Search: Advanced | Preference
Traveling Boy means the travel adventures of the Traveiling Boitanos
Travel adventures of Eric Anderson Boitano
Travel adventures of John Clayton
Travel adventures of Deb Roskamp
Travel adventures of Fyllis Hockman
Travel adventures of Brom Wikstrom
Travel adventures of Jim Friend
Travel adventures of Timothy Mattox
Travel adventures of Corinna Lothar
Travel adventures of Roger Fallihee
Travel adventures of Tamara Lelie
Travel adventures of Beverly Cohn
Travel adventures of Raoul Pascual
Travel adventures of Ringo Boitano
Travel adventures of Herb Chase
Travel adventures of Terry Cassel
Travel adventures of Dette Pascual
Travel adventures of Gary Singh
Travel adventures of John Blanchette
Travel adventures of Tom Weber
Travel adventures of James Thomas
Travel adventures of Richard Carroll
Travel adventures of Richard Frisbie
Travel adventures of Masada Siegel
Travel adventures of Greg Aragon
Travel adventures of Skip Kaltenheuser
Travel adventures of Ruth J. Katz
Travel adventures of Traveling Boy's guest contributors

Ketchikan Bed and Breakfast Service

Panguitch Utah, your destination for outdoor discovery

Alaska Sea Adventures - Alaska Yacht Charter and Cruises

Colorado ad

Sorrel ad

Polar Cruises ad


About Gary   write me    Feeds provide updated website content        

Gary: Langkawi, Malaysia

bat hanging in a cave, Langkawi Island, Malaysia
A cave bat hangs out on the roof

Langkawi:
Myths, Mangroves and Mystery

Story and Photos by Gary Singh

s we emerge from the airport on Langkawi Island, my driver pulls out onto the desolate highway and points towards the road ahead of him. With a sweeping gesture, left to right, he proclaims: “This is Langkawi. Empty roads and no one’s in charge.”

Indeed, the road from the airport worms its way along the western coast, around a bend or two, and straight into a slew of high-end resorts. Diving gear and rental shops abound. Everything on the island is close to everything else, so the taxis don’t even use meters. They just charge set rates from one destination to another. If one wants to escape the throngs of tourists invading from the ferry jetty, one can rent a bicycle for dirt-cheap. Even though Langkawi is a tourist Mecca, relaxation comes quite easy.

mangrove tree in a swamp, Langkawi, Malaysia
Drifting through the mangroves

Located 30 km from northern peninsular Malaysia, where the Straits of Malacca meet the Indian Ocean, Langkawi is an archipelago of nearly 100 islands, with Langkawi Island being the main attraction. It is a land of myths, mangroves and mystery.

It was here, the legend goes, that a young woman named Mahsuri was executed for adultery. The townsfolk stabbed her to death and white blood flowed from her wounds, indicating she was actually innocent. She then cursed the entire island and her tomb is now a tourist attraction.

Amazingly, Langkawi has only been developed since 1987. At first, there was only one hotel, the population was around 30,000 and the main activity was agriculture. Then the prime minister declared it a duty free island and away it went. During the first few years, the main tourists were the Europeans, who preferred a quiet isolated place with seemingly no authority. Over time, tourists from other Asian countries began to visit en masse and they preferred more activities, so more development eventually started to happen. Tourism boomed in the ensuing years.

boats on a river with limestone cliffs in the background, Langkawi
Cruising down the river

Today, retail shopping, business complexes and commercial districts exist primarily in the town of Kuah near the ferry jetty, with other scattered retail villages here and there. Sporadic pockets of native civilization occupy everything else in-between. Independent shops and restaurants engage wanderers on a few streets, and traditional Malay wooden homes on stilts are omnipresent.

Much of the island is an official UNESCO Geological Park, perhaps the only duty free one of its kind anywhere. One is instantly beckoned into the convoluted green shadows for some serious mangrove and mystery seeking. Depending on which ecosystem one enters, there are bat caves, monkeys, eagles, a cable car ride and a skybridge providing a spectacular view. One can even go to a catfish spa, where fish munch the dead skin off your feet. In the bat cave, literally hundreds of bats occupy their places on the ceiling and stalagmite formations a million years old continue to reshape themselves, ever so slowly.

catfish munching at dead skin off visitor's feet, catfish spa, Langkawi
Catfish Spa, Langkawi

At my request, the guide led me into a restaurant and fish farm named The Hole in the Wall. I guess it was the moniker that attracted me the most. Owner Rahmad originally built the eatery eight years ago as an addendum to an already existing fish export business that doubled as a pit stop for yachts traversing the surrounding waters. As the destination grew in popularity, he expanded the restaurant several times. Nowadays, every boat stops by for food or drinks. There’s a bar, a makeshift souvenir shop, an internet connection and 10 ample rooms at RM 55.00 per person. It is a common stop for all the mangrove tours, business travelers, weddings and even the occasional politician. There exist 25 cheap mooring docks for yachts, with many skippers often hanging out for months at a time.

sign for Hole in the Wall restaurant and fish farm
Hole in the Wall Fish Farm and Restaurant

In fact, it was the yachting community that originally chose the name Hole in the Wall, since the facility is located on a tiny passage off the Kilim River, right in-between two enormous limestone outcrops. Thus, a hole in the wall.

