light, luxury and lylia’s in langkawi


I blogged towards the start of the trip about wanting a quiet little beach escape – it was safe to say that I didn’t find what I was looking for in Karon Beach, Phuket. Sure I had a tidy room, ate reasonably good foods and managed to catch up on some much needed sleep, but it wasn’t quite the chilled time on the beach I was craving. The large amount of tourists didn’t help, both package holiday and ‘me love you long time, hello welcome’ sex holiday types, blinding any visions I may have had of a luxurious beach break.

Arriving in Langkawi, situated a ninety minute ferry ride from mainland Malaysia, I was ready for a beach break. Here I am some three afternoon later and I can confirm that I have found that beach escape I was searching for. This is a stunning little island that has won a place in my heart already. So much so that I’m going to do my best to come back here next February for a longer break before a hard slog round the Indian sub continent.

So far my tales have mainly been the kind that I would hardly be jealous of back home. What is so good about a seventeen hour train and bus ride through Thailand or dodging the danger of a night lost in a leech infested jungle with no water? How about a de-hydrating, back breaking bike ride off road in Cambodia or waking up in a foul mood in Kuala Lumpur? Hardly the kind of activities or experiences the average bod I know would get green envy over. Part of this chapter is going to be a little boast back to everyone reading this back in the UK, braced for another arctic winter. By the way, I see the clocks are to change – that must mean its dark by 6pm nearly, yeah? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

My three days in Langkawi have been the stuff dreams are made of. The early morning rain that had greeted my arrival had now cleared so I set off for the beach in good spirits. I’m staying at a guesthouse called ‘Zackry’ which, at 33 MYR (£6.50) is a steal for a smart, single room. The two main beaches in Langkawi are Pentai Tengah, where Zackry is located, plus Pentai Cenang. Seeing as Tengah was my local, I took a late morning walk along its kilometre stretch of sand, interrupted by just one Malay family with not one westerner in sight. After a quick swim in the beautifully warm water, I took another relaxed stroll to the bigger, more touristy Cenang beach. Now, when I say I touristy I would hate to give the impression that this is a busy beach – oh no. This several kilometre stretch of golden sand has acres of space to feel free. Being such a big beach, I happily walked the length of it knee deep in the lovely warm, clear water with not a single person in my way. The tourists that are here all seem to be craving the same peace and quiet that I have been. After several large, polluted cities in the last couple of weeks and the disappointment of Phuket, its safe to safe I’m thrilled with my findings in Langkawi.

The afternoon was spent walking along the beach front, swimming in the gorgeous clear waters of the sea before retiring to a beach shack to watch the sun set. Here I happily drank several pints of acceptably priced Carlsberg while listening to Oasis on my MP3. Perfect. There’s something quite brilliant about going for a swim in the sea, getting out and not worrying about drying off or getting changed. Just walking on for a while until you start to feel a little clammy again, dump your bag off and go for another swim. A hard life, a world away from the clocks going back in the UK.

The other thing I love here in Langkawi is the ability to walk around these so called touristy areas and not get hassled. So often in places like this you will be hassled by shop or market owners to come in and look round their premises. Going for a walk at night you are so often harassed by waiters or waitresses desperately trying to get you to eat at their restaurant. Walking down a beach, your peace is broken by some moron desperate to sell you some artefact that you would never have a use for on holiday or otherwise. Taxi drivers slowing down to try and get you to take the option of a lift as opposed to walking the short distances between guesthouses and bars. None of this seems to happen here in Langkawi. Everyone just leaves you to it, not pushing for a sale or a moment of your time. Even the Jetski operators on Cenang beach aren’t bothered about hassling tourists – they are too busy sunbathing or riding the Jetski’s themselves to care about drumming up business. I remember taking a walk down the beachfront to get away from the continual cries of ‘tuk tuk?’ and ‘taxi?’ on Baga Beach in Goa a few years ago. Thinking knee deep in sea water I’d be safe from the said cat calls, I was interrupted by an Indian guy on a Jetski, racing up behind me and asking if I required a ‘water taxi?’ I could have screamed – ‘No I do not need a bloody lift, why do you think I’m taking a walk down a beach you utter fool?’

Anyway, relax. That’s the most worked up I’ve got in the last few days so forgive me.

Yesterday I splurged properly for the first time since I left the UK – without boring you with the details I’m on a budget of around £50 a day, not a huge amount if you consider the forthcoming Australian tour. With my next payday being May 6th, I do have to be a little careful with all things currency. When I did a little research on Langkawi I stumbled upon a cracking little golf course called ‘Gunung Raya’ that I felt could satisfy my need to keep my game in something resembling order. After all, the day before I flew out for Bangkok I finally beat my stepdad, Martin, for the first time over eighteen holes (sorry Mart, had to get that in) It would be a shame to let standards fully slip, as I’m sure he will be gunning for revenge on my return in April. You can visit their website at http://www.golfgr.com.my/ if you want to look at the challenges I faced. After a nervy start I managed to claw my score back to 112, 40 over par for the record! I finished Martin off with a 92 round in that victorious round. Hardly the most striking score in the world, but given I started the first three holes with three lost balls and being more interested in driving the golf buggy than what club I should use, I was reasonably happy. The course was stunning, quite hilly in places with the odd sea view and beautifully maintained fairways and greens. Every time you finished a hole, a green keeper would come on and check for any crevices you may have left from an approach shot.

My arrival in Langkawi was via a ten hour overnight sleeper train from Kuala Lumpur to a place called Alor Setar. Here I disembarked early to share a taxi with a couple I’d met on the train to get the ferry to Langkawi from Kuah Khedah. My original plan was to stay on the train to Arau, where I’d catch the other ferry option from Kuala Perlis. Seeing as I’d been fortunate enough to make mates with Michael and Alice on the train, it made sense to join them on the last leg of the trip. They were originally singletons from Ireland and Nottingham who had become an item on the road (literally) between Europe and China. They had travelled as part of an overland tour that started several months back, only to separate and go their own way as a couple once they hit China. They told some tales of far flung places visited on the road such as Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan (well done, spell checker to the rescue there I can tell you!) Its amazing the people you meet on trips like this, there are some seriously far out adventurers out there. They were both very down to earth, and not blasé at all about what they are done and where they had been. Great effort and I wish them well in the future.

As for my immediate future, it’s a last night in Langkawi tonight before taking a ferry down to a much bigger island called Penang, famed for its curries. From there I will ignore warnings to expect boredom from a KL hostel owner and from a mate of mine from the cricket, Winslow, during an in and out trip to Brunei before making my way via another couple of ferries to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo, otherwise known as Sabah. Even more immediate is a walk to ‘Little Lylia’s’ beach bar to watch the sun go down over Langkawi.

Its just gone 6pm and still light here.

Unlike in the UK.



2 Responses to “light, luxury and lylia’s in langkawi”

  1. 1 Donna
    October 29, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Wonderful… all the things you love!! I very much envy you those beach walks..hilarious about the water taxi, impressed about the golf! Happy continued traveling!

  2. 2 Donna
    October 31, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Love the photo’s and I m so glad that you found some peace and beauty in Langkawi Rich. Enjoying the world in solitude is a pretty difficult thing to find the world over it seems… Still, I am glad to read that you have found a place to potentially come back much before your ‘hard slog round the Indian sub continent’. Have good trip to Penang and Kota Kinabalu Borneo – now that’s a sentence I never thought I would write!!!

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