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Monday, June 18, 2007

Of myths so beautiful, Of legends so wonderful

I'm back! So exhausted yet so contented. I spent the whole night sleeping in front of my PC, before continuing my sleep in my comfy bed till 5 pm. Oh gosh, I've slept for 14 hours! FKK! Now you're askin' me, where in the world Malaysia have I been to?

No, not Pulau Redang. No, not Penang. And NO! Not KL. It's an idyllic holiday getaway situated in the south of the Andaman Sea, to the north of the Straits of Malacca.

..., home to well-known traditional Malay folk-tales and spectacular natural wonders. So... Did anyone of you got it right? ;) Consisting of 99 islands of unspoilt beauty, the archipelago is the largest in Malaysia (yes, even larger than Penang), and it only requires approximately 75-90 minutes of boat ride to reach from my hometown. Ironically, I haven't stepped foot on it since the year 2000 (if only my memory serves me right). So near yet so far. My recent trip there has definitely brought back all the fond memories, as well as new surprises that have just been developed in the recent years.

I went there together with my buddies. Initially, we planned to go to Pulau Redang, but the plan was called off due to some reasons. That was why you'd seen me fuming in peri-peri anger at Twitter a fortnight ago. Then, someone suggested going to Langkawi instead. It came out to be a good alternative since I'd been begging my dad to bring me there 4 years ago but had never got it realized.

Kuala Kedah Jetty

Getting on board

After an hour and a half ferry ride from Kuala Kedah, we finally reached our destination before 9 in the morning. The weather was cool and rather moody as the monsoon season is here, though the latter is a lot milder than its north-eastern counterpart which affects Malaysia's East Coast from November to March. There were occasional showers during our trip here but our itinerary was barely affected by the rains. The monsoon denotes the low season in Langkawi's booming tourist industry, hence the cheap and affordable travel packages we were going after. But still, we spotted traces of foreign tourists all over the island.

Welcome to Langkawi, Southeast Asia's 1st ever Geopark

We rented a car there since it's the best and cheapest way to go around the island. And the price? RM 50 nett, due to return on the next morning. Cheap huh? After hopping in our Proton Iswara, we were ready to navigate around the island with our map. The 1st thing to do was to fill the fuel tank as it was near to empty. We followed the route to the nearest petrol station as shown on the map, but we were met with a road construction half-way. We were then forced to seek another one, resulting in random turns in the town centre as the map wasn't detailed enough. Another frustration for us was that there were barely any petrol kiosks in sight! In fact, I was warned before that it was quite tough to look for one on the island, especially in those remote, undeveloped areas.

After filling up the tank, we decided to look for the nearest tourist site to visit. Our 1st stop, Kota Mahsuri. On the way, we passed through vast paddy-fields, rolling hills and sandy beaches. What a scenic island!

We were there to see the famous Tomb of Mahsuri, the legendary Siamese Muslim beauty of 19th century Langkawi who shed white blood as a sign of innocence and purity at her execution after being unjustly accused for adultery. The event occured at the time her husband went to war against the invading Siamese army. She was a victim of a conspiracy due to a noblewoman's intense jealousy of her famed beauty and popularity on the island. Before she died, Mahsuri laid a curse on the island that Langkawi would not prosper for 7 generations to come.

Fact or fiction, Langkawi did suffer periods of great tribulation not long after her death. The archipelago immediately came under Siamese rule in 1821 before being ceded to the British colonialists of Malaya following the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. During this exceptionally long period of foreign dominion and intervention, Langkawi's population dwindled in size due to starvation and poverty, and the islands eventually became desolate and forgotten. As for Mahsuri's family, they left the war-ridden Langkawi for a better life in the Kingdom of Siam, later known as Thailand.

It was not until recently in the year 1980, when the birth of Mahsuri's 7th generation direct descendant, Sinithra Yayee or Wan Aishah Wan Nawawi on the Thai island of Phuket, that Langkawi had really started to prosper as a premier holiday destination in Malaysia.

There's a museum with dioramas, as well as reconstructions of Malay wooden houses built to resemble those of Mahsuri's time. The day turned hotter at noontime, and glistening beads of sweat were rolling down from our heads under the beaming sun.

Traditional ware (replicas?) used by Malay folk 2 centuries ago

Big coconuts for a refreshing glass of coconut drink

Sprawling paddy-fields, an unseen view in modern urban centres

to be continued...

