Written by Composthp on 19 Dec, 2010
Rafflesia aka "corpse" plant is a native parasitic plant of Sabah found mainly in the rainforests. It has no roots, stems or leaves and takes up to six months from bud to flower. Once bloomed, it lasts about a week and is said to give…Read More
Rafflesia aka "corpse" plant is a native parasitic plant of Sabah found mainly in the rainforests. It has no roots, stems or leaves and takes up to six months from bud to flower. Once bloomed, it lasts about a week and is said to give off a rotting smell. IThis is also the national flower of Borneo. Stumbling across this flower is therefore purely by God's grace or luck. We made inquiries as to whether the flower was in bloom at the resort and was told that it was not. However, the local staff did informed us to look out for signs and banners posted along roads which would indicate whether the flower was indeed in bloom as well as the location. Undaunted, we kept our eyes peeled whenever we travelled and was not disappointed on our last day as we saw not one but two banners announcing that the Rafflesia has been sighted enroute to Poring hotspring.We made a stop at the Poring hotspring visitor center, there, a friendly staff offered to show us one that was located a short walk from the Poring hotspring. However, he warned us that we may be asked to pay up to RM$50 to view the flower but advised us to bargain- hard. He drove us about 100m further from the Poring hotspring; there, a wooden sign indicated that the Rafflesia was in bloom. A small table manned by a young man asked for RM$40 per person. Fortunately, my mom came to our rescue, spoke in Malay and managed to bargain the price down to just RM$10 per person. We were then asked to walk into the side gravel road and to look out for a guide who would lead us to the actual location. Our guide was an old gentleman with a hoarse voice. He led us along a narrow path through fruit tree groves which soon gave way to a forest area. We made our way down some wooden steps that we thought would lead us to the Mamut river but the steps led to a platform instead. At the platform, the flower unfolded before us, it was the Rafflesia arnoldii, the largest single flower of any flowering plant. The flower was not as large as I had envisioned nor as smelly as I had imagined; still, our guide answered our questions patiently and allowed us to take as many photos as we wanted. Happy with our photos, we made our way back the trail and to Poring hotspring for our much anticipated soak. Close
Written by Jctravel1983 on 29 Nov, 2010
You will not believe it! We hardly believe it our self but we're freezing here! We are currently in the Cameron Highlands. You can compared it bit like the Vosges in France ... The highest point is at 2.220m and everything is covered in lush…Read More
You will not believe it! We hardly believe it our self but we're freezing here! We are currently in the Cameron Highlands. You can compared it bit like the Vosges in France ... The highest point is at 2.220m and everything is covered in lush jungle. However it is cold here! It's constantly around 18 degrees and take us to that terrible cold feeling because we had like several months of temperatures above 30. On top of that it was been raining here for two days. But I can’t say we mind ... Actually, the coolness and freshness of the rain is a very pleasant change. Just to sleep again under blankets. It felt so bizarre! Finally our fleece, we lug around for months for nothing, we can use it. Our walking shoes with socks ... It's something completely different I must say. An odd thing, we're a few hundred kilometers from the equator!But beautiful it is it absolutely! Here you can see clearly the difference between the tropics and subtropics. Laos also had beautiful jungle but here it is the jungle as you know from the films. Vines, vegetation at various levels, towering trees ... Stunning beautiful!Our confidence in Malaysia begins to grow. The people in our guesthouse are incredibly friendly, the food delicious. And the fact that we have made new friends there will be something to do with it. Rolo (his name always reminds me of those chocolate candies filled with caramel) and Clare are an English couple on the way to Australia for one year to work! Again it clicked the first time. It is again with laughter, and roar! It looks as though we go together next week to move on. They will join us at the Taman Negara national park. Looking for the real jungle! (We are very curious!)Yesterday was our first preview. We, along with a guide went into the jungle to make more than four hours ... In the pouring rain! Quite impressive when you go through though. You completely forget about the train, you completely forget the cold. Something very typical for this region are the tea plantations. The jungle has in many places made room for hills full of tea bushes.To be honest ... Due to heavy rain we did not get very far because all our clothes and shoes were wet from our walk yesterday and it dries really not good. Fortunately there are good alternatives: watch movies, play board games, cards, reading ... Alas, there are worse things to do in life huh. Let it rain! Close
Written by Jctravel1983 on 24 Nov, 2010
Sabah is one of the two Malaysian provinces on Borneo. It was formerly a British colony and that is still noticeable since you are driving on the left. In advance, we were pointed out that we should plan our trip and especially for excursions etc.…Read More
