I had been warned about the border towns between Thailand & Malaysia being quite dangerous and duly read up on the subject in my ‘knock off Nigel’ Lonely Planet. The advice was to either fly or go by sea, my intention had been to cross the border at Kota Bharu and catch the jungle train down through Tama Nagara, taking a few days to do some trekking in the jungle before heading to Kuala Lumpur. Knowing that Mum would kill me if I got myself murdered or mugged, I opted for the safe route across the border at Langkawi.
The journey itself was quite good fun and completely uneventful, traveling by bus, tuk tuk, boat and taxi to Zackary’s Guest House on the SW west coat of Langkawi. The Guest house was a group of ramshackled buildings tucked away behind a couple of restaurants opposite a very swanky hotel complex. My room was not quite so swanky, it consisted of a bed, a table, a temperamental light and a fan. It was clean, very close to the beach and the atmosphere was really chilled out.
I shared my taxi from the port with a really nice couple called Matt & Katie from Brighton, they hadn’t yet sorted accommodation and like the fact that Zackary’s was dirt cheap, so tagged along.
I unpacked my stuff and headed straight for the beach, it was idealic, white sand dotted with the odd palm tree and warm blue water. The beach was about a mile long and only had about 30 people on it so a quite spot was easy to find. I had a dip in the sea, read my book and watched the sun set.
Matt, Katie & I tried to search out a cheap local restaurant but to no avail, as the island was geared up for tourist heading north from KL & Singapore everything was pretty pricey. Ironically we ended up in a Thai restaurant. After dinner we headed back to Zackary’s, it was one of the guest birthdays, so most of the hostel including Zack and the deaf birthday boy were three sheets to the wind. We had an obligatory couple and hit the sack.
The next day I hired a little 125 pop pop and toured the island. First stop was not really planned, it was a marina for the stupidly wealthy. It was a strange place, eerily quiet and it had that Disneyesk feeling the Belle Dune has, still it had the KFC with the best view imaginable! The Colonel and I are becoming quite good friends and after I had been refueled with a Zinger Burger meal I headed north for my intended destination of the something or other waterfall. I parked the mean machine in the car park, read the sign warning me of imminent death and proceeded to climb the 400 steps to the top. Halfway up the water fall had formed a pool which you could swim in and some brilliant rock formations. I continued my trek of the mountain, okay technically it was a hill, but in thirty five degree heat and unbearable humidity it felt like a mountain! I was on my own when I got to the top and was completely gob smacked by the views. With a jungle back drop and pools of clear water that had formed at the head of the fall, a steady stream of fast flowing crystal clear water was gushing over the edge, in the distant was jungle covered mountains forming a valley which framed the sapphire blue ocean. I needed a photo of this, not wanting the’ danger’ sign to ruin my new desktop background I stepped across the fast flowing stream of water. It was only about three feet wide and maybe a foot deep, but the rocks were fairly slippery as I found out to my determent at the rock pools halfway up. So being sensible I thought I would slowly walk through the stream rather than jumping it. The force of the water snatched my flip and carried it to a pool of water waiting to be washed several hundred feet vertically down. Owing a duty of care to flop, I death defiantly waded into the knee deep rock pool, lined with slippery algae and rather scarily rescued flip from near certain death. I rather ungracefully clambered to dry land, looking at the five hundred foot drop pumped full of adrenaline I reunited flip with flop!
As if the flip flop incident was not traumatic enough, as I descended the narrow steps down to the car park I had to walk through a group of female monkeys. They looked at me inquisitively and I could tell they were a little pissed off that I had no food to give them, but they cleared the path and I thought no more of it until I looked up and saw a rather grumpy looking, large male sitting on the steps in front of me hissing and growling. b*****. If I turned my back and walked back to the females he was sure to attack, with dense jungle flanking either side of the steps I had no choice but to confront him! So doing the George Bush walk, I made myself look as big as possible and kept walking. Still grunting and hissing he reluctantly moved to one side and I speedily walked past. I got about 30 steps further down the hill side when my legs nearly gave way, the adrenaline had subsided and legs were shaking like mad! I bloody hate monkeys!
After all that excitement I jumped back on the bike and headed north for another paradise beach. I was about halfway to the beach when the coastal road diverted and forced me to ride through the center of a huge cement plant. The huge plant sat aggressively on the landscape, looking totally out of place on this paradise island! I carried on up the coast road to another deserted idealic paradise beach surrounded by beautiful blue water and lush green jungle, I feel it is all somewhat wasted on me, I was bored of beautiful beaches, they are not really the destination for the solo traveler!
I had been told that the highest point on the island was well worth the trek, well when I say trek I mean ride. With driving becoming a dim and distant memory I took the opportunity have some fun on the windy mountain road to the peak, well as much fun as you can have on a 125 with a max speed of 95kph!
Slightly out of breath the little pop pop took me to the summit, the sun was setting and the view was phenomenal. As I unpacked my picnic, consisting of one loaf of bread, a tin of tuna & a packet of cookies I heard a rustle in the bushes to my left, bloody monkeys! I packed the food away and moved a few feet down the mountain. At which point it began to spit (not the monkey, spit as in rain)! With the fear of rain only known by dinner ladies I jumped back on the pop pop and rode back down the mountain. The road spiraled around the mountain like a helter-skelter, as I rode down I noticed that I was getting wet one minute and not the next, strangely enough it was only raining on one side of the mountain! But as the rain was getting heavier and I didn’t want to have to ride 5 miles back wet and cold I decided to try and out run the storm! It worked, but added with my TT style riding up the mountain the fuel light was now on! There were only two petrol stations on the island, one was on the other side of the island and I was kind of equidistant between the other and the hostel. The question lingered in my head do I try to get back to the hostel and avoid getting wet but risk running out of fuel (I could get away with leaving it empty as I have rented it until midday & was leaving at 11) or do I try to find the other petrol station? All the times I had left Dad’s car on fumes weighed heavy on my mind and the ‘good’ voices in my head prevailed. So off I went in search of the petrol station. The light had been on for about fifteen minutes, the needle was firmly in on the empty pin I didn’t have a clue where I was, I gave up using my map that seemed to be missing half the roads on the islands and after the third set of Malays directions the fantastic green Petronas sign came in to view as I coughed and spluttered on to the forecourt. With a sigh of relief I filled the tank with two & half litres of fuel, but then realised I had no clue as to where I was and it was now dark! b*****! With my useless map in one hand I approached one of the ten or fifteen mopeds and asked the two girls for directions, looking at my map they laughed threw it in the bin and told me to follow them. After ten minutes of pretty mean riding on their part we arrived back in my town, thanking them as they rode of in to the distance I spied the closest bar and headed for a well deserved beer!
The following day I left the moped with a fairly full tank of fuel and jumped in a taxi to the port. The lady in the tourist office had sold me a ‘joint ticket’ for the boat and bus to Kula Lumpur for 60r. I was a little pissed off as I had subsequently found out from guys in my hostel that I could fly for 80r. Oh well, I’ll get to see some of Malaysia, I got to the port to find out the ticket she had sold me was only for the bus not the boat, the boat ticket was an extra 19r (four quid). I knew that the taxi back to her office would have been 26r, the flight was probably fully booked so I just bit the bullet and paid the guy at the gate, he took pity on me and sat me up front in first class, so not so bad after all!