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Langkawi, the adventure island
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Langkawi, the adventure island

Langkawi, the adventure island
Travel
Disclaimer: Langkawi, Malaysia - July 1, 2009: Dataran Lang (Eagle Square) has a huge sculpture of an eagle poised for flight, and it is the tourist landmark of Langkawi. The eagle is also the mascot of Langkawi. Getty Images / hippostudio

Hanna Hussein

 

FLYING to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur is the most convenient way to reach the island. It takes an hour and is less tiring compared to driving.

But, budget-wise, is it economical to fly there if you are travelling in group of more than four people? Or is it better to drive? Well, my friends and I are about to find out.

Our plan is simple — drive from Kuala Lumpur and take the car ferry at Kuala Perlis Jetty Terminal to the new Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah.

Planning the journey is easy but following it seems to be a different story altogether. More so when it is our first drive to the fabled island. We have no idea what to expect.

Now that the lodging is already confirmed, we look for information on the ferry. It turns out that there are only two ferry companies and they only offer one service a day.

And the fare is RM300++ pervehicle, not including the fare for the passengers.

But by the time we make the call to inquire about the tickets, both ferries are already fully booked.

So we have to take the passenger ferry at RM80 per return ticket for one person. Unlike the car ferry, the passenger ferry operates frequently.

Therefore, we decide to purchase our ferry tickets when we arrive at the Kuala Perlis Jetty Terminal.

Oh, by the way, there are two jetties from the mainland — Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah — to Langkawi. However, the ferry ride from Kuala Kedah is longer, taking more than an hour.

We figure since it’s already been along drive from Kuala Lumpur, a shorter ferry ride from Kuala Perlis is a better choice.

Since we are not in a rush, we drive leisurely along the North South Expressway northbound, and it takes less than six hours.

It is 1.30pm when we arrive at the Kuala Perlis Jetty Terminal. There are a few guarded parking areas in the neighbourhood at RM10 per vehicle per day.

Disclaimer: Mega Water Sports offers one of a kind island hopping experience. Image via New Straits Times

 

We find one that is a five-minute walk to the ferry ticketing counter. And we are quite lucky that we manage to catch the 2pm ferry to Langkawi. So we arrive at Kuala Kuah Jetty Terminal in Langkawi after a 75-minute cruise.

SPLASHING ADVENTURE

Having survived our first challenge, we are ready for our next adventure and we want to kick it off by exploring the Andaman Sea.

Well, after all, Langkawi is made up of 99 islets on the Andaman Sea. Though most remain un inhabited, there are few that are worth a day’s visit.

Many companies in Langkawi offer cruise services to the islets, but the best (and cool) way to island hop is by jetski.

So, we have booked a few spots at one of the most popular and highly recommended jetski service here on the island—Mega Water Sports Jetski Tours.

It offers a few tours and you can book them online (megawatersports.com). We opt for its most popular, the morning Dayang Bunting Island Tour which jets off from Pantai Cenang. We are each given a lifejacket and a pair of aqua boots. After gearing up, Mega Water Sports owner Hussein Mohd Said tells us about the tour business popular with foreign tourists.

Since there are more than 15 participants today, we are split into two groups.

My friends and I, together with two tourist couples, are taken care of by one of the jetski instructors, Tong.

Tong begins the tour by briefing us on safety instructions. “You are going to follow me from behind in a ‘V’ formation to avoid crashes. Keep a safe distance of 300m away but keep up with the group so you won’t be left behind.”

We then head down to the beach where our jetskies are waiting. Tong continues his explanations on how to start and stop the engine and manoeuvre it before we climb on our ride in the water.

My ride partner Zarina will take it for a spin for the first half of the tour while I sit behind and hug her nervously. Tong leads the way, and Zarina follows on the left side of the V formation. The others follow too.

Disclaimer: Some exotic view of islands in Langkawi. Image via New Straits Times

 

The sky is greyish, as if it is about to rain and the ocean is really choppy. But as Zarina picks up speed, crashing into every coming wave, it feels super fun! Every time our jetski bumps and surfs over the ocean, I go “woooo”!

The tour takes us to eight islands in the Andaman Sea to witness their beauty, stunning limestone cliffs and greenery. Of course, Tong lets us ride nearer to the limestone island and stop for a while to take pictures.

We then make our first long stop at Langkawi’s second largest uninhabited island, part of the Unesco Geopark.

Located in the southern part of the main island, Pulau Dayang Bunting is popular because of the stunning freshwater lake surrounded by hills and rainforests.

Legend has it that a man named Mat Teja fell madly in love with a goddess named Mambang Sari. Soon after, Mambang Sari got pregnant with his child.

But the baby suffered from a mysterious illness and died. She laid her baby in the water and blessed the lake in the belief that women having difficulty conceiving would become fertile if they took a dip in the water.

To enter the Geopark, adults pay RM5, children RM3. Mega Water Sports customers get free access just by showing their lifejackets.

It takes less than 10 minutes to hike through an arrow concrete path that leads to the lake.

But be careful of the monkeys and avoid feeding them. As we near the lake, I have a the beautiful view of the mountain that resembles a pregnant woman lying on her back with the lake as backdrop which is probably how the island got its name.

