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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Burps & Bathing Suit Bottoms & Killer Monkeys | Langkawi | Malaysia

I officially landed in Langkawi, Malaysia...


Arrival in Langwai boat terminal. Officially in Malaysia.
On the move again

In past travel, I am often inundated at the arrivals gate, with randoms asking me if I want to hire a taxi. It's nothing new. Normally, at any airport terminal or major bus/train station or pier, there will be an official taxi stand. I'm not saying it's always the case, because it's not. I'm also not saying it's the right or wrong way to do things, but I'll tell ya one thing, it's a hell of a sight more organized when it is that way. There is usually a set price... and rather costly, but it completely eliminates any haggling or ill will. Booking an official taxi also results in less harassment, less chance of being swindled and less fear of potentially being robbed or accosted.


Or both.


So for me to encounter a bunch of taxi pusher-paddlers right out of the gate quite caught me off guard. As per the norm, I just did my best to just ignore them and continue straight through the badgering. "


Taxi?" "Taxi?" Ma'am, taxi!" "Taxi?" "You need taxi?"

They come at you from all angles.


Always act confident... hold your head up high... keep your eyes on the prize... and get out of the terminal before you make any rash decisions.


What resulted was a realization of how heavy my pack had become. I'd only taken a few steps when I let my guard down and agreed to accept a ride. Rash decision. Yes... I DID need a ride, but more than anything, I needed someone for the sole purpose of carrying my bag. It all came down to use & abuse. Foolishly, I took the first bidder. I shouldn't say 'foolishly,' because the guy was harmless. Not the smartest person on the island pretending to be a taxi driver to make a few bucks... but definitely harmless.


Bad choice though.


First things first, I attempted to show him my hotel location. It was not my first rodeo. I had everything ready; the full package. I presented a hotel photo, the name, the main area it was located near, and the full address.


Blank.


Ok... next. I showed him my Google Map and pointed at the general area in which I needed to go.


Another blank.


Final attempt at a breakthrough... I showed him the FULL directions from the boat pier to the hotel on my phone. I even motioned that I would guide him with directions.

Blank. Blank. Blank.


I couldn't decide if he just didn't know anything... if he was simple... if this was his disposition... or just his resting moronic face. I think I nailed it on all of the above. On top of all of this, he couldn't speak a lick of English. I'm not putting him down because of it, as I can't speak a lick of Malay. Considering both inadequacies... it certainly did nothing to help the situation.


Signs you're not with a real taxi driver...

#1 ~ They can't read or understand a GPS map.

#2 ~ They can't follow a GPS map.

#3 ~ They don't have their own phone with GPS.

#4 ~ They aren't familiar with the hotels in the area.


Somebody, help me!


My face must have screamed that out loud because almost instantaneously, a man with no teeth came running up and started speaking to my ‘taxi driver,’ ~ for lack of a better word. They had a brief conversation and suddenly there was a lot of nodding. I assumed he now knew where to go.


Ok... onwards and upwards. I was willing to forgive the badgering and the ignorance as long as I got to my hotel in one piece.


Then he started walking away... without my pack!


WTF?



This was the only reason I'd stopped!!! All I wanted was to rid myself of the burden of my burdensome pack... yet here I was, still lugging it along.

Man... did I ever wish I’d picked someone else.


I followed him for a little bit... remaining a good 20 feet behind... Then I decided to stop. I figured if he kept going, it would be my cue to select a new driver. Unfortunately, my cunning plan was foiled, as an onlooker hollered out to him to come to my assistance... so he turned around, backtracked and grabbed my bag.


It gets better...


He led me outside to a rickety old station wagon, where his wife sat in the front passenger seat, waiting for his return. He threw my pack into the back and motioned for me to jump in the back seat. I obliged. Now... NOT one word of a lie when I say this... but she burped from the moment we pulled away from the pier until I jumped out of the van. Over thirty minutes of incessant burping.


Normally I wouldn't film such barbaric atrocity... nor would I share something so gruesome on my blog... but look where life has tossed me...



It was awful.

But I lived through it. Barely.


