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Langkawi’s primary source income is tourists and the entire island seems primed to please the tourist. The roads are clean, people are helpful, road signs are in English, money changers & ATMs at convenient locations but the island has still managed to retain its exotic charm. 

Besides the white sand beaches, the Eagle square , Mahsuri mausoleum & cable cars are the main attractions of Langkawi. We had booked a half day city tour which showed us the eagle square & Mahsuri mausoleum.

@Eagle Sqaure

The eagle square was a actually a jetty specially developed as a tourist spot complete with a huge white-breasted eagle statue and well landscaped gardens.

The Mahsuri mausoleum is an interesting monument. Mahsuri was a legendary beauty of Langkawi who was executed on false charges of infidelity.  Legend has it that she was divine and all attempts at the execution failed as any weapon could not pierce her skin but her captors continued to torment her. Finally when she could not bear her pain any longer she revealed that she could be killed only by her father’s ancestral keris (dagger). While she was executed, she laid a curse that the island would suffer for such unfairness & not prosper for the next seven generations. When she was finally executed, white blood gushed upwards towards the sky signifying that she was pure

Mahsuri mausoleum @ Langkawi

and people wondered if her curse would come true. And legend or not, the island indeed suffered from natural calamities, wars, civil unrest etc till the mid 20th century. This mausoleum has the execution spot(memorial) of Mahsuri, a museum which tells an audio visual version of the  legend, and traditional Malaysian houses. A traditional Malaysian house is a square wooden structure built on stilts given the heavy rains that the island receives.

The next visit was to a sandy beach with black sand similar to Daman or Srivardhan beach. What struck us was the fact that  this apparently ugly beach with no use for swimming or water sports had also been turned into a tourist attraction with cleverly placed information about formation of black sandy beaches,  shopping strip & a garden. Something that Indian tourism should take a cue from while tourism development.

The guide also took us to a local village cottage industry called the Atma Aalam village which creates Batik cloth and other Batik items. It had a workshop where Batik cloth was made and a showroom which sold Batik items. Batik is made much like Bandhani, the artists draw on the cotton/silk cloth with a brass pen containing hot wax. The prevents the paint from smudging the outlines while the cloth is painted with hand. After the paint dries, the cloth is dipped in treated hot water, the wax washes off and you get a beautiful painting on cloth with the distinctive white outlined(where the wax was) objects.

After spending the first half day with the guide we figured that Langkawi wasn’t a difficult place to get around on your own and we decided to return the next day and hire a bike and just travel around the island. Taj’s service desk was again very helpful in getting us the bike (though at higher rates, the bike was almost new), and pointing out the places to visit on the map.

With the map & few enquiries along a scenic route, we reached the Oriental Village, the starting point of the cable ride.

@Langkawi:Cable Car Point B

The Oriental Village is a collection of cafes & shops around the cable point base. The cable runs in two stages, point A from base to Point B on a mountain peak with a 42 degree incline, and then another one from Point B to Point C (the adjacent peak.

Up & Above

 The view as you go up is spectacular, the dense rainforest below you and the ocean with perfect sandy islands stretching out beyond while a waterfall drops to your right. A 5 minute climb gets you to Point B where there are two viewing galleries. These galleries and the cable car have been featured extensively in Shahrukh’s Don climax.

Suspension Bridge @ Cable Car peak

Point C gives way to a rainforest walk which ends at a suspension bridge at the top of the mountain. This bridge is one of marvels of bridge building in Asia.

A lone pillar the height of the mountain extends from the forest floor and ropes are suspended by this pillar to support the bridge.

After the cable car ride, we had a lunch of local rice & noodles and moved on to the famous Tanjung Rhu beach, another 20 kms towards the west. With several photo stops along the way, we reached the long pristine sandy beach at sunset. We watched the sun set on the beach, and then found our way to the downtown area at the other end of the island.

Tanjung Rhu @ Sunset. Langkawi postcards have a similar photo

After a dinner at a McD( yes, I love to eat a McD meal in every country I go, like a souvenir) , we travelled back to the jetty and the resort

Parasailing @ Cenang,Langkawi

The next day was the ride to the other half of the island for the Cenang beach. As we were riding along we saw an aquarium/aqua park to the right. We decided to check it out and it indeed was a world class aqua park featuring umpteen species of sea life & birds. It was lunch-time by the time we finished. As we looked about a place to lunch amongst the wide variety of hotels..we found out that Cenang beach was just behind the park. We thought of a quick dekko before lunch and boy I had the most fun exciting couple of hours of my life. The beach had lots of water sports and we tried our hand at most of them. We parasailed watching the waves & surf below us and had an adrenaline rush on the jet ski!

Tiger Prawn 😀

It was late afternoon and we were ravenous after the time on the beach. We found a family run café and settled down to the biggest, juiciest, freshest tiger prawn (the size of lobster) steamed & baked with cheese and tasty Bangkok fish. A meal to remember for life J. We found our way after many wrong turns for Atma Aalam, did some shopping and reached in time for the jetty to take us back.

