Langkawi – Part 4 (Holiday Villa Beach Resort)

Padi field

I have already covered three full days of fun at Langkawi in my previous postings here, here and here. In this blog entry, I shall cover the accommodation, food and the shopping belt along Pantai Cenang.

Let’s start with our accommodation. For five days four nights, we stayed in the Holiday Villa Beach Resort and Spa, which is located at the end of Jalan Pantai Tengah. Our first impression of the resort was rather bad actually. Firstly, the room was not carpeted and hence it felt a little dirty. Then we had somebody who attempted to open our door in the middle of the night. Luckily we have the habit of latching the door and hence that stopped the “intruders” from entering our room. The “intruders” turned out to be some resort guests who had just arrived and were given the same room as us. Although the confusion was sorted out quickly with the front-desk, there was no apology nor any gestures of goodwill from the management. Despite such a big blunder, it seemed to be business-as-usual for this resort. ;-(

Holiday Villa Beach Resort and Spa

Taxis are easily available at a fixed rate.

A huge swimming pool with a pool-side bar

The kids had a good time with each other despite the lack of water features and slides.

Clarissa and her new found friend who doesn't speak English. But I guess toys is the natural communication bridge among kids.

What’s good about this resort is the beautiful beach behind it. Located just right beyond the swimming pool, the beach was really a hidden paradise. The beach was clean and the waves was gentle. As the resort is located quite a distance away from the busy Pantai Cenang (about 15 minutes walk) shopping area, the beach is rather “exclusive” to the resort guests. For quite a while, we were under that the impression that the beach was a private beach for the resort guests only.  😉

The beach behind the resort

Reverse view with the resort in the background

The beach at night

The beach at night

Seriously, the beach got to be the main (and maybe only) attraction of this resort. Like I had mentioned earlier, the condition of room was rather bad though we were not too bothered with it (since we were out most of the time). Hence if your dream holiday is to laze in the room, then I suggest you get a better hotel. 😉

The prices at its restaurants were also very expensive. But luckily there is a nice cafe called “Cactus” just opposite the resort. It serves good local and western food at very reasonable prices.

Cactus cafe just opposite the resort

Where we had our daily breakfast

There are two types of night markets in Langkawi. The first is the kind that we know very well where the stalls are perpetually at the same spot every night. These stalls sell souvenirs, shirts, toys and whatever a tourist might buy. You can find a lot of these stalls along Pantai Cenang.

A departmental store along Pantai Cenang

Stalls along Pantai Cenang

These T-shirts were very popular and the kids bought one each

The restaurant on the top right was supposed to be very famous and served good food. However, we didn’t had the chance to dine here and hence if you do, let me know if it’s really good.

This man makes customized name keychains at very reasonable prices.

It took him about five minutes to make one keychain

Happy customers. Happy seller.

Hopefully the above photos gave you an idea on what to expect from Pantai Cenang. Besides this night market which was more “touristy”, there was another type of night market which we found on our tourist map. Interestingly, there was a day (Monday, Tuesday, etc) labelled beside it. After checking with the locals, we then realized that these were the mobile night markets and its location depends on the day of the week. These markets sell stuff that are typically found in a wet market such as fishes, fruits and satay, which may not appeal to most tourists. Below are some photos taken from one of these markets.

As it was a make-shift setup, the ground was quite muddy after a shower

Located about 5 minutes walk from our resort, there was this restaurant by the name of “Fat Mum” which served very good Chinese food. If you travel from the resort towards Pantai Cenang, the restaurant is located on the right side of the road. Run-down as it may seem, the chef (i.e. fat mum) can cook very well. It was so good that we had our dinner there two days in a row.

Road leading to Fat Mum Restaurant

Fat Mum restaurant

Fat Mum's famous "Noodles on Fire"

The other restaurant (Deng Long) that we went to was just a few footsteps away from Fat Mum. Personally, I prefer Fat Mum’s cooking and it had a home-cooked feel. Deng Long restaurant, on the other hand, was more commercialized with waitresses in costumes. The food was ok though it was much pricier than Fat Mum.

So, this concludes our holiday in Langkawi and we are definitely looking forward to our next one – Taiwan in December! Yea!

Bye bye Langkawi

Langkawi – Part 3 (Pulau Payar)

Pulau Payar Marine Park

This is the third part of the Langkawi series (You can read part one and part two here).

We booked the full day tour when we first touched down at the airport and it turned out to be one of the best decisions that we had made. Even if you don’t swim, I would still strongly recommend this tour when you are in Langkawi. Have you ever been swamped by fishes? Have you ever swum with sharks? Or do you like fish feeding? These are the things that you can do when you are on this tour.

There are two types of tour packages (on beach or floating platform) to go onto this paradise. Basically the packages are the same, except that the latter allows you to see the fishes from the floating platform, i.e. without getting wet. As the price was almost doubled, we paid for the beach access instead. Our package included a pre-packed lunch and all the snorkeling gears. We were told that the luncheon was the same for both packages, except that the former was served in buffet style.