The guy requested a certain amount of money, which seemed reasonable... until I had to endure half an hour of harsh belching. I should have requested a percentage off for tasteless behaviour. He agreed to take baht, which thrilled me considering how much I had leftover from Thailand... but he wasn't able to provide change for 1000฿, so that idea went out the window quickly. Finally, it was decided that I would be dropped off at an ATM near to my hotel. It meant a little bit of a walk... but a walk alone meant less of a burping background, and the thought of that made me ecstatic.


My hotel was located in central Pantai Cenang, a lively beachfront strip lined with dozens of tour operators, souvenir shops, boutiques, cafés, ice cream shops and so multicultural restaurants. There was a very strong Indian influence. It was fun, and of course, the shops all lured me in, but I didn't buy a lot. It was a lot more expensive than Thailand. Sammy arrived a couple of hours after me and met me on the main drag for dinner.


The northern coast of Langkawi, Malaysia
The northern coast of Langkawi

The following day, we decided to rent mopeds and explore the island. The lady did NOT like my international permit.


Why do I only have ONE stamp on my final page and everyone else has two? I'm feeling really left out in the stamp department.


She wanted to see my motorcycle class licence. My motorcycle licence?


Am I the only person in the world who goes travelling and does not possess a motorcycle license? She kept insisting that the police would want to see it and if I didn't have it, they would give her trouble.


Police????

Perfect... another thing to worry about. I certainly could use another fine!


The wheels in my brain started spinning.

How could I get another stamp???


Canva? I figured I could just reproduce a copy of the current stamp, print it like a sticker and then stick it in my International Permit. Superb plan, right?


Foolproof. Impeccable.


Then I sat back and thought about my strategy... my big plan to outsmart the Southeast Asian country police forces. Perhaps the amount of intelligence that would be required to outsmart a fully trained country’s police force would be a level of brilliance that I don’t think I’ve quite yet reached.


Hmmmm....

Ya... I kinda threw that idea out the window.

But kudos to me for initially devising the fraudulent scheme, albeit brief.

Shows confidence? Initiative? Yes?


Maybe idiocy.


We'd marked a few spots along the way to stop... and the first was the Langkawi Skybridge Cable Car. It was a bit touristy, but it looked rather fun and it apparently had a view that was second to none. From the little Oriental village at the bottom, the cable car carried passengers up to the panoramic sky bridge and waterfall.


Langkawi Skybridge Cable Car Little Oriental Village
Langkawi Skybridge Cable Car Little Oriental Village

After some initial confusion, we figured out where we had to go and eventually came across a grand open area pavilion and found an excruciatingly long lineup... and it didn't seem to be moving at all. We made our way to another line to buy the tickets, and while we were standing there, someone came over the loudspeaker to inform us of cable car technical difficulties. The cars were shutting down for the day.


Ok... bit of a disappointment. I was looking forward to the view... and the waterfall!


Sammy was quite freaked out about the failure, but from years at the ski hill, dealing with the lifts going down, it barely phased me. Shit happens. It's usually not too much of a big time.


Lazing about under Temurun Waterfall in Langkawi, Malaysia
Temurun Waterfall.

So we got back on our bikes and headed north. The next point of interest for the day was set to be Temurun Waterfall.


We pulled into the deserted parking lot and were surprised to find we were almost the only ones there. Seriously. The trailhead to a beautiful waterfall. Empty.


There was one lady nearby, with a couple of kids, who seemed to live in the area. We approached her with our apparent confusion.


"Are we in the right place?"


Yes.. but she let us know that there was NO water right now... "Dry! Dry!" Dry isn't necessarily a great adjective to describe a waterfall. Not at all. We weren't on much of a role with must-sees on Langkawi!


Anyway, we made the short trek into the gorge... regardless of water or not. There was a small pond of water, so I jumped in and made an inaugural dry-waterfall dip... under a teeny trickling stream.


We drove along the northern coast as far as Tanjung Rhu Beach, and then southbound to Kilim Geoforest Park, where we stopped to investigate. Before making our way into the forest, I decided to first stop at a vendor selling curried potato pocket samosas. I got three for the price of approximately $2. I took one, gave one to Sammy and left the third in the bag.


They were one of the tastiest treats I've had so far! Spicy, savoury... and scrumptious.

I was careful not to devour it, taking little nibbles to make it last longer and enjoying each bite... while still very aware that I had one more waiting in my bag.


