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Getting around

Part 3: Langkawi

Map of Malaysia
13.12: Munich -> Bangkok
14.12: Bangkok -> KL
15.12: KL
16.12: KL -> Langkawi
17.12: Langkawi
18.12: Langkawi
19.12: Langkawi
20.12: Langkawi -> KL
21.12: KL -> Kuching -> Kota Kinabalu
22.12: Kota Kinabalu -> Sandakan
23.12: Sandakan -> Labuk bay -> Sukau

24.12: Sukau
25.12: Sukau -> Gomantong caves -> Lahad Datu
26.12: Lahad Datu -> Danum valley
27.12: Danum valley -> Semporna
28.12:  Sibuan
29.12: Mabul
30.12: Semporna -> Tawau
31.12: Tawau -> KL
09.01: Melbourne -> KL
10.01-11.01: KL
12.01: KL -> Bangkok
13.01: Bangkok -> Munich

16.12: KL -> Langkawi
Hotel Mutiara Burau Bay, Langkawi. RM310 (special reduced package price for Malysian nationals and their families) for a chalet with two rooms (one sleeping room and one living room), buffet breakfast included. No seaview, the chalet is in the forest. In the sleeping room they place a baby bed and an additional bed for Alissia at no extra charge (we actually booked a triple room). The room is clean, has A/C, a TV, a fridge, nice furniture, bathroom with shower and a bathtub; there is also a hair dryer in the bathroom. The chalet is definitely good, but is old and a bit run down. They could charge less for this chalet. No or very few mosquitoes in the area. Black monkeys walk around the complex freely and are not afraid of humans. I recommend this place, just be aware that you are a bit isolated, far away from shops and restaurants. The only real restaurant option, unless you want to take a taxi, is the restaurant of the hotel, which is not bad, but overpriced by Malaysian standards.
Weather: overcast in KL in the morning. Mostly overcast in Langkawi as well, although the sun shows up briefly in the late afternoon. Tropically hot, no rain

We get up at 7am, have breakfast and check out. By 9 something am we are in a taxi to the airport (driver is charging us RM90 for the trip, we could probably have negotiated this down a bit). Around 10:20am we are at the LCCT terminal of Airasia, where we check in. The Airasia flight AK6304 takes off almost on time. The hostesses are breathtakingly sexy.

We arrive in Langkawi around 12:30pm, then take a taxi to the hotel (RM24, coupon system at the airport. We check in at the hotel and spend the rest of the day doing not much. Alissia and I enjoy the hotel pool for a while. The area surrounding the hotel is quiet and peaceful. There is a nice beach, with few tourists on it. No mass tourism like Mallorca, Phuket or even Chaweng beach on Koh Samui. Come here if you want to relax and enjoy a holiday. The sea water is not crystal clear, but the beach is clean and nice.

Around 5pm I go with Alissia to the Oriental Village, from where the cable car to the hill takes off. By the time we are ready to take the cable car the sun has disappeared, so we change our plans. At 6pm Alissia and I have a dinner at the Japanese restaurant in the oriental village. The dinner is overpriced for Malaysian standards and I am still hungry when I leave. Later in the evening I have a second dinner in the restaurant of the Mutiara hotel.

17.12: Langkawi
Hotel Mutiara Burau Bay, Langkawi.
Weather: overcast until 3pm, blue sky with a thin clouds layer after that. No rain.

We get up at 9am, and have breakfast shortly before 10am. After the breakfast we hang around a bit, then Alissia swims in the children pool. Around 1pm we take a taxi (RM 26) to Cenang beach. This is a tourist area with shops and restaurants. The idea would be to shop around a bit, have lunch and use an Internet cafe.

