I’m sitting outside of my bungalow in Langkawi as I write this post. I can hear the low rumble of the crashing surf in the distance, just 20 yards off. It’s 8pm, the sun has just set and the crickets (or whatever local bug they happen to be) are singing all around me, creating an almost constant buzz. A bird on one of the neighboring bungalows is clucking and emitting a funny high pitched coo.
If it weren’t for the occasional mosquito attack, the setting would be perfect.
Langkawi is another island off the west coast of Malaysia. From its shores, you can see the mainland of peninsular Malaysia, and further up Thailand. The island is surrounded by beautiful beaches and its interior is still 60% jungle with a twisted network of mangroves. I hired a boat to take me into the interior via a salt water river where we stopped to feed the local population of eagles.
The skipper threw a handful of raw chicken into the river and pulled the prop up to splash the chicken around, creating a bubbly, chickeny mess for the hungry eagles. They saw the food and started circling above the boat – first just a few took notice, but before long, we had at least 10 eagles diving into the mangroves from the cliffs and trees above, snagging bits of chicken from the water and soaring off to eat their snack. Even a monitor lizard caught wind of the feast and slithered out into the water, just a few feet from the boat, looking for a free meal – very cool. We also stopped at a fish farm where I hand fed a stingray under the guidance of a young Malay boy.
The island has a friendly, mellow vibe – common amongst many islands and beach towns of the world. The weather is beautiful (hot and humid in the afternoons, but really not unbearable), the people are friendly and helpful, and there is an overall feeling of serenity that grips you as soon as you arrive. Time just seem to slow down here – no one is really in a hurry to get anywhere.
The island is largely undeveloped, and there is a mandate against building any new factories here. Buildings can’t be built over 15 stories high, and can only be built in the small downtown area, so the resorts and hotels are more often sprawling groups of bungalows than towering behemoths. They didn’t even have electricity (except for small generators) until the late 1980’s and when the government proposed the idea of building a bridge to the mainland, the locals shut down the idea.
All in all a great place to visit. My press trip officially ends here and the rest of the group will be headed back to Kuala Lumpur for one night before flying off to their respective homes. I have extended my trip a week, but I don’t know where I’ll be headed next. The shores of Thailand beckon in the distance, but the beaches, cheap bungalows, and duty free beers of Langkawi will make it hard to leave this place.
I’ll keep you posted.