Langkawi is a duty free island, so all the good things in life are pretty cheap here. Besides petrol is really cheap in Malaysia, around Rs. 20/lt. Malaysia has its own oil sources and apparently it is so plentiful that our driver did not bother to turn off the car while he showed us the beach, around 15 minutes!

We were to leave for KL next day after spending some wonderful perfect days here.

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 (I started blogging about this and realised that it would be a long one to read & write, so splitting it..)

I do not like surprises in general, coz most of the times they do not live up to the grand vision promised by the word “surprise”. But this one was a big awesome exception! I only knew that I would be travelling to Malasiya coz I happened to sneak a peek at my passport which had a visa stamped for that country , the rest was a surprise. Now given my over cautious nature, I was a bit nervous to travel to a foreign destination with just that info..but excitement soon overame my nervousness and I looked forward to our flight from Mumbai which I guessed was going to Kaula Lumpur (admittedly the only place besides Genting Park, I knew in Malasiya).Pune had received torrential rains and Mumbai was slated for next day with India TV doing its bit “Mumbai ko aaj ki raat bhaari”..we left way early, didn’t get blocked by much rain and reached the airport around only 6 hours before the midnight flight. We lounged in the newly appointed waiting area of the airport till it was flight time.

Now if you are bored passing through usual pre-flight routine & want some fun, try answering the already cynical immigartion officer with the limited info like I had.

Officer: Hello, where are you going?

Me: Malasiya Officer: Yeah I see that on visa, Malasiya where..

Me: Umm KL..( i have glanced at the ticket by now)

Officer: Business or leisure?Me: Leisure ( this one i definitely knew 🙂 )

Officer: So, you wont stay in KL? Where are you going?

Me: (Seriously wondering if leisure is not allowed/possible in KL) Err..(looking wildly around, and relieved to find him at the next counter,pointing my thumb triumphantly)..HE knows..

 Officer: (Looks at my passport with an evil gleam in his eye ready to bolt with it to inner offices of Indian version of Homeland Security) Sorry..Madam.. (But thankfully, I hear the destination whispered..)

 Me: Langkawi..

Me: It’s an island (TG for recalling some kesari tours ad)

Officer: (finally looks at me then him.. understands the situation, actually smiles..) update the passport soon..go!

We settle in the flight, have the airline food ( I actually kinda like it in a perverse way) and doze off just to be woken up by landing announcement. A trip towards the east means that you gain time and are still groggy as you disembark and blink around the world-class award winning airport to find the gate for connecting flight. The airport is very huge,an architectural marvel and consitently won awards for the top 3 airports in the world. I have seen quite a few swanky airports, but this one takes the cake. The two flights were right after one another and a 20 minute delay meant a wild scramble and a wild dash which included finding an internal airport train (yeah, pretty impressive) to take us to domestic airport, immigration formalities and almost a kilometre long trot to the gate. We just made it in truly filmy style as the doors were closing and I couldn’t help but feeling cheeky that my name was made famous by the Malasiyan PA system as soon as I touched their soil 😛

 After an hour long flight we reach Langkawi, an island just off the north eastren coast of Malasiya. Langkawi is named after the white breasted eagle which can be spotted ( and we did spot it once) here. Langkawi is actually a collection of around 100 islands out of which only 4 are inhabited, Langkawi being the largest one. The population on the island is only 76000 and 96% comprises of tourists from all over the world. The airport was modern like Pune’s but after KL’s grandeur looked pretty rural. The air was humid though not as thick as Mumbai or Singapore and it was quite sunny though monsoon had just started. The roads are wide with almost no traffic(no surprise considering the less population).

Taj Rebak Resort @ Langkawi, Malasiya

The pickup guy suggested that we could rent a two-wheeler/car if we wished, there was right hand drive & Indian licenses were valid. I now thought that we would go to hotel/resort but some more surprise awaited when the ride got us to a jetty. We travelled further on a motorboat for 15 minutes to reach a smaller island, small enough for just a single heavenly resort. The resort is very well run by Taj and highly recommended. It boasts of a long private white sandy beach, azuurre swimming pool & idyllic cottages with sea-facing suites. We were to stay at this resort for the next 5 days and boy wasn’t I glad about that 🙂

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Scribbling with scribd

I have been using Scribd  for a while to read lots of interesting stuff, never really used their publishing for my content..so here it goes..a presentation I made about Greece a while ago as a public speaking group. 

(geez, it was really difficult to find a fairly sensible, original & non-work related document written by yourself to post on Internet )
Hellas – Travel

Get your own at Scribd or explore others: Travel greece Hellas
P.S. You can upload .ppt on Scribd, but for some reason, mine wasnt uploaded successfully, had to convert it to a .pdf to upload it..I am guessing large size of the .ppt  but any other suggestions are welcome.

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Wavy Weekend

Wanted to blog abt this but Mohsin has done a better job..Thanks Mohsin! 

P.S. and we managed to guess the “talking pants” movie..:P!

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