Sabah is one of the two Malaysian provinces on Borneo. It was formerly a British colony and that is still noticeable since you are driving on the left. In advance, we were pointed out that we should plan our trip and especially for excursions etc. so you have time enough to arrange everything. We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu (KK by locals simply called). It is so great the tropical heat, you immediately embraces it and do not let go when you get of the airport . With a taxi ride we went to our hotel, which lies just outside the center. First to recover from the turbulent trip in our pleasant room and then later on exploring the city.We walked a few hours randomly around to enjoy the lively scenes around us. Stalls with piles of durians. Stalls with only wallets and watches. There are women on the ground with a blanket spread out before them with jewelry, bags of spices, cinnamon, mango, small bananas. Some women are veiled, others just wear a shirt and pants. Near the harbor is a large covered market, which is characterized by the pungent smell of sewage, rotting fruit and fish. In the teeming port on the scaffolding you see lots of colorful boats. It is a coming and going of passengers on the shaky scaffolding pacing.The next day we went to Pulau Manukan, a small island off the coast of KK. The island is especially popular with the locals at the weekend to relax. Just before we are at the dock, we are greeting by a waving man, who risk his lives by stopping the traffic, we go across the road and getting tickets in the departure lounge. Within a few minutes we're in a blue bucket seat of the speedboat, with a red or orange life jacket. The boat explodes over the blue water, and provided a brief but pleasant feeling fairground attraction, especially among children. Pulau Manukan is nice to be sunbathing, swimming, having a cold Tiger beer and what to look around the jetty.Besides our lodge in K.K. is a large indoor dining room with dozens of chairs and tables. The dining room is surrounded on three sides by glass cases of food and especially a lot more fish, huge lobsters, crabs and shrimps in overcrowded aquariums. Some prawns are caught stuck in plastic bottles, in an aquarium under water. There is even a box full of large green frogs, which watch you expectantly with friendly eyes. It is intended that you pick a animal or animals of your choice and then they prepare the animal for your plate. Well you can’t say the food isn’t fresh. Close
Written by alias843 on 07 Apr, 2010
We arrived in Georgetown by ferry. Practically this meant that the cool sea breeze obscured the fact that the city was a broiler. So when we arrived at the ferry terminal we decided we'd rather walk to our hotel. It was only…Read More
We arrived in Georgetown by ferry. Practically this meant that the cool sea breeze obscured the fact that the city was a broiler. So when we arrived at the ferry terminal we decided we'd rather walk to our hotel. It was only a half mile away. How bad could it be? The answer is very bad. It was well over ninety degrees with humidity that you would have to swim through. By the time we made it to the hotel all we wanted to do was bask in the artificial coolness. There was no time for that though, there was too much that we had to see in Penang. We started with food. I'm pretty sure that it would be impossible to go wrong with food in Penang, with everything from Indian curries to amazing Chinese food and some delicious Malaysian options, there's no excuse to miss a meal. We started with Indian, and it was good. Thus fortified, we headed out to see what we could see, strolling through little India and Chinatown, braving the heat to soak in as much Penang culture as we could in our short stay. We wound up back by the waterfront, next to Fort Cornwallis, the strangest little fort I've ever seen.From what we understood of the exhibits inside the fort, it was built when the British landed on Penang, though it was quickly determined that the fort was in a poor location and would be of little use. Then the fort started to fall down. Rather than let the useless thing go, they fortified it well enough that it's still there today. It is also so blissfully close to the water that you can really enjoy the sea breezes, which make wandering outside much more enjoyable. After that detour, we headed in the direction of the history museum. We were both interested in the colonial influences on Penang, and this museum was full of interesting information and artifacts. It was here that we learned that Malaysia and especially Ipoh and Penang are home to a delicious kind of coffee. Where most people dry roast coffee beans before grinding and brewing them, these are first cooked in butter and sometimes sugar. The result is a very dark brew that doesn't change colors with the addition of milk. It also has a rich, creamy taste, most likely from the butter. It's usually served sweetened and it is delicious. Hands down, the best coffee that I have ever tasted. It was well over ninety degrees and all we could think about was drinking more of this coffee. We eventually had to stop before we jumped out of our skins or our hearts exploded.This meant that we had plenty of energy for ou last day in Penang and we used it all up. Strolling the streets, visiting the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion for a wonderful tour of a unique and fabulous place, and finally heading out to the Gurney drive for an amazing dinner of fish head curry and spicy squid. I cannot say enough about the food in Penang. So good, it can't even be measured on a normal culinary scale. Go! Stuff yourself! Then save up to go again! Close
