Thursday, June 10, 2010

Heaven Is A Place On Earth

 
Picture yourself reclining on a deck chair in your balcony gazing at the “now it’s blue, now it’s green” sea gently lapping at the shore barely ten meters away from your chalet. A tapestry of dark clouds is playfully darting across the bright blue sky, hinting mischievously at a cool shower coming your way. Behind you, a lush tropical forest, the air filled with the merry chirping of crickets. As you leaf through the flora and fauna brochure with detailed instructions on what to do if you encounter a gecko/monitor lizard/snake, a mild shiver of excitement runs down your spine. It also happens to be your anniversary and you have come to know your daughter has done shockingly well in her exams (the mother was shocked, not the daughter). To celebrate, you have made reservations for dinner at a restaurant that stands on stilts somewhere out there in the sea. Heaven?

Heaven is somewhere in Malaysia, an archipelago of 99 islands nestled in the Andaman Sea. Better known as Langkawi, it is a curious mixture of low lying hills that dot the horizon, the calm aquamarine sea and the fascinating Kilim river with its unique mangroves.

We are but mere mortals and cannot tolerate tranquility for long. If our first day was bliss, the next day we had to atone for our sins. Distressed at our over indulgence of the gastronomic variety, we decided to trek up to Telega Tujuh (seven wells falls). Legend has it that the fairies used to come down to bathe in these pools. A rather long walk and 638 steps later (the husband insists there were more), the unbearable humidity compounding our misery, we felt like we had scaled the Everest. The seven wells give you a breathtaking view of the forests with the sea shimmering in the horizon. Even though the pictures in the brochures promised gushing waterfalls and deep pools, the wells were too tiny, the water scanty, the monkeys too many and all of them hungry. Perhaps the insufficient rainfall in the last few days was to blame (the monkeys I think got inspired by Kareena and changed their mind midway). We finished off our trek with chilled green coconut water. The water was sweet and we greedily scooped out the tender coconut flesh. Ah…nirvana.

Evening we decided to hit Kuah town famed for its Night Market. The market is a vibrant medley of vendors selling anything from garments to trinkets to even fresh fruits and vegetables. But it was the food vendors that grabbed our attention. Hey isn’t that an Octopus, God that fish looks really angry, wow these drinks look violently colourful, are you sure these are fruit drinks? And what did we end up having? Curly potatoes on sticks… I guess the sights and smells overwhelmed us.


Calling Langkawi the ‘Jewel of the east’ is no exaggeration. The calm Andaman Sea coaxes out the water baby in you. There you are, frolicking in the sea, unmindful of the fact that you can’t swim to save your life. That you have tanned and now look like a Zebra doesn’t bother you at all. The beaches (especially the Tanjung Rhu beach) are a treasure trove of unusual seashells and you can spend hours sifting through the sand looking for hidden gems. The Kilim river which snakes through the pristine mangroves before pouring itself into the sea beckons to the nature-lover in you. Just when you thought you had bid adieu to the child in you, you start yelping like an over excited kid on spotting a monitor lizard on the river bank. You almost tip the boat over to get a closer look at the vividly hued crabs. My daughter happily clicked away when she spotted a bunch of monkeys behind me, peeking over my shoulder. She is now insisting that I make it my profile pic on FB (Mum please, they almost look like your pets).


The Kilim Geo-park is lined with caves that have stalactite-stalagmite formations that took millions of years to form. The roof of these caves is the preferred hangout zone for thousands of bats. The bats were quite tourist friendly and did not mind the flashlight. But they were definitely not potty trained, we were specifically asked to keep our hands off railings lest they have bat poo (guano) on them. A loud group of fellow Indians created quite a ruckus trying to push each other into the river just for fun. We as Indians always stand out for our exemplary behavior. The overweight Punjabi lady shouting “Chilllies? you have chilllies?” to the by now mildly alarmed attendant at the egg counter in our resort. In the plane, buzzing furiously, demanding refills of whisky as if it’s the last bottle available on Earth. It makes your heart swell with pride.


Langkawi is also a food lover’s paradise. We had watermelons that were yellow (by far the sweetest and the crunchiest I’ve ever had). The curries are bursting with flavour, the fish is fresh and the variety is astounding (you can ignore the octopus). The Malays love their rice-they have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can be sweet, sour, with curry, without curry, plain with condiments, you name it and they have it. Why, even the Malay version of chicken satay comes with rice cubes. But if you are looking for night life, please don’t go to Langkawi. By late evening the streets look deserted, with hardly any sign of humanity. No loud music, not late partying hubs, Langkawi is an idyllic getaway. It moves at an unhurried pace; it soothes you, invigorates you and charms you with its iridescent beauty. No wonder the locals call it Langkasuka – ‘the land of all one wishes’.

