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]