Written by alias843 on 06 Apr, 2010
We arrived in Kuala Lumpur in early December, which meant that the heat and humidity was only unbearable for part of the day. Our arrival at the low-cost carrier terminal of the Kuala Lumpur airport was a bit of a shock. You certainly…Read More
We arrived in Kuala Lumpur in early December, which meant that the heat and humidity was only unbearable for part of the day. Our arrival at the low-cost carrier terminal of the Kuala Lumpur airport was a bit of a shock. You certainly get what you pay for and for our discount ticket we got a large and unairconditioned terminal with malfunctioning ATMs and no easy way out. We also learned, too late, that the tickets for busses and taxis are located within the secure area so we had to talk our way back through security in order to get on a bus into town. Not the best airport experience. For what we paid, though, we really should have been on a cargo plane, so I can’t complain too much.The bus dropped us off downtown where we had to negotiate with scoundrel cab drivers to get a ride to the hotel. Almost all cab drivers in Malaysia seem to be scoundrels. We found none who would use the meter. We made sure to negotiate fares ahead of time and refused to go with some drivers who were downright unreasonable in their rate (sometime 3x what the meter would say). A hassle to be sure, but Malaysia on the whole is such a bargain that it more than made up for this inconvenience. Our hotel was within easy walking proximity to the Petronas towers. This means that it was also next to about a dozen overpriced western restaurants, all advertising Carlsberg beer, oddly enough. We asked the concierge about a good place to eat dinner but we seemed to confuse him by requesting a good Malaysian restaurant. I mean, I can get a cheeseburger anywhere and I didn’t fly halfway around the world to eat at KFC. Left pretty much on our own, we found a small hut that seemed to be doing a bustling local business. We ate curried goat over jasmine rice, washed down with lukewarm Pepsi. It was a very good meal.After dinner, we set out to get a glimpse of the Petronas towers. I thought that I had seen skyscrapers before but these buildings are incredible. They’re architecturally beautiful and they seem to reach up into the sky forever. They are especially impressive at night, all aglow against the dark city sky. This area around the Petronas towers is very well maintained and we enjoyed walking around here, getting acquainted with Malaysia a little bit our first night. After taking in the surrounds and getting some good pictures, it was time to retire to our hotel so we could rest up for our last day in Kuala Lumpur.We got an early start the next morning, starting with the Petronas towers again. We found some breakfast down below the towers in a food court. Nasi lemak, food court style. It was still good and filling. After eating, we headed over to see if it would still be possible to get some free tickets to the sky bridge. The situation looked grim. The basement area where you wait to get to the ticket window was packed with tourists trying to get a ticket before they were gone. We decided against waiting, as we only had one day and the chances that the tickets would disappear before we even got to the window seemed too great to chance spending a whole morning in a crowded basement.Next on our list of things to do was the Batu Caves, which are located a little ways out of the city. We couldn’t find the bus that supposedly existed so we were left haggling with another cab driver. He got us there, and it was definitely worth the trouble. The Batu caves are impressive geologically but also an incredible religious site. They are adorned with all manner of Hindu statues and the temple inside is supposedly one of the holiest sites in Hinduism outside of India. The only way to get inside is a very large staircase that is helpfully numbered so you can note your progress or lack thereof. We were glad that we went when we were still fresh and energetic. We were also glad that we remembered to bring bottled water. Leaving the Batu caves meant yet more haggling with cab drivers but we were dropped off at Merdeka Square, in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, celebrating Malaysian independence. It’s a pleasant place, though without any shade it can get quite hot. It’s also a great spot to get a picture of the Malaysian flag as one of the world’s largest flag poles presides over the square. It’s an impressive arrangement, conveying Malaysian pride in independence quite well.We walked the distance from Merdeka to the national museum. Had we known how far it was we probably would have gotten a cab. It was a very hot walk. The museum (air-conditioned!) was worth it though. It gave us a great sense of Malaysian history that we had neglected to study up on before the trip. All the way from pre-historic times to the rise of Islam on the peninsula and though the colonial period and independence, this museum is a great stop to get an idea of what you’re looking at when you visit