We were picked at our hotel at 7.45am and were transferred to a ferry ride for another hour. We reached the island around 10am and were left to explore the island on our own until 2pm, before we were transferred back to our hotel (around 4pm). Here are some advice for you, if you plan to go on this tour.

  • Bring a big loaf of bread to feed the fishes. I learned this from my previous experience in Phuket, Thailand.
  • Bring and apply (generously) suntan lotion. It actually rained when we were on the island but it didn’t dampen our mood cos most of the time, we were in the sea. 😉
  • As we took an air-conditioned ferry and there was proper shelter on the beach, there was no need to waterproof your stuff. Again, I have learnt from my Phuket experience that my stuff will get wet. However, I must say this tour was much better organized.
  • Fruits and mineral water were provided. If you like, you may want to bring along some snacks (for picnic).

Boarding the ferry

Shelters are available for different tour groups. The one at the far end was ours.

Seaview

What was special about this tour was that you get to swim with and feed the blacktip sharks. Most of them were baby ones (about 2 feet long) and they swam very close to the beach. It was quite an interesting experience to swim with these sharks, or even trying to catch up with them. If you go a little deeper (but still within the safety zone), you may get to get bigger ones. I saw one huge blacktip shark (about one metre) circulating on the seabed. 😉

A baby blacktip shark

See the blacktip? This one was actually quite small (about one foot)

A baby blacktip shark circulating around the seabed

That was how close you could get to the sharks!

For the faint-hearted, don’t fret. There weren’t so many sharks actually and most of the time, you only get fishes around you. And whenever there is a swamp of fishes, these sharks usually won’t go near. What you can do is really simple …. Just take a slice of the bread and dip it into the water and let the fishes do the rest. LOL!

With this much of fishes, I could literally catch them with bare hands. And I did!

Not to mention that some of these fishes were huge (at least to me). Fishes that were larger than my palm were very common. And I must say … They were not camera shy at all!

Fishes, fishes and more fishes

Having a fun time chasing after these fishes

My children can swim but I wouldn’t say they are very good swimmers. In fact, it took them a while before they learned how to snorkel, i.e. breathe through the snorkel. Once they learned the technique, they loved the world underneath the water. Maybe, one day, I could scuba dive again. 😉

Human raft

You can see the floating platform from the picture below (bottom left) but you will have to pay more (almost double) to get onboard them. And of course, you get to eat your lunch in buffet style as well. For us, lunch was a hasty affair as we couldn’t wait to go back into the waters. So, the choice is yours. 😉

This pretty much summarized all the activities that we did in Langkawi. The next, and final, post shall cover our accommodation and food.

[Previous – Part 2] [Next – Part 4]

Langkawi – Part 2 (Cable Car, Seven Wells, Oriental Village)

Langkawi Suspension Bridge

As promised, this is the second part of the Langkawi series (You can read part one here).

On this day we took the cable car to the top of the Machincang mountain range and the suspension bridge was one of the key reasons why we chose Langkawi as our holiday destination. To get to the bridge, you need to take the cable car at the Oriental Village, which is like a themed shopping centre. Besides the cable car, there are other activities such as four-wheel drive and flying fox in the village as well. My advice is to go early for the cable car ride as the access to the bridge is subject to weather permitting. In the event that the bridge is closed, at least you could do the other activities first and then the bridge later. In our case, we reached there around 10am and the bridge was closed due to bad weather conditions. The cable car, however, was in operation. Keeping our fingers crossed, we bought the tickets for the cable car and prayed that the weather would clear for us… And our prayers were answered. 😉

The cable car base station (ticketing booth)

Each cable car can take upto 6 people and everybody just queued in the predrawn boxes. Nice and orderly.

A journey to the cloud

First glimpse of the suspension bridge

There are two stations (middle and top) where you could alight from the cable car. As our objective was the bridge, we didn’t alight at the middle station. Instead we took the cable car all the way to the top. From there, we had a take a short walk (about eight minutes) to the bridge. Despite the short distance, it was quite challenging for some of the older people as they had to take some steep stairs and slopes. Handrails were available though.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of the steepness of the stairs

Tracking to the bridge

The view is simply breathtaking

Reverse view from the bridge

The sky cleared up very quickly (for us). LOL!

Overview of the bridge

Cafe at the Top station

The Top Station

All in all, we spent about an hour (round trip) to the suspension bridge. If I am not wrong, there is a trek up to the suspension bridge from the middle station. Since we didn’t do the middle station at all, I cannot confirm on this. You may want to plan more time if you intend to explore the middle station. Let me know if you do and what did I miss. 😉

Here are some pictures of the Oriental Village.

Oriental Village

Cooling radish on a hot day - Shiok!

