Langkawi trip

For our post-bonus family trip this year, I’ve decided to bring my family a little far away to Langkawi island in Kedah. After much planning and cost-counting, we decided it’s slightly cheaper to go on a direct flight to Langkawi rather than drive all the way to Kedah and take a ferry there. So I bought return tickets for 5, book a hotel and rent a car for our 3 days 2 night visit.

Believe it or not, this is our first time taking a flight to anywhere. We don’t really come from a well to do family and during the early years of our marriage we didn’t have much to spare for expensive holidays on a tropical island, up until now that is. Booking the flight tickets was simple enough. I just browse and compare a few airlines prices and bought the cheapest one (obviously) which was Air Asia at that moment. Return flight tickets for 2 adults and 3 children was nearly 600 ringgit. I didn’t know they charge separately for checked-in baggages so I had to fork out an extra RM65 for that. I asked everybody about the procedures for checking-in, what I can carry and put in the baggage and what time to arrive at the departure hall. No shame in asking.

My brother in law was kind enough to drop us at the KLIA 2 airport that fine Saturday afternoon. It was my first visit to the new airport as well. First impression: KLIA 2 is like a huge shopping mall attached to an airport terminal. That said, we had no problem finding the check-in counter. Yes I have already checked-in online a few days earlier so the only thing I had to do was to check in our baggages, well baggage since it’s only one bag and then head to the departure hall. We had a minor scare at the check-in counter since my eldest identity card (IC) was totally erased on the front side due to the poor quality of its printing. Luckily the counter officer and subsequently every security officer from there on accepted our explanation and the medical card that contained his name was proof enough. Otherwise one boy will be devastated to not be following us to Langkawi. Usually I don’t let important things like Adam’s blank MyKid pass but we were waiting for his 12th birthday to renew his IC which is in December so it kind of pointless to renew it any sooner. Anyway that blank IC incident aside, our journey from the check-in to the plane waiting lounge was smooth. Sure our flight was delayed for more than an hour (typical Air Asia) but we got on the plane fine without any further incidents.

Our kids were naturally the most excited about getting on a plane for the first time. My two youngest girls were literally counting the days for over a month before our departure date. We took turns to sit by the window for the one hour flight so that everybody could have a chance to see the clouds and the land below. We arrived at Langkawi International Airport around 4:30 that evening. Our rent a car owner was already waiting outside. I searched the Internet for his contact and finally settled for a gold Proton Waja instead of the original Viva since it’s slightly bigger. That proved to be a big mistake because that old Waja produced knocking sounds from behind from the second day of our visit onwards. I suspect it’s the suspension or something but needless to say our journey across the island was not so pleasant after that due to those annoying noises from that beat up car. Remind me to rent a newer car next time?

Our first agenda of the day was to visit the Mahsuri’s tomb which is not too far away from the airport. Since our flight was delayed, we only had half an hour to visit the place, not that there’s much to see in there anyway. The entrance fee was RM12 for adults and RM6 for children which I thought kinda steep just to see a tiny tomb of a local legend. Sure there’s a few nice kampong houses to see and a little gallery about the legend but seriously, 12 ringgit? It’s a tourist trap I tell you. From the tomb we head to the Kuah jetty to see the famous eagle landmark. Luckily nobody gave a toss about Perak’s mufti idea of demolishing so the eagle statue is still standing proudly when we got there. We hung around the place and enjoyed a fabulous sunset by the sea.

From the jetty we finally checked in to our hotel just outside town. The G Langkawi Motel offered the best rate at just RM78 per night on Agoda so I chose to stay there. Our room was understandably small but it is still pleasant to sleep in plus we get to enjoy free superfast wifi throughout our stay. The next day we went island hopping to the nearby islands. This one cost us RM150 for 5 persons. My colleague said he previously paid 10 ringgit but I suspect he must have been cramped together with 30 other people in that tiny boat with no life jacket. Our boat on the other hand had life jackets for everyone, including the kids and we went along with no more than 15 people that day. The boat ride was bumpy but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Our first stop was the Beras Basah island. We disembarked on the sandy beach filled with other tourists. If you want to take a dip, now is the time because you can’t do so at the next two stops. There’s no toilets or changing rooms on the island though so if you have to relief yourself, you’ll have to do it au natural.

