My trip to Langkawi was quite long, mostly due to the fact that I once again chose the cheaper option rather than the direct route. Every time I do this, I can always hear my dad’s voice in my head saying, “Why do you make things more difficult than they need to be?” Apparently, I’ve been doing this my whole life so something tells me that it won’t change now. However, this motivation and discipline has led me to build my budgeting skills and frugalness. I had breakfast at the hostel before catching a Grab to the ferry pier for 5 ringgit ($1.63). My credit card isn’t letting me buy tickets online due to the “Verified by Visa” check, because it sends a code to my phone number, which I don’t have anymore. Therefore, I just had to show up and hope that there would be space available. The quicker option that I could have done is a direct 3-hour ferry from Georgetown to Langkawi, which I heard costs 70 ringgit ($23.64). The route that I decided to take instead included three steps. The first step was to take a 20-minute ferry from Penang Island to the mainland in order to get to the bus station. I read that a ferry leaves every 20-30 minutes so I got there at 9:45 to make sure I could get to the station by 10:45. I also read that the ferry would cost 1.20 ringgit but I was never asked for money or for a ticket.
I got to the other side at around 10:20, found the Penang Sentral Station right beside the pier, and went to the ticket counter to buy a ticket. The ticket costs 19 ringgit ($6.20) for a 3-hour journey to Kuala Perlis. The lady told me to head down to the bus at 10:45, which gave me some time to buy snacks for the ride. The bus journey was fine, and we arrived in Kuala Perlis at 2pm. I had looked on my phone and saw that there was a ferry at 2pm (which I would have just missed) and another one at 4pm. I slowly walked towards the ferry terminal, where people were yelling from all directions, trying to get me to get a taxi or get ferry tickets. I was surprised to find out that a ferry would be leaving at 2:30pm so I bought my ticket for 18 ringgit ($5.88), quickly ran over to KFC to buy a burger, and got back just as they were boarding the ferry. We had assigned seating so I found my spot and relaxed for the 1 hour and 15-minute journey. They had a movie playing but I couldn’t understand it, so I mostly just tried to tune out the noise of crying children around me. We arrived in Langkawi at about 4pm and as soon as I got there, I was awed by its beauty.
I felt like I could stay there forever. However, I soon realised that it was a resort island and was therefore quite pricey compared to the rest of Malaysia. Also, it was quite a large island so I was quite isolated without being able to ride a motorbike. With Malaysia, you’re constantly being asked for things: massage, watersports, going into a restaurant, if you want a taxi.. it never ends. And that’s something that takes away from my ability to relax, as I just end up feeling uncomfortable. Langkawi was definitely like this wherever I went. Anyway, I got a Grab to my hostel, which took about 20-30 minutes and cost me 26 ringgit ($8.49). I was getting concerned when arriving because the taxi driver took me down a small street that seemed to lead to nowhere. However, it turns out that my hostel was actually in the middle of nowhere, which was kind of nice!
I stayed at Crowded House in a 4-bed dorm with an en-suite and it cost me $9.50 per night. The thing that I instantly noticed about this hostel was that pretty much everyone seemed to be above the age of 25 (some were in their 40s), whereas everywhere else I go to, I tend to be one of the oldest people there. While it was a cool place, there wasn’t any phone service in the rooms – only in the common room, so it caused people to be more antisocial because they were sitting on their phones most of the time. Also, the hostel seemed to have a lot of volunteers – people who would work at the hostel for free accommodation, so many people seemed to be staying long-term. Nearly everyone was vegetarian or vegan, nearly everyone smoked, and the amount of times that people spoke about getting and doing drugs was more than what I’m used to. I knew I wasn’t going to click with anyone there, so I spent most of my first couple of days on my own. I spent that evening at the beach to watch the sunset and then I went to a restaurant called Cactus Restaurant and got Singapore noodles for 10 ringgit ($3.26).
The hostel owner had asked if anyone would be interested in doing a half-day boat tour the next day for 40 ringgit ($13.06) and said that if he got 5 or 6 people to go, we could get a private tour. I figured it would be a good idea so I signed myself up.
We would be picked up at 9:30am on Saturday morning so I decided to get some breakfast first. The hostel doesn’t offer free breakfast and their kitchen was closed on Saturdays, so I walked down the street to see what I could find. However, pretty much all of the restaurants didn’t open until 9am. Luckily, one restaurant (Yam Yam) allowed me to come in 10 minutes early. I found the cheapest thing on the menu (2 eggs with toast) for 10 ringgit and then when they asked me what I wanted to drink, I said a latte, not realising that it would cost more than the eggs (11 ringgit). So with tax, I paid 23.10 ringgit ($7.54), ate my food as fast as I could, and got back to the hostel RIGHT at 9:30. The taxi driver came late and took five of us to the pier. We were given coloured stickers to put on our shirts and then had to wait for our boat to arrive. We soon realised that we wouldn’t be getting a private tour, as they squished us into a group with about 8 other people.