the sights. As a final stop before dinner, we headed to Petaling Street, where there is always a street market, along with a good selection of restaurants. Most of the merchants seemed to be catering to tourists with lots of knockoff sunglasses and watches. If you’re looking for some cheap fashion of dubious provenance, this is the place for you. It is a good place to eat some fresh Malaysian fruit and take a stroll on an afternoon though. Which is exactly what we did.Our final dinner in Kuala Lumpur was delicious Thai food, sweet and spicy and simply amazing. It seems that there are unexpected culinary wonders all through the city. This Thai restaurant was empty except for us, situated in the back of an office building. It also offered the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten. The best Kuala Lumpur advice I can give is to think outside of the box a bit when it comes to food. On our way out of town we ate breakfast at the bus station and it was also simply amazing. Nasi lemak with a perfectly cooked egg. In the most humble of surroundings, we found the best food. Stay out of KFC! There is so much great food to experience in this wonderful, lively city. Close
Written by alias843 on 04 Apr, 2010
While planning our trip to Malaysia, I stumbled on information and pictures of the Cameron Highlands. I knew it was somewhere we had to visit. It was also conveniently located between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, our other two stops. Perfect: I thought…Read More
While planning our trip to Malaysia, I stumbled on information and pictures of the Cameron Highlands. I knew it was somewhere we had to visit. It was also conveniently located between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, our other two stops. Perfect: I thought one night in the Cameron Highlands would be an easy way to break up a long trip. A little online research made me doubt this assumption.Most of the websites I checked out made it seem as though the only way in or out was with a rental car. The intercity bus services that connected the Cameron Highlands were talked of disparagingly. This is not the case! Our bus from Kuala Lumpur was comfortable and efficient, dropping us at the bus station in Tanah Rata. I wasn't sure how we were going to get from there to our hotel in Brinchang, two towns away but I was optimistic that a taxi could be had. Sure enough, there was a line of taxis waiting to pick up everyone disembarking. We went with the most agressively friendly driver to approach us. A good choice as it turns out. While driving us to the hotel, he offered to give us a three hour taxi tour for the equivalent of about $20US. He took us to all the most popular attractions, and provided us with some very interesting local narration. We visited the Boh tea plantation, the rose garden, honey bee farm, and we even stopped at a fruit stand on the side of the road to try malaysian fruits, including the king of them all: the durian. Three hours, as it turns out was plenty of time to hit the highlights and even eat some cake and drink delicious Boh tea at the plantation.Later that same night we took advantage of the hotel shuttle to the town of Brinchang where we ate some amazing steamboat (a Cameron Highlands specialty originially from China, featuring meat, seafood and lots of fresh vegetables cooked in a tasty broth right at your table), we also strolled through the night market, regretting we'd eated too much dinner to sample any of the street food on offer.The next morning our same taxi driver picked us up and dropped us back at the bus station. Our bus to Penang was also clean and comfortable, there was even a movie with English subtitles to break up the time.All in all, the Cameron Highlands is a world-class beautiful place to spend some time and it's very doable, even without a car. Definitely worth a stop! Close
Written by koshkha on 26 Sep, 2009
In the late 1990s I was in Kuala Lumpur for a trade show just before Easter. I'd learned to dive about 6 months earlier and, having gone all the way to Malaysia, I wanted to get my fins wet again.The Easter break meant I could…Read More
In the late 1990s I was in Kuala Lumpur for a trade show just before Easter. I'd learned to dive about 6 months earlier and, having gone all the way to Malaysia, I wanted to get my fins wet again.The Easter break meant I could get about 5 days on the island without using much of my holiday allowance.I did my research on good dive destinations and found Tioman Island. It's perhaps not the BEST dive destination - the Perhentians have a better reputation - but the good thing is you can get there by air. If you are back-packing on a really tight budget you can also go by bus and ferry but if you are going to all that trouble, you might be better with the Perhentians.~Where is it and why might I have heard of it?~Tioman lies off the North East coast of the Malaysian peninsula and is famous (if you could really say famous) for being the Bali Hai Island in the musical South Pacific. It's promoted as a paradise island and there are a number of good expensive resorts which means that you can fly there. The centre of the island is mountainous jungle and the beaches are clean with stunning white sands.