and serene surroundings. (@all rights reserved)
A quaint family restaurant in a village setting in Langkawi. Very relaxing and serene surroundings. (@all rights reserved)

As for me, to quote an oft quoted German phrase, ‘es ist mir egal’ – it is all the same to me. In other words, all meals are important to me, when its time naturally. Well, at least the main ones are anyway. However, my wife would add, ‘and so are all the other meals in between’ and she wasn’t talking about herself, apparently.

The morning when we set out to pay a visit to the complex that now houses Mahsuri’s Tomb, we were pleasantly surprised to come across this quaint little family restaurant. Nestled in a typical Malay village setting, it does make having a simple cup of locally brewed coffee an experience to be enjoyed.

Chef in the house - Chef Sakri tending to whats cooking. Chef Sakri used to work in a hotel. (@all rights reserved)
Chef in the house – Chef Sakri tending to whats cooking. Chef Sakri used to work in a hotel. (@all rights reserved)

Fresh air, the smell of food being prepared, roti canai on the flat pan, friendly people and equally friendly conversation and there you have it. A great and I should say, a leisurely start to the morning. Afterall, we were on holiday.

Ask any Malaysian whats the most recognisable product to have come out of Langkawi and most, if not all, would say Minyak Gamat. Minyak Gamat is essentially black in colour and is most commonly referred to as the miracle oil.

Made of sea cucumbers, Minyak Gamat, in its various forms, is used to treat and heal a wide range of cuts and wounds including burns and internal wounds, restore the balance of women who has just given birth, amongst others. Many have sworn by it, with the various products scientifically tested.

On a personal level, we swore by it when one of our sons was scalded by hot water a few years back. Today, the scars that would normally be there are barely noticeable, if at all. And since we were in Langkawi, we thought it’d be a good idea to get some stock of Minyak Gamat, not only for our own use but also for our friends and other family members back home.

The signboard says it all. (@ all rights reserved)
The signboard says it all. (@ all rights reserved)

So we asked the locals and with the information gathered, we made our way to the factory outlet itself. We made our way there in good enough time and upon arrival, we realised that the outlet was near another landmark of old Langkawi – the last remnant of the last road to be built using Langkawi marble.

I remember back in the 1980s and 1990s, as part of the drive to promote all things Langkawi, Langkawi Marble was IN. It was so IN that they stopped producing Langkawi Marble a number of years back due to severely deplenished stock.

Personally, I never experienced driving on a road made of marble. Any different to driving on asphalt or cement? I wonder. Looking at the road’s surface closely (of course, after checking for incoming traffic despite it being out-of-the-way), it dawned on me that it was not going to be my lucky day, to be able to claim to have driven on a road made of marble.

In the course of our ‘exploration’ of the island aka getting lost in Langkawi island, we did chance upon a place called Teluk Yu. Literally, its translated as Shark’s Cove. As we were getting tired of ‘driving aimlessly’ or as my wife would say, being lost that is, we stopped at one of the stalls there to have a drink (and at my wife’s insistence, ask for directions).

Teluk Yu or Sharks' Cove. (@ all rights reserved)
Teluk Yu or Sharks’ Cove. (@ all rights reserved)

Teluk Yu was very windy when we were there and the waves were actually crashing in. As we were enjoying a cool coconut drink, we overheard a conversation between a tourist from Kedah and a local from Langkawi. With all modesty (seriously!), we consider ourselves quite proficient in the Kedah dialect but trying to decipher this conversation was tough.

However, the gist was, to a query from the tourist from Kedah, the Langkawi local said that one can swim from Teluk Yu to Thailand as Teluk Yu does face Thailand. Just how far the other side ie Thailand is, she doesn’t know and she wouldn’t know whether anyone has swam all the way to Thailand.If they did, she has never met any who came back to her stall or even came back, for that matter.

By the sidewalks of Teluk Yu or Shark's Cove (@all rights reserved)
By the sidewalks of Teluk Yu or Shark’s Cove (@all rights reserved)

It’s hard to keep a straight face upon hearing her simple reply but with a name like Teluk Yu and with the waves that strong, one can think of an answer to that. But as I was there for a holiday and not to start a war, I kept my peace.

Those were amongst the many glimpses of Langkawi that we experienced. There are many more places that we can include like the Pasar Malam (or Night Market) where we had our taste of Langkawi snacks, with some being very different to what we are used to in Johor down south.

Otherwise, a Pasar Malam in Langkawi is not much different to a Pasar Malam in Johor Bahru. Apparently, the  Pasar Malam is also patronised by the tourists (local and foreign) as a source of cheap but delicious food. It must be quite amusing for the locals to see these tourists especially from Europe and Down Under, stopping by a  Pasar Malam on their rented bicycles and bikes to buy ayam percik (skewered chicken in spicy peanut sauce) or nasi lemak (rice cooked with coconut milk with garnishings) or ayam goreng (fried chicken) but I guess, judging from the locals’ reaction, they have gotten used to it and rather welcome it.

Walking about Kuah, the main town of Langkawi island is also an experience. We did not actually shop in Langkawi as we did not have the need to. But it is a duty-free island and you can get your ciggies and your chocolates at a lower price compared to the mainland. There’s one condition though. You have to stay more than the prescribed time of 3 days and 2 nights (I think! Like I said, we did not have a need to buy duty-free stuff, so we did not checked).

Langkawi has so much to offer, that much is for sure. Maybe the next trip, with the benefit of experience as well as a deeper wallet. Should be fun that. And maybe I can get one of those “I LOVE LANGKAWI” t-shirts as well.

But then again, having a deeper wallet is always fun, is it not?

 

Date : 22 July 2014

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