As we walked across the bridge into the mangrove section of the forest, there were a lot of signs warning of monkeys and to ensure that all belongings were stored safely in our bags. It seemed odd. Obviously, the monkeys weren't going to run up to us and grab anything. It was absurd to even think that.


I paid the signs no mind.

No mind, whatsoever.

Eventually, I finished my first samosa. I didn't take as long as I quite let on. It was too tasty to drag on the eating time. It was time for my final samosa. I reached into the bag and pulled it out. Yummy! I took my first little bite... soooo good. It was still fairly warm, as it hadn't been in the bag too long.


All of a sudden... monkeys began to emerge from the trees.

They all had their eyes on me.

No... I take that back.

They all had their eyes on the prize... and the prize was MY samosa.


One monkey, in particular, darted for it. He didn't care that I was bigger or that the samosa was mine... he was coming for it and I was a minor distraction. He ran at me and just as he was about to jump and lunge for my samosa, I shrieked in pure terror. Everything in me screamed, "Save yourself! Get rid of the samosa!" So I did just that... my arm automatically flew up and I fired the samosa away from me and onto the road.


"Fine! Have it, monkey!" I hollered.


And have it, he did, along with a couple of monkey friends.


My poor samosa.

Broke my heart to see it torn apart. Scavengers.


These monkeys! They're everywhere. At one point, on the road, a baby attempted to cross as our bikes were motoring along. The mother grabbed it before it could even begin to take a step in our direction. She wrapped her arms around it and brought it back as far from the road as possible. Then the father, or some domineering other monkey, decided he was going to either fight me or threaten me... and he charged at me from the sidelines. The surprise almost knocked me off my bike.


I can't even begin to imagine the beating I would have taken had I fallen off at that exact location. Road rash, broken bones, cuts, bruises and monkey beatings. It would've made for quite the story.


We decided not to stay at the geopark, as the tours were a bit long and weren't too enthralling.


What a day it had been;

~ Broken cable car.

~ No water at the waterfall.

~ Unenticing tours.

~ Attacking monkeys.


But at least... so far... no police... so that was good.

And no one burped all day either, so that was also a bonus.

And the one samosa was good. Another bonus.


As much as I'd been told to come to Langkawi, I didn't find it all that extraordinary. It seemed weathered and beaten... and closed. Everything was closed. It was almost as if the entire island had just survived an apocalypse. I couldn't help but think it would make a perfect location for a Walking Dead episode.


From January to November 2023, Malaysia successfully recorded a whopping 17.8 million tourist arrivals. So why was Langkawi so deserted and neglected?


Blame Covid???

I don't know.


We were due to fly out the following day. Penang bound.

I had taken my dirty laundry to a local laundromat just down the road from our hotel. I dropped everything off, and just before we were set to leave, I whipped down to quickly pick it up.


Back at the hotel, everything seemed good... except... I was astonished to discover a new pair of bathing suit bottoms in my bag. Interesting. I wasn't upset. No, not at all. This was a little bit of a score... and I don't often make it in the top 50% of scorers in the travel department... They were my size, they were my colour and they looked quite comfortable. They were perfect! It was funny because I had JUST been complaining about the new tankini set I'd bought. The top was fine, but the bottoms were way too small.

It was purely providential.


Then I realized that my tankini top was gone.


Shit.


What do they say? When one door opens, another one slams shut in your face?


Maybe... not to that extreme...


Ugh... such a hassle!


I had to finish packing and get checked out of the hotel before I was able to return to the laundromat. What do you think the odds were that they might still be able to find my bathing suit top?


ZERO... right?

A bit fat zero.

 I figured it couldn't hurt to ask... and I did.


They seemed genuinely confused at first... like this was something they were capable of doing. I finally convinced them to just have a quick look. I waited as they searched through bags.


Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...


THEY FOUND IT! It was in another bag!

The lady made me prove it was mine, so I had to show her a TikTok of me wearing the suit, but she eventually handed it over!


What I should have done was go back to the hotel and return the shorts, but I didn't... which is probably going to bring me bad karma again.


I'm ready for it.


I prefer to think of it as the universe rewarding me for all the previous bad, crappy karma I've suffered through.


Like... "Here you go, Joanna. Sorry for all the shit you've had to go through. We'd like to present you with some used bathing suit bottoms."


Exactly...


Thank you, universe ❤️



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