~Getting there~You'll need to take up to date advice on this as it's a long time since I went. I took a taxi to the old KL airport which has now closed down. I guess today you'd take the train out to the new airport. I flew with an airline called Pelangi Air - I don't know if they still exist - in a tiny little plane with about 16 seats. Cabin service consisted of a sealed cup of juice in the back of the seat in front and the co-pilot turning round, giving a big grin and a thumbs up sign. The plane flies low and isn't pressurised so as you hit the clowds, they stream into the plane - this is a bit freaky the first time but you get some great views.These days you can go with an airline called Berjaya Air and in addition to flying from KL you can also fly to Tioman from Penang, Kuching, Langkawi, and Kota Kinabalu. You may struggle to get any European travel agents to confirm flights for you with the local airlines - I had to sort out the confirmation when I got to Malaysia. I think it cost abour £60 to £80.~On arrival~The plane lands in a tiny aerodrome near to one of the fancy resorts. You stand around whilst they take your bags off the plane and then wonder what on earth to do next. I took a boat up to the top of the island to Teluk Salang where there are dive operators. Luckily I'd met a girl on the plane who also wanted to dive so we went hunting for accommodation together.~Accommodation~Looking back I really can't believe I just turned up on Good Friday without any kind of booking and stumbled around looking for something. In Salang you can find a wide variety of accommodation - at the far end of the village North from the jetty there are beautiful water bungalows with nice facilities but I headed south with my bags, unwilling to lug them too far. Locals hang around the jetty and attempt to lure you to their properties. The first guy we found took us off to look at some cabins half way up a hill. He was too lazy to go up and just told us which one was on offer - we sweated up the hill to a grotty little place with a healthy population of bugs. No way were were going for that one. By the time we got down again, he'd given up on us, but someone else had given us a tip off. We found a cabin with aircon and a bathroom and paid about $20 a night between two of us. The landlord was sleezy and leery but he was a big lad and we both figured if he gave us any trouble, we'd be able to run faster than he could.After my room mate headed home to France, I moved to a smaller fan-cooled cabin for $10 a night~Diving~There are 4 or 5 different dive operators in Salang. I was new to the game and I really didn't have a clue how to assess which would be best. The operator we went with was very laid back and disinterested in how much diving we'd done before. The kit wasn't a bit hit and miss - he didn't have a wetsuit in my size - and the whole operation was quite disorganised. I wouldn't stand for that sort of attitude now but at the time I was new and inexperienced and I didn't know better. We booked to do two dives the following day - which was my birthday.The boat took us out towards a neighbouring island for two dives with lunch in between. I can't comment on the quality of the diving because these were my first post-qualification dives and I was so scared silly that I kind of doubt I even had my eyes open. The boat was crowded and the water rough and I spent the afternoon puking over the back having my back rubbed by a Danish policeman who kept telling me "Don't worry, it happens to everyone!"That night a storm blew up and knocked out the diving for the next 3 days. If that happened to me now on a holiday I would be livid but instead I took it as a chance for some serious chilling.~ What else can you do?~In Tioman hammocking is considered a serious activity. I did a lot that. The place I was staying rented books so I lay around and read a few, wrote postcards, took long meal breaks and assessed the range of available banana pancakes on offer through the town.There's a marked path over the hillsides that takes you to Monkey Bay - a beautiful secluded beach. I took a walk through the jungle with plate sized butterflies and howling monkeys which was tough but definitely worth a trek.Warning - Watch out for sand flies if you lie on the beach - they ate me alive.Summary: Tioman is perfect for....... a short relaxing break by the sea without too much activity to tempt you. ....backpackers needing somewhere cheapTioman is not so good for..........families with small kids - I have no idea what you'd do with them.......serious divers - if you got a storm like we did you'd be gutted.......anyone who likes everything really clean and nice and 'just so' Close
Written by Velectron on 26 Apr, 2006
The forest and streams in Tioman comes alive at night and you will get to see many different animals if you are lucky (and quiet). It is highly recommended that you speak with the resort operator if you would like to have a nature tour…Read More
