Langkawi, tourist resort – but an acquired taste

Nov 12, 2012 by

We arrived into Malaysia at the port of Kuah on the east side of Pulao Langkawi, to the sight if the giant eagle statue whos impressiness gives a hint to the far richer infrastructure on Langkawi (and Malaysia as a whole) compared to the precious countries in our SE Asia tour.

A taxi driver found us as we came through the port, and I was impressed with how well he spoke English and his in-pressured approach. The prices here are non negotiable and mostly fixed, so we paid out 25rm (Malaysian Ringitts) when he dropped us into an area with a few guesthouses.

It took us a while to find a guesthouse I the intense heat (~34c). It’s the busy time of year now, and lots of locals as well as outside visitors are on holiday, so we balked at the prices of the resorts and tried a few cheap options from 35rm (terrible) before we found the lovely (if basic) Rainbow Lodge guesthouse (in fact many of the full places suggested it – its good for westerners). The bubbly lady, Leo, showed us the only cheap room left (50rm) and as it was much cleaner than he other places, and there was an a obvious vibe to the place, we took it.

The thing that strucke most about the process of room finding here, was how indifferent the people were about whether you took the room or not, and how lovely they were about it.

It was afternoon, and we were tired so after a bit of late lunch we went for a snoop around town and a bit of a look at other places to stay. We didn’t find much in our price range!

The place is very well geared up for tourists, the same stalls and small shops as everywhere else we have been, and lots of restaurants accommodating the western palate and much more besides. There was a good mix of pale westerners , holidaying orientals, locals and fully covered Arab(?) women with their young looking husbands — this suggested to me that the place is popular with honeymooners. We ended up at a place called Tomato for dinner and were pleased with the food and the prices — it seemed to be a popular choice with many others too.

We went exploring by scooter the next day and visited the cable car, a waterfall and a public beach (many are resort owned) before the rain started.

We booked the ‘6 hour mangrove tour’ for the next day, which was fun, It included a walk through a bat cave, a boat through the mangroves a visit to a fish farm and floating restaurant before a stop at a secluded beach. The highlight for me was watching the wild eagles being fed — it seemed odd to do so, but apparently it’s necessary since they chopped down the mangrove swamp they inhabited to extend the airport runway.
The tour was a bit pedestrian but we got chatting to Pamela, from Wicklow but living in London and working for medicines sans frontiers, we ended up meeting for drinks and dinner that evening. We also arranged to meet he the next day at her resort (a swanky one in the Sheridan chain). The resort reluctantly let us spend the day beside the pool (for a fee!!) but it was worth it, the pool was massive and it was very relaxed. We popped out on the scooter to get beers and munchies, (the hotel was über-expensive) and soaked up a few rays whilst drinking tiger beer and eating a KFC knock-off burger.

We got pally with the lady that helps run the guesthouse, Leo, Friday afternoon we were chatting with her and she decided that she liked us (after working out how much she could verbally abuse us before we stopped giving it back just as good), and leapt up and told me she was making me a margarita! It was very strong, and it bolstered me up ready for my expedition to get a haircut. The ordeal took 2 hours (it wasnt actually too bad) and somehow the guy managed to cut out all of my brown hair and leave me with mostly grey!! It’s a bit short, but for 30rm which included a hair wash, head massage and a good chat about random things, I was quite pleased.

That evening we went to a nice little Pakistani restaurant that I had spotted on our first night, and enjoyed tasty dinner – all for a fraction of the cost of the swankier places nearby.

On the subject of food, we decided on the Thursday evening to keep up the CASL (the lab/institution where desk my desk is) tradition, and have Burritos. They tasted about right but were missing some vital burrito ingredients such as beans and rice, but we got 10% off when we explained the Bacon, Beef and potato dish that Laura ordered should really contain both Bacon and Beef. The waiters protests of ‘but this is bacon beef’ were quelled when I pointed out that bacon and beef should come from different animals 🙂

However my doubts about food were quashed when we had breakfast. I had tried Roti Canai when we were in Malaysia before, but my memory of it was vague, so I ordered Roti Canai with cheese at the suggestion of the smiley and friendly waitress (I didn’t fancy Anchovy which was her first choice), clearly used to confused and fussy foreigners.

It was flipping delicious, a pancake with soft/chewy cheese and a bowl of spicy sauce, all washed down with strong sweet coffee (they use condensed milk
In place of straight milk). I could have eaten another one straight away!

We were told by lots of people we met — mostly Malaysians, that Penang is the place to go for food, I’m looking forward to eating my way around Georgetown, Penang! My mouth is watering as we wait to leave on the 17:15 ferry from Kuah port… 4 nights in Langkawi, it started off being a bit touristy, but it grew on me — next stop dinnertown as I am going to name it should the rumours hold true.

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