After lunch, we proceeded to the Telaga Tujuh waterfall (or more commonly known as Seven Wells), which was just minutes away from the Oriental Village. To be very frank, I don’t think the waterfall was very majestic and I have definitely seen bigger ones. But having said that, it was a rather nice place to chill out on a hot day. Remember to put on a pair of denim shorts so that you can slide down the rocks – The children will love this. There are washing facilities at the top of the waterfall too. Hence have no worries, bring along an extra change of clothes and have fun! 😉

49_DSC8321

The trek up to the top of the waterfall was actually very tough. We spent almost thirty minutes to trek up the slopes/stairs that were inclined at about 40° on average. Check out the photos below for proof …

After the exhausting walk, we finally made it to the top. 😉

Natural water slide

As we made our way down, we realized that there was another trek (around the midway to the top) that led us to the foot of the waterfall. This was definitely a much better place for swimming. Too bad that we didn’t really have much time then and hence could only take a few pictures before we moved on to the next destination. If you like nature, Seven Wells is a good choice and you should allow for at least 3 hours to enjoy the relaxation in the water.

That’s all for now. My original intention was to cover the beach in this entry but I think the content is already quite heavy. Hence I will move the beach photos to the last part of the series instead, i.e. together with the hotel and its surrounding. I will work on Part 3 as soon as possible and do check back again cos it is going to be another exciting day – A full day at the Payar Island Marine Park. See you!

[Previous – Part 1] [Next – Part 3]

Langkawi – Part 1 (Makam Mahsuri, Eagle Square, Black Sand Beach)

Langkawi Eagle Square

Langkawi – A small but beautiful island off the coast of Kedah in the Straits of Malacca. That was the place where we spent a good four days together with my sister and her family during the last June holidays. Contrary to what most people said, I think there are a lot of activities that one can do on this tiny island. I will be breaking these down into four blog entries, as follows.

[Part One] – This shall cover our itinerary for the first two days, including Kuah town, Eagle Square, Makam Mahsuri and Pantai Pasir Hitam.

[Part Two] – This shall cover our day three where we visited cable car, seven wells and the beach.

[Part Three] – This shall cover our day four where we visited Pulau Payar Marine Park.

[Part Four] – This shall cover our accommodation and its surroundings, including Pantai Cenang and the beach.

I usually don’t plan for any sightseeing on the first day of our holidays. Instead, we will typically spend the day finalizing our logistics. For this trip, the first thing we did when we touched down at the airport was to make arrangement/booking for the car rental and land tours. Since we booked from the same agent and we were a relatively large group (five adults, three children), we got a good price and a further discount on that. Before the trip, I had read from various sources that it is cheaper to book the car and land tours at the airport. I was quite skeptical initially as I remembered it was cheaper when I booked my land tours at Phuket (Thailand) streets many years ago. However, the initial price that the agent quoted me was already cheaper than I had read from the web. Of course we signed up with the agent on the spot and later, we did verify with some of the tour agencies in the town and confirmed that we had the best rates. 😉

In my case, we didn’t pick up the car from the airport. Instead we arranged for the car to be delivered to our hotel the next day and to start our tour to Pulau Payar Marine Park on the third day. There were some risks involved as we had to make full cash payment upfront but only to collect the car on another day. Anyway, we made our confirmation and got our deal. Everything was smooth and safe. 😉

After collecting our car on the second day, the first place we went was Langkawi Eagle Square (located in Kuah town) and our usual practice was to buy some souvenirs and food for our friends and relatives first. Once that was cleared, we could then enjoy the rest of the holidays (in peace).

Planning our route

Parking in Langkawi is generally free, except for Kuah town

Kuah town

Is Langkawi a shopping paradise? I don't think so ... except for, maybe, this one.

So the first stop was shopping and that was planned for the ladies. Next, we drove to Makam Mahsuri, the grave of the island’s legendary heroine, Mahsuri and this was for the kids. With the same admission, you could also see a Malay house and learn more about Malay culture as well. The kids also had a good time learning about history and even had a go at retrieving buckets of water from a functional well.

Malay house at Makam Mahsuri

Pounding

Another Malay House

Our next destination was Pantai Pasir Hitam (Black Sand Beach). As it was raining when we got there, the kids remained in the car and I had to quickly snap a few photos before moving onto the next programme, i.e. dinner! In fact, I was in and out of that place in less than ten minutes and hence didn’t really had a good feel of the area. Personally, I don’t think that’s a beach suitable for swimming. There are so many better beaches in Langkawi. This beach was rather dirty and without amenities.

Black Sand Beach

Jetty near the beach. As you can see, this part of the beach is not black.

Panoramic view of the beach

It was quite a boring day but these were the standard activities that we (as tourists) had to do, i.e. to buy some souvenirs and learn more about the local culture. The next day will be better, I promise.

[Previous] [Next – Part 2]