We fuelled up on curry puffs (karipap, to pronounce them like the locals!) from a roadside street vendor. They were delicious, deep-fried puffs filled with curry and vegetables, sold from the back of a motorbike, followed by sliced pineapple sprinkled with chilli and salt. Now, we were ready for adventure! It had been almost 5 years since the last time I rented a scooter in South East Asia, an indestructible red devil that we used to explore Laos’ plain of jars through gloopy mud and pouring rain. But today, the sun was beaming, and the Langkawi tarmac promised an easy ride. The scooter was brand new, the sun was out, and we couldn’t wait to explore Langkawi, a small island in Malaysia’s north.
We left the town of Pantai Cenang and began to ride through leafy palm groves speckled with rays of sunlight, villages and roadside shops, gentle mountain passes and tall dark forests. We found ourselves cruising past sandy beaches nestled in the many bays of the island, whilst Cindy took photos from the pillion seat.
After riding around lost for several hours, we eventually came to Tanjung Rhu beach in Langkawi’s north. We sat down to drink a coconut in the shade. Around the corner from the beach, near the inlet, we a shady cluster of slender trees growing up from the sand. Many of the Malaysians had laid out their towels here, the better to avoid the sun. Bizarrely, a pair of western backpackers were perched awkwardly in the tree branches, reading books. They looked like they were trying extra hard not to show their discomfort.
We kept riding, and found a long winding path through a tall forest that somehow blocked out the humidity, and felt like air conditioning. But the fresh air didn’t last long, once we started the trek to the Seven Wells Waterfall (Telaga Tujuh). There were hundreds of steps, and by the time we reached the viewpoint at the top, we were both dripping with sweat! The waterfall cascades down the mountainside from the very top, landing onto a shelf of rock pools filled with people swimming, before falling again into the abyss.
We couldn’t resist doing an island hopping boat tour. We knew from doing similar tours in other countries that we’d probably we shuttled to a few random sights with little explanation – but these day tours are often fun just to bounce around on the water and stop at some beaches. Sure enough, after passing the pregnant maiden mountain (so named because of it’s curvy shape from one particular angle), we arrived at the Geoforest park. Sadly, there were no signs actually explaining what was so ‘Geo’ about the park, so we followed the crowd through a short forest walk to a large lake, filled with families in red life vests bobbing around in the water. We stared at the kayaks and the pedal boats, wondering if this was a place for watersports, or a precious geological site.
Our heads full of question marks, we carried on to another island, where the boat driver threw chicken meat out to the local eagle population. It seemed a bit sad to see eagles dependent on humans for food, especially when half the boat weren’t interested, some not even bothering to look up from their phones. The final stop was simply a chance to sunbake on a small beach. We cherished the chance to enjoy the sun, because we were soon leaving for a month of winter in one of our most anticipated destinations ever – Japan!