When we arrived at Langkawi airport, I was greeted by a gust of warm breeze and the glare of the hot sun on the sky as If being welcomed to the Island. I was so excited to find a nice retreat and set up my humble abode for the next few days. I took a taxi to Pantai Cenang and decided to check out a few guest houses along Beach Road before asking for Gecko guesthouse. Another great tip from the lovely Susie. I checked into an 18RM dorm which was super cheap (not as cheap as India but cheap in general). I was greeted by a lovely lady who showed me to my room and within the space of 5 minutes I had got my bed, met Julian, Dave, Sebastian, Sarah, Nikos, Diego, Korey, Mark and Jacob and was already heading out for lunch with them. I told everyone my story and they told me theirs, we walked and talked, ate and chatted more and within a few hours we had decided to charter a boat to a neighbouring island for the evening. It seemed to be a great start to my island vacation. That evening we went our separate ways to do different things, but low and behold we managed to meet up on the beach to charter this boat. We decided to pay 35RM each for the boat and when It pulled into shore (well as close as he could get apparently) we waded through the water with our belongings and food/drinks in hand and struggled onto the boat awaiting departure. As we waited and waited, Diego and Nikos were wandering the beach with the boat driver and we couldn’t figure out why. After a good 30minutes of sitting and waiting to leave, we were told that the guy had no fuel to take us there and wasn’t aware he had to take us. The whole situation made no sense but when it came down to it, we got off the boat, got our refund and claimed a spot on the beach to chill on instead. We laughed about what a great boat trip we had and that the best part was when were…. ‘On the boat’. The evening turned out to be great fun and a good evening to celebrate Diego’s birthday. We all got to know each other over some drinks (2% Mango beer for me) and spent the evening laughing and joking with each other. We ended the night in bar for fresh juice/beers and some Shisha. Langkawi was becoming one of my favourite places!
The next day we lost two more of our group to other parts of Malaysia- Jacob had left the day before. This time Diego and Mark were leaving and Sebastian/Korey/Julian and I had planned to take a motorbike trip around the island together. We said our goodbyes and talked about meeting up in NZ as we planned to be there the same time, and the rest of us headed off to rent bikes. We rented three bikes, one of which Julian and I shared as I planned to be a lazy passenger for once and Korey and Sebastian both had their own bikes. We took a full circuit and took in sights such as the amazing Cable Car with beautiful views of Langkawi, many different beaches and finally ended in Kuah Harbour where we had an unusual dining experience that evening. Touring the island was great and the scenery was incredible for the whole journey. The cable car was the highlight and it seemed like a family day out considering all the pictures we took, and afterwards we even stopped by a stall for some Belgian waffles. It was funny because, we would make it a routine to pull in and wait for Korey who hadn’t driven a bike before, or drive close to Sebastian to tell him his blinkers were on, or generally just shout at each other about how much fun it was. In the evening time we lost Sebastian and Korey who hadn’t seen where we had gone and so we drive back around and around looking for them. Looking to spot Sebastian’s white t-shirt or their bright orange bikes but we couldn’t find them. We decided to go back to Starbucks where we had just been, and with luck on our side, there they were, safely together like two little buddies. Dinner at the Harbour was unusual as I mentioned, and the reason being that when I asked the old grumpy Malay man for veggie food he pointed to another restaurant and ordered me to go there. I decided on veggie fried rice- which came with chicken but whatever, I gave it away. One great thing though, was the watermelon juices which we had two of to hydrate us before the journey back to Pantai Cenang. We got back that evening and had a chat and some drinks in the common area, with me and Sebastian coming up with a plan to get him to the airport the next day. Theoretically we would drive his bike with me on the back pulling his suitcase slowly along the road, which of course would save on taxi fare and also I could drive it back. Luckily the next morning we decided against the risk. For first hour of my 25th birthday I celebrated in my pjs with Sebastian, Julian, Dave and Sarah in the common area drinking a lovely 7up courtesy of Sebastian. Then it was time to get my old age ass to bed!
The next morning, I walked to do yoga on the beach while Sebastian walked to the taxi stand. We said our goodbyes and I headed off across Beach Road. Doing yoga on the beach was very relaxing but slightly annoying when it came to the sweat and sand mix, but even more annoying when you open your eyes from a lovely posture to see people surrounding you or hearing the clicks of cameras when in shoulder stand. I tried not to take any notice and let them by pass me and so they did but the day before during our bike trip, I was casually doing some poses while the boys walked out to an island, when I opened my eyes to a woman with her camera pointing at me and smiling very happily. She also uttered some words in Malay and some hand gestures which I presumed were the poses I was doing, and she went away. When I looked around, a few people from the beach cafes had been staring at me too. It came to me…. This isn’t India! Nevertheless I carried on that morning and it seemed like as the mornings went on, the people got used to it and knew me. It was my birthday and I was having a great one. I was feeling great about myself, my yoga and my life and I couldn’t wait to celebrate with everyone that night.