The forest and streams in Tioman comes alive at night and you will get to see many different animals if you are lucky (and quiet). It is highly recommended that you speak with the resort operator if you would like to have a nature tour at night. He can either arrange it or look out for your safe return. For the more adventurous, you can do this yourself, but I would suggest that you check out the place first during the day before going out at night. A torchlight or headlamp is an absolute necessity. Insect repellent is also a must!If you head south for a few minutes from Paya Beach Resort, you will reach Paya Village. There is a path that runs east through this village. Follow this path and you will come to an empty field. Beware of cow poops littering the field (cows feed here in the day). Cross the field and head towards a huge tree that is at least 4 storeys high. The track picks up again beside this tree. You will next pass through a secondary forest and before long, you should hear the sound of water. A clear forest stream will soon appear before you. This stream is littered with boulders which provided a large number of niches for the aquatic animals here. Go upstream by following the path (this requires you to cross the stream at one point). Before long you will reach a rocky part of the stream where there are many rock pools that you can take a dip in during the day, or watch out for animals at night.Be patient and look around in the water and on the rocks. You will be duly rewarded with the sight of various aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures, many of which are only found in Tioman. Many different types of prawns, barb fishes, catfishes and crabs inhabit these rocky pools and it is not difficult to spot them. Search the top of the rocks as well as many different types of frogs like to rest on them. Shine your light around and I'm sure you will see more than what I had described!***I revisited Tioman in Oct 2006 and unfortunately, the trail I described above has changed and parts of it is no longer passable. Pls check with the locals on updated information on how to get to the "Rock Pool"*** Close
Written by HankFontaine on 27 Jan, 2005
A trip to Kuching is incomplete without a tour to the countryside. There are numerous attractions and unspoiled beaches around waiting to be discovered.
I recommend taking a journey to the small town of Lundu. It's about a 90-minute drive from Kuching on fairly decent…Read More
A trip to Kuching is incomplete without a tour to the countryside. There are numerous attractions and unspoiled beaches around waiting to be discovered.
I recommend taking a journey to the small town of Lundu. It's about a 90-minute drive from Kuching on fairly decent roads. There is a bus that goes here, also, and it takes around 2+ hours. There are a couple budget-style hotels in Lundu, and I don’t think you would need a reservation. I expect the rates to be RM30.
You will pass several pepper plantations on the way there--black and white table pepper--and see a plethora of native flora. There are also several stalls, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, selling native fruits. I highly recommend taking time to stop at one of these places. They almost always carry the small local bananas, and chances are, they were picked the same day. Don’t pass up rambutans, which are a fruit that is red on the outside, but the inside has the taste and texture of a green grape. Some people love durian, "the king of all fruits," but I never learned to like them. They are VERY, VERY sweet and VERY, VERY smelly. Expect prices to only be a few RM for each of these items, and the people will be very friendly but may not speak English.
You will then come to a small river crossing. You have to take a ferry across there; it adds to the fun of the experience and only takes a few minutes. If the wait is longer, there are also food and beverage stalls on each side and bathroom facilities. The river itself is only around 100 feet wide, and they are working on putting a bridge up. On the Kuching side of the bridge, there is also an Anglican church up on the hill for those interested.
Once you cross the bridge, you are almost there. The town of Lundu itself is fairly small but still is divided up into ethnic areas. You will see a typical Malay village and a typical Iban village. I spend a lot of time in the Iban side, as I have in-laws who live there.
The town itself has a few shopping areas, and on the weekend, they have a market selling vegetables, meats, and various other items. If you come here, expect to be the only Westerner in the village. Don’t let that scare you, though, as the people are very nice. They will all stare, and many will want to talk to you, but it’s only out of curiosity. Feel free to strike up a conversation with some of them, and expect many of the people around the 40-year-old mark to speak at least some English.
Lundu is the gateway to some great attractions. The most popular destination is Gunung Gading National Park, home of the Rafflesia, the world's largest flower. Blooms of this flower can reach diameters of over one meter. There is a small entrance fee, but I believe it is free after 5pm or so. The park also has facilities you can rent to stay in and is generally well-maintained. There are hiking trails that go up a small mountain, and hiking them gives you a chance to do some jungle trekking in a relatively easy way. There is nothing really hard about the trails, but the elderly or those in poor health should avoid them. I have seen overweight 65-year-olds do the trails without problems, though. Just remember that it is very hot and humid, so you will be quite sweaty by the end. That’s not as big of a problem as it sounds because at the bottom of the trail is a natural-spring swimming area. You can play in the stream of a large, deep pool at the end. The water is quite cool and refreshing. It's still good to pack an extra shirt and some deodorant in a small backpack for the end of the trail and after the stream.