Once we got on the boat, we were given life jackets, which most of us were just going to hold, but once we got going, we quickly put them on. The boat ride was so intense! We were airborne multiple times and sometimes we’d land on a tilt, which made everyone nervous! It was funny at first but it got to the point where some of the guys on the boat were getting mad at the driver and telling him he needed to slow down. I was mostly concerned for all of the stuff that I had brought with me (my camera and phone), as I knew they’d be finished if we ended up flipping the boat. We finally made it to Tasik Dayang Bunting, the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. There are many legends about this lake and apparently it will help women with infertility issues if they drink from the lake. We were given an hour here and we had to pay to get into the park, which cost 3 ringgit for Malaysians and 6 ringgit ($2) for foreigners. They also wouldn’t let plastic bags go into the park (due to monkeys), so I had to transfer everything into my bag. We had to walk through a huge group of monkeys in order to get to the lake, so I sped through as fast as I could, trying not to make eye contact, and making sure I stayed close to one of the three guys at all times. It definitely wasn’t the relaxing morning that I thought I’d be getting! We got to the lake but it was so crowded, as many other tour groups were there as well.
In order to swim, you needed to rent a life jacket for 2 ringgit, or you could rent a paddle boat to go around the lake. A couple of us decided to just go sit at a cafe outside of the park for the next hour because at least we could get some shade there. After that, we got back into the scary boat (which funnily enough, I preferred over being around the monkeys) and we stopped at a little cove where there must have been about 50 eagles flying around; it was pretty spectacular! That is.. until the boat driver started throwing meat into the water right beside me and some of the eagles swooped down a little too close for comfort.
I’ve never seen anything like it, it was pretty cool! The boat driver then took us to Pulau Beras Basah, an island with a long beach, where we got another hour to enjoy.
The beach was pretty shallow and the water wasn’t clean – I walked quite far out and the water never made it up to my waist. The guys spent their entire hour picking up garbage off the beach and filled up a large box. We then headed back to Langkawi and I decided to sit in the front of the boat. I could definitely feel the bumps a lot more up there, so my back was feeling it that evening and the next day. So in conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend this tour – we went from stress to stress to stress, and no one in the group seemed to enjoy it. We got back to the hostel at about 1:30 and by that point, I was starving so I walked to a restaurant called Tomato Nasi Kandar which is an Indian restaurant. I had to go up to the front to order so I got curry chicken with rice, an iced coffee (which was sooo sweet), and a coke for 9.80 ringgit ($3.20).
The other people from the hostel showed up at around 3pm, so I visited with them and then we all walked back to the hostel. I spent the next hour or so trying to figure out what else I should do and where I should go in Malaysia. My original plan was to go to the Perhentian Islands (which are apparently absolutely gorgeous), as well as some other islands on the east side of mainland Malaysia, but what I didn’t realise was that it’s monsoon season on that side of Malaysia so pretty much everything closes down. The monsoon season on that side lasts for 6 months and then apparently the monsoon season goes to the other side of Malaysia for the next six months, which makes travelling a bit more difficult. I was even trying to decide if I should just move to another hostel on Langkawi. I visited with some people in the hostel for a couple hours and then went to a restaurant called Boat Restaurant and had a vermicelli noodle dish, some vegetables in oyster sauce, and an iced tea for 19 ringgit ($6.20).
The food at this restaurant was so good, and the hospitality was very friendly!
On Sunday morning, I ordered breakfast at the hostel and got French Toast for 12 ringgit ($3.92).
I’m pretty picky about my French toast so I was quite hesitant upon ordering it, but it was made perfectly. During breakfast, I got talking to a girl who had just arrived the night before (Jade) from London. She asked what I was planning to do and I said I wanted to check out Oriental Village, and hike up to the Seven Wells Waterfall. She asked if it would be okay if she joined and I happily obliged since it would cut my Grab transportation in half. Instantly, I knew that Jade was the type of person that I’d click with – it was like we’d been friends for years, and we chatted away about anything and everything. Honestly, I was kind of relieved since I hadn’t met anyone like that for a few days. She felt the same way that I did about our hostel and she was planning to move hostels the next day, so I started getting the idea that maybe I should as well. Anyway, we took a Grab to Oriental Village for 12 ringgit each ($3.92), arrived at about 11:30, and walked around for a bit.