When I got back to the hostel, I had breakfast with everyone! I had been planning to spend a nice chilled day at the beach and maybe go out that evening but with a suggestion from Sarah our plans changed. We decided to go Island hopping instead which would cost only 30RM and entertain us for 3 or 4 hours. Julian, Korey, Sarah and I booked the trip and we would leave at 2pm. We spent the morning hourson the beach before grabbing a very well put together sandwhich to take with us and headed back to Gecko. A taxi picked us up not long after and before we knew it we were out on the waters, on a super fast speed boat. It was the start of what would be one of the best birthdays ever. We stopped at Pregnant Maiden Island to admire and have a dip in the freshwater lake before going to an Island full of eagles to see them being fed. We ended the trip at a tropical beach where I entertained the crowds with my ‘plough and shoulderstand’ asana’s unintentionally of course. And the headstand seemed to be the icing on the cake for them. After the beach we sped back on the boat, tearing through the waves of the sea and creating copious amounts of adrenaline on board our boat. We raced other boats, waved at our fellow travellers and screamed as the driver near capsized us during his rapid turns. When we got back, we quickly got ready, added some new members to the group and ultimately headed out for a lovely Thai meal. The restaurant had been attractive to us considering it was it was suitably positioned next to a cheap cocktail bar playing great music. When the group of us finished our meal we took two steps to our right and plonked ourselves on bar stools to order a round of colourful cocktails. After a few rounds of cocktails, a sing song and some chats, we then moved onto the next stop, a small pop up street bar. It wasn’t your typical popular bar but this had something going, considering the crowds of people hanging around it, including our roommate Dave who looked like a local propped up in between everyone. We must have stayed there for a few hours, drinking cheap cocktails, making new friends and ultimately having an awesome time. The highlight was meeting Kristian from Sweden, a travel blogger and founder of The Fun Mission and Rayann a Malaysian travel blogger who when I met him said ‘Omg you are Worltravellerz’, ‘Omg its you,I have seen your website’ which took me by complete surprise. I couldn’t believe that Worldtravellerz had reached Malaysia let alone other bloggers. We stayed there chatting about blog advice and tips while I inspired them with my Indian experiences. I urged them to go! When we were all pretty far along, drink wise, we took a taxi to Sunba where we danced the night away to a local rock band, who occasionally played the soppiest songs, but nevertheless we went crazy for them. We spent hours just dancing, going crazy and inevitably having the best night ever! If this was what 25 meant then I was loving it!
The following day was not so good, hangover wise, considering I had been detoxing a few months before India, and ultimately while in India, hangovers were alien to me. I knew why I didn’t drink at this point. Needless to say, yoga wasn’t on the cards for me and I ended up pulling a Dave and being the last one in bed at 12pm… so unlike me. I woke up, groggy as hell, blurry and panda eyed and wished my day away. Sarah and I spent most of the day chilling on the beach rehydrating on smoothies and in the evening time we decided to finally go to Dr Eduardo Sanchez’s yoga class we had been talking so much about. We had seen a poster in the hostel and so with a few minutes to get there we decided to take a taxi, that’s easier right? No! The first few taxi drivers we asked had no idea what we were talking about and with some luck we found a driver who seemed to know his way around Pantai Cenang, well he was a good liar anyways! He analysed the photo of the map on my iphone and agreed to take us there, but told us he didn’t quite know but he would look for it. After driving in the wrong direction, ending at the beach, we told him to turn back and take us to the right place, to which he agreed. We must have driven for about 45minutes through the countryside, well beyond the starting time of the class, before we reached a main road which clearly wasn’t where we wanted to be. Driving 5kmph, he turned and laughed, asking if we should go back now. We agreed and gave up hope of any yoga this evening. When he dropped us back to Beach Road, we took ourselves and our energy to the beach where I gave Sarah a private yoga class complete with onlookers, Korey, Julian and a small child who was shockingly good at mirroring our the postures. We finished up just as the sun set and headed back to the hostel. That evening our new Dutch buddy Willem joined Sarah and I for a delicious Indian meal of Paneer Butter Masala and some Chai at a local fancy restaurant. We dined and laughed hysterically as Willem told us travel tales of his time in India, some funny stories including the time he hijacked a bus, set up a camel safari business and bought hundreds of women’s Indian sandals to sell to Dutch women back home. It wasn’t long before we were back at the cosy common area among more friends, that we laughed in convulsions once again as he spread his stories to more and more curious ears. We couldn’t get enough! After a good abs workout from all the laughter, It was time to head to bed and fully recharge from today’s hangover. The atmosphere in Gecko was a very familiar one, one I really enjoyed and one that in a very short time I knew I wouldn’t want to leave. Nevertheless Julian, Sarah and I planned to go to take a 19hour journey of taxi/boat/bus/boat/taxi to the Perhentian Islands the next day. It was clear that this was a sort of ‘Gringo trail’ and that our friends would be following us over in a few days. Never say goodbye always say see you soon! And we would!
The next morning was spent on the beach with Korey, Julian and some of the Gecko newcomers who took part in some banana boating, while Sarah took a lift to Kuah town with Dave to go shopping. Later on we met up and grabbed a very well put together sandwich from a local store before our taxi came and whisked us away to the ferry terminal. We were sad to leave but we were glad to be going together and very excited to explore the tropical Perhentians we had heard so much about. It was a super long journey from leaving Gecko at 3:30pm to arriving at the Perhentians at 7am the following morning and with lack of sleep due to the ice cold bus temperatures and bright lights shining, all we wanted to do was sleep. It was hard to appreciate the beauty of the island in these delicate conditions but the ferry from the mainland to the islands certainly woke us up for those few minutes. It was like island hopping all over again, going at super-fast speeds, and watching Julian s face as he worried about his backpack going overboard, It was clear I wasn't the only one who knew it. We were on board with three Irish girls whose accents I recognized straight away and It felt slightly comforting. We were off to the Perhentians and despite the tired eyes, we lit up when we caught sight of the clear blue seas and white sandy beaches.
Bring on the Island life!