Sunday, 29 March 2015

Roadtrippin' Langkawi

Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands right at the north of Malaysia, near the Thai border. (I only now found out it is officially 104 and not one island, but we spent most of the time on the mainlandy island.) It means island of the reddish-brown eagle and it was traditionally thought to be cursed. It has a population of 99,000 and the total land mass is nearly 48,000 hectares and there you have enough of them tedious wikipedia facts. (No, they're not actually tedious.)

A taster
Our first full day in Langkawi, we teamed up with G from the Philippines and DK from the US to go roadtripping around the island. The main attractions were a) the cable car (for me), b) the beach (for Patricia), c) waterfalls and d) the night market.

Patricia and I had looked into renting motorbikes the previous night, but when we came back in the morning the motorbike renter did not have any bikes left. I found another place to rent while Patricia decided she'd rather passenger it, and rode with DK. I got my bike (a Honda automatic), rode it to the guesthouse and soon we were ready to go.

But my bike wouldn't start. I swear the renter lady showed me how to start it – press the button and accelerate/brake at the same time. No. Patricia, who has an automatic back in Ho Chi Minh City, tried. No. Then DK. Then two random girls who rode up on their bike. No. By this time they were attempting to kickstart my bike – something that seemed purely ridiculous since the renter lady had started my motorbike so easily five minutes previous. And still, no.

Our guesthouse owner rocked up. I'm still not completely sure how I felt about him and his sarcastic, dry and very blunt ways – highly entertaining or annoying? Anyways, he joined the six of us around my bike, with an amused smirk on his face.

“Can you help?” we asked.

He didn't even bother replying. He got on my bike, turned to us and said it starts only if you sing a song. Yeah, ha ha, whatever, just wait till you see it_doesn't_actually_start, I thought bitterly.

DK, however, obliged with a short burst of song, and suddenly my motorbike's engine was on. I was dumbfounded.

I had him show me how you do it – ridiculously simple. You press the button, press the brake. Though, obviously, I had to sing before each time I turned it on. I didn't mind now – my bike worked :D So off we went...

I LOVED biking. It was an interesting mix between the unreal obstacle-filled computer gameish reality of biking around the streets of Vietnam, and the 'real' roads of Europe with well-behaved cars that actually kept to their lanes and drove at a vaguely sensible speed. It was quite cute actually.

The BEST moment of maybe even the whole holiday (and I think I did say it had joined the top 10 moments of MY LIFE) was biking down this long, emptyish wide road, sun blazing on us, and next to us, or at least only very slightly behind us, was the airport runway. So, we were riding onwards, and suddenly there was this aeroplane flying basically straight towards us, low-flying aeroplane SO COOL I really must add low-flying aircraft to my list of interests on my blog description...
Some minutes after the aeroplane moment
First stop was the Cable Car. DK and Patricia left us for the beach, and G and I went to queue for the Cable Car queue. A long, long, long queue like Malaysia specialises in. After a few minutes of non-moving queue, and precious time ticking away (we had arranged to meet the others in about two hours, and since none of us had internet or Malaysian numbers, we could not miss the meeting time), we both got tempted a bit more by the offer of the 'Express Lane' – 50 extra Ringgits (I think) and you can skip all queues... It seemed a ridiculous amount of money (well, like 10-15 euros, but that is A LOT) but after some umming and arring we switched to the Express Lane queue – I mean, there was also a queue for the queueless option, that's how bad it was.
Qs Qs Qs
While G stood waiting in queue I decided that my need for a selfie stick was imminent and so I went to rush around the mini tourist village they had in the proximity of the Cable Car, finally finding a cool purple selfiestick for 14 Ringgits. 

Practising the selfie stick's usage. Still not mastered it.
And then we were off, in a 'Glass Bottom Gondola', up into the skies.

At the first landing

One of the things Langkawi is most famous for is its Sky Bridge. Which, according to wikipedia “remains closed in December 2014”. And when I googled it a few days beforehand, there was no information on it being open, so I was not hopeful.

But what is this!!

Therefore I was pretty overjoyed when it turned out you could get onto the Sky Bridge. Not most of it, granted, but we got a good 200m stretch of, well, walking down a bridge in the skies. At the end of the bridge there was a big sign basically saying closed, with a few workmen in orange security vests hanging about on the other side. 

They were all smiley at us, so I felt comfortable seeing if I could get a photo of them – sure thing I could, except they put on their definite miseriousable (see which two words I mixed there, see, see) faces on for the photo.

Life on the Sky Bridge is hard
Getting to and from the Sky Bridge was the main adventure – millions and millions of steps, it seemed there were many on the way there and ten times the amount on the way back. Not for the vaguely unfit/old...

"Survival" I think describes the steps to and fro, not the sky bridge itself...
Then we headed back down and I had a very refreshing sun-strikken nap on a few chairs at a café while waiting for DK and Patricia to return. Then it was off to the next stop.

Waterfalls. As I said, I really enjoyed biking, so I was in no way annoyed, quite the contrary actually, when it took us a while to a) find waterfalls and b) find a set of waterfalls with water actually in them. (Since it wasn't the rainy season.)

The set we found were called the Durian waterfalls (Durian being the smelly fruit notorious for its stench. I still, however, haven't discovered the stench of the Durian.) and they were not stinky at all.
The surroundings

The swimmy bit
Apparently Waterfalls are the Mytäjäinen-equivalent of Langkawi/Malaysia/South-East Asia. Mytäjäinen is a tiny lake near my house back in Finland, which has a diving area and a three-levelled diving board thing – one metre, three metres or five metres. As a teenager, my brother would spend all his summers there with the fellow teens, playing various water games, involving throwing a ball at each other and, most importantly, doing crazy jumps. So, Durian Waterfall seemed like the kind of place my brother would've hung out if he'd spent his teen years in Langkawi – not that there was a diving area, but I think you'd get the equivalent thrill from trying to balance on the rock directly beneath the waterfall. Let me tell you, it looks FAR easier than it is.

Unfortunately, I don't actually have pics of standing underneath it. But this is one of my fave photos there are.
A fun time in any case :)
Next we managed to find the evening market, where we sampled various foods for tea. 

Many colourful foods

Something sweet

Something squiddy

Something coconutty

Then we headed back to the guesthouse, trying to beat darkness, failing at it but only just.

An epic day, discovering my very first paradise island :D

Waterfall swimming, tick.
Skybridge, tick.
Selfie stick, tick.





  1. You sound like a natural biker. :) How high was the bridge? Perhaps you said it? Some of the sweets we brought back from Vietnam were made from durian. They don't smell, though. How can you eat a fruit that smells bad, anyway?

    Thank you for a fun blog! Äx

    1. 700m above the sea, apparently. Yes, durian is a mystery.


  2. I seemed to miss this one - glad I found it now. Didn't you think the plane was going to land on the road... but oh dear it couldn't because there were a couple of bikers in the way, so it had to make do with a neighbouring field instead? And you did all this before our trip! Love, Zapz