Next stop was the eagle-feeding activity. We didn’t get to feed the eagles ourselves but the boat captain will drop some chicken meat into the water and the eagles will dive down and grab them with their claws. It was some spectacle to see. Who doesn’t like free lunch right? After that we went for our final island-hopping destination which was the renowned pregnant maiden island (Pulau Dayang Bunting). Until previously, you don’t have to pay anything to get into the marble geoforest park which includes the lake but now it is RM6 for adults and RM3 for kids. Once again there’s not much to see inside. You take a short 20 minutes hike through the jungle tracks and wooden platform to the lake and should you feel like swimming in it, you can rent a life jacket (it’s quite deep they say) from the operator there. Legend says if you’re having trouble getting pregnant, bathing or even drinking the lake’s water could help you with that but honestly, the waters look rather dirty and polluted to me. Besides, unless you’re a fish or water Pokemon there’s a slim chance of you getting pregnant from wading in that dark greenish water.

After the last island, we head back to the jetty and arrived safely. We had lunch somewhere in town and then went back to the hotel to change and freshened up. Next on our itinerary is the SkyCab cable car ride up the Machincang mountain. It claims to feature the longest free span mono-cable car (in Malaysia I presume?) but the journey up doesn’t feel that long. Kinda like the Genting Skyway without the exorbitant price. Talking about the price, it cost RM126 for all of us to go up the mountain with the cable car which is pretty steep in my opinion. You do get to see much of Langkawi or at least the southern part from the top. However half of our view was shrouded by fog so it wasn’t much of a view. There’s another tourist attraction at the summit called the SkyBridge which is basically a 125 meters long curved suspension bridge. I would have loved to walk on the bridge but it’ll cost us another 19 ringgit, something I am reluctant to spend after that RM126 earlier (stingy I know). So we hung around the summit for a while, staying clear of the pricey cafe and souvenir shop before making our way down to the foothill.

From Machincang mountain we headed to our final destination for the day - Chenang beach on the west side of the island. Initially we wanted to let the kids play in the water but it was high tide and the strong waves were not suitable for bathing. In the end the just played on the beach while watching the beautiful sunset. The beach spot that we visited offered parasailing for visitors but for 60 ringgit a pop we just have to pass. We had dinner at GM Burger near Kelibang which offers a decent variety of western food and that conclude our second day on the island.

On the third and last day, we did what most visitors to Langkawi would do - shop at one of the numerous duty-free shops in town. We bought cheap chocolates and kitchen utensils for ourselves and as souvenirs and then head to the airport to catch our return flight. As always, Air Asia was late again, delayed for over 2 hours from the original time. After the one hour journey, we arrived safely back to KL thus ending our annual ‘lavish’ holiday in a far away place (last year was Legoland). How do I rate this one? I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the island hopping and sightseeing. The beat up rental car somewhat ruined our travel on the island. We couldn’t forget all the knocking at the back of our rented car from the second day onwards. If you plan to visit off-season, it might be a good idea to rent a car from one of the car rental counters at the airport terminal. Heck even your hotel might even provide car rentals at standard rates. Our hotel was decent but as with most other tourist attractions elsewhere, we had to pay dearly to enjoy some of them. Island-hopping was memorable but Mahsuri’s tomb and the cable car were not worth it in my opinion. Just one of those tourist traps for first time visitors. Then again there’s little else that we could do for free on the island. Overall I think we spent nearly 1,500 for the entire trip including fare and accommodation. If you are used to travelling abroad or if you’re rich, that’s not much but it is a lot for us. However come to think of it, it’s not often we get to bring our kids (and ourselves) on a jet plane and enjoy sightseeing on a tropical island.

Here’s a video I made from our Langkawi trip.

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