Writing at sunrise at Beach Brassiere restaurant on Burau Bay at Berjaya Langkawi Beach Resort. It is our second morning on Langkawi Island and I am sitting at the same table where I sat yesterday after a predawn beach walk among the crabs out to a natural rock breakwater at the eastern end of the white sand Berjaya beach. I set up my tripod and did some long exposure photography as the sun rose over some early fishing boats.
Yesterday we arrived on the island after a thirty minute flight from Penang and were greeted after baggage claim by two drivers from Berjaya. Twenty minutes later we were receiving a VIP welcome in the resort lobby with cold Tiger beer. This is Mark’s second home, but even on only my third visit there was something familiar and comforting. I was assigned chalet #2112, which is very fitting for a lifelong Rush fan. After getting settled into our lodging we donned our swimwear and I was first to arrive in the sunken pool par, set up to my waist and drinking another Tiger.
Our resort is on the southwestern shore of the island, away from the population center of Kuah Town in the northeast. The climate immediately seemed a bit warmer and muggier than on Penang, and the two lane road running along the coast a contrast to the busy roads near our Penang hotel. The roadside was populated by macaques, who even sit on the pavement oblivious to the vehicles crossing the center line to avoid them. Langkawi is actually an archipelago made up of 99 islands off peninsular Malaysia's west coast straddling its northern border with Thailand. Surrounded by turquoise sea, the interior of the main island that we visit is a mixture of picturesque paddy fields and jungle-clad hills.
After yesterday’s breakfast I spotted a colugo on a tree trunk during the short walk from the pool and beach to my chalet. I set up my camera on a tripod and while I was photographing it I noticed a larger colugo closer to me and only about eight feet up the trunk of its tree. Popularly and incorrectly called “flying lemur”, the Sunda Colugo is certainly not a lemur and does not fly like a bat. It is an arboreal and nocturnal mammal that belongs to its own Order and glides from tree to tree at night searching for soft plant food like tender young leaves, shoots, flowers and fruits. The resort has a large population of these amazing mammals, which by day can be seen still and camouflaged on palm and other tree trunks, and also hosts large populations of long-tailed macaques and dusky leaf monkeys, the latter also called spectacled langurs. In truth, the dusky leaf monkey is not a true langur, but rather a lutung—but I’ve never heard anyone use that term. The macaques are pesky and rowdy and will go after your food and drink and require some caution, whereas the “langurs” are peaceful and gentle leaf-eaters that always seem contemplative or meditating.
After a day in the pool, our first evening we all convened for dinner in the same Beach Brassiere where we have our daily breakfast and then it was off to the resort’s lobby bar where there is live entertainment. The hotel in Penang also had the standard Malaysia evening bar experience - Muzak version of Western songs performed most often by a guy with a laptop playing backing tracks while he adds guitar or keyboard while two or three women in matching skintight dresses sing and move to some limited choreography. Rock and roll it ain’t.
As I wrote, I rose before the sun and did some landscape photography yesterday before breakfast and my after meal colugo photography. Later Mark, Norm and I walked around the expansive jungle grounds of the hotel looking for spiders and such. I had my entire 30 pound camera pack on so I suffered even more than them and they were quite hot and sweaty by the time we completed our walk up the steep network of paved roads that access the almost 500 rainforest chalets. We grabbed our trunks and hit the pool and spent midday drinking Tiger and enjoying some scenery. Later Mark and I went to Oriental Village, a complex of shops, restaurants and tourist recreation on the road into Berjaya. You can walk ten minutes (we did on the return) or take one of the Berjaya open air shuttles (as we did for the ride down). With a resort so huge and steep, there is a fleet of these shuttle buses that take you between lobby and chalet, but they also go down the road to Oriental Village.
Our evening meal was at Perdana Quay, known informally as “Harbor Park”. It’s about ten or fifteen minutes by taxi from Berjaya and has a handful of restaurants with Malay imitations of Western food and other cuisine. It is where many yachts are moored and ferries launch for Thailand and nearby islands. Half our group including me took a van taxi back towards the airport to visit a “supermarket” that is the only place you can buy takeaway liquor. The duty free shops in Oriental Village used to sell it, but there was a strict licensing change here in this liberal yet largely Muslim country. Our group ate at Mare Blue, an “Italian” restaurant and the other half of our group of fourteen chose Tapas.
After returning to the hotel I believe that everyone went straight back to the room for a good nights rest. I sure did. And after sleeping in a little past sunrise this morning, I have not had my breakfast, photographed another colugo, and am planning what to do with the day. I know that some of our party plan to go to Oriental Village, where you can the Sky Cab take a half of the mountain as I did two years ago. I don’t think I need to do it again, but the views are incredible. I’ll probably rest and do a little riding, and then walk the grounds again looking for bugs and reptiles.