Once there we notice that it is in practice not possible to walk around the area with a baby stroller, because there is no pavement. There are several roadworks ongoing, mud and heaps of stones everywhere. So we just have a lunch in a restaurant, then I send Shirley with the kids by taxi (RM 24) to the Langkawi Parade Mall in Kuah, where they can do some shopping. In the meantime I check my emails in an Internet cafe. When I finish I take a taxi and join Shirley at the Langkawi Parade Mall. This is a small mall with three floors in Kuah. Not too impressive but I guess you can't expect too much from an island.

Around 4pm we have some food in the Marrybrown fast food restaurant of the mall. Then at 4:15pm we drive back to the hotel, but first make a stop at the bald eagle square in Kuah. It takes 10 minutes to get to the square. There are some Islamic style buildings and this oversize statue of the white headed eagle. At 4:45pm we drive back to the hotel, arriving there around 5:30pm.

Since the sky now is almost blue, I seize the opportunity to take the cablecar to the hilltop while Shirley and the kids take a rest in the room. I'm in the Oriental Village at 5:50pm, and by 6:05pm I on the first station on the hilltop. Nice view, but lots of haze. Poor visibility in the distance. Strong wind and quite cold on the hilltop. The haze is so strong that it becomes almost impossible to see Koh Tarutao.

Shortly after 7pm I'm back in the hotel. In the evening we have dinner in the hotel. The holiday has so far meant loss of sleep for the kids, because they can't sleep at the usual times. Especially Natasha is suffering because when she would sleep she is with us somewhere outdoors (and of course she is still jet-lagged).

18.12: Langkawi
Hotel Mutiara Burau Bay, Langkawi.
Weather: almost blue sky in the morning, later in the day the sky becomes essentially spotlessly blue with not a single cloud in the sky.

We get up at 9:15am and during breakfast run into a Taiwanese-German couple. He's German (from Munich), she is Taiwanese, they have three kids and currently live in Singapore. Now Shirley has a friend here in the resort with whom to chat. After breakfast, at 10:40am, we go to the beach and spend the next hours until after 1pm on the beach swimming and relaxing. Alissia overcomes her fear of the water and manages to swim with the swimming ring in the sea.

After that we have a lunch in the Malay restaurant outside the hotel. I order some fish (a Seabass) - not too bad, but relatively pricey at RM 39. Apparently I ate a 650 grams fish - didn't notice that there was so much meat. Then Shirley gets back to the room and takes a rest with the kids. She is not too crazy about taking the cablecar to the mountain, so, while she is in the room, I get out on my own.

At first I head again to the beach for some more photos. Then I walk to the cablecar and get again on the top. Today the visibility is much better than the one we had yesterday, so I seize the opportunity to take some panoramic shots. Long queue at the cablecar station, I manage to be on top only at 5:30pm. Strong wind again on the top.

At 6:15pm I get down and am back on the beach at 6:45pm for some sunset shots. The sun sets at 7:10pm and then Shirley joins me with the kids. We are on the beach until 7:45pm, then get back to the room. The day ends with a dinner at 9pm.

After that I surf a bit the web in the hotel lobby (RM 10 per half hour). I notice that the Euro is now at RM 5.03 to the ringgit. Something must have happened in these few days that sent the Euro up and/or the RM down or a combination of both. In any case, our holiday is getting cheaper.

19.12: Langkawi
Hotel Mutiara Burau Bay, Langkawi.
Weather: spotless blue sky the whole day. Only in the late afternoon some isolated clouds show up. Very hot.

We don't do much today. We have breakfast in the morning, then Alissia swims in the pool until noon. I don't swim in the morning because the sun is strong and getting stronger and I'm sunburnt. Will swim in the late afternoon.

Around 1pm we take a taxi (RM 8) to the Marina harbour near Burau bay. We could actually have walked to this place, but it's very hot, there is no pavement along the road and with two kids it's not an option to walk along the street under the sun. In the Marina we have some lunch in a KFC restaurant, then Shirley goes with the kids to an indoor children playground while I walk to the Internet cafe, arriving there at 2:20pm.