There are also two nice, almost always deserted beaches by Lundu, Pandan, and Siar beaches. Since most tourists don’t come this way and beaches aren’t that special to the locals, you can get some real privacy here. You can access them by bus from Lundu, or if you have a car, driving there is a simple matter. There are a few chalets for rent there, but I am not sure of the prices. They are simple structures and have good locations right on the beaches. I have never seen anyone in them, though, and wouldn’t know who to contact. I’m sure someone in Lundu could tell you.
A little further away, about 30 minutes, you will find my favorite beach, Sematan. This is an awesome little beach. There is a nice little protected swimming area between two large rock formations, so the undertow isn’t bad at all. This place, too, is always deserted.
There is also a nice little locally owned drink and snack bar that sells things at very reasonable prices. Expect to pay about $0.25 for a can of Coke. You can also get fresh coconuts to drink for just a few RM and ice cream treats for the same price. They will allow you to sit under the covered back or front awning for as long as you want, also. The beach itself is a nice, smooth coral sand. You can walk quite a ways before you come to any kind of house or settlement. You can park within 10 feet of the actual beach, and there are bathroom facilities right there, although they are locked sometimes.
Overall, if your idea of fun is exploring nature and unspoiled beaches, this may be a journey for you.
Any trip to Langkawi would be incomplete without a visit to the Pulau Payar Marine Park. This little gem of an island is located about an hour's boat ride away from Langkawi and is a protected natural area. The waters are crystal-clear, and there are…Read More
Any trip to Langkawi would be incomplete without a visit to the Pulau Payar Marine Park. This little gem of an island is located about an hour's boat ride away from Langkawi and is a protected natural area. The waters are crystal-clear, and there are an abundance of colorful tropical fish and even many sharks and a few barracuda.
To get there, you have to use one of two companies that offer snorkeling trips. There is at least one more company that offers dive tours, but I haven’t been able to use one of them, as my wife doesn’t dive. The two companies that offer snorkeling are "Coral Island" and "Langkawi Coral". Both companies include pickup at your hotel at no extra charge. Both will get you there via fairly modern boats and in air-conditioning, but the real difference comes when you arrive.
The Coral Island tour operators have a nice, covered pier-type structure and offer you a sack-type lunch or a buffet that takes place back on the ship. The buffet runs about RM20 extra, and I think it’s worth it. They have a wide selection of foods, and you can feed the barracuda pieces of chicken off the side of the boat. Otherwise, you get a simple sack lunch of some chicken, rice, fruit, and water. Both are fine, and most people opt just for the sack lunch. The day we chose to go to the buffet, we were the only people out of 50 who did, so we had it and the ship all to ourselves.
The other tour operator, Langkawi Coral, has its own floating pier. This pier is really quite neat. It has a section underneath that is all glass and submerged in the water so you can view the fish. It's almost like a submarine. The only option for lunch here is a hot buffet. You see a lot more Westerners take this option, but it is RM100 more expensive.
Both tours give you all the gear you may need: snorkels, life vests, fins, mask, etc. The equipment on both seems to be of decent quality.
The water is amazingly clear, and the fish are very friendly. You can hand-feed them, and they will often nibble at your arm, and if you have some, leg hair. It disconcerting for some, but it doesn’t hurt; it just surprises you. I have seen shark up to about 8 feet long swimming within 10 feet of me, but they never seemed hostile, and no one got bit. The bottom of the sea is a mixture of coral and sand, so there isn’t too much worry about hurting your feet. This is a good attraction for kids, as fish are even in the shallow areas, and the kids can feed them safely. The water is also very calm, with no undertow, and water temps are very warm.
I would be sure and pack lots of extra water, as the island isn’t developed, and buying water there is expensive. You may want to pack several liters of fresh water to wash up with. There is a small shower facility on the island, but it isn’t adequate.
The whole excursion takes until about 5pm, so plan a whole day for this trip. The cost is anywhere from RM80 to RM240, depending on the tour operator and your bargaining skills.