As our departure from India loomed closer, thoughts turned to all of the wonderful places in India we hadn’t yet managed to visit. India is so vast and diverse. We thought two years would be plenty of time to see all of the things that needed seeing. On the calendar, a few weekends that offered themselves as potential three-day weekends. And for Independence Day, four. So we researched destination options, prioritizing, checking weather, hotel availability, how the flights would work out.
The more we considered, the more we realized that, in July, all of the Indian options were either too hot, too rainy, unavailable, or would see us wasting half our time off waiting for planes. But as the 4th neared, we had to give up on India and cast a wider net – or risk losing the weekend altogether.
We found a flight that left around midnight (after a mandatory function) to Kuala Lumpur. We’ve been there. But from there, a connecting flight to an island just off the coast of Malaysia: Langkawi. Langkawi, officially called Langkawi, Jewel of Kedah, consists of around a hundred islands. More or less, depending on the tide. Two are inhabited, and the island group has the status of a UNESCO geopark, with two of its main conservation areas on the main island and a third just to the south. It’s a great place to spend a four-day weekend. Even better when your flight back is cancelled (as it would turn out) and you spend a five-day weekend!
We stayed on the southwest corner of the island, and a bike ride covering most of that quarter of the island takes 3-4 hours. We never made it to the island geopark to the south, but it apparently has a pretty cool lake you can swim in. We visited the northwest geopark, where you can find a cable car. We checked out the bottom of a waterfall (see the video later) and rain kept threatening, and then completed the 600-mile climb to the top of the waterfall in a pouring rainstorm. But we spent most of our time in the geopark on the northeast side of the island, where you can boat and kayak around/between/through the mangroves and islands
and you can stop at this fish farm: see bats in a cave, giant lizards (monitors): and if you’re lucky, some of the cutest monkeys you’ll ever see, anywhere, hands down. We saw them only from far away but this is what they look like (photo by Colin Holmes): Driving home late that afternoon along the northern coast, we saw signs of a “black sand beach” and decided to stop. As far as I could tell, the “black sand” was somehow oil that was seeping onto the beach, but I could be wrong. And in the distance, a cement factory.
But as the sun went down, the light became more and more golden, and we took the opportunity to snap some photos.
A father and his daughter came to enjoy the sunset as well.
Finally, I put together a video with some of the scenes we saw along the way. From the boat(s), and from the drone – although I learned that the insufficient “speed” of the SD card is what has been cutting off the recording when I least expect it. I regretted it this time especially, because I flew the drone up near the crags overlooking the water, and even managed to hover just a few feet from a hornbill in a tree.
It seems like a bad thing to do, but the hornbill didn’t seem to mind at all. We have a photo of the drone near the hornbill, but not the video footage from the drone itself.