Island Hopping: Thailand to Malaysia. Ko Phangan & Langkawi

Jan 21, 2011

Selamat tengah hari from Malaysia! Well we’ve been beach bums since our last update. Ko Phangan was really beautiful, we stayed on Bottle Beach which was just gorgeous. It’s a very quiet little bay at the very top of the island and supposedly inaccessible by land so we arrived via taxi boat. There are 4 resorts on the beach, we stayed at Bottle Beach 1 and had a great little bungalow right on the beach front (see photo - to the right of the sign). The beach was very idyllic and we had a lovely time lounging about & relaxing. We stayed for 3 nights and despite it being quite cloudy (with one big storm), it was still really nice (just an excuse to play some more backgammon!).

We then set our sights on Malaysia. We headed for Pulau Langkawi, 45km from the North West coast of Malaysia. Although Bottle Beach was apparently ‘inaccessible’ via land, we took an open-backed truck to Thong Sala pier. We were perched in the open boot where we endured the bumpiest journey of our lives - through jungle, up and down muddy slopes and through streams - we both felt a little ill & bruised when we got out. We then got the 10pm night boat to Surat Thani which arrived at 4:40am the following day. The boat was fine, basically one big room with thin mattresses & cushions lined up for everyone to sleep on. At Surat Thani we got on a bus to Satun (with a connection at Hat Yai). We crossed customs at Satun, boarded a boat to Langkawi and we finally arrived at our guest house at 7ish.

Langkawi is a collection of 99 islands (an archipelago apparently!). It’s absolutely gorgeous; the islands vary in size and are dense with jungle, mountains, white sand beaches and surrounded by a turquoise sea. We’re staying on the main island Pulau Langkawi at Pantai Cenang beach. It’s a beach town but not in a bad way, it’s not been really spoilt like some places we’ve seen. Our local beach is long, with a few bars & restaurants on it, and our only gripe is that recently quite a few jelly fish have crashed our party! I got stung by one a couple of days ago, the sting was on my arm and I ended up dabbing vinegar on it (advice from the locals) and keeping it out of water, after 6 hours and lots of dabbing it had fully healed. Besides lolling on the beach soaking up the scorching rays (35 degrees fairly consistently), we’ve had a couple of days exploring. Our first trip was ‘Island Hopping’ where we took a speed boat to a neighbouring island which has an enclosed fresh water lake. It’s known as the Pregnant Maiden Lake and it’s supposedly very fertile - we did a bit of swimming but no signs of bumps yet!! We then went to Eagle Island which was under a cloud of hundreds of giant eagles. We threw small fish in to the sea and they swarmed around our boat diving in to the water just metres away from us. Finally we went to another island (Beras Basah) and retired on the beautiful beach where the sea was teaming with fish & sea life.

Yesterday we hired a scooter and I drove us around the island, the drive in itself was worth the trip - perfect roads weaving around hills dense with jungle and then coastal roads next to the beaches & yachts - like something out of a racing game. Our first stop was the cable car which is a network of cables that take you up the highest mountain on the island (at the top we were over 700 metres above sea level) and the views were amazing. We then went to Temurum waterfall at the top of the island - unfortunately due to it being the dry season it wasn’t very spectacular. At the waterfall I managed to get in to a scrap with a monkey who ended up chasing me down the path clawing at my heels - the little bugger! Finally we drove to a serene picturesque beach called Pasir Tengkorak where we relaxed for a few hours.

We’re loving Malaysia so far, it’s quite developed (from what we’ve seen) and everyone seems mega friendly. It’s an Islamic country and periodically you hear live prayer songs blasting out around the town via giant tannoys. The food is really good, our favourite dish so far is Beef Rendang - a peppery coconut curry. We’re feeling a little poor over here, everything is more expensive than we’ve become used to. We’re struggling with our daily budget and seem to be accruing an ever increasing deficit. In hindsight maybe we should have factored a little more money in to our Malaysia & Singapore budget!

Tomorrow we’re going to get the boat to the island Pulau Penang - said to be the food capital of South East Asia.

We’ll be in touch!

P.S - ‘Selamat tengah hari’ means Good Day in Malaysia - they have no word for a simple hello!

P.P.S - We’ve spent today on the beach and currently look like a pair of lobsters - the sun was extra scorchio!