“If the owner had chosen the name, he would have just thought of some other Malay name instead,” my guide tells me.

staff feeding a sting ray at the Hole in the Wall restaurant and fish farm
Feeding a sting ray at the Hole in the Wall Fish Farm

Attached to the restaurant are 60 cages where Rahmad breeds fifteen types of fish, including sea bass, red snapper, greasy grouper, sting rays, electric eels, archer fish, dart fish and more. For RM 5.00, one can watch a trained employee walk around on the planks and feed the fish, including the stingrays. There’s even a hanging bridge that leads 100 meters off into the mysterious mangroves. The entire facility literally floats on the water and you can even dine outside on the planks, while watching the fish swim by in the river.

the Hole in the Wall fish farm and floating restaurant, Langkawi
Hole in the Wall floating fish farm

Even though tourists now regularly flock to the island, Langkawi still somehow retains a passive laidback atmosphere. Natives staff almost all of the resorts, I’m told. When I arrived at the Pelangi Beach Resort, the bellhop who drove me to my chalet had worked at the property since the place first opened twenty years ago. It was the only job he’d ever had.

beach restaurant at Pelangi Resort with islands in the background, Langkawi
View from the beach restaurant at Pelangi Resort

And each room at The Pelangi supplies a brown pamphlet describing all the native creatures inhabiting the resort property. For example, one must feel at ease with tiny geckos running across the bedroom walls and ceiling. Malays will tell you they’ve lived in harmony with house lizards for generations.

Now that’s what I call local flavor. I vowed to return.

another picture of bats hanging on cave roof, Langkawi
Cave bats hang on the roof


Name: Required
E-mail: Required
City: Required
Feedback:
 

Let Gary know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Your tea adventures are especially interesting because I've always associated tea with British etiquette or a bevy of women wearing dainty victorian costumes and sipping tea with their little pinky sticking out. To see Tea from a man's perspective brings new light in a man's psyche. I've been among the many silent admirers of your writings for a long time here at Traveling Boy. Thanks for your very interesting perspectives about your travels. Keep it up! --- Rodger, B. of Whittier, CA, USA


Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the White Continent of Antarctica

nguins on  shore as writer's cruise ship passes by, Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more, but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages. Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Quiet Man (Dispatch #17)

sunset at Galway Bay

The Palladian Traveler follows in the footsteps of some Hollywood icons as he goes "on location" in Cong to pay his respects to his all-time fave movie.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!) People!

Emirates Airbus A-380
As she came around the corner we could not believe how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful – almost elegant in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as quiet as a church mouse – or "as quiet as dreaming trees."

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Lake Charles’ Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras

dressed-up for the Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their children’s eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from last year’s Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already fed and are rubbing their stomachs.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Cedar Hill: Frederick Douglass' Home is as Imposing as the Man who Lived There

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
Having recently received a misguided shout-out from the president during Black History Month – Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job... – it seems a good time to revisit the cultural icon's legitimate place in history. And a visit to his home in Washington, DC – surely a place the current president might want to consider visiting himself – would be a good place to start.

Go There

Greg Aragon's travel blog/review
Discovering Art, Culture and Cuisine in Lancaster

Prime Desert Woodland Preserve, Lancaster

Lancaster has always been one of those cities that I pass through on the way to some other destination. But last week was different. I finally took the time to explore the place and wow, was I surprised! I discovered a downtown full of charm, culture, cuisine and community spirit. My recent getaway began when a friend and I drove about 60 miles north of Los Angeles toward the Mojave Desert and checked into the Towneplace Suites Lancaster.

Go There

Bev Cohn's travel blog
Richard Gere and Joseph Cedar Discuss "The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer"

a scene from the documentary 'My Hero Brother'

Richard Gere is one of America's acting treasures. He has an uncanny knack for selecting scripts with the most interesting characters. Included in some of his vast body of films are "American Gigolo, "An Officer and a Gentleman," "The Cotton Club," "Internal Affairs," "Pretty Woman," "Primal Fear," "Unfaithful," and "Chicago." Joseph Cedar, writer and director of the critically acclaimed "The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer," was born in New York City but when he was five, his family moved to Israel where he was raised.

Go There


© TravelingBoy.com. All Rights Reserved. 2015.
This site is designed and maintained by WYNK Marketing. Send all technical issues to: support@wynkmarketing.com
Friendly Planet Travel

Lovin Life After 50

Big Sur ad

Herzerl Tours ad

Tara Tours ad

Alaska Cruises & Vacations ad

Dude Ranchers' Assoc. ad

Cuna Law Yacht ad

Cruise One ad

Global Exchange Reality Tours ad

Global Exchange Reality Tours ad

Global Exchange Reality Tours ad

Park City ad

Visit Norway ad

MySwitzerland.com

Sitka, Alaska ad

Montreal tourism site

Visit Berlin ad

official website of the Netherlands

Cruise Copenhagen ad

Sun Valley ad

Philippine Department of Tourism portal

Quebec City tourism ad

AlaskaFerry ad

Zurich official website

Zuiderzee Museum ad

Like-a-Local.com