Addendum: I forgot to wish all daddies out there a very happy Father's Day, though my wishes come late by 1 day. No daddy, no me! ;)


L B said...

Great Mahsuri fairytale.. thanks for the reminder.. Beautiful pics too, especially that last one..

angel said...

I wanna go Redang too...

angel said...

*ahem* where are *ahem* our *ahem* postcards *ahem ahem*


How come u went for only one night?

Anyway, welcome back. angie says now your turn to jaga the anaks. :D

kyh said...

L B: 5 fairy-tale chups!

Fairy-tale or not, we wouldn't know it. But it's such a tragic yet beautiful legend that has drawn a cloak of mystery over the islands.

Thanks! ;)

angel: 3 ahem-ahem chups!

Me too! *hint-hint*

Postcards? Oopsies! Muakies can? :wink:

I wanted 2 nights, but they all wanted only 1. Majority wins. But still, the trip was fun!

Oh no! *pretend not to see it*

a^ben said...

I want duty free booze from langkawi!!! :x

Selba said...

Welcome back!!!

Nice pictures!!!

More.. more.. more....

khengsiong said...

Fairy-tale? Beautiful legend? No way!

Mahsuri was such a vengeful and cruel woman. She made tens of thousands of Langkawians suffer because of her hatred.

By the way, how do you know her descendants are in Phuket?

Wennnn said...

Yes I hv been there b4!! Reminded me of my trip lor!!

kyh said...

a^ben: Walao... You're still underage! Wakakaka... :P

Selba: Thankies!

More pictures coming up soon! ;)

khengsiong: LOL! Why so serious geh?

True. I think beautiful women are normally spiteful, ya? But not all of 'em, of course!

That's a fact. It's been confirmed by the Kedah Government some years ago. As for how they knew it, I'm not sure.

Wennnn: Really? You've been to so many places before! :envious:

rinnah said...

It's been a long time since I went to Langkawi... my last visit there wasn't very fun and there weren't many things to see...

Got buy duty-free chocolate for me boh? a^ben can have the booze... I want the chocolate! Bitter dark chocs, please. *grin*

kyh said...

Same-same here! Yet my trip was so much fun! :D

Not much. Bitter dark chocolates? You like bitter things? How weird! As for me, I prefer those milky, creamy white chocolates! Sweet-sweet tei... Yummy!

Doreen said...

Wah~~beautiful neh~~~I so want to go there one day!

AceOne118 said...

Langkawi, I kambing ledi!!!!!!! wakakaka

may said...

there's no mistaking that eagle! been awhile since I've made a trip to Langkawi. thanks for the reminder of that legend. did you go to the 7 pools?

c o n s u e l a said...

Beautiful photos :)
I have never been to Langkawi fact I've not been to a majority of the states in Malaysia. I guess I'll have to make time to see what I can when I'm back in Malaysia next time for vacation!

take care :)

kyh said...

Doreen: Beautiful indeed! So when are you going there? ;)

AceOne118: Bring some hamsup movies sekali too! :P

may: The eagle is Langkawi's icon!

7 Pools? Nope. I'd been told there are nothing much to see there.

c o n s u e l a: But you've been to so many places outside of Malaysia! :envious again:

Thanks! ;)

_butt said...

aik, thought you're gona be away for like a week.. :P

anyway, great pictures! hey, do they still sell their popular product 'air gamat' there?

I don't blame Mahsuri for putting the curse and all that. she's been framed after all, and as the chinese saying goes, you do chor yat, I do 15! haha

kyh said...

A week? No way! That's gonna consume a lot of my hard-earned $$$, LOL!

What's air gamat? :blur-blurred:

Haha... The Chinese are an evil bunch of people! :P

day-dreamer said...

I think I guessed Langkawi... or did I not? Hahaha!

Nice pictures.

kyh said...

No, you didn't! :P

Thanks! ;)

eastcoastlife said...

ohhhh, nice! I want to go Langkawi too! I'll be going to Penang next month, will try to drop by Langkawi. mmmmm..... holiday!

kyh said...

Langkawi is a great holiday getaway! I'm sure you'd have so much fun there! :D

_butt said...

air gamat ---> water extract derived from the golden sea cucumber of Malaysia.. something like that. lol. nvm, not that it matter much.

kyh said...

Ewww... Got such thing one meh? What's it for? Do you mean something like aphrodisiacs? :P

Simple American said...

What a neat looking place. Very interesting story. Sounds like the curse is quite accurate lor?

kyh said...

I'm not sure, but it does sound like it's true!