I have now landed in Kuala Lumpur. The airport is located at least fifty kilometers from the city, I wonder why? KL is in striking contrast to Langkawi, throbbing with life and streets that come to life only in the evenings. Me? I’m feeling stressed already. So many malls, so little time… I refuse to leave till I have checked out all the stores, tried on all the dresses, shoes. After all I have nothing to lose but my bank balance.


21 comments:

  1. wonderful travelogue! loved it! you sure can be a brand ambassador for malaysia tourism!!

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  2. Beautifully described travelogue...must add malaysia to places to visit before I die...

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  3. Nice post! Will surely come back for more. Thanks for voting.

    Cheers,
    JPK

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  4. not very fond of sea resorts.. especially after the Tsunami..but thanks to your vivid description, now I feel like visiting Langkawi..

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  5. @Magiceye... Now where in the world are Indians welcomed with so much warmth. And Langkawi is magical.

    @Analyst..Don't you wait too long :)

    @ JPK..You are welcome and thanks for visiting my Blog.

    @Rajashree...Langkawi has a stunning topography. And you will love the food.

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  6. Excellent travelogue.
    A few more photos of the heaven would be great, too.

    Langkawi has been added to the 5-year-list behind Costa Rica, Tahiti and Switzerland :-). May not really go to any of these, though :-(

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  7. Wow...my interest in Langkawi is definitely piqued (as long as the monitor lizards stay away)! :)
    Some friends had gone to KL and they came back complaining that it had nothing much to offer except the 'tallest' or the 'biggest' or the 'newest'...in other words everything new and manmade...guess they missed out on Langkawi!

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  8. Supernova: The man-made bits of Malaysia always seem to be trying too hard to be Singapore or Hong Kong, and always fall short!
    Lucky Purba - I went to Malaysia and didn't go to Langakawi or other such wonderful places. The daughter seems to have inherited her mum's sense of humour!

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  9. Haha, the trip must have been good fun...I loved the Punju lady description.

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  10. @ Raja... Why not?? you have nothing to lose but your bank balance.
    I would have loved to put all the pics as a slide show, don't think blog spot has the option.

    @ Supernova...Monitor Lizards don't attack you until provoked. KL is all new and shiny and very reasonable. Great place to hog.

    Deven... You should have asked me before you planned your marathaon. All good things in life come for free, including friendly advice :)

    JM...Not just one but an entire herd. Loud, vacuous and all over the place.

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  11. ROFL about the part on the Indian penchant for free alcohol on aircrafts! The flights are different, but I have seen the same many times!

    Hope you managed to catch Penang (Batu Ferringhi) as well! It is mind blowingly beautiful.

    A great travelogue - "Malaysia truly Asia..."'s travel bureau may syndicate it!

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  12. That's a wonderful, beautiful and tempting travelogue!! Would love to go visit Langkawi sometime!

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  13. Dear Purba, have put a link to your blog in my http://facebook.com/MyLangkawi.mobi
    Have a good one.

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  14. I completely agree Purba, Langkawi is a beautiful place. I've been there three times and plan on going back.

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  15. Sowmya, We missed Penang this time. Maybe next time. Someone did take your suggestion seriously. My link is now on "My Langkawi" LOL

    Shilpa, It's a must visit.

    PG, Thank you :)

    Alistair, I know this will not be my last visit. It's so enchanting.

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  16. Mangrooves, the river and the sea food...sounds like heaven...Do post the picture of the monkeys peeping over the shoulder...would love to see it!
    Well written and vivid!

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  17. Truly mouth-watering travelogue this, dear Purba! I categorically agree with @magiceye when he says, "you sure can be a brand ambassador for Malaysia tourism!" ;-))

    "Jewel of the east" - Hmmm...
    ROSS ISLAND – PARIS OF THE EAST

    Cheers!!! :-))

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  18. Hey Purba...see if this guys is still there at Langkawi village http://finelychopped-k.blogspot.com/2008/03/sadri-he-made-langkawi-special-for-us.html I am going to KL and Penang on a food trip next month. Went to Langkawi a few years back and loved it

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  19. ... indeed little more pic of the heaven would have been good :)

    Malaysia n its island are truely wonderful ... hope u managed to check out all the shop n dresses ... :)

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  20. Thanks Nalini, have posted the pics in my FB album.

    Shrinath, got the point :)) But ever wondered why, the Andaman Islands are on the Arabian Sea and the Andaman Sea is somewhere in Malaysia and Thailand?

    Kalyan..Damn I should have written the post before going to Langkawi. Now you are telling me!!

    Sharmila...We have over 300 pics!!!!

    Absolutely, shopaholic let lose in KL..LOL

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  21. Nice post..was there last year..loved it!
    http://traveltalesfromchennai.blogspot.in

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