What I miss most living in a crowded city like Singapore is going back to nature. Thus, when I go on a vacation, I try to avoid cities. I choose instead to visit sleepy kampongs, hikes, caves or a day out at sea.
Langkawi offers all these, albeit packaged as touristy tours. There are abundant wildlife rarely seen in Singapore.
I love waterfalls and visited all three which are shown on the map. Hiking to the top of the waterfalls is rewarding as you are awed by the majestic roar of the falls. The water is refreshing in the humid tropical heat but getting up there requires nimble feet.
Durian Perangin Waterfalls has a shallow pond at the entrance for the kids and if you are fit enough, a hike up the steep hill with bring you the top of the higher falls, where you can negotiate the rocks to get into the pool to experience shoulder massage from the cascading falls. The pool is too shallow to swim though when we visited in December.
Temurun Waterfalls was deserted when we visited in the early morning. The clear water was inviting. The area is clean and serene, with the natural sound of water and birds. The pool is deep so be cautious, especially for children.
Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells) was crowded when we visited in the afternoon. Tourists in skimpy bikini mingled with tudong clad locals as they jostled for a good place to experience the falls. If you are brave enough, like my son, you can climb the slippery rocks to access the higher falls, but be very careful, as we saw two men sliding down accidentally although they seemed to be having fun.
An excursion we did was we rented a boat out to sea to do some fishing. We paid RM300 for 3 hours, with reels and baits provided. The boat was parked by the side of a shady cliff. As the family fished, my husband Mike indulged in his new hobby, Birding. We all went home satisfied, with a bucket load of small garoupas and snappers, and he with wonderful shots of eagles and other sea birds. The fishes were brought to a restaurant where we feasted for lunch.
While fishing, we saw a sea turtle getting hooked by a neighbouring boat. He was freed without harm. That’s what I like about the people in Langkawi – they respect nature and the environment, unlike in other places in Malaysia. The island also has a higher cleanliness standard than many parts of Malaysia.
Another tour we took was the mangrove tour, covering the Ecopark of Langkawi. We were told that the mangrove protected the island during the 2006 boxing day tsunami and casualty was kept to a minimum. (Think one died of heart attack.) The mangrove tour took us through meandering river flanked by mangroves. We sighted monkeys, otters and monitor lizards along the river banks. Part of the tours also included eagle sighting, where the sea eagles are lured to an area by dead chicken thrown in by the boat man. I am not sure if I agree with this feeding of wildlife but getting close to the eagles was amazing.
As we had rented a car, we decided to explore the non-tourist sites as well. On a walk in a little fishing village near our apartment, we were delighted to spot two horn bills and witnessed one digging through a dead branch for insects.
Getting in touch with nature was exciting for my sons. Instead of looking at electronic screens, they were out either exploring in the beach examining hermit crabs and other creatures; sighting birds for papa; and went star gazing nightly (Too cloudy!).
Langkawi reminded me of the Singapore when I was a child – a fusion of modern city and laid-back wonders in the undeveloped part of the island. I think this is what most Singaporeans my age miss most as we watch our country through its rapid development these past five decades.
It’s the reason why I feel like a child again in Langkawi.