Minggu, 31 Juli 2011

Idyllic Archipelago Where The Eagles Play

Bandar Seri Begawan - The island gets its name from the red eagles native to the area, helang in Malay means eagle and kawi is a red type of marble also local to the islands. Hence the name Langkawi.

Another school of thought says that Langkawi is actually derived from the Sanskrit langka meaning beauty and wi which means many. With Langkawi itself being made up of many small islands with Langkawi Island the biggest, it is very possible that this translation of many beauties relates to the numerous islands that surround it. I believe this to be the case simply because there is so much to see in Langkawi.

A lot has been said about Langkawi, and on arrival to the tourist island the apparent realisation is that it differs very much from other tourist destinations something to be considered by those wishing to get away from the hustle and bustle of work.

The island is a popular destination for Malaysians working in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital. It is also a haven for those who would like to get up close to some of the wonders Mother Nature has to offer, while still providing creature comforts that do not ask from visitors too big a compromise.

Being an island of the coast of Peninsula Malaysia, Langkawi belongs to the state of Kedah and in terms of size is only slightly smaller than Singapore.

However, the comparisons end there because some of the more prominent features of Langkawi are clean air and lush greenery, along with sandy beaches it is plain to see why this was for a long time one of Malaysia‘s best kept secrets.

One of the best views is from atop Gunung Mat Cincang, in the northeast of Langkawi Island, which can be reached in two ways. The first is highly recommended for nature lovers and trekking enthusiasts as they can cut a path through pristine jungle and forest.

This journey by foot will take you up the mountain and provide the opportunity to see the Telaga Tujuh waterfalls up close. Those who brave the energy sapping humidity will also be able to sample the abundance of the local flora and fauna. The likelihood of seeing the other local inhabitants of Langkawi such as monkeys and squirrels is a treat and for those who come from far off cities, it‘s a uniquely rewarding experience despite its three-hour duration.

Those preferring a more comfortable approach can hop onto a cable car ride which takes them up the hillside and over the green jungle in a gondola.

The ride itself is quite unique, affording it the title of the longest suspended cable car ride in Asia as well as bring a remarkable effort of engineering and nature conservation. From the base station up to the first observation stop, the jungle below is untouched save for two towers which help guide the gondolas up a 42-degree incline.

The decision was made to help preserve the vegetation and natural rocky outcrops which have been measured to be among some of the world‘s oldest rock formations with the granite here recorded at being over 350 million years old.

The journey near sunset will afford some of the most magical and breathtaking views of the island and the Andaman Sea as you float lightly to the top of Gunung Mat Cincang.

Another attraction for nature lovers is Kilim Geopark, which has been ear marked as a Unesco National Geopark. Here steps have been taken to preserve the mangroves that line the Kilim river, where once otters and dolphins used to play. These days though, the numbers of boats are limited with stringent guidelines on speeds to ensure that wakes from the boats do not cause erosion. All the better for tourists though as the leisurely pace ensures every opportunity for you to view the mangrove wildlife on hand. (See accompanying story)

You can not say enough when it comes to the efforts by the Langkawi Development Authority or LADA, with how they have handled the issues of tourism and conservation. Where others have caved in to the commercial demands, they have managed to balance quite well the needs of their own backyard in the face of the very tourism that is the mainstay of the island.

The relaxed and laid-back pace that is aligned with Langkawi it‘s mystical, magical, rich with a unique culture and heritage represents a unique travel destination for those looking to have some fun in the sun without being harassed, as they would on other established island resorts and beaches.

The lasting impression made by Langkawi is the kind-hearted generosity of the people there is a genuine attempt to make every visitor feel welcomed.

Despite being a frequent visitor to Malaysia, this is the first time for me that their unique blend of culture comes to the fore. The Brunei Times

Source: www.bruneitimes.com (3 Juli 2007)