Langkawi 5: escape from Langkawi
I spent the afternoon at Pasir Panjang, and now I'm spending the night. It was hard to get here, but worth it in the end. Partly due to me assuming locals knew what they were talking about and not triple checking the instructions sent by the accommodation. There are (at least) two jettyes from which boats leave for Pulau Tuba, but from one of them - Paken Rabu - they don't or won't stop at Pasir Panjang. This was the one I ended up at first, just north of Chopm Park. I asked after boats and was told to wait around (by a lady selling snacks and cakes). I got the same information from a random guy with a van. The only authoritative place I found was a tour desk in side a desolate mall-like building, and the guy there essentially told me to go ask random people outside. So having been given time estimates of between one and two hours, I wandered back through Chopm Park to see the Langkawi Legends statues (photos).
I had never been anticipating getting on a boat immediately; just went to find out times. I needed to find an ATM and pick up some supplies. I did this in the main Kuah Jetty, which took a while due to crowds and queues, and then I walked back to Paken Rabu. I was told to wait some more... then as the boat arrived, they told me they couldn't drop me at Pasir Panjang after all. And pointed vaguely back to the main jetty. It would have been nice if they'd told me that two hours prior. I wandered around the main jetty asking after boats to Pulau Tuba for ages, with people pointing vaguely in different directions... all seemed pretty confident there were boats, just not very specific with information about where to find them. I eventually went far enough around the side to find an opening which looked like it led to boats. Some teenagers led me through a gate to a cafe attached to a small jetty, where they confirmed I could go to Pasir Panjang. This is Marble Beach jetty; and if I'd continued along the road I would been able to enter through a gate with a sign that said as much. I had to wait until there were more people unless I wanted to charter a boat for 50rm. I bought some juice and waited. Just as I was starting to think about giving up, about 50 minutes later, I was summoned to join a couple, an old man, and a young boy with a cake box. I paid 10rm for the 10 minute journey, and they dropped me on the beach at Pasir Panjang.
This is an 800m beach accessible only by boat or a crawl through the jungle around the edge of a cliff to the next beach (which is connected by road to the rest of the island). It's owned by scrawny, beardy, 72 year old Gus; the cabins were built by workaway volunteers. Everything is palm trees, coconuts, natural wood and corrugated steel. There's everything you need, but nothing more. Koi from Thailand runs the kitchen, cooking up local and Thai dishes for far more than they cost on the main island; but that's okay, there's no shop or supplies on Tuba, so stock has to come by boat. The food is delicious though, and taking (off-menu) veggie options reduces the price considerably.
I'm writing this in dimming light as I sit around the table with Koi, Gus, and other guests. Everyone comes here looking to get away. We just ate dinner (kangkong and rice for me) and now we are variously nibbling at chocolate, coconut, beer, wine. As they drink more and relax, the conversation gets political and strongly opinionated and the rest of the world starts to feel closer again.
This afternoon I made the aforementioned crawl through the jungle to the next beach, then started following the road that leads to the homestay there. After a few minutes walking, I met Won, who took me on the back of his scooter to see the brdige across to the next island (or is it still Tuba?), a small waterfall, and a couple of villages before dropping me back where he found me. Pulau Tuba is the only other inhabited island of Langkawi's 99, beside the main one. Won was visiting Langkawi from KL, and took a day to see Tuba. This was a stroke of good luck, as I wasn't expecting to see much beyond Pasir Panjang. We were out for about two hours, and covered about half of the roads on the island.
Back, I swam in the sea and set up my hammock. Finally! I've been carrying this thing around for years and this is the first time I've actually managed to string it up between palm trees.
Most of the other guests were leaving the next day, and whilst I didn't want to have to charter my own boat to return to the main island if I didn't have to, I also didn't want to depart before noon. I decided to stay longer, meaning I'd ask for my own boat in the evening, but Gus and Koi took this to mean I'd stay an extra night. So... what the hell. I stay.
The accommodation options are private cabins, one of two double rooms in a shared cabin, or a bed in the dorm. I chose the latter of course. The dorm is open to the world, and beds are thin mattresses under mosquito nets. There's no wifi here, but the dorm has one power outlet. I'm the only person sleeping in the dorm.
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