With a baby on the way, our days of packing up on a moment’s notice and heading on-the-road for spontaneous and adventurous trips are about to take a backseat to thoroughly planned, family-friendly vacation destinations. That’s not to say our global baby will keep us from traveling, quite the contrary actually, as we definitely plan on exposing her to new cultures and places, it’s just it will require a lot more planning and effort, and meticulous details will now take the place of spontaneity – at least for the first few years.
Having been in Kuala Lumpur for nearly 9 months now, C and I were quite eager to explore a different part of Malaysia – where gorgeous natural wonders and breathtaking mountain and ocean vistas trumps the bustling “big” city life of KL. And, what better time than now to take advantage of a long weekend and head up north to explore the beautiful, mysterious, and quiet Island of Langkawi for some much needed R&R before baby girl makes her debut in July. So, that’s just what we did.
We decided to go to Langkawi because it’s 1) absolutely beautiful, and 2) extremely quick and easy to get there, and being 31 weeks pregnant at that time, I was not too keen on a long plane ride or an arduous journey just to get to our destination. So, off we went. Just a quick one-hour plane ride and the crowded streets of KL were left in the dust, making way for the turquoise waters and greener than green, jungle-lined beaches of Langkawi.
Forming the gateway between the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea, Langkawi is an archipelago of approximately 100 Islands located 30km off the northwest coast of Malaysia, just a stone’s throw away from the Thai border. And, the name Langkawi is in fact, a combination of colloquial Malay and Sanskirt meaning “reddish brown eagle.” Once thought to be under a seven-century curse from a scorned princess, the Island is now a vibrant tourist destination thanks to the efforts of the Malaysian government back in the 1980s. Local legends of giant mythological creatures and jealous royal families, coupled with the all-too-recent stories of pirate-infested waters add another dimension of culture and mystery for visitors to ponder as they stroll the white-sandy beaches.
As I mentioned, being late in the third trimester, scuba diving, speed boat rides and jungle trekking were sadly off limits during this trip, but C and I managed to scoot around the Island as best we could to soak up as much as possible during our 2-day trip. (I would be remiss not to add that we definitely WANT to come back once the baby is born to take part in the above-mentioned activities that the Island is known for). We stayed just a few kilometers off the main shopping and hotel drag in a small little hotel called the Holiday Villa. It was nice, definitely not something to write home to mom about, but the private beach and enormous pool definitely made up for what the room lacked in accommodation. Also, apparently jelly fish are a huge problem at the beaches here during the winter months – thank god we went during “off-season,” and the only jellies we saw were dead, mutilated ones, washed up along the shore a ways off from our hotel! haha.
C and I, visited Eagle Square, we walked up and down the beautiful beaches, swam in the warm waters (C’s first ocean swim, believe it or not), ate wonderful food (especially Turkish Cuisine, yum, I am salivating now thinking of my chicken kabobs), shopped the streets of Pantai Cenang, and basically just enjoyed each other’s company for a weekend of relaxation, walking, swimming and sun & sea. Sadly, the Island’s main attraction, the cable cars, were under maintenance at the time, so we were unable to partake in this acclaimed tourist attraction. However, while stuffing our faces with pancakes and latte’s one morning, we did cheer on the brave runners tackling the last two km’s of the Langkawi International Marathon!! Now, you know that I am an avid runner, and a marathon runner, so I don’t even have to explain the appeal of this race! Next year… next year!
The best advice I can give about Langkawi is the following:
- Visit during “off-season.” It’s not crowded, sure it’s a little hotter than normal, but my god, you are in Malaysia, isn’t it always hot? There’s little to no jelly fish sightings and tours are easy to book, although make sure some of the main attractions like the cable cars are in operation!
- Don’t eat at the hotels. Food is over-priced and not nearly as good as the local gems found along side the roads of Pantai Cenang.
- Shop! Duty-free stores and cheap, yet awesome local Island shops provide so many options for an eclectic buying experience.
- Partake in the EVERYTHING nature you can. Scuba, jungle trekking, mountain hikes, boat rides, whatever. Do it.
- Be prepared for HONEST cab drivers. Something you don’t see much of around Kuala Lumpur. These guys have fixed rates that nearly all the cabbies abide by. A refreshing change not to be fleeced by the drivers!
- Unplug. Leave your technology at home – besides the camera of course. Just soak up the beauty around you, it truly is breathtaking.