Cruising geopark Langkawi

We may be putting up a number of posts at once; we’re writing them as we go but our wireless access for actually uploading is sporadic. Some hostels have had it; the public buses on Penang had it; our last post went up from the KFC in Kuah, the main ferry port on Langkawi. But here on Tengah beach wifi is scarce.

We are eating our first semi western style meal, a breakfast of toast with jam and an omelette. Plus tea and coffee with lots of sweetened condensed milk of course. We heard rumors that some of the wrapped banana leaves have coconut rice inside for breakfast, but every time we try, they’re full of rice with squid and anchovies and spicy chili paste.

Yesterday we rented a scooter for about US$ 10 and scooted up to the north side of the island and some even nicer beaches (and got shooed off the four seasons private beach). Traffic wasn’t too bad though we did have to stop for a herd of cows crossing the road. There are roadside stands everywhere selling spicy noodle soup and fresh juices, though the best so far has still been the cart right outside our hotel where icy sweetened coconut juice with pulp is just 1 ringit (about 30 cents).

The entire island is considered a UNESCO Geopark though it is small and rural enough to support farmers and fishing. Near the black sands beach we saw many of the old wooden long tail boats used by the locals with seine nets. Each beach seems to have a different tourist population, though Russian, Scandanavian and German seem to be in the largest numbers. There are also some Malaysian tourists; the Muslim women in head scarves and long sleeved shirts roll up their pants to dip their feet only into the ocean.

Ocean City, Malaysia

Note to future travelers when taking buses to Penang be sure to specify which town in Penang it’s a pretty big island and you want to go to Kompleks Komptar which is the main bus terminal in Georgetown and not the bus drop off near the airport which is 10km away from downtown.

It’s humid. It’s not a dry heat; it’s simply hot and humid. We have however reached what we believe to be the Indian Ocean. We have also reached beer and fresh juice, which mitigates this somewhat. On the fabled island of Langkawi, which is our next destination, beer is duty free, and supposedly half the price since there’s a heavy sin tax on alcohol in the rest of this Islamic country.

Zoe slept most of the bus ride, missing out on a lot of strip mining and extensive clear cutting. There isn’t much of an environmental movement in Malaysia.

Tomorrow we go to the national park to see more monkeys. Mark loves monkeys but is scared of birds (there were a lot of aviaries in Hong Kong). Many more confusing bus rides and hot hostel rooms to come, we are sure.