Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Malaysia Holiday Day 8: Langkawi

I totally forgot to mention something awesome that happened yesterday!  We were sitting in our room in the late afternoon when there was a knock on the door saying "Room service!"  I was thinking "huh?  We didn't order anything!"  I opened the door and there was a room service guy with a little 2-person-sized sponge cake decorated with "Happy Honeymoon"!  The awesomest part is, we never officially told them we were on our honeymoon - when we checked in, we chatted with our service manager who was giving us all the info about the resort, and she casually asked questions like where we were from, was it our first time to Malaysia, were we here for our honeymoon, etc.  And then obviously she made a note of it and sent us the cake the next day!

Anyway...today we got up relatively early (7am), had our buffet breakfast, and then caught the boat over to the main island for our island hopping tour.  The van that was there to transfer us to the tour jetty was pretty rough, and Dave said "I hope the boat isn't as bad as this van!"...Prophetic words indeed, because when we arrived at the tour jetty we were confronted with a huge raft of tiny little boats all lashed together and all rough-and-ready looking.  Never mind, we were here now, so we tramped down the pier and jumped in our boat, along with the 8 other people allocated to the same boat, most of whom and been in the same transfer van, except for one couple.

The boat headed out from the pier and the driver had to keep stopping every 30 seconds or so to manually pump fuel, because there appeared to be a problem with the fuel pump.  But we got to the first stop, a calm spot in between a bunch of islands so we could see Dayang Bunting, the Pregnant Maiden who gives her name to Pulau Dayang Bunting (Island of the Pregnant Maiden) and the lake on the island, Tasik Dayang Bunting (yep, you guessed it: Lake of the Pregnant Maiden).  From certain angles, when viewing the island, the hills that form it do indeed look like a woman lying on her back, her hands clasped protectively above her pregnant belly.

Langkawi is full of legends, but as this one is particularly significant to me, I'll relate it.  Legend has it that once upon a time, a lovely fairy princess married an earthly prince.  Their first child died soon after birth, and she was so distraught that she buried it in the lake, blessing the waters so that any childless maiden would conceive after bathing there, before returning to her celestial home.  Another legend states that a childless couple, after 19 years of unsuccessful effort, had a baby girl after drinking from the lake.  It is now a popular pilgrimage for those hoping for children.

After giving us a few moments to admire the island, we moved on to the jetty on the island itself.  When we disembarked, we were immediately surrounded by monkeys.  Monkeys, monkeys everywhere!  They tried to grab our bag, even though we had no food; one persistent monkey actually climbed up and clung off the side of the bag while Dave tried to shoo him away!  The whole walk through the jungle to the shore of the lake was a battle of man vs monkey.  Some of the other people doing the same tour (there were 3 other boats that also left at the same time as us, and several more that left about 15 minutes earlier) were not very good about dealing with this, and either shrieked and jumped whenever a monkey looked at them, or tried to kick them.  There was one big male monkey that kept going for people.  He especially seemed to have a thing about sweaty men.  I don't blame him really.

When we got to the lake we found it was quite touristy: there was a big pontoon built onto it, with a little pool for people to get a fish massage (yes, you read that right: you stick your feet in the water and dozens of catfish surround your feet and nibble at your toes; we decided not to try it) and ladders to get you in and out of the lake.  We decided not to actually swim, but I dutifully dowsed myself with water from the lake and also drunk a mouthful.  My mission complete, we lazed on the pontoon, watching the monkeys trying to sneak up on people and steal their bags.  After our alloted hour, we headed back to the boat through the monkey madness and had to deal with more sneaky monkeys while we waited on the jetty for the boat.

Our next stop was eagle feeding.  We didn't actually get out of the boat here, we just stopped in a little sheltered harbour and our boat guy threw some stuff over the side and then backed off, and we watched the eagles swoop in and pick up the food.  There were dozens of them and it was majestic to watch.  Then we moved on to our final stop, another island with a nice beach and some water activities available, and more monkeys.  We hung out on the beach after going for a paddle before returning to the resort.

This afternoon we relaxed a bit more like yesterday, before coming back to the room.  While we were hanging out here, our evening housekeeping guy came and asked us to leave the room for 10 minutes.  We obediently went out onto the balcony and sat looking out over the Straits while we waited for him to do whatever he was doing.  When he called us back into the room, he had decorated our bed with little flowers in the shape of a heart, and ran a bath surrounded by tea-light candles, with more flowers.  It was gorgeous and very sweet of him, and he made sure I got his name for our feedback form!

Tomorrow we leave here and head back to the Gold Coast, arriving back early on Thursday morning.  We're both ready to head home to see our fur babies, but also don't want to leave, it's so peaceful and beautiful here!  But all good things must come to an end, unfortunately.  We will definitely be back!

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