Langkawi – A Small beach town with a twist

I got out of the tiny airport and walked straight to the rental car counter. My car was ready in no time and while it wasn’t fancy, it was spacious and from a brand that I hadn’t heard off. A simple inquiry on the car return process got me an amusing response – the guy calmly said he would meet me on the driveway, “don’t worry”. It reminded me of “Don’t Panic” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide and I happily drove away to my hotel, the Berjaya.

The hotel was beautiful and cleverly built into the slope of a hill leading into a beautiful beach. It was also quite large – which could mean long walks or some waits for the golf carts to arrive. The dining hall was next to the reception with a steep walk down to the beach. My room was closer to the reception than the beach. The room was designed like a chalet and had lovely tones of dark wood all over. The private beach was beautiful and I spent long hours clicking away at dawn and dusk.

The first day was spent mostly sleeping and then at the beach enjoying the bar there. The cocktails and the beautiful sunset was a lovely combination. The clouds were just right for the sky to take on a cocktail of colors and make for some relaxation time. The food in the hotel restaurant was awesome. With some research, we identified a few things to do in the next 3 full days we had in town. The sky bridge and the ropeway was a major attraction and had to be done. There was an animal kingdom that sounded a little touristy but ended up being fun. There is also a crocodile farm that had some pretty cool activities. Dataran Lang is not just a scenic spot but also has some amazing restaurants around along with a massive eagle statue. Finally, there were just beautiful drives, with local markets, small waterfalls, and just amazing food. It is a small island but the Berjaya is in one corner, so a drive to Dataran Lang could take an hour, though the roads are beautiful and not crowded at all.

The sky bridge is accessible through the sky bridge cable car which is the steepest in the world. At some points, it is decidedly scary to even look at. Depending on how much you are willing to pay and wait, you could get a glass-bottomed car and some VIP ones too. They used to have a small 3D show you could watch before the ride up, but that was nothing too great. The ride up is as great as it sounds. The ride is split into two legs though most of the steep climb is part of the first leg. It is so steep that the rope sags significantly through the process. At the top, you can climb some stairs or take a funicular to get to the bridge.

The bridge itself offers some spectacular views of the sea and the green mountains. It is quite an unusual bridge the way it hangs across two mountain slopes. It does shake a bit in the wind for someone with acrophobia, the railings on the edges could have been a little sturdier. There are small areas with a glass bottom to stare deep down into an abyss but these areas are quite small, so it isn’t as scary as it could have been. There are a couple of places around where they will click your pics with an artificial background and then sell you prints for a steep price. This somehow was more common all across Langkawi than at most places. The overall experience of the cable car and the bridge was amazing and this is a must-do – just ask in the hotels for slots with lesser crowds and lower wait time. Even though the entrance to the cable car was only a couple of minutes of drive from the Berjaya, it was a half-day event to make the round trip including the wait times and a snack.

The crocodile farm wasn’t too far away and it happened to be relatively empty on the day I landed up there. There are usual ponds with dozens of baby crocodiles, a large lake with several grown crocodiles lounging around, and then some amazing activities. There is the inevitable cafe that serves fried crocodile tail – it is hard and chewy meat. There was a crocodile feeding show that was short but you got some good view from a bridge built over the pond. Another show where a man put his hand inside a crocodile’s mouth. This one was more showbiz than anything really interesting. The crocodile kept his mouth open for over 20 minutes and in the middle of that, a guy put his hand inside for some 5 seconds. Daring, but not fun to watch. The highlight was the ability to hold a small crocodile after paying about 20 USD. The crocodile was still about 2.5 feet long and could have bitten my hand off. It was probably sedated or trained, but it stayed calm enough for me to hold it for about 2-3 minutes.

The Animal Kingdom was a little further away and ended up being far more fun than initially expected. There is also a duty-free shop right at the entrance, so carry along your passports, though they can sometimes just accept the passport number. The kingdom starts with an entrance ticket and the option to pay more and buy a packet of about 5 different types of feed – from seeds to carrots. It starts with some Macaus that eat carrots and then you go through a range of birds and animals. What I liked was that you can interact with every animal there and almost none were in small cages. I almost got my hand bitten off while feeding an ostrich but that was because I didn’t read instructions well. There were white peacocks and even porcupines. There was an aviary with budgies that will come sit on your arm and eat seeds. Overall, quite an interactive experience.

On the last day, I drove down to Dataran Lang which is most known for a massive statue of an Eagle. There are also some restaurants and the one I ended up at served some of the best seafood I have ever had. The server helped with the menu that was served on sheets of oil paper. The clams and muscles were in a finger-licking good gravy, served with rice. Everything that was recommended turned out to be great, including the black rice and ice-cream dessert.

There are several local markets, but the main one is due South of the Berjaya. Parking wasn’t too hard to find, even though the market looked crowded. There were many shops selling beachwear and souvenirs. Some of the more upscale shops sold local art and it was all around one single road. The food scene was pretty good too. A lot of street food and several restaurants with aquariums with a variety of fish, crabs, and lobsters to pick from. I had a grilled fish with rice – not the best I ever had, but still damn good.

Overall, a trip to remember with a phenomenally beautiful and green island, some amazing sunrises and sunsets, great food, and completely uncharacteristic activities that were fun. Definitely 5 days well spent.

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