Exploring Malaysia’s Hidden Gem: Langkawi

Extras, Ideas, Malaysia, Wildlife & Animals — By on February 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Lost Girl Julie Falconer recently took a trip to Langkawi in Malaysia and explored the island’s stunning flora and fauna. Read on for a selection of her personal essays of her trip experiences. See Julie’s London travel blog and Asia travel website for more stories.

Every Lost Girl needs a bit of winter sunshine in her life, and I’m no exception. As part of my journey through Southeast Asia, I spent three days in Malaysia. My trip took me to a very unique part of the country, an archipelago of 99 islands that are collectively called Langkawi.

Located just off the west coast of Malaysia near the Thai border, the main island in the chain—which is also called Langkawi—is the perfect place for a relaxing winter beach vacation when other parts of the world are buried under blankets of snow.

Langkawi is known for many things, including spectacular diving and snorkeling, diverse wildlife, beautiful beaches, and stunning waterfalls. During my three days on the island, I was able to explore everything from black sand beaches to lush tropical flora.

One of the highlights of Langkawi is its animal population. Driving from the airport to my hotel, the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, I stopped several times to wait for large groups of Long-Tailed Macaque monkeys to clear the road. The creatures, which had brown fur and large inquisitive eyes, were as curious about me as I was about them. As I drove past, they perched on the roadside guardrail to peer into my car window.

Long-Tailed Macaques can be found throughout Langkawi, as can their slightly more elusive cousins, Spectacled Langurs. Similar in size, the langurs have darker fur and white stomachs. They can often be heard before they are seen, as their loud cries echo through the forests before they go swinging among the trees like something out of an adventure story.

As if the monkeys aren’t unique enough, there is another fascinating tree-bound creature that calls Langkawi its home: the Flying Lemur. Technically the animal is neither a lemur nor able to fly. However, its webbed arms and legs allow it to soar from tree to tree much like a flying squirrel, giving the impression of flight.

A nocturnal animal, the Flying Lemur spends most of its day sleeping in trees, and only flies in the evening. I was able to see one during both the day and the night, and was not only amazed at its ability to soar through the forest, but also at its ability to sleep while hanging from its two tiny arms at the top of a 20-foot tall tree.

Closer to the ground there was a slightly less adorable creature that frequented the lawns and paths of the Four Seasons: the Monitor Lizard. These giant reptiles could be found sunning themselves on the grass or lumbering slowly through the leaves in search of food. Thankfully they weren’t interested in having me for lunch; they’re far more afraid of humans than we are of them.

In addition to mammals and reptiles, the avian species in Lankgawi were unique and abundant. My favorite of these was a beautiful Collared Kingfisher, a white-bodied bird with a black head and iridescent blue wings. This was to say nothing of its signature beak, the telltale sign of the Kingfisher clan.

In addition to wildlife, the beaches in Langkawi provided me with infinite temptations to relax. My resort had a long, wide stretch of white sand in front of its villas, as well as two large pools and private cabanas. For guests that couldn’t tear themselves away from the beach, the resort even offered the opportunity to dine Arabian-nights style in an authentic Rajasthani tent on the sand. When I wasn’t busy trying to get glimpses of Flying Lemurs and Spectacled Langurs, I was relaxing on a deck chair or sipping a cocktail at one of the beach bars.

Unfortunately I couldn’t spend the rest of my life lying by the water at the Four Seasons. This Lost Girl had more places to see—and more places to stay, including the Four Seasons in Singapore, another luxurious experience—and had to depart after three blissful beachside days. I waved goodbye to the lovely island and got ready for my next adventure.

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