Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Langkawi day 1

[this is a work in progress]

We slept late, because we're lazy. Then we pottered about for a bit, went online to book our flights (we indulgently decided to fly from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur, and directly on to Manila), then looked into renting a motorbike (there is no public transport on Langkawi and it's far too vast to explore on foot, so the only way of getting around is either by taxi or rented vehicle). But in contrast to Thailand, where they'll happily sit a twelve-year-old on a scooter and wish him luck, civilised Malaysia refused to rent us a motorbike because we don't have the necessary licences. So we rented a car. Sara drove our mean machine, a red Proton, while I navigated with the free tourist map. By “free” read “sponsored”, so it was peppered with red dots and blue dots and green dots labelled with the names of duty-free emporiums (Langkawi was declared a duty free zone in 1987), restaurants, resorts and craft centres – so densely in places that the dots and their labels virtually obliterated the roads.

And so we drove without aim, an island road trip. We stopped to get a drink; I bought a package of satay jellyfish because it sounded interesting. Small dried discs on long toothpick skewers. It tasted of corn syrup.

We muddled our way – eventually – to the Langkawi cable car, and bought two tickets. An attendant whose sole function was to tap people's tickets on the turnstile tapped our tickets on the turnstile, and we joined the queue to be transported up the side of a mountain in a small space pod suspended from creaking wire. Halfway up the mountain I remembered I'm scared of heights. This realisation usually hits me when I'm about to do something like jump out of a plane or zipline out of a 100-foot tree. You'd think I'd learn.

At top station (middle station was closed for works) we were offered a foot massage. Novel, but we declined. Instead we headed to the upper platform of the station, and took in the hazy views over mountains covered in thick green shagpile, and the blue beyond. We posed next to the sign informing us we were however many feet above sea level, then went down to the futuristic boardwalk promenade. [this will make more sense when I add photos]

[there's more to come - I've been too busy having fun to write!]