This was our second time to Maylaysia. On the 2010 world cruise, we went to the capital of Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur. Today we were on the island of Langkawi which is the largest of the 99 Langkawi islands in the Strait of Malacca. While it’s the largest, it is only 18 miles long and 10 miles wide with a population of about 100,000. It is off the west coast of mainland Malaysia. It is basically a resort island. We were docked in Porto Malai, and the main resort area was a few miles north of that in the area of Pantai Cenang. Here there are many white sand beaches bunched into small semi-protected coves.
I was up early for the sail in, but it was a bit overcast and hazy so once again my pictures were not that great. However, I was able to watch the sun come up over the little islands we passed coming to our port. The small dots in the water are the fishing boats.
We took a ship tour today called “Langkawi Highlights. It was especially fun because we did it with two other couples we enjoy – Barb & Charlie, and BJ and Jack. The main attraction on this tour was the cable car ride to the summit of Machincang Mountain to see the view of the many islands scattered around Langkawi.
Our guide shared some interesting facts with us on the bus. Most of the resorts here are no more than two or three stories tall and the better ones are hidden in the jungle area so that they can’t be seen from the road. In some, they offer jungle walks both during the day and night. At the Sheraton, a buggy takes you to your room from the lobby. Also, some of the monkeys on this island can swim well and are used to catch crabs. Finally, all goods that are sold have a fixed price – the same for the locals as the tourists. The government regulates this to ensure this consistency.
Our first stop was at Petronas Quay, a harbor park in a beautiful setting. There were many beautiful sailboats and yachts anchored here. We could look up the mountain side from here and see (barely) the cable car station at the top. It was pretty to see this area from the ground before going up.
The huge bay area is protected by a sea wall. Because of this wall, this island was spared damage from the recent tsunami. In fact, our guide told us that he was doing a tour that day and the group wanted to go out to snorkel on the outlying islands. He told them they would do the cable car up the mountain first, and after lunch go to islands. While they were up on the mountain, they watched the tsunami come in. He said it was an amazing sight to see.
On the way up the mountain we saw rice fields that were now dry because it was the “dry season.” [There are only two seasons her – the dry and wet.] We also saw these water buffalo along the side of the road. They are beasts of burden here to help with the harvesting of the rice in season. We also saw a few monkeys that are rather nasty if they are along the road. They have become aggressive because people have stopped to feed them and now they go after anything they see – so it’s best to steer clear of them, which we did!
We arrived at Oriental Village – the place where we would begin our cable car ride. To get inside we had to walk across a swing bridge. It was a small little tourist area with lots of little craft shops around Oriental gardens and a large pond with floating water lilies. It sounds rather hokey, but it was rather attractive. They even had a bunny section where children could feed the bunnies.
We had to wait in a rather long line before getting into our cable car. We learned that these cable cars set a record for having one of the steepest grades and for going 980 meters up this steep with no support. Also near the top was a curved hanging bridge (the Sky Bridge) that you could walk across looking out and also down into a deep crevice. Unfortunately, it was closed for repairs, so we could only take pictures of it. That walk would have been a real thrill!
Here are some of the views from the top of the mountain. Unfortunately it was not a clear day (probably due to the humidity) so this is the best we could see. The first one is looking out toward Thailand, which on a clear day you could see. The second is looking back to the area where we made our first stop and looked up toward the top of the mountain. The last one is a zoomed in view of the beach area in the second one. Even though is was hazy, it was still beautiful.
On our way back down, I was able to take more pictures of the mountain. One shows the limestone rock and the steep incline the cable car goes up/down. The other shows the green lush part that we went over – almost like a rainforest because of its density of green vegetation.
We had one more stop on our tour and this was to see the Rice Garden and museum (Laminpadi.) Actually, the rice paddies are part of the whole museum (just outdoors) and the workers we saw were part of the “living museum” for tourists. It was actually interesting to see how rice used to be grown and harvested before machinery took over. We weren’t able to take pictures inside the museum, only outside. This picture shows the rice paddies in order of how they grow – first with just water, then they were transplanted by hand to the next field, and finally getting taller and greener before they were ready to be picked. I didn’t realize that the fully mature rice sheath looked a lot like a grain of wheat.
Our tour was finished about 12:30 and we had the choice of getting off in the nearby town for lunch or going back to the ship. It was soooo hot and humid by this time and our clothes were sticking to our hot bodies, so we opted to return to the ship for a cold shower. While we like most ethnic foods, we found that we did not care as much for Malaysian food as others.
On the sail out, I took some more pictures now that it was not as hazy. Because of the tour we chose, we did not get to see the resort areas with the pretty beaches. But I was able to zoom in on several that were somewhat hidden away in coves as we sailed by. There were many pretty beach areas that would have been fun to visit if we had more time . . . the next time! Also, there were many little green islands without beaches (that I could see) that made for a beautiful setting.
Our day ended with this beautiful sunset that I took many pictures of. Here is my favorite with the sun almost down and the little fishing boat off to the right. It seemed a fitting way to end this wonderful day.