Having read so many times about peak season and things being fully booked, we put faith in the Universe and rocked up to Langkawi full of optimism.
Stepping off the plane having made the journey from Malacca was glorious- the smell of the sea and the palm fringed beaches was just what the doctor ordered. We love island life and it had been a while.
The taxi driver asked where we wanted to go- we heard from a fellow blogger that Pantai Cenang was the place to go but other than that we had no idea. Lucky for us, taxi drivers know everything. The driver took us to Rainbow Lodge, which was up a road away from the beach- cheap at 18 GBP per night for all of us in an Air Con room. We bagged the last room in this backpacker place with a lovely atmosphere and a friendly bar. To top it off, we were close to the weekly nightmarket and had great neighbours. We headed straight to the beach which was buzzing with public holiday festivities. I never cease to be amazed at all the women splashing about in the sea in full niqabs next to bikini clad westerners.
Our first day there we hired bikes and set off to explore. Our first find was a beach with parasailing going on- no time like the present I thought, and we got stuck in.
Mike and I had talked about it in advance- would we let the children have a go? Should we let the 5 and 7 year old be whisked 40 metres up in the sky with a complete stranger? Well, not wanting to dull their sense of adventure and install them with fear, we let them.
In truth, I thought they wouldn't go through with it- and when they took off, my stomach was in my mouth. Shaking with fear I hid it form them and cheered them on- this thing was a metaphor for parenthood in all its gut-wrenching glory.
I heard what I thought was crying coming from the sky and I was terrified the youngest was scared- If I could have flown up to him, i would have. When he finally landed, I realised the sound I heard was laughter- not tears! The eldest showed no hesitation at all and they both absolutely loved it, wanting to go again and again. When it was my turn I understood why, it was fantastic seeing the view of the bay and the island from up there- totally worth the 12 GBP each and my nails in the process.
We spent the rest of the time exploring the island, seeing the temples, beaches and waterfalls. Sadly most of the beaches had loads of jellyfish in- coupled with the poor water visibility, swimming was limited.
We managed to find a pool on one very hot day when there were jellyfish in abundance. We heard that Aseana resort had a pool that was open to the public, so we headed there. We were told by several staff that we just had to buy drinks then we got a bill for 20 GBP. Bearing in mind that Langkawi is a tax haven- everything there was incredibly cheap, so this seemed extortionate! We debated the bill for a while and we got it reduced to 10 GBP and we made sure we stayed ALL DAY to get our money's worth. I have to say though, it was worth every penny to spend that HOT day languishing in their faux waterfall, I just wish they had been up front about the cost.
I was lucky enough to have my birthday at Langkawi, and the day was started off with home made cards and an island hopping tour. It sounds idyllic until you realise that thousands of other tourists had the same idea on the same day... the desert islands were far from deserted but I think that for 5 GBP each that was fine! It was fun and we came back to Rainbow lodge for lunch and some birthday cocktail action. I had a dry January (apart from birthdays) so the Margarita tasted like heaven.
We met some people in a beach bar who joined in our celebrations and bought us lots of birthday drinks! The boys were delighted with the steady stream of milkshakes and then I took them for a foot massage, much to the delight of all the Thai ladies who cooed and laughed with them for half an hour. Happy birthday, boys! The staff and guests at Rainbow lodge also gave me a cake with candles- then thrashed me at Backgammon. It was a very good day.
The woman who ran the bar at Rainbow Lodge and cooked my beautiful cake was from Penang and going home to celebrate Chinese New Year. We realised that our original plans would mean that we would miss out- and being so close to CNY celebrations we should probably take part in it.
We popped next door to the lodge reception which doubled as a tour operator and booked our ferry for 2 days time. We loved Langkawi even though the sea wasn't great- the cheap good food and the lovely people made up for it. We were part of a real community where people looked out for eachother- something you don't get everywhere.
Where we stayed:
Rainbow Lodge, Pantai Cengang 18 GBP per night with Air Con.
What we did:
Motorbike hire- from Rainbow Lodge 5 GBP per bike per 24 hours.
Island hopping tour- organised through Rainbow Lodge at 5 GBP per person
Seven Wells Waterfall- free, beautiful but treacherous. Also beware of the monkeys.
Air Terjun Temurun Waterfall- The highest manmade waterfall in Malaysia. Left me wondering why the government wanted to install fibreglass rocks when there is so much natural beauty around?! Left me cold and bemused to be honest but each to their own.
Parasailing- The beach south of Pantai Cenang there were many operators there. 12 GBP each for a 15 minute ride. Well worth it.
Lucky Temple- free and undiscovered.
Muay Thai- Cenang Muay Thai camp & gym. 3 GBP per adult & 1.50 per child per lesson.
Nightmarkets- there is 1 per day that moves all around the island. Pantai Cenang has one next to the May Thai gym on Thursday evenings. Cheap, fresh and delicious.
Shopping: Langkawi is a tax haven so everything is very cheap! Many Malays come here to buy crockery and bedding. the shops are incredible and vast.