The main attraction in Langkawi is the cable car, but it’s also overpriced so I wasn’t too keen on trying it. However now, I’ve only heard amazing things about it so I’m wondering if I made a mistake by skipping out on it. We found a bunny farm in Oriental Village and went to check it out but a lot of the bunnies looked a bit rough, so I didn’t go around petting them.
They were pretty cute though! We had a lot of difficulty figuring out where the beginning of the hike started and had to ask around. We realised it wasn’t actually IN Oriental Village – we had to leave the village, walk through the parking lot, and walk about 600 metres down the highway to get to another small village-like area, which had two restaurants and an information centre. We were both getting hungry by that point and weren’t sure when we’d get to have food again since we were expecting to hike for the next couple of hours, so we stopped at one of the two restaurants called Kahuna Kitchen. The owners were so friendly, and we both ordered a curry noodle soup dish, which was really tasty. With a coke, it cost us 11 ringgit each ($3.59).
I was sitting there enjoying my soup and all of a sudden, I looked up and saw a monkey heading towards us. I wasn’t too sure what to do, as I knew it was going for our food. Luckily, the owner saw it too and ran out of the restaurant with a brick and pretended to throw it at the monkey so it would run off. It did, and we were able to enjoy the rest of our lunch monkey-free. We were finally ready to start our hike (I’m pretty sure we were both trying to hold it off for as long as we possibly could). We climbed an extremely steep street for about five minutes, used the bathroom at the top, and then saw that we could either go left to the waterfall, or straight to the seven wells. We decided to start by going left, literally walked 100 metres, and the waterfall was right there! It turns out that we didn’t have as big of a walk as we were expecting! The waterfall was one of the nicer ones I’ve seen – not humongous, but still better than some of the little trickles I’ve seen in the past. When we got there, there were only four other people there so we basically got the entire thing to ourselves.
I think what happens is most people take the cable car, and you can see the waterfall from there so most people don’t bother going to see it up close. And anyone who goes to do the “hike” probably walks to the seven wells since they’re more well-known. We took advantage of having a waterfall to ourselves, climbed up near the top, and found a flat surface right beside the falls. It was pretty slippery getting there and Jade dropped her phone, which slid all the way down until a guy ran after it and caught it right before it slipped off the edge into the water. Anyway, we went back and forth between lying in the sun and going down to the bottom of the falls to have a swim. It was quiet for the first one or two hours, but at around 3pm, more and more people started to come. We realised that we should have taken our pictures when we had the place to ourselves because we struggled getting pictures without other people coming into the shot. We stayed there for about four hours and all of a sudden just after 5pm, someone whistled at us. I sat up and he waved us over and said that we couldn’t sit where we were sitting – we had to come to the other side of the falls. Confused, we packed up our stuff and climbed back over the falls to the other side. The guy said that he was safety staff and that someone had died that day from slipping. He said he had to take two people to the hospital. It kind of made sense as to why he wasn’t there the entire day though. We were planning to leave anyway, since the sun was nearly behind the hills and he asked if we had went up to Seven Wells yet. We said no and he said that he could take us there. I asked if we could wear flip flops or if we should change back into our running shoes, and he said the flip flops would be fine. Turns out Seven Wells was only a 250 metre walk away, but it was up 350 steps. The guy ran up, and Jade and I quickly fell behind. We finally made it to the top but he took us past the viewpoint and said he had something better to show us. He walked us to his friend who was in one of the seven pools and he got out, introduced himself, and said he’d be showing us one of the nicest places to swim with the clearest water. They suddenly led us into a forest and said that it was just a five-minute walk down the path. We were trekking through and it was obvious that the path was hardly walked on, as there were leaves covering the entire way. It definitely wasn’t the type of walk to do in flip flops because we had to climb over rocks and bend under trees. At one point, my flip flop got caught so I tripped, and my flip flop got tangled in my foot. The guys were saying how lucky we were because hardly anyone gets to see this pool of water, no one knows about it, not even the government. It was then that warning signs started going into overdrive in my head and I kept turning to try to make eye contact with Jade, but she was on her phone (she was actually trying to find our location to send out in case something happened, so we were obviously both feeling the same way). After about ten minutes of walking, we got to the bottom of a big hill and they said that we just had to go up and then back down and we would be there, “12 minutes!” 12 minutes?! I looked at Jade and said I felt iffy about this and she agreed. So I just said that we were okay and we wanted to go back. “But we’re almost there, we’re already halfway!” “No, it’s okay, we’re fine.” “But it’s the nicest waters, you won’t be able to swim in clean waters back at Seven Wells.” “We don’t want to swim, we just wanted to look at the view.” We started walking back and as we got to the end, the one guy said that when we had come, he was just about to start cleaning out one of the wells and get all of the rocks and leaves out, and now he won’t have time. We apologised for wasting his time and as soon as we got to the end of the trail, both of the guys wandered off. Jade and I went to the viewpoint and then made our way back down so that we could change out of our swimsuits.
