Thursday, March 1, 2012

Leap Year or 'Jumping' Year...

As I opened today's local newspaper TheStar, a few articles about leap year caught my attention. What happens if your birthday falls in a leap year? Celebrate it every four years once or just ignore the 29th and get it done on the 28th? Rather tricky... The best part is their Birthdays are like Olympics because it is the same year that Olympics Games are on! Happy B'day to all born on this date and Happy Leap Day to the rest of the world!

Continuation from my previous posting...where was I...aha...Langkawi! We had a 4D 3N stay there. Visited many places there. Mahsuri Mausoleum was our first stop point. Kids gained much about the famous legend of Langkawi. Next, was the Masirat Field, located right next to the airport, was the site of a mass paddy-burning spree conducted by Langkawi’s inhabitants when Siamese invaded in 1821. Even until today we can still see the burnt rice grains on the ground two hundred years after the incident. 

After leaving Matsirat Field, we visited the Underwater World Langkawi at noon. Wow...a total change of weather as compared to the humid and scorching heat outside. We like it! The Underwater World Langkawi is an innovative marine aquarium which houses 5,000 types of aquatic life and some mammal and reptile species. It took us a few hours to walk and see everything in it. Huge area! 

We left at the time just right for the sunset to set in. Drove our car along the coastal roads to get the best view of the beautiful sunset. Amazing view! No words can describe the beauty of it. Seafood was on our list for dinner that night. After scouting around, we found a perfect and cozy restaurant along Cenang Beach. Price was a bit pricey but taking into consideration of the food quality and ambiance, I would say it was ok. Dinner checked...what's next? 

Slow moonlight drive around landed us at Kuah town. Kuah town is more like a commercial center and shopping zone. The town has many excellent duty-free stores selling everything. Confectionary, tobacco and perfumes are easily found and the stores may not always be pretty, but they serve their purpose. Chocolates, beer and liquor attracted us. Invested a portion of our spending money on it. So cheap! 

The next day we went for island hopping. Fun filled sightseeing! Langkawi isn’t just one big island, but a collection of around 100 islands that form an archipelago. While most are uninhabited, a few have been designated for tourism so that visitors from all over the world can admire and appreciate the magical beauty of Langkawi. There are many locals operating island hopping tours and a good bargaining power helps. We joined one of the island hopping tour after 15 minutes bargaining for a good price to bring us around. 

The tour operator took us on a journey in a speedboat ride to explore Langkawi’s most illustrious islets. First we were taken to visit ‘Pulau Singa Besar’ (Big Lion Island) and we got the chance to watch the king of the skies, eagles as they soared and circled overhead...observing them as they dive to catch their prey or chicken bits that the boat driver has thrown into the water, with deadly precision.  It was a great photo and video opportunity.

Next, we head on over to Pulau Dayang Bunting (Dayang Bunting Island) and the silhouette of the pregnant maiden from a distance was truly amazing. This was how the island got her name and believe it or a certain angle, you will be able to see the island, resembling a 6 to 7 month pregnant lady, lying on her back. Some people might take it as a coincidence or the act of nature, but it somehow creates an amazing linkage between the island and her name. 

Two minutes walking distance from the jetty, we were able to see the entrance to the Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden) known with its supposed ‘magical’ waters is another breathtaking sight. While walking, we took our time to enjoy the wonderful scenery as the sea in turquoise is surrounded by thick and lush forest with many wild monkeys roaming around. We were advised not to feed the monkeys and to keep all plastics bags away or else you will have them chasing after you for food! Walked for another 15 minutes before reaching the lake. Concrete walking path has been built all along the way thus making walking in the forest easier...only need to beware off the monkeys around. Humidity was very high and tiring walking uphill!