The owner of the Internet cafe, a young guy, is sleeping while I arrive. I check my emails and evaluate my travel options. At the moment I'm thinking of staying in Malaysia until Jan. 1st, then fly to Australia for 7-9 days, then fly back to KL. I'll focus on Sabah (will visit Sarawak during my next trip, most likely next year in June). It seems that I can't book Airasia flights KL-KK until Dec. 26th and the same flight with Malaysian Airlines is only available in the business class on Dec. 21st for RM 1103.

I make several phone calls and check if a Rafflesia flower is blooming somewhere. There is indeed one in Ranau blooming right now, but I can only be there on Sunday which is almost too late, as the flower will be rotting already. Pulau Tiga is an option, although I wonder if I should spend the time to visit another island. Doesn't make too much sense to get there just for one or two nights. The Internet connection in this cybercafe is painfully slow, especially when you try to access sites located outside Malaysia.

Around 3:30pm Shirley joins me in the Internet cafe. She couldn't find a taxi to go back to the hotel. After 10 minutes I'm done with the Internet. I walk out and look for a taxi. Nowhere is there a taxi stand. So I start walking along the road towards the hotel, thinking of either stopping a passing-by taxi or getting to the hotel and taking a taxi there, whatever happens first. After about 200m a private car stops and the driver asks if he can help. For RM 8 this guy will bring us to the hotel. Fine with me, we first get back to the Internet cafe.

The owner is still sleeping, so I put RM 6 (the rate is RM 4/hour) in his hand before leaving. I guess this guy is not afraid that somebody might steal his computers or that some customer won't pay. Probably there is very little crime in Langkawi or in this part of Langkawi and the people here (locals and tourists) are honest.

Back in the hotel it's tea time in the lobby (free tea and cookies). While Shirley and the kids take a rest in the room, I have some tea, then explore a bit the hotel park and the beach. Later at 5:30pm I meet Shirley and the kids on the beach. Alissia and I swim and build sand castles until the sunset. Then we have a dinner in the hotel restaurant. It's a buffet dinner (RM48/person) with delicious food and cool desserts. There is even a chocolate fountain where you drip in pieces of fruits or cookies.

After dinner I book flights from KL to Kuching (Malaysian Airlines) on Dec. 21st and Kuching to Kota Kinabalu on the same day very late in the evening. I'll rent a taxi for half a day and visit a longhouse and a pepper plantation along the way (or make a sidetrip to the Gunung Gading NP in case they have a Rafflesia). Will arrive in KK on Dec. 21st at 11:45pm.

20.12: Langkawi -> KL
Hotel The Summit, Subang Jaya (half an hour by car from KL). RM 156 for a deluxe room (booked from the Internet). The room is big with a single bed and a double bed. The A/C is too strong and the thermostat doesn't work. After complaining with the reception the staff explains that there are three possible settings accessible via buttons next to the bed (low, middle, high). Even in the low setting the A/C is too cold however. Breakfast not included. Adjacent to the hotel is the Summit shopping mall.
Weather: blue sky with a few small clouds in Langkawi. Hot and no rain.

We get up as usual at 9:15am and after breakfast pack our things. At 12pm we check out, then are in the lobby until 1pm. After that we take a taxi to the airport, arriving there around 1:30pm. Once there we check in and have lunch. Then we proceed to the gate. The AirAsia flight to KL takes off with a very small delay at 3:40pm and lands in KL's LCCT terminal one hour later. In the baggage reclaim area no trolleys are available anymore, so Shirley walks out and takes one from outside the reclaim area. We take a premier taxi (RM 77), which has a larger boot area, and drive to the hotel.

Around 6 something pm we check in the hotel. Almost at the same time Sara and Shirley's mom arrive. They will spend the night with us in another hotel room. For dinner we drive with Shaun, Shirley's brother, to a Chinese restaurant in Subang Jaya. After the dinner we drive to the Sunway Pyramid mall for some shopping.

Copyright 2009 Alfred Molon