We changed and then went to find a place to sit so we could talk about what had just happened. All of a sudden, Jade looks shocked and says, “Your foot is bleeding!” I looked down and half of my foot and my flip flop were covered in blood. “Oh… it is…” “You don’t feel anything?!” It wasn’t until I poured water on it that I started to feel a bit of pain (thank goodness for my high pain threshold!). Jade kept wondering how long it would have taken me to notice if she hadn’t of said anything. I kept pouring water on it but the blood just kept coming out between my big toe and the next toe. I must have cut it when I tripped. I decided to just wrap my toe in a tissue, put my sock over it, and put my runners back on. For the rest of the night, I was fine as long as I was walking and putting pressure on it, but anytime I sat down, it would start to hurt. We headed back down to Oriental Village but nearly everything was closed by that time (it was only just after 6). Langkawi has a night market that moves around every night so conveniently, it was actually on the way back to our hostel. We got a Grab to the night market, which cost us 9 ringgit each ($2.94). The night market was so incredibly cool! Just seeing how the food was packaged in bags or in newspaper, and being able to try different foods was a really neat experience.
We started by getting some little cake-like things called dorayaki, which were 3 for 1 ringgit (30 cents)! I decided to try a coconut one, a corn one, and a red bean one, and all of them were so delicious!
The next thing I wanted to do was get a drink in a bag. We found a place and I decided to get a coconut one for 3 ringgit ($1). The guy grabbed a cup and I quickly said, “No, no, can I please get it in a bag?” So I finally got my juice in a bag, which they fill RIGHT up to the top.
You had to stop and chug a bunch, just so it wouldn’t go everywhere. After that, I decided to try a couple of chicken satay skewers, which were .60 ringgit each, so I got two for 1.20 ringgit (41 cents).
Since there wasn’t really anywhere that we could sit, we decided to just buy our dinners to take back to the hostel so that we could eat there. I decided to get a chicken po-boy-type of sandwich, which cost me 5 ringgit ($1.69) and we also decided to get 3 more of the dorayaki cakes each because they were so good!
So in total, I only spent 10.20 ringgit ($3.33) and I got so much food out of it – we were both stuffed! We went back to the hostel in a Grab for 8 ringgit each ($2.61), ate our meals, and then looked up different hostels that we could move into the following day. I figured I might as well stay a couple more days so that I could see the cable car and check out the nicest beach on the island. After staying up and visiting with everyone, we all went to bed.
The next morning, I packed up all of my stuff so that I could check out of the hostel. I ran into one of the guys in my room when I was walking out and said I was struggling to decide what I wanted to do. “Why don’t you go to Koh Lipe in Thailand?” It was something that I didn’t consider, but it was only a 90-minute boatride away and suddenly I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I talked to my sister on FaceTime for awhile, ordered breakfast from the hostel kitchen, which was a tempeh burger and was absolutely amazing, especially for someone who doesn’t like tofu and soy (I didn’t know what tempeh was when I ordered it).
Anyway, after talking to my sister, I went and sat down with Jade and told her my thoughts. I figured that if I went to Koh Lipe, I’d be coming back to Langkawi anyway so it would make sense to do all of the touristy things when I came back. I asked if she’d be interested in joining and she said that since she was only in Langkawi for 6 days and was only on a short holiday before going back to London, she figured she should stay. I asked the hostel owner what the chances were that he could get me on the last ferry to Koh Lipe at 2:30 (it was already 12). “Tomorrow?” “No… today.” His eyes widened and he didn’t seem too convinced, but he said he’d make a call. It would cost me 135 ringgit ($44.07) to take the ferry and get a ride to the ferry pier, and he said the taxi driver could pick me up in a half hour. So it was decided – I’d be going back to Thailand! Normally, I’m a planner so this was completely out of the ordinary for me, but it gave a sense of thrill that I now understand other people must get when making decisions on the go (or maybe I only got that thrill because it never happens). Anyway, Koh Lipe will be for another post. Love always