The island hopping trip ends with a visit to ‘Beras Basah Island’or Wet Rice Island. It's another pristine Langkawi beach with clear waters and far reaching views of the sea where we relaxed and soaked ourselves in the sea after a day spent trekking up to the Pregnant Maiden Lake and feeding the eagles. Kids had a great time playing on the white sandy beach. There were convenient stores around so no worries for a cold cool drink. That makes my day :) Tired and drenched no more roaming around for the day!

Third day was the best day of all. Again short check-in to Awana Porto Malai, Langkawi. It is located at the edge of the sea, its a dock with an ancient buliding and a light tower...great view. Took a few snapshots there and left for the Langkawi Cable Car ride. The entrance for the Langkawi cable car, which takes visitors all the way up to Mount Mat Chincang, Langkawi’s second highest peak, is located in The Oriental Village in the upper northwest of Langkawi Island, near Kok Beach.

Along the way to the cable car ticket counter, there's many souvenir shops around. My mum couldn't resist buying a few for her friends even though the price was not an ideal one after bargaining. We managed to be seated in the same cable car for the six of us. As the cable car ascends, the temperature drops as windy breeze begin flowing into the cabin through ventilation slits at the top. As the gondola style cab makes its way to the top, we got to see a bird’s eye view of legendary Langkawi as well as numerous outlying islands in the distance.  The view of the Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells) Waterfalls which cascades down a grey rock face is beautiful. 

Upon reaching the peak of Mount Mat Chincang, after climbing a set of staircases that cuts through a thin forest to reach the observatory deck above, we could see the magnificent view of the surrounding horizon, the island’s landscape, skyline and seas beyond. At the side is a steel bridge suspended across Mount Mat Chincang and a neighbouring mountain. Walking across this bridge was a fantastic experience and offers a different viewpoint of the island and sea towards the north. Well the best time to be there is when the sun has to say bye bye for the day :)

As for the final dinner in Langkawi, we went back to the same Chinese restaurant on the first day. Food was yummy along with fresh coconut water for the kids and beer for us. We had a great time drinking beer to our hearts' content! After dinner, we had an evening stroll to the nearest night market for titbits and later back to the hotel for a good rest before we start packing up our stuffs the following day.

Got up early and after breakfast, we were on our way back to where we last parked our car. Time flies very fast. There goes the 4D 3N holiday in Langkawi. It wasn't enough for us...lots more to conquer! We will be back again for more :) We shall see you again...Langkawi! Don't know why but I always relate my Langkawi holiday with the song 'What A Wonderful World' by the late Louis Armstrong. Maybe it is because our world has so much to offer and it is never ending :))

Back on the road again, heading to Ipoh, Perak. When I think of Ipoh...I think of 'Dim Sum', 'Popiah, 'Hor Fun' and 'Chee Cheung Fun'. That's my favourites and the best one only comes from Ipoh.  My mum came from a very small town in Perak and most of her relatives are based here. We had to stopped over for a few nights for my mum to catch up with them as she missed them very much. From there, we made visits to my aunties in Parit, Bruas and Kuala Kangsar all in a day. 

Time to go back to where we came from...Kuala Lumpur. A great holiday and hoping that this leap year she will be back again to Malaysia for a visit. It has been four years already. She had a bad flight experience home to USA the previous leap year as she was travelling during the Beijing Olympics season. Transit flight in Beijing airport caught her with many surprises. 

Hardly able to find any airport personnels who can communicate in English language. She had to check in with my stepdad to a low budget hotel (no more rooms - peak season) with no food for the night because they only accept USD (my mum did not carry enough USD and money changers were all closed). No credit cards were entertained too. No complimentary tea or coffee in their room. Just plain water!

Luckily my mum remembered about the 2 hard boiled eggs prepared by me that she carried along in her handbag before they departed from KLIA, Malaysia. It was such a disappointment because Beijing as host for the Olympics Games was not up to the world standard at all. My mum will never ever step in to China again even though it is paid holiday! For her, it is the first and the last time. Well...that's my 2008 leap year story and hope 2012 leap year will bring in more interesting stories to post...