Strictly: Serenade – Part #1

I’m finally back with another travelling post, it has been a while I know. This time I did another lightning quick trip into Malaysia and visited Langkawi, an island off the west coast of the mainland. A popular local holiday spot, Langkawi called to me because a) it has amazing wildlife and b) it’s tax free. A double winner right there. As always seems to happen to me when I’m travelling in Asia the weather was pants, so prepare yourselves for a lot of grey skies. Despite the not ideal weather I managed to fit a variety of activities into my two days, and I even escaped the crazily bad haze affecting Singapore right now. The Langkawi landscape is pretty impressive, so I would recommend listening to this as you read, just to really get in the mood.

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When planning my Langkawi trip there were two things at the top of my ‘must see’ list. The first was the cable car and neighbouring Seven Wells waterfall, the second some kind of excursion with Dev’s Adventure Tours – a highly regarded eco-tour company. I managed to do both which was impressive, and one or two more bits besides. The first stop on the first, pretty stormy, morning was the Langkawi cable car. I’d heard great things about the cable car and the neighbouring sky bridge, like the amazing views and the impressive height you soared to, so I was pretty excited. And, well, I can’t really comment on how good the cable car was because I couldn’t see anything. The dramatic landscapes of the Langkawian countryside reminded me of Jurassic Park, and there was a lot of fog, so think The Mist crossed with Jurassic Park. I couldn’t see anything from the cable car, but I was pretty convinced that a prehistoric creature or hideous monster could emerge out of the fog at any moment and turn my morning into a disaster movie. It didn’t happen, obviously, but it could have. So I was underwhelmed by my cable car experience, and decided there was no point in going on the sky bridge as the entire thing was shrouded in mist, but it was an impressive ride up and I did feel like I was halfway up the side of a mountain, especially as it started to rock a little precariously the higher it got. I also managed to see the Seven Wells waterfall, my next stop, and the Oriental Village where the cable car starts its journey on the way down. So not a total failure.

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Part of the Oriental Village, a village-come-holiday resort-come- slightly rubbish theme park.

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Post cable car debacle it was time to try and work out how to get to the Seven Wells waterfall. If I’ve learnt anything in Asia it’s that they are completely allergic to logical signposting. More than once I’ve walked in circles around a shopping mall trying to find a toilet (which will inevitably be on a completely different floor), and road signs are no different. It is totally possible to walk to the Seven Wells waterfall from the cable car, it’s not even that far, it’s just that they won’t tell you which way to go. Luckily, there was a very determined looking German family powering up the hill, so it seemed silly not to follow them. It’s an easy walk up a hill to the waterfall entrance, but a horrible (especially in humidity) 600 step climb up to the actual waterfall. There’s a whole waterfall national park which you can hike, and I was quite depressed to find out that, after slogging up steps for what felt like forever, I wasn’t even a quarter of a way up the park itself. Safe to say I didn’t climb any further. The waterfall itself is lovely. There are natural pools and slides you can swim in at the top, except the weather wasn’t really swimming friendly (and typical me, I forgot to take a towel) but the views were stunning. I imagine it would be beautiful in actual sunshine.

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Now, you might think that this would mark the end of a day. If I was on a normal holiday I imagine all of this would take up one whole day, but when you’re only doing 2 days in a place it’s amazing how much you can do before lunch. All of this was, amazingly, before lunch. And man, was I hungry by lunch time! The afternoon brought a little bit more rain (of course) and another excursion. For people who know me well you might want to sit down for this bit, because I cycled 20km around Langkawi. On an actual bike, using my own two legs. As I said before I wanted to do one of the excursions lead by Dev’s Adventure Tours, and while there were some (the mangrove tour) that looked amazing they were all day affairs which isn’t so conducive to a two day holiday. So instead we opted for the cycling tour of Langkawi. Obviously not one of the more popular tours, we ended up with the guide all to ourselves, and it was a really lovely way to see the parts of Langkawi that the average holiday-maker would miss. As most of you probably know, cycling is not my favourite thing in the world. Luckily there were absolutely no hills and I managed to survive the brief encounters I had with traffic, so I reckon I came out of it quite well.

The majority of the views were made up of impressive mountain-scapes, rice paddy’s and local kampong’s, and as we cycled our guide told us some of the history of the area, and the customs of its people. Sights I didn’t expect to see included an original Malay house on stilts (complete with coconut trees in the garden, which were apparently planted by families on the birth of any daughters to advertise to potential suitors that there were young ladies in the house. The size of the tree showed the age of the daughter and when she was married the father cut it down. Interesting and also a very, very weird custom). Surprisingly we also came across a few rubber plantations, which was once a very popular crop grown in Malaysia, and a herd of cows who had worked out how to escape onto the road. In fact, there were a lot of cows, everywhere. And birds, some of which were unusual to see, but I’m not exactly a bird expert so I couldn’t confidently say that I remember what they were. Of course it rained during our cycle, but I was still very glad that I’d been talked into bike riding.

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Yes, the bike in that picture was mine. Try not to be too surprised.

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IMG_1284I’ve still got a night and a day to go and, as ever, the length of this post is getting wildly out of hand (I mean, I haven’t even got to the reason for the name ‘Strictly: Serenade’ yet), so herein ends part 1. Part 2 will be along in a day or 2. Or maybe 3.

Leah Out X

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