Murli Menon in conversation with Prittle Prattle News
Mangrove cruise in Langkavi with Murli Menon – On the island of Langkawi (lang-kah-wee), the rhythm of life remains much as it had in days gone by. A coastline dotted with fishing boats, rustic villages, and a horizon that twinkles with the brilliance of a thousand stars at dusk. Nowhere is more apparent than in a cape in the northernmost tip of the island, Tanjung Rhu (tan-joong-roo) – a scenic and untouched enclave nestled in the shade of luxuriant casuarina trees. Here lies the Tanjung Rhu Resort – a quaint little resort fringing the long, magnificent bay that leads to the clear, cool waters of the Andaman Sea. Spread over 1100 acres and landscaped by nature, Tanjung Rhu offers one the unique combination of the most modern comforts encased in an oyster of peace and surrounded by blue lagoons and verdant hills. One wakes up each morning listening to the sweet songs emanating from the beaks of innumerable mynahs who have sought sanctuary under the huge trees that surround this picturesque resort.
One is writing this from one’s beachside villa at Tanjung Rhu Beach Resort at Langkawi. Langkawi is a 478 sq. km. isle, 600 km. north of Kuala Lumpur. Langkavi is derived from the word lang in Malay meaning eagle and kavi meaning black stone. Thus Langkavi means eagle’s black stone island. Several species of tropical eagles inhabit this island and which is a thirty minute flight from Penang. Langkawi is also connected by flights from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It is advisable to stay overnight at Langkawi atleast for one night if not more to explore the wonders of nature which abound this islet. Langkavi consists of isolated coves, tropical rainforests, scattered paddy fields, sandy beaches and mangroves. Langkavi is a collection of 99 tropical islands lying off the north western coast of peninsular Malaysia. With a geological history stretching back to 150 million years, Langkavi boasts of emerald waters, prehistoric caves, rock formations and idyllic beaches.
One of the must see attractions after the novelty of the silver sands and snowy beaches have worn off is an early morning cruise along the mangrove swamps to spot golden tailed macaques that live alongside the mangroves. Located near the Tanjung Rhu Beach Resort, these mangroves can be reached by a speed boat in a matter of minutes. The marine life at Tanjung Rhu beach is a rich treasure trove and a fascinating window on the aquatic world. Home to innumerable varieties of fish and other animals, Each fish represents a living proof of being sculpted by nature’s hidden hand. As you cruise along the placid waters of the translucent lagoons that flank both sides of one’s speed-boat, one hears rustling bushes, which indicate the presence of these golden tailed macaques.
Spotting one is not so easy. They scatter away in defence at the sound of the approaching motor-boat. A more relaxed technique to spot these gentle creatures is to alight at one of the tiny boat jetties that dot the swamps and transfer oneself into a wooden canoe and paddle gently alongside the reedy plants. However, nature rewards patience. One can switch off one’s motor and wait in one’s boat for the arrival of these delicate darlings. Feeding of wild monkeys is neither advisable nor expected. Soon, one of the more adventurous ones lands on the branches near one’s boat. After keenly observing the boat and its occupants, it squeaks and signals his mate. Soon, out of nowhere seven to eight golden tailed macaques land alongside us and swing wildly from one branch to the other. One gets to spot a mother feeding her new-born too. Giant monitor lizards roam the swamps as did their ancestors during the prehistoric days. There are ancient species of palms that are endemic to the limestone formations around these swamps. These palms have been around for 260 million years, and palaeontologists believe dinosaurs fed on them. The other rare species of palm that can be found here is the Buddha’s belly palm, which is much sought after by Chinese, as they believe it brings in prosperity, when planted in one’s garden. One might see the giant terrestrial crab, another prehistoric crustacean, if one is fortunate enough.
One returns to the comfort of the Jiva Rhu spa after the long cruise, where a ancient Thai foot massage relaxes your aching bones. The Ayurvedic spa has more to offer. Staffed by kalari and traditional masseurs from Kerala, the shirodhara, is an extremely rejuvenating experience. Gallons of lukewarm herbal oil is gently poured on the forehead exactly four fingers above the point where the eyebrows meet. The body and head are gently massaged after 50 minutes of shirodhara. Then one gets a body scrub with a paste
The Balinese aromatherapy massage is extremely effective in relaxing all the muscles of one’s body. One feels waves of relaxation ripple through every muscle of one’s body as the masseur works on all the muscles of the body with scientific precision. The aromatic essential oils used during this massage stimulates all the five senses, resulting in an extraordinary experience.
Thai foot massage is an extremely effective way to find oneself a new pair of legs. One feels a new vigour in every step taken after this two hour massage which increases blood flow to every part of the palm of one’s foot.
How to get there?
Visitors traveling by road have to drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Kedah, which takes all of six hours. Car parking facilities are available at Kuala Kedah jetty, from where one takes the boat to Langkawi. Taxis are available at Langkavi Ferry Terminal.
Langkavi International Airport at Padang Matsirat is about 20 km. away from the town centre. Langkavi is connected by direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore.
It takes 150 minutes to reach Langkavi by ferry from Penang. The Kuala Kedah ferry takes only 75 minutes to reach Langkavi.
Where to stay?
Holiday Villa is a value for money proposition which offers five star comforts at three star rates and is reasonably priced by Indian standards during October to November which is the low season.
Where to eat?
Lots of small restaurants serving Malay and Chinese cuisine dot Langkawi. Freshly steamed vegetables in coconut milk, pumpkin cooked in mustard paste, boiled spinach with peppercorn are served with boiled white rice at Sun Village, a quaint restaurant serving specialty Malay cuisine. At RM18 this Malay food platter is a steal. Pappadum is value for money for Indian vegetarian. The food at the high profile hotels is only for the gastronomically adventurous who like greasy food. Fresh tropical fruits including water-melons, papayas, tender coconuts, pineapples and are available at the local market.
About the Author:
Murli Menon is a travel writer, stress management consultant, and author based in Ahmedabad, India. He is the author of “ZeNLP-Learning through stories” published by The Written Word Publications, “ZeNLP-the power to succeed” published by Sage publications, and “ZeNLP-the power to relax” by New Dawn Press. He can be reached at email@example.com