Disclaimer: The legendary DayangBunting Lake. Image via New Straits Times

 

There, you can go for a swim at the designated area, go on a paddling boat or just enjoy the blue freshwater lake view.

We get to spend more than half an hour here before heading back to sea.

This time, I ride the jetski while Zarina sits back and relaxes (or freaks out when I crash the high waves).

The sky seems to change colour from gloomy to blue, and the ocean seems to calm down too. We start to turn on the engines and dash through the water. At first, I’m a bit anxious to press on the acceleration but once I get used to the thrill, I start to go faster and faster, keeping up with Tong’s speed of more than 40mph.

It is so electrifying once I get the hang of it, and we ride the ocean, visiting more stunning islands and stop to swim in the sea, and even take pictures on an island with a cliff. The adventure lasts for more than four hours. Definitely worth it!

OUTDOOR CHALLENGE

Up for more challenges, we head to Skytrex Adventure Langkawi for a forest experience. Located within the pristine enclosure of Burau Bay, Skytrex is a place for you to dare yourself (if you’re afraid of heights, like me).

It offers three routes — Little Legend for children, Eagle Thrill which is an intermediate and the advanced Island Extreme.

We opt for Island Extreme because we want to challenge our strength and stamina — can we survive till the end?

Our guide Zahim helps us to wear the safety gear and when everyone is ready, we head to the initiation area to learn about the activity. Zahim shows how to use the safety equipment and guides us on the first challenge.

Disclaimer: There are a total of 30 challenges to brave through at Skytrex Langkawi. Image via New Straits Times

 

Once everybody knows how to handle the gear, we continue to the first part of the challenge which seems super easy. I have no problem climbing the nets, and swinging through the flying fox.

The second part is where many people chicken out,” says Zahim. I get what he means; we have to climb a really tall ladder and it looks really tiring but I’m not about to give up just yet.

I brave myself to climb and don’t look down. “Am I there yet?” I scream. “You’re halfway there!” howls my friend who climbed up first.

I keep climbing, and without noticing, I am already at the top and my friend gives me a hand to climb to the wooden platform. Phewh, I manage the hardest part but the next challenge looks really terrifying though! To reach the next platform, you have to go along the X Bridge — not one but eight hanging X-shaped steps.

Disclaimer: Image via New Straits Times

 

I am already 20m above the ground, and the only way is to move forward. I secure my safety equipment and make sure I’m safe and take my first step on the X Bridge.

I don’t want to look down, but I have no choice; in order to move forward, I have to look down at where I can place my step on the X-shaped step.

For me, this is the most terrifying moment of my life, hanging up here. I keep hopping from one X step to another, steeling myself from crying. When I finally reach the next platform, I feel deep relief.

From here, there is no turning back, and I feel braver than ever. Well, if you can do the X Bridge, the challenges that follow are probably a piece of cake.

Well, not really. There are 30 challenges including braving a spiderweb, pipe and net bridges and lots of flying fox challenges to make it super fun!

SCENIC ZIPLINING

My favourite part of the forest challenge is foxflying across the greenery. Wanting more, we head to Umgawa, Langkawi’s zipline activity where one can fly through treetops of the earth’s oldest rainforest.

Disclaimer: Take a peek at the waterfall while doing a challenging task. Image via New Straits Times

 

Umgawa offers two adventure tours — the Jungle Flight (an hour adventure consisting of six ziplines and one bridge) and Waterfall Adventure that we opt for which is longer and has more thrilling challenges.

Both courses are fully guided and covered by insurance. The best part is that we can ask for a pro-photographer (provided by Umgawa) to join us throughout our journey. Safety gear and helmet are provided too.

Our guides Nina and Adha escort us while our designated photographer Dikwan is on stand by to capture our moments.

But first, Nina and Adha brief us on the do’s and don’ts.

“Don’t touch the safety gear at all, just sit back and enjoy the view,” says Adha.

Disclaimer: Super nice shot by Umgawa’s professional photographer. Image via New Straits Times

 

We then go on a short drive to where the activity begins. We go through 12 ziplines and three bridges which include two long ziplines and one soaring 200m above the ground crossing the stunning Seven Wells Waterfalls (Telaga Tujuh). That is the best part actually!

You can bring your own GoPro adventure camera and ask the guide to provide you with a safety kit for it to be attached to your hand for amazing shots while you cross the waterfall.

Well-trained guides make sure everybody enjoys the ride safely.

I feel totally at ease flying through scenic views of the rainforest with exotic native wildlife and trees.

The two-hour tour ends with an exhilarating abseil down from the tree top!

BEHIND THE WHEEL OF HAVAL H1

IT’S cute, it’s functional, it’s perfect for family. That is it felt driving the Haval H1 for our Langkawi trip.

Haval H1 has a comfortable interior, sleek and dynamic complete with Steering Wheel Audio Bluetooth and Cruise Control ensuring convenience during long drives. The compact SUV has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder VVT MPI engine with output figures of 105hp at 6,000rpm and 138Nm of torque at 4,200rpm, similarly utilising a six-speed AMT gearbox.

Plus, you can go on the manual mode when you want to pick up while driving and that is definitely an advantage!

However, make sure to pack smart, as the back storage is not spacious. It can only fit a maximum of two wheeled hand luggages.

Copyright New Straits Times