To beach or not to beach


I am not the beach person in the meaning of sun bathing and bikinis. But I love sea, its waves, its sounds, its movement. What I have learned to love is walking on the beach. I have always liked to walk on seashore, on riverbank or even near the lake, if missing sea. Moving to Asia has also changed my mindset with sea. The water is saltier, clearer, cleaner compared to The Baltic Sea. And of course a lot of warmer.  Also the color of the water is so different, not to mention flora and fauna.

Photo by P.Jarvinen.

A week ago we returned from Langkawi. My spouse had one week vacation left before company’s fiscal year end, and surprisingly we hadn’t booked anything beforehand. After having such a stressful period at work, we decided to have relaxed vacation, not that much of hiking and exploring than usually. We managed to book flights to Langkawi and also two hotels, first one in Cenang, another in Kuah. We spent seven nights in the island, and to be honest we were a bit of concerned, how to manage, if there was nothing to do. Of course there is a lot of to do, but we both prefer not to experiment water sports and such. And there were plenty of activities like sky gliding, jet skiing, various of guided tours. We are not exactly group people, especially on vacation, so we discovered the island independently.

It was rain season, and off season. Good for us. Our first hotel was Ambong Ambong. What a hotel it is! Absolutely fantastic! We spent there four nights, very short time. It seemed that hotel was recently renovated. Hotel is located uphills. And if you are not willing to climb all the stairs, there is car service by personnel from early morning to midnight. We considered stepping stairs up and down as keeping ourselves fitter. Room was spacy, there was terrace/ balcony in every room, neighbors only above or under, not by side. Ambong Ambong is literally in the middle of jungle, rain forest, so be prepared to meet various species (both flora and fauna). We shared our room with two very friendly lizards, they were very tiny. Unfortunately I spotted also a couple of spiders, one of them one awfully big and yellowish red. Needed to wake up my spouse to vanish it 🙂

Photo by P.Jarvinen.

And monkeys were curious enough, also a bit of frustrated, when watching through window we enjoyed our breakfast, but they couldn’t reach it despite seeing it too clearly. We are used to monkeys in Singapore, so we quite well knew, how to handle them. No feeding, it is absolute principle – unfortunately not all respect the principle.

We wandered on several beaches, most of them were quite peaceful, not crowded. Off season, yes. Due to rain season there were red flags, and so not allowed to swim. Instead of swimming we walked kilometer per kilometer, and soaked ourselves in the sea near the shore. Waves were very powerful indeed. And while standing in the water, waves splashing, and feeling, how the sand just melts under you, it is not a joke that current is too strong for human being and red flags are to be obeyed.

Photo by P.Jarvinen.

Our nearest beach was about one kilometer from our hotel Ambong Ambong, and wonderfully almost empty every time we walked there. One noon we spent a couple of hours reading, watching waves, having mango juice and one drink and just strolling and floating in the sea. Fortunately we were able to have sunbeds under thick twig tree.

Photo by P.Jarvinen.

At Cenang there are many activities, attractions, especially for families with little kids, or even older. Also for us middle aged couple traveling between us it was surprisingly nice.We rented a car fro two days, and drove to Sky Cable and from there we headed to SkyBridge. Cable car ride was smooth, even though I have fear of height. And need to say the cable is hanging high, very high, 708 m above sea. The ride is long, nearly 2 km. The fog created a bit of spooky appearance, while riding to the top. But only it was raining, we were allowed to start our trip to the bridge. I managed to go stairs to up down, minding my head (low twigs and sloping tree trunks on the path), it was really slippery.

Photo by P.Jarvinen.
Photo by P.Jarvinen.

The SkyBridge was open and totally inside clouds and mist. I was too scared to walk it back and forth, so I waited for my spouse to conquer it. It was blowing cold and my ears were honestly aching. Then it started to rain heavily, and the bridge needed to empty anyway. I managed to peek down and saw beautiful white head sea waves beneath.

Oriental Village was very touristic, but it is understandable to construct akin to location, where travelers ahead. We drove down to Perdana Quay and had lovely Indianish lunch there. Waiter was from Bangladesh and he was worried about, how I liked the wine. He said in Langkawi it is duty free zone, but the quality is second rate 🙂 Very honest. He also repeated a few of times, how white people are so healthy. Probably polite way to say fat … He explained his mother was white and beautiful (like you Ma’am), and his father tiny Indian. Couldn’t have this kind of discussion anywhere in Finland I think.

Photo by P.Jarvinen

We also drove to Northern coast, spotted again a few of beaches. One – Pasir Tenkorak – was totally isolated, only two stray dogs watched us to change swimming suits , then diving to the waves. Not sure, if the place was closed, because of rainy season or if it was deserted. For us, a paradise. No sun shine, no people, no rain either. Just waves and us.

Photo by P.Jarvinen.

My spouse wanted to see Gunung Raya, we drove there in heavy rain and fog. Top of the mountain it was so foggy, cloudy and rainy that nothing could be seen. Very exciting drive though. Here is a short video, when we drove down, and it was already getting clear. At same day we visited also Langkawi Craft Complex. We were told it is not so touristic, but couldn’t avoid the feeling that its purpose is to attract tourists along introducing Langkawian hand Arts.

I read guide book before traveling to Langkawi. Writers were not extremely fascinated of the island. They had been there on rainy season as we also, and unfortunately writers claimed quite a lot of weather. But surely you know beforehand, whether it is rainy season or not and you can plan your visit out of rainiest period, I assume. For us rain was just okay, and to be clear,  it rained only one whole day and a couple of nights during our stay.

Kuah, photo by P.Jarvinen
Kuah, photo by P.Jarvinen

In Kuah we spent three nights, our flight back home was early on the Saturday morning. We had wonderful view from the 13th floor (Bayview Hotel Langkawi). Kuah is the urban village, town in the island. It is said to be shopping paradise, and indeed a lot of shopping possibilities, but due to the end Ramadan, quite many shops were closed. We walked fairly lot, and spent one completely lazy day shopping and on the pool. What was a tiny surprise was that Islam as religion was more shown street wise than in the countryside around other parts in the island. It might be because Friday was Hari Raya festivity day. We saw so many beautiful dresses, and every chocolate shop was crowded – really it was like combined Christmas and Easter.

Food was excellent as Malesian food usually is. I liked especially seafood we had several times. And also I want to praise Phoenix Chinese Restaurant, such a dinner feast we had. Langkawi is duty free zone, so it is fairly easy to have drink or two also at restaurants, in Cenang, but now necessary with in Kuah. I was truly surprised, how much I enjoyed vacation we named relaxing beach holiday. Every person we met was effusively polite and friendly, weather was warm, food excellent, beaches solitary enough. I feel fed, relaxed, content, blissful.

Photo by P.Jarvinen.
Photo by P.Jarvinen.

My recommendations of the week:

FOOD: any seafood @ Langkawi Fish Farm Restaurant (obs. portions very large)

BOOK: Any book by Agatha Christie, perfect reading on the beach

PLACE: Beach

SOMETHING ELSE: Relax once in a while.