Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Langkawi revisited - the beauty and the beast of it . . .

An odd title?

That's my sentiment following a re-visit to Langkawi after a hiatus of more than 2 years.

Beautiful it still is.

One cannot deny the beauty of the blinding white beaches of Tanjong Rhu;

the layered contours of Gunung Machincang from the vantage point of Top Station
of Langkawi Cable Car;

the lush green padi fields of Kedawang;

the quiet serenity of the river mouth of Sungai Rhu before it meets the sea;

a picturesque jetty at Tanjong Rhu;

the mysterious northern mangrove swamps;

and its wildlife of Pigtail Macaque (Macaca nemestrina), crabs, fish . . .

. . . and White Belly Sea Eagles, attracted by the revving of the outboard motor of boats (our boatman could not explain the phenomenon, but swore that this a long-time behaviour of these eagles).

Caving or spelunking (the recreational sport of exploring caves), where the enthusiast can experience it all - stalactites, stalagmites, bats and of course guano, best explored at low or neap tide;

and finally the open sea where innumerable outcroppings of various shapes that skirt the coastline, reminiscent of World Heritage Halong Bay of Vietnam.

Now for the beast of it all . . .

Langkawi is looking the worst for wear these days with countless abandoned building projects left derelict in choice real estate. Who should be held accountable for these unsightly creations? The State Land Office, businessmen, politicians or just the Greed of Man?

I thought to myself, all the homeless people should read this blog and head straight for Langkawi to take up residence in any of these abandoned shop houses, hotels and apartments.

An abandoned building around the Padang Matsirat area, wrapped in non-biodegradable green PVC mesh as prelude to renovations, now being promoted for sale as luxury apartments.

Mr buffalo, to the left of the promotional banner is chewing cud and wondering how much longer he can enjoy this part of paradise? Maybe he's in luck what with the state of the economy these days!

More buildings where construction seem to have halted resulting in breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti;

Nice architecture, but vacant as most of the shops at the Telaga Harbour Park;

the lonely marina at Telaga Harbour Park - too expensive to moor your yacht?

You now have the option to tether your yacht to two anchors along the mangrove river where the fish farmers will baby sit for you at a fraction of the cost, it seems.

Several fish farms have sprouted along the mangrove river, raring fish and prawns for export.

One even runs a restaurant at night attracting the rich and famous to dine. A boat-cum-limo service is included in the meal price. I suppose they deserve an 'A' for entrepreneurship, but let's hope the ecology is not disrupted too much.

Not everyone is as industrious. Low season in the tourist trade means you have to hang around waiting for customers.

Whether day or night, Ramadan or not, most restaurants in Kuah always seem to be closed. A few unique establishments that manage to attract customers are the Russian CCCP (go figure?) restaurant and Che Det's bread shop in Telaga Harbour Park.

A face saving fact is that where ever you are in Malaysia, you are bound to find a seafood restaurant or two guaranteed to serve up a value for money, finger-licking great meal. And you don't have to go all the way to Langkawi for it!

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