It turns out that if you sit near a gutter and drink enough beer, you wake up covered in mosquito bites. When we left George Town, bound for Langkawi, an archipelago of 104 island in northern Malaysia, known for its Duty Free status since 1987 (our birth year), we counted over 50 mosquito bites (or more like welts) all over Nat (including some rather unpleasantly placed bites on her bum).
Ferries in Malaysia are wonderfully entertaining! The two ferries that we took in the country both played old US movies dubbed in Malay and subtitled in English (one included The Marine, one of Ross’ favorites) or played K-Pop music videos. About four hours into our aquatic journey our boat came to an abrupt stop. We sat “parked” just outside the large island as other boats maneuvered around us. Over thirty minutes passed, along with some strong waves that rocked the boat until we thought that maybe this was not part of ferry protocol. Another long 20 minutes passed – finally help came to the rescue, another ferry boat (about the same size as ours) pulled up next to us. With no announcement from any of the staff members on the boat, we tied our ferry to our new ferry friend and it slowly towed us into the dock. There was no explanation whether this was normal or not, so we went with it. Shortly after disembarking, we ran into our friend Allie, who we had met at the Tipsy Tiger in Penang; it turned out that she was going to the same hostel that we were going to Zakary’s Guest House! How much smaller the world becomes when traveling, especially in South East Asia.
We shared a cab to Zakary’s where we were greeted by three friendly hostel dogs who were afraid of locals but loved tourists. Anyone who has ever said that being hangry is not a thing is wrong, or has never been hungry enough. After almost loosing it from being too hungry and covered in mosquito bites, we found a place to eat dinner and vowed to do more the next day.
Since Langkawi was our first taste of island life, we set out early in the morning to go island hopping around the islands surrounding the main island. As soon as we boarded our long boat filled with tourists, we started moving… fast. Our boat skipped over the water like a galloping horse and we both reached for our life vests – if we got bucked off this boat, we at least wanted to be spotted. After racing around dramatic cliff sides hanging over the turquoise waters we made a dramatic turn and then stopped suddenly by a dock. Meeting us at the dock were about twenty cute but terrifying monkeys, watching to see if any one had food for them. One by one the monkeys sized up the tourists in their paths. One monkey spotted a woman with a water bottle and hastily scaled her leg and grabbed the bottle our of her clutched grip. Instead of opening it with his opposable thumbs, it ripped the bottle from the bottom and poured the water into its mouth and down its body. Once we made it past the killer monkeys, the forest opened up to a giant lake (that we found out later was a collapsed bat cave) and we swam in the cool waters.
The next stop on Mr. Toad’s Wild Boat Ride was to watch wild eagles (the island’s national bird as there is a giant eagle statue in town) feed in the wild. The giant birds would fly in a circular pattern and catch fish with their talons and plop them into their mouths in a single swoop.
After another speedy boat ride, we arrived at long white sandy beach with picturesque palm trees and (surprisingly) some pine trees. We realized on the beach that it was actually Easter at home so instead of hunting for eggs, we hunted for sea shells and colorful fish below the surface. Every couple of days, we both have “pinch me” moments when we stop and remember how lucky we are to be doing this grand adventure. Swimming in the warm waters off shore with nothing but patches of small island jutting out made us both feel incredibly grateful and very small.
Note – sorry about the picture quality on this one… our waterproof camera no longer connects to the iPad so all of our photos from Langkawi are stuck on a small screen. Also, it was Easter, so this is our attempt at a failed Easter Insta post.
After the tour we explored the island on motorbikes – we braved higher speeds on the expressway, sweated more than we thought was possible on our way to the northern waterfall, flipped a coin on whether or not to explore the world’s longest cable cars (and although the coin toss won, we still decided against it) and finally swam in a local waterfall with a modern day treasure hunter. When swimming in the refreshing waters of Temurun Waterfall, a free diver with a snorkeling mask caught our eye. We asked him what he was diving for and he said that he was looking for treasure (and lived on his findings in Thailand). The last time he went diving at this particular waterfall, he found a war time muscat ball. On the drive home, Natalie took a turn driving the scooter and realized quickly how hard it was to stop with Ross on the back and the sheer weight of the scooter itself. Despite the death gripping the handlebars in fear